Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Do you know what not to eat during your pregnancy? Here are the foods and drinks to avoid when you're eating for two:

  • Raw eggs - Avoid eating raw eggs or recipes that call for using raw eggs such as homemade dressings, homemade desserts such as: mousse, meringue, and tiramisue, or raw, unbaked cookie dough. Opt for store bought versions or cookie dough flavored ice cream. The CDC estimates one in 20,000 eggs is tainted with salmonella bacteria.
  • Soft cheeses - Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk can harbor listeria bacteria, which can be dangerous or even life-threatening for you and your baby. It's best to avoid Brie, Camembert, feta, blue cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela, unless the label says that it is pasteurized.
  • Undercooked meat - Raw or undercooked meat can harbor toxoplasma and a variety of bacteria. When dining out, make sure your meat is steaming hot and thoroughly cooked. At home, the temperature should reach at least 145 ºF for whole cuts, 160 ºF for ground meats like hamburger, and 165 ºF for chicken breasts.
  • Fresh juice - Fresh-squeezed juice in restaurants, juice bars, or farm stands may not be pasteurized to protect against harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. Some markets also sell raw, unpasteurized juice in the refrigerated case – look for the required warning label and steer clear. Pregnant women should opt for juice that is pasteurized. Juice in boxes and bottles on your supermarket shelf is also safe.
  • Sayonara, sushi - Although seafood is a great source of protein, raw seafood can be a source of harmful parasites and bacteria. The FDA recommends pregnant women only eat fish and other seafood that has been cooked thoroughly.
  • Fish with mercury - Fish is good for you and your baby, but make smart choices about the fish you eat. Swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark contain high levels of methylmercury. This metal can be harmful to your baby. You can safely eat up to 12 oz. of seafood a week, so choose fish that are low in mercury: Catfish, salmon, cod, and canned light tuna. If you like albacore (white) tuna, limit yourself to 6 ounces per week. Check with Dr. Almaguer before taking fish oil or any other supplements while pregnant.
  • Deli meats - Unlike many other foodborne germs, listeria can grow at the temperatures inside your fridge. For this reason, you should avoid perishable, ready-to-eat meats, such as cold cuts and hot dogs, when you're pregnant. You can make these foods safe by heating them until they are steaming hot and eating them right away.
  • Unwashed fruits/veggies - Now is the time to load up on fruits and veggies! Just be sure to rinse them thoroughly under running water. A parasite called toxoplasma can live on unwashed fruits and veggies. It causes an illness called toxoplasmosis, which can be very dangerous to your baby. Don’t use soap to wash produce. Instead, scrub the surface with a small vegetable brush. Cut away any bruised areas, because these may harbor bacteria. To avoid the listeria bacteria, scrub and dry cantaloupe before slicing it.
  • Smoked seafood - Refrigerated smoked seafood is vulnerable to listeria. This includes smoked salmon (often labeled nova or lox), as well as smoked trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel. It is safe to use smoked seafood in a cooked meal.
  • Raw shellfish - Raw shellfish is one of the top causes of illness from seafood. The culprits include parasites and bacteria that are generally not found in cooked seafood. So skip the oysters on the halfshell. As long as you cook shellfish thoroughly, it's safe to eat during pregnancy. Cook oysters, clams, and mussels until the shells open. If they do not open, throw them away.
  • Fish from local waters - It is very difficult to know which local streams and lakes are unpolluted, so it is best to avoid eating fish that you catch yourself altogether. Some lakes and rivers are contaminated with industrial chemicals. Locally caught bluefish, striped bass, salmon, pike, trout, and walleye may be affected. You can always check with your state's fish and wildlife department to get more information.
  • Food from banquets - You may not want to insult your friends by avoiding their meal offerings, but there is a reason for concern if the food is left unrefrigerated for too long. Follow the 2-Hour Rule: Don't eat homemade dishes that have been sitting at room temperature for longer than two hours. When temperatures are above 90° F, the cut-off should be one hour.
  • Doggie bags - Unless you’re headed straight home from the restaurant, don't ask for a doggie bag. The inside of your car can get warm quickly, allowing bacteria to multiply. If you do take home leftovers, put them in the fridge within two hours of when the meal was originally served.
  • Caffeine - Good evidence now shows that a moderate amount of caffeine is safe during pregnancy, but the jury is still out on whether higher amounts of caffeine can increase the odds of a miscarriage. The March of Dimes recommends women who are pregnant or trying should limit caffeine to 200 mg per day. That's one 12-ounce cup of coffee. But remember, caffeine is also found in soda, tea, chocolate, and many energy drinks.
  • Alcohol - You already know that heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects. What you may not know is that even small amounts of alcohol could be harmful. No amount of drinking has been found to be safe during pregnancy, so it's best to avoid all forms of alcohol. This includes wine, beer, coolers, and traditional egg nog, which contains alcohol and raw eggs.
  • Unpasteurized milk - Freshly collected milk has not yet been through the pasteurization process that protects it from listeria. That can be dangerous for you and your baby. Buy milk, cheese, or dairy products from a local farm only if the label says “pasteurized.”
  • Raw sprouts - Don't eat any raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, and radish. Bacteria can get into the seeds before the sprouts begin to grow, and these germs are nearly impossible to wash away. At the deli, check sandwiches to make sure they don’t contain raw sprouts. At home, cook sprouts thoroughly to destroy any bacteria
  • Fresh pre-stuffed poultry - A pre-stuffed turkey or chicken offers a great short-cut when you're pressed for time. But the juice from fresh, raw poultry can mix with the stuffing and create a great place for bacteria to grow. Cooking usually offers protection, but pregnancy makes it harder to fight off infections. A safe alternative is buying frozen pre-stuffed poultry. Be sure to cook it directly from frozen and don’t let it defrost first. The thigh meat should hit 180 ºF.

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