Diet and Pregnancy

7 Apr

I have been pouring over various pregnancy books with the immediate aim of learning how my diet should change and most importantly – what I must not consume. I have found so much conflicting information though so I decided to make an appointment with a naturopath and dietician who I trust.

Here’s is what we discussed.

Firstly, the basics:

Eating Safely During Pregnancy

J Midwifery Womens Health 49(4):373-374, 2004. © 2004 Elsevier Science, Inc.

During pregnancy, you can eat the same things that you normally eat when you were not pregnant. But especially in the first few months of your pregnancy, your baby can be hurt by poisons (toxins) or germs (bacteria). For this reason, you need to be aware of these food dangers and learn how to choose and prepare your food safely.

What Foods Might Be Harmful to My Baby During Pregnancy?

The foods of most concern are fish, meat, milk, and cheese. Because these are important parts of most diets, you will want to learn to choose the right fish, meat, milk, or cheese.

What’s the Problem With Fish?

Many fish – especially fish that are large, eat other fish, and live a long time – have mercury in them. Mercury can cause problems with the development of your baby’s brain and nerves. Fish may also have dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These toxins may cause problems with the development of your baby’s brain and may cause cancer.

So Should I Just Stop Eating Fish?

No. Fish is a wonderful food. It has lots of good protein and other nutrients. You can continue to eat fish, but you may wish to cut down on the amount of fish you eat and change the kind of fish you eat. Information about which fish are good to eat during pregnancy is listed on the back of this page.

What Meat is Dangerous?

Most of our meat is safe to eat. However, meat that has not been kept cold or that has not been prepared properly may have germs or parasites that could harm you or your baby. Raw meat may contain toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a germ that can damage your growing baby’s eyes, brain, and hearing. More information over the page.

What Do I Need to Know About Milk And Cheese?

Some cheese may contain germs (bacteria) called listeria. These germs can cause a disease called listeriosis, which may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for your baby. To avoid listeriosis, you may want to avoid soft cheeses like Mexican-style queso blanco fresco, camembert and brie. Also avoid unpasteurised fetta cheese. Over the page will tell you which cheeses you can continue to enjoy and which types to avoid.

How Do I Prepare Food Safely?

Wash your hands and cooking surfaces often.

Keep raw meat away from raw fruit and vegetables and cooked meat.

Cook your food until it is steaming hot. Keep uneaten food cold or frozen.

Eating Safely During Pregnancy

Fresh fish

Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish Do not eat
Farmed salmon Eat no more than 1 meal a month
Albacore tuna (“white” tuna) Eat no more than 1 meal a week
Shrimp, canned light tuna, canned or wild salmon, pollock, and catfish Eat no more than 2 meals a week

Deli Meats and Smoked Fish

Deli meat spread Do not eat
Hot dogs, lunch meat, deli meat, deli smoked fish Do not eat unless you reheat to steaming hot
Canned smoked fish or meat spread Eat no more than 2 meals a week

Meat – Beef, Chicken, Pork

Any meat that is rotten or raw Do not eat

Milk and Cheese

Unpasteurized milk and products made from it such as some feta cheese, also, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, Mexican-style queso blanco fresco Do not eat or drink
Pasteurized milk and products made from it such as hard cheeses, semi-soft cheeses like mozzarella, processed cheese slices, cream cheese, cottage cheese, some feta cheeses, yogurt Eat all you want

Note: Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local waters. If you can’t get advice on this, eat no more than 1 meal a week from fish caught in local waters and don’t eat any other fish that week.

Cook fish by broiling, baking, steaming, or grilling. Remove skin and fat before cooking. Do not eat the fat that drains from the fish while cooking.

Cook all meats all the way through. When you eat meat, you should not see any pink inside the flesh. After cutting up raw meat, clean the cutting surface with bleach, soap, and hot water before cutting any raw fruit or vegetables.

Supplements:

I was already taking Blackmores Pregnancy & Breast Feeding Gold (2 capsules per day).

I was further advised to take Nordic Naturals ProOmega fish oil (2000 mg) and Nutrition Care Vitamin B12 (1mg).

Herbal Teas:

I found reading about which teas were safe to consume during pregnancy really confusing.  The use of herbal teas during pregnancy requires careful consideration as many herbal teas have a drug like effect. The following list indicates “safe teas” from my research and advice from my naturopath and dietician. I am told though that no trials have yet proven their safety for pregnant or lactating women (not so comforting). These “safe teas” have little or no effect on the body when used in moderation (2 cups/day)

Alfalfa; Catnip; Chamomile; Chicory Root; Elder Flowers; Fennel; Fenugreek; Ginger; Goldenrod; Hibiscus; Lemon Grass; Linden Flowers; Nettle; Peppermint; Rosehip; Red & Black Raspberry; Red Clover; Spearmint; Slippery Elm Bark; Yarrow.

Not all of them a really delicious but there you go. May your pinky finger stand erect 🙂

For More Information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety or http://www.cdd.gov/travel/pregnancy

Excellent up-to-date information on food safety issues in the United States and abroad.

Partnership for Food Safety Education

http://www.fightbac.org

Lots of good information on prevention of illness from the food supply.

Food and Drug Administration

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01038

Published advisories regarding the consumption of fish in March 2004.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dietician, naturopath or a general know it all. Please conduct your own research – I simply hope that my research may assist you in some way. Even though all that I have posted is from a professional I trust and respect – she is just anther opinion.

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