Food- What to eat and what to avoid during pregnancy

Diet during pregnancy is important because your body needs extra nutrition for the growth and development of the baby growing inside you. Of equal importance, or even more so, are foods you should avoid in pregnancy because they are not safe for one reason or the other. Here are some foods you should not eat:

  • Fish – you can eat fish that is cooked, but avoid raw or undercooked fish. So give clams, oysters and even prawn cocktails a miss. Smoked or pickled fish, unless it has been heated through to avoid any bacterial contamination, may be unsafe. Some fish like shark, king mackerel, snapper and marlin have high levels of mercury, so don’t have them.
  • Eggs – you can enjoy eggs that are thoroughly cooked, but avoid those that are on the raw side, with runny yolks. For the same reason don’t have mayonnaise that is made from unpasteurized eggs (as in home-made or even in-house mayo served in restaurants and hotels).
  • Meat – if it is well-cooked it is safe to eat, but don’t have your steak rare and bloody. All meat, including ham, turkey, beef, veal, sausages, salami, and pepperoni must be cooked and heated thoroughly before eating to avoid bacterial poisoning. 
  • Cheese – unpasteurized soft cheeses with mould or veins like brie, camembert, chevre, queso fresco, queso panela, Roquefort, feta, gorgonzola are best avoided. You can have processed cheeses instead. If you do use soft cheeses make sure that they are in dishes that have been properly cooked.
  • Milk – milk is good during pregnancy due to its calcium and protein content. However, raw and unpasteurized milk is best avoided, unless you heat it meticulously before using. 
  • Salads – make your own salads, but don’t have ready salads from the supermarket or buffets or salad bars because they can easily be contaminated with bacteria.
  • Sandwich – you can make and eat home-made sandwiches from foods that have been cooked and heated. Don’t have sandwiches from sandwich bars or shops that have been lying for hours even if they are refrigerated as there are higher chances of bacterial contamination thanks to raw vegetables, cooked meats and even dressings that are used.
  • Vegetables – methodically wash vegetables before using and cooking. You can eat raw vegetables as in salads, if they are properly washed and clean.
  • Fruits – wash fruits well before eating. For the same reason don’t buy and eat fruit from a supermarket or stall without washing it first. 
  • Sprouts – are packed with vitamins. However, uncooked sprouts can harbor germs, so cook carefully before eating.
  • Leftovers – eat food as fresh as possible. Canned leftover foods or cooked leftover foods should be heated thoroughly before eating again, not just mildly heated in a microwave. 
  • Ice-cream – packaged hard ice-creams are usually safe to eat. Don’t have soft serve ice-creams. 
  • Packaged dairy products – yoghurt and probiotic drinks should be chilled at the right temperatures and had within the expiry date and soon after the manufacturing date to be on the safe side. Make sure the products are pasteurized.
  • Drinks – limit caffeine intake and avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, at least during the first trimester. 

Why should you be so careful if you’re pregnant, you may wonder. That’s because a bout of food poisoning or worse can harm the developing baby, lead to toxoplasmosis or even miscarriage. 

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