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What to Expect (Not to Eat) When Expecting
By Serena Thomas and Samantha Wright
The nine months of pregnancy are supposed to be a magical time. Making sure to keep a healthy lifestyle throughout this period is especially important for both babies and their mothers. A key part of maintaining that healthy lifestyle is what you eat during the pregnancy period. So what’s the truth about what you should take in and what you shouldn’t? A second-time mother-to-be as well as a never-before-pregnant early 20-something tackle these hard hitting questions, aided by some handy online resources included below. We’ve also included a short interview with mother-to-be, Samantha, to get the real scoop on eating while pregnant.
So, what should you eat when you’re pregnant? All the healthy goodies! During pregnancy your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby going strong. Choosing healthy and nutritious foods for sustenance will help ensure the health of both mother and child. It’s important to have a balanced eating plan, which, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and every doctor we’ve ever talked to, should include:
- Whole grains: Breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice.
- Fruits: All types of fruits, including fresh, frozen or canned without added sugars.
- Vegetables: A variety of colorful vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned with no added salt should be included. Raw sprouts should be avoided.
- Lean protein: Choose lean protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and peas, peanut butter, soy products and nuts. Pregnant women should avoid eating tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to six ounces per week. Deli, luncheon meats and hot dogs should be reheated if consumed.
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy: This includes milk, cheese and yogurt. Unpasteurized milk and some soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk also should be avoided.
- Healthful fats: From foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds as well as vegetable oils including canola and olive oil.
What do we feel it’s imperative to tell you as employees at a company working on food safety testing tools? Food safety is important for every single person, but especially pregnant women. Pregnancy means that hormone changes will naturally occur to your body, some of which change your immune system and end up making you more susceptible to contracting a foodborne illness. Because of this, coupled with the fact that your baby’s immune system is underdeveloped, make sure to avoid foods that might cause you to contract a foodborne illness. From Foodsafety.gov, here are foods to stay away from and why:
- Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk (Brie, feta, Camembert, etc): These may contain E. coli or Listeria. Instead, reach for hard cheeses like cheddar or cheese made from pasteurized milk.
- Raw cookie dough or cake batter: While delicious, these may contain Salmonella. Just bake them!
- Fish with mercury: Mercury taken in during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry and avoid these.
- Raw or undercooked fish, like sushi: These may contain parasites or bacteria. Make sure to cook fish to 145 degrees F.
- Unpasteurized milk: This may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella. To avoid, drink pasteurized milk.
- Store-made salads (like ham salad, chicken salad, and seafood salad): These salads may contain Listeria. You can make your salads at home instead while following food safety basics, like cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling ingredients.
- Raw shellfish, like oysters and clams: Shellfish may contain Vibrio It’s important to cook shellfish to 145 degrees F.
- Raw or undercooked sprouts: Sprouts may contain E. coli or Salmonella. Cook sprouts thoroughly to keep you and your little sprout healthy!
But don’t just take our word for it – seriously, don’t. Make sure to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider to help ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need while avoiding what could be harmful to you and your baby!
An Interview with Mother-To-Be (Round 2) and Production and Operations Technician, Samantha Wright
Q: Sam, the truth: is pregnancy magical?
A: You want to say it’s a magical time…but your feet hurt, your cravings are crazy. I wouldn’t call it magical, it’s more of an experience. Each pregnancy is different from the next, some are smoother than others. To be real, it’s not easy.
Q: What foods do you try to avoid while pregnant?
A: Mainly fish because it’s hard to gauge the mercury levels involved. I love sushi, though. I try to stay away from fish if it’s not cooked right now, though. I just have to wait two and a half months before I can eat sushi again. And now I wash EVERYTHING. Grapes, carrots, peaches, vegetables, fruits. I find myself washing everything.
Q: What healthy foods do you love to eat, especially now?
A: Broccoli, green beans. Those are the two main ones.
Q: What’s been the hardest food for you to avoid?
A: Ice cream. With sprinkles. I miss the kind that is not low fat, not sugar free, and made with whole milk.
Q: What’s the wackiest food craving you’ve had with baby #2?
A: Vienna sausages. I tried them before, a couple of years ago, and I thought, “hey, this kind of reminds me of Spam.” But now, it’s my entire cabinet. I now have 20 cans of that stuff and I eat it like popcorn.
Q: What’s the first thing you’ll do after this baby is born that you can’t right now?
A: Drink coffee! I’m trying decaffeinated tea right now but it’s like drinking water. It’s just not the same. I’ll definitely get the biggest cup of coffee that my body can handle at a single time as soon as I am able to. That and bacon. It’s going to be a good breakfast.
Q: What are you most excited about with baby #2? It doesn’t have to be food related.
A: I’m excited to see my first daughter’s interaction with her. She’s not around babies too much, she’s around kids her own age, the four year olds. To see her interact with a newborn will be interesting. She’s very excited to meet her.
Q: Any advice for future mothers? I’m asking as someone who is very Not Pregnant but may want to be somewhere down the line.
A: If it works for you, then it’s ok. You’ll get advice from every direction. Some is good, and some is not… just be as polite as you can and say I’ll “think about it”. If you feel like it’s going to work for you, then do that.
Resources for Eating Well While Pregnant