When you are pregnant – whatever you eat goes to your baby. Of course you want only food that is good for your baby to reach your baby. And so – it is extremely important to know what to eat. It is even more important to know – what not to eat and drink during pregnancy and why. In this article I enumerate the foods to avoid during pregnancy.
What not to eat and drink during pregnancy and why?
- Undercooked meat and seafood – Make sure the meat & seafood you eat is fully cooked. Undercooked meat puts you at greater risk of food poisoning. Meat cooked in tandoors and other grills is sometimes not cooked thoroughly. Make sure you only eat meat that has been pressure cooked or has been thoroughly deep-fried.
- Poorly washed fruits and vegetables – Do not eat unwashed raw fruits and vegetables. Germs and other chemicals coat the surface of most fruits and vegetables and just rinsing them with water is not enough to clean them. Make sure you scrub them thoroughly while washing them.
- Unpasteurized milk products – Avoid Dairy products like cheese and paneer. Much of paneer, cream etc. that is available commercially is not made with pasteurized milk. Non pasteurized milk may contain various germs that can cause serious infections in pregnancy and so it is safe to avoid milk products not prepared at home. If you do buy milk products from outside – make sure you check the label.
- Uncooked or partially cooked eggs – Eat well cooked eggs Boil, Scramble or Fry eggs when you eat them. Raw, uncooked ,sunny side up eggs are all risky during pregnancy because they contain germs that can cause serious infections in mother and baby
- Unsterile or poorly sterilized milk – Consume UHT milk. The best milk to consume during pregnancy is UHT sterilized milk UHT sterilized milk has the advantage of being able to retain all the nutrients in milk even after it has been sterilized to remove all infecting germs. Milk available in TetraPak in always UHT sterilized.
- Fruit juices prepared outside the house – Consume juices that are packaged – It is unsafe to drink fresh fruit juice unless it has been prepared at home with all the necessary precautions to ensure that it is absolutely clean. If you must drink juice outside – stick to the juice in Tetra Pak cartons. They are pasteurized and hence safer.
- Packaged ready to eat food – Foods that are commercially packaged are likely to contain large quantities of trans fats. These trans fats are bad for the heart and the blood vessels. Since your heart and blood vessels play a major role in making your baby. It is best to avoid these. Chips, biscuits, cookies and fast food are in this category.
- Foods that are loaded with sugar or have hidden sugars – Biscuits, chocolates, ice-creams, breads, packaged cereals, frozen foods, ketchup – all contain sugars. It is best to avoid these because they add calories without contributing to nutrition. They also increase your chances of getting gestational diabetes.
- High sodium foods – Most packaged foods and fast foods contain a lot of sodium. This includes cakes and breads that are not really salty. It also includes accompaniments like pickles, papads etc. Excess sodium in the body leads to bloating and water retention. It may also lead to high blood pressure which can be dangerous. It is best to avoid salt cravings.
- Juices – Juices add very little nutrition to your diet. In addition because of their high sugar and low fibre content – they lead to rapid weight gain
- Carbonated beverages or fizzy drinks – Fizzy drinks have no nutritional value. They are just made of sugar, water and a flavoring agent. They only contribute to weight gain without adding any nutrition to your diet. In addition many of them may have caffeine which can adversely affect your baby.
- Excess tea and coffee – Large amounts of tea and coffee are harmful during pregnancy because they fill your body with caffeine. Caffeine causes increased heart rate and anxiety and is not good for you while your body is making a baby.
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What are the foods that can cause a miscarriage?
Text books of pregnancy do not mention any foods that cause miscarriage. However traditionally it is believed that the following foods may lead to a miscarriage and it is best to avoid them if possible. Or to eat them in very small quantities if they must be eaten. This is to stay both mentally reassured and physically safe.
The 12 foods listed above are definitely to be avoided because although they may not lead to a dramatic miscarriage – they certainly lead to poor outcomes for both mothers and babies.
In addition avoid additives like ajinomoto, sesame seeds etc which your moms, aunts or other friends and relatives say are not good.
What are the foods to avoid during pregnancy for gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy – the body is unable to manage large quantities of sugar. And so it is important to eat foods that the body can manage so that you do not get gestational diabetes.
- Avoid all packaged food
- Avoid juices
- Avoid sugar
To stay healthy through pregnancy – eat complex carbohydrates. eat whole fruits – not juices. Eat lots of neutral watery fibrous vegetables like cucumber, bhindi, lauki, pumpkin etc. Cook food in a minimal amount of oil.
What are the foods to avoid during the first trimester pregnancy?
The first trimester is the time when the foundation and the crucial parts of all the organs of the baby are laid. The first trimester therefore is the time when you must be most cautious about what to eat. The nausea and vomiting of the first trimester do not allow expectant mothers to eat much anyway – which in itself is a protective mechanism.
It is most important to respect the wishes of your body and not eat things when you feel nauseous and also not eat things which make you feel nauseated.
However, do not give in completely to your cravings either. Even if your body craves the foods listed above – avoid eating too much of them
Gassy foods to avoid during pregnancy
Some foods like Chick peas (Chole) Red Kidney Beans (Rajma) Cauliflower (Gobhi) etc. cause gas formation in the intestines. Under normal circumstance we walk around and the gas does not cause too many problems. However during pregnancy – we move much less than usual – and this causes the gas to accumulate and leads to bloating. Progesterone also slows down the gut and slow digestion leads to gassy feeling.
- Avoid beans – Rajma, chole, etc cause a lot of gas
- Avoid cauliflower and cabbage
- Dry fruits in large quantities
- Milk and milk products if you are lactose intolerant
- Refined foods like food made with maida or packaged food
- Fibre rich vegetables like spinach peas
- Foods that are deep-fried
- Bakery products that contain large quantities of butter
Season all food preparations with small amounts of ginger, jeera, hing pudina and saunf
Heartburn foods to avoid during pregnancy
During pregnancy – as your baby grows it occupies more and more space in the abdomen. This means that lesser and lesser space is left for your own organs in the abdomen. Because of the cramped space – on of the main organs that gets compressed is the stomach. This results in the acid in the stomach getting pushed into the food pipe resulting in heartburn. You can avoid heart burn during pregnancy by doing the following
- Do not eat big meals. There is no place in your stomach for it. Eat small frequent meals.
- Avoid spicy food. Avoid a lot of chilli in the food.
- Avoid food rich in fat. Food with a lot of fat stays in the stomach for longer.
- Do not eat food rich in protein. Eat small quantities of protein in every meal. Too much protein in a meal keeps the food in the stomach for longer.
- Avoid lemon and other citrus fruits
- Avoid tea coffee
- Avoid fizzy drinks
What are the fruits to avoid during pregnancy?
Most fruits are sprayed with large quantities of pesticides before they reach us – and so all fruits must be eaten with caution. Any fruit that you eat during your pregnancy must be washed thoroughly to remove the pesticides that may be left on its surface and any colouring or polish that may have been added to make the fruit more appealing visually.
It is better to eat fruits that can be peeled before eating – like apples . oranges bananas etc. It is best to avoid fruits like grapes etc. which need to be eaten as they are grown.
Traditionally pregnant women have been asked to avoid fruits like papaya and pineapple. This is probably because of the high Vitamin A content in yellow fruits. Excess vitamin A during pregnancy – especially in the first trimester can cause malformations in the baby and that is the possible reason for the advice.
All fruits must be eaten in moderate amounts only. It is best to avoid eating any one fruit in a quantity more than a small quarter plate full.
Pregnancy is a time when it is better to be extra cautious because very small thing can plunge you into a deep spiral of worry. Also small aches and pains due to heartburn or gas – cause extreme anxiety. It is therefore best to be cautious and think twice before eating anything