Why Are Certain Foods Avoided During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body undergoes significant changes, and certain foods carry risks that could harm the developing baby or affect the mother's health. These risks range from bacterial contamination to potential toxins that could interfere with the baby's growth.
In case you have any medical condition, always check with your doctor before trying new cuisines or dishes that you didn’t have before getting pregnant. Everyone’s body reacts differently to food and it is especially important to keep a check on your food intake during the nine months.
Foods to Steer Clear of During Pregnancy:
Raw or Undercooked Meat & Seafood
Raw meat (such as sushi or undercooked beef) and seafood (like raw shellfish) may contain harmful bacteria and parasites like listeria and mercury, posing severe health risks. They can cause dehydration and weakness in parents and can be passed on to the infant through placenta.
Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products such as soft cheeses might harbour bacteria that leads to food poisoning that is harmful to an unborn baby. These bacterias can occur while collection or storage of the milk. Pasteurization will help remove them without impacting the nutritional value of milk.
Big fishes tend to accumulate mercury throughout their lifetime. This toxic element occurs in polluted waters and can affect your nervous system as well as baby’s growth. In adverse conditions, mercury can lead to serious developmental issues in children.
Steer clear of shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, orange roughy, marlin and tuna. Instead you can have fishes that are low on mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, anchovies and shrimp.
Raw Eggs and Foods Containing Them
Raw or undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria that causes nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. In extreme cases, it can also lead to stillbirths or preterm birth. Homemade food items such as mayonnaise, cookie dough, eggnog and cake icings may contain some portion of raw or undercooked eggs. Most commercial food is made from pasteurised eggs, always read the label to confirm.
According to research, high levels of caffeine is linked to pregnancy loss, stillbirth and small weight at birth. Caffeine can easily be absorbed and passed onto the placenta. An unborn baby has not yet developed the enzyme needed to metabolise caffeine and high levels can build up over time. For the safety of baby and mama, everyday caffeine beverages coffee, tea, soft drinks and cocoa should be kept to a minimum.
Highly processed foods are high in calories, sugar and added fats that can lead to weight gain. While some weight gain is necessary, an excess of it can lead to childhood obesity and delivery complications. Try to make your meals tasty yet healthy by experimenting with new ways to sneak in fresh vegetables, and fruits into your diet.
Which foods to avoid when…
…coping with heartburn during pregnancy?
Heartburn is a common discomfort experienced by many expectant mothers during later stages of pregnancy. It is defined as a burning sensation in the chest or throat region due to acid reflux. This occurs due to hormonal changes, altered digestive system or the growing size of the uterus.
During this phase, avoid spicy and acidic foods such as tomato-based pasta sauces and enchiladas. Instead opt for milder alternatives like plain pasta with olive oil or grilled chicken. Chocolate and caffeinated beverages like coffee and sodas can worsen heartburn. Choose herbal teas for a soothing effect.
…dealing with indigestion during pregnancy?
Another common discomfort experienced by pregnant women is indigestion. It involves feelings of pain in the upper abdomen and can be accompanied by bloating, nausea or a burning sensation in the stomach. This can happen due to changes in eating habits during pregnancy such as eating larger meals.
During such periods, avoid eating fatty and fried foods and instead opt for lighter options like grilled chicken and lean fish. Swap acidic and citrusy dishes with alkaline foods like oatmeal and bananas.
…experiencing nausea during pregnancy?
Also known as morning sickness, nausea is a common symptom pregnant women experience during the first trimester. This can happen due to rise in hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormones and increased oestrogen levels. Strong-smelling or greasy foods and spicy foods can increase nausea. Avoid items like spicy curries, spicy tacos and heavily creamed pastas. Swap these with steamed vegetables, plain crackers and broth-based soups.