Pregnancy is one time you crave for all the yummiest dishes and unusual food – all because of your raging hormones. courtesy your raging hormones!
According to the Indian tradition, a pregnant woman should never be denied any food she craves for. But is it alright to eat everything you crave for? should you eat any food you crave for?
Pregnancy is the time to eat a healthy and balanced food which includes all the nutrients. Does that indicate you should not avoid any food or food groups altogether during your pregnancy?
Dear Moms-to-be, pregnancy is no doubt the time to have nutritious food but there are certain foods which are best avoided when you are pregnant. The foods to be avoided may no doubt be nutrient rich but it is advised to avoid them for the safe progress of your pregnancy.
Also Read: 13 Pregnancy myths and facts
Eating raw meat is to be strictly avoided during pregnancy. Raw meat may contain microorganisms like E-Coli, salmonella etc. which are known to cause acute food poisoning.
If you want to eat meat, cook it thoroughly so that there is no trace of pink color or blood. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the raw meat.
Fish is known to be a good source of protein as well as Omega-3 fatty acid which is one of the essential nutrients for a pregnant woman. However, there are certain varieties of fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish which contain high amounts of mercury.
Excess mercury consumed during pregnancy can cause developmental delays and brain damage.
Seafood is known to cause allergies like swelling, rashes, vomiting or diarrhea.
However, if you crave for fish and seafood then cook it thoroughly and never consume raw fish or raw seafood.
Raw eggs or any dishes which contain raw eggs should be completely avoided during pregnancy.
Raw eggs have a high potential of containing salmonella virus which can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. Though it may not harm your baby directly, it may cause distress to the baby due to mother’s ill health. Avoid foods like mayonnaise, custard, Caesar dressing for salads etc. which contain raw eggs.
Also Read: Importance of folic acid during pregnancy
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy harms the developing foetus in your womb. Alcohol passes to the baby’s blood from the mother’s blood and can cause damage to baby’s spinal cord and brain cells.
The problems arising from alcohol consumption during pregnancy can range from mild to severe. Alcohol has the ability to affect the facial features and vertical development of your baby. Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth or premature birth.
Milk is a very good source of calcium which is essential for pregnant women. However, never drink milk that is not pasteurized. Unpasteurized milk contains many microbes which can harm you and the developing fetus. Always use pasteurized milk or boil the milk before consumption.
Raw and unripe papayas must be completed avoided during pregnancy.
It contains a substance called latex which induces uterine contractions and subsequently, miscarriage. It also contains papain and pepsin substances which affect the fetal development.
MSG or Ajinomoto is a common additive in Chinese food to enhance flavor. There are many food research bodies which claim that MSG is safe for consumption. However, many people experience a headache, nausea, numbness, sweating, and muscle tightening on consumption of food flavored with MSG.
Avoid MSG completely if you had any of the symptoms above before pregnancy. Since it is a form of a salt, it is best avoided as it can lead to water retention.
It is also recommended not to eat any outside food which may contain MSG like Chinese food, Chopsuey etc. as restaurants add a high quantity of MSG to enhance flavor. High consumption of MSG can lead to breaking down of the placental barrier of the food supply to the baby.
Pineapple is no doubt a nutritious food but not recommended during initial days of pregnancy. It contains traces of bromelain enzyme which softens the cervix and may induce labor. Hence, it is not advisable to eat pineapple either during early pregnancy or even when you are trying to conceive.
Fennel (saunf) and fenugreek (methi daana) seeds are known to stimulate uterine contractions leading to premature delivery or miscarriage.
It should be fine if you consume these spices in fewer quantities. However, avoid consuming daily in moderate to high quantities.
Sesame seeds are actually used in natural medicines to trigger miscarriage. In fact, in Ayurveda, sesame seeds intake is recommended to correct irregular periods.
These seeds have the property of triggering uterine contractions which can cause miscarriage. It is best to totally avoid this during the first trimester.
Soft cheese like gorgonzola, brie etc. should not be consumed during pregnancy. These are made using a fungus called mould and contain high water content which can lead to bacterial growth. It can contain a bacterium called listeria that can harm your baby.
Though infections from listeria are rare, it is better to be safe as even a slight illness in a pregnant woman can trigger miscarriages.
However, you can have hard cheese with less water content such as paneer, cheddar, and parmesan.
There are many varieties of artificial sweeteners available in the market with different contents. Aspartame, Sucralose, Stevia, Saccharin, Cyclamate etc. are some of the popular artificial sweeteners.
Though these sweeteners contain very fewer calories, it does not mean they are safe for excess consumption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA has marked Aspartame, Sucralose, and Stevia safe for consumption by pregnant women and Saccharin and Cyclamate as unsafe.
However, “safe” means that there have been no harmful effects detected so far during research and there is scope for further research to determine the benefits or concerns of using the same.
Though there is no harm in consuming in moderate quantities, you would be just adding empty calories to your diet which is devoid of nutrients.
It is best to always cook the vegetables and sprouts before you eat it. Raw vegetables may contain pesticides or may have surface bacteria which may cause illness to you or your baby. Also, avoid buying pre-cut vegetable and fruits from the supermarket. Not only are the chances of contamination high but vegetables which are cut and stored for a long time tend to lose most nutrients due to oxidation.
As you can observe, there are few items which are usually recommended to be avoided during early pregnancy. Pregnancy is the time to take utmost care of your health. Sometimes even the slight illness or health condition may trigger miscarriage.
Apart from avoiding certain foods, you should also avoid consuming canned/ready-to-eat/frozen foods as these have high sodium content which can cause high blood pressure. Also, avoid eating street foods like chaats, Indo-Chinese food like Manchurian, pakodas etc. sold on the street as they might have used adulterated cooking oil and banned food colours.
Also avoid packaged and fried foods like namkeens, potato wafers, Kurkure etc. which not only contain high quantities of salt but also preservatives. It is good to avoid both homemade and outside foods made of maida as it is completely refined and devoid of any nutrients, thus adding empty calories to your body.
Eating organic produce from known sources and vegetables from known organic farms is one of the best steps to take during pregnancy.
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