One of the first things people learn during pregnancy is not to eat anything. It can be a real fool if you’re a fan of rare sushi, coffee, or steak. Thankfully, you can eat more than you can’t. You just need to learn how to navigate bodies of water (i.e., waters with a low mercury content). You will want to pay attention to what you eat and drink to stay healthy. Some foods should be consumed only rarely, while others should be avoided completely. Here we share foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy.
Foods to eat during pregnancy
Fruit and vegetables
Foods to eat and avoid: Aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. They may be in the form of juice, dried, canned, frozen, or fresh. Fresh and frozen (if frozen soon after picking) produce usually have higher levels of vitamins and other nutrients.
Experts stress that eating fruit is usually better for you than just drinking the juice, as natural sugar levels in juice are very high. Consider vegetable juices like carrot or wheatgrass for dense nutrition.
Whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat pieces of bread, wild rice, whole grain pasta, legumes like beans and lentils, fruits, and vegetables are rich in fiber.
Women are at high risk of constipation during pregnancy; eating plenty of fiber has been shown to reduce that risk. Studies have shown that eating plenty of fiber during pregnancy reduces the risk or severity of hemorrhoids, which also becomes more common as the fetus gets older.
Calcium foods and drinks
It is important to have a healthy daily intake of calcium. Dairy foods, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are rich in calcium. If you are a vegetarian, you should consider the following calcium-rich foods; calcium-fortified soy milk and other plant kinds of milk and juices, calcium-fortified tofu, soybeans, choysum, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, okra, broccoli, beans, kale, and soybeans.
Iron makes up a major part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying pigment and main protein in the red blood cells; it carries oxygen throughout the body. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the mother’s body increases by almost 50 percent – she needs more iron to make more hemoglobin for all that extra blood.
Most women start their pregnancy without adequate stores of iron to meet the increasing demands of their bodies, particularly after the 3rd or 4th month.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar or both
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.
Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods, or eating them too often, can make you put on weight. Eating too much-saturated fat can also increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your chance of developing heart disease.
Preparing food safely
- Wash fruit, vegetables, and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma (a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis) which can harm your unborn baby.
- Wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw foods (poultry, meat, eggs, fish, shellfish, and raw vegetables) to help you avoid food poisoning.
- Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise, there’s a risk of contamination.
- Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats.
- Heat ready meals until they’re steaming hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.
You also need to make sure that some foods, such as eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages, and whole cuts of meat like lamb, beef, and pork, are cooked very thoroughly until steaming all the way through.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
- Locally caught bluefish, pike, salmon, striped bass, trout, and walleye
- King mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish, which have high levels of mercury
- Smoked cod, smoked salmon or lox, smoked mackerel, smoked trout, smoked tuna, and smoked whitefish, or other smoked fish
- Sushi or any raw fish or raw shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels)
- Raw eggs
- Raw cookie dough. (It has raw eggs in it.)
- Caesar salad dressing, bearnaise sauce, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, and any homemade dressings and sauces made with raw eggs
- Mousse, meringue, tiramisu, and any homemade desserts made with raw eggs
Milk and Cheese
- Unpasteurized milk
- Any cheese made from unpasteurized milk. (Very few kinds of cheese made from raw milk are sold in the U.S. But some are, so always check the labels. Soft cheeses such as brie, blue cheese, feta, panela, queso blanco, and queso fresco are more likely than hard cheeses to be made from raw milk.)
Fruits and Veggies
- Store-bought fresh-squeezed or any unpasteurized juice
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables
- Raw sprouts
- Unripe papaya