Before we dive into the very essential question of what not to eat when you're pregnant, let's start with why your eating patterns may have to change. What's going on in there?
We all know that when pregnant, the body is going through some major changes. The food you eat during this time is important so you can supply your body with the relevant nutrients to support the body whilst these changes are happening, and of course to nourish the new life that is growing inside you. On the other hand, some of the food you usually consume may harm your body and the baby during this crucial period, so it's important to know what not to eat. One of the biggest changes to your body is that your immune system becomes more susceptible to food-borne illnesses.
Picture Source: www.thehealthsite.com
Watching what you eat starts from before you conceive. Doctors now encourage woman who plan to get pregnant to consume more folic acid as this helps prevent neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord) which can occur in the first month of pregnancy - often before the woman even knows she is pregnant.
Its also a simple numbers game: you are now eating for two. Therefore ensure you are eating enough of the good stuff - for example eat enough calcium to support both your body AND the baby which he/she needs to grow strong bones.
Recent research has also found that what you eat whilst pregnant affects the child even after the baby is born. Dr Nicole Avena (author of " What to Eat When You're Pregnant") writes that a high-fat and high-sugar diet whilst pregnant and a maternal diet can not only cause obesity, but “can have a long-lasting impact on the offspring’s risk of developing mental-health disorders, impaired social behaviours, lower cognitive abilities and increased response to stress”(source: The Guardian). This really gives us something to think about. Taking this a step further, if you consider when you are breast feeding after the baby is born, what you consume still affects the baby and their nutritional intake.
Various studies have proven the link between the woman's health during pregnancy to her child's weight later in life. However, a study in Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has taken this further. They have found that a mother's obesity before or during pregnancy can cause "genetic abnormalities that subsequently are passed through the female bloodline to at least three generations, increasing the risk of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease." (Source: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis). Thus this reinforces the idea that what you eat before and during pregnancy is absolutely vital to the wellbeing of the baby and possibly future generations.
Therefore it is crucial to maintain a healthy diet and avoid certain foods in order to help have a (somewhat) more comfortable pregnancy, to maintaining the health of your body, and to help give the best chance in life to your new baby.
So let's get stuck in - what not to eat whilst you are pregnant:
1) Unwashed Vegetables: vegetables are a winner when it comes to maintaining a balanced healthy diet. But make sure the vegetables are washed thoroughly before consuming in order to avoid possible exposure to toxoplasmosis (a rare but serious blood infection caused by the faeces of cats which may have been exposed to the place the vegetables were grown).
Picture Source: organicfacts.net
2) Unpasteurised milk and juices: The pasteurising process kills bacteria and toxins. Therefore stay clear of any products which have not undergone this process and read the labels carefully.
3) Raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs: The risk here is salmonella poisoning. Salmonella can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. Be sure to steer clear of runny eggs in fried eggs, Caesar salad dressing and raw cookie dough. To be on the safe side, if you fancy egg, make it at home yourself - that way you can ensure it is cooked all the way through.
4) Unpasteurised soft cheeses: These cheeses are said to contain listeria which can cause food poisoning and when passed to the baby, this can cause some serious complications. However, you can consume cheeses which are made from pasteurised milk - so read the labels carefully and make sure you consume only pasteurised cheese.
5) Processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats: To reduce your risk of listeriosis, warm the meat thoroughly until fully cooked to remove any bacteria.
6) Fish that are high in mercury, including shark, swordfish or king mackerel: Mercury is said to affect the baby's nervous system, so it is best to stay clear of these foods altogether.
7) Raw or undercooked meats, fish, or shellfish: These foods may contain parasites which can cause some serious food poisoning.
8) Excessive amounts of Caffeine: This can cause health problems for the baby. However, you are allowed 300 milligrams of caffeine a day - that is roughly 2-3 cups of coffee a day.
9) Alcohol: This is an absolute no-no. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to still-birth, miscarriage, as well as physical and mental illnesses for the baby. Don't risk it - don't drink.
The above list is a general guide only. We recommend you speak to your GP or consult the NHS for more specific advice especially in regards to your particular requirements.
And with that, we wish you and your baby and happy and healthy pregnancy!
Any thoughts or comments? Feel free to share them below!