Managing those food cravings – what to avoid when pregnant!
There’s a Catch 22 in pregnancy that many of us know well – craving foods your body thinks it needs, but knowing that some of these foods may be off-limits. You’d think your body would just know well enough to not crave these things! Alas, despite my intermittent cravings for sushi, I am meant to avoid one of my favourite meals, at least for nine months.
If you are fortunate (or maybe unfortunate) like me, you crave very little during pregnancy. For me, the thought of any food during pregnancy can be revolting. My pregnant women diet consisted of cheese on toast (and not any nutritional cheese, rather the “plastic” processed cheese slices) during my first pregnancy. Our second baby tolerated only cereal, and this pregnancy – “Critter,” as he is known – (note: don’t let a 4 year-old name his baby brother) is a little of both with the addition of green apple and peanut butter.
So why are some foods off limits? During pregnancy we become more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses (like listeriosis), which can put you and your baby at risk.
Here is a list of food to avoid during pregnancy and why:
Raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, which can cause vomiting and diarhea. Watch out for eggnog this holiday season (and beyond while pregnant), raw cookie dough (a personal favourite), and other runny-type of eggs (soft boiled, poached, or sunny side-up). Well-cooked eggs are fine and shouldn’t cause any worry.
Parasites, bacteria, and viruses can all live on uncooked fish. Very fresh sushi has less risk, and in areas where sushi is served straight from the sea, there is less of a risk. California rolls and other cooked items are usually ok. Go and enjoy a night out with friends, but stick to cooked foods like teriyaki and tempura.
Pasteurization is the process which kills bacteria and toxins in foods, like milk or apple cider. When shopping at markets, ask the vendors if the cheese or juice is pasteurized, just to be sure. Pasteurized cheeses are safe to eat in pregnancy, even soft cheeses; just read the label.
Too much fish
This is an issue that has gone back and forth amongst professionals. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for your baby and help with brain development. But certain fish contain higher levels of mercury, which can pose a risk for developing brains. For sure you should limit swordfish, shark, and tilefish, which tend to have higher levels of mercury. Salmon and light tuna have less mercury and these are safe to consume once or twice a week.
It may seem like a lot of things are off limit but really this list is very short! And you’ll be able to enjoy everything you loved before in a few (long) months. In the mean time, that cookie dough is calling me…
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.