Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

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Q: I am three months pregnant and I have been told that there are certain foods I should avoid. Is this true?

A: First, let me congratulate you about your pregnancy. You are about to embark upon one of life's most rewarding journeys. In terms of a pregnancy diet, there are definitely foods you should avoid to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. These foods include:

• Raw meat found in sushi, seafood, rare or uncooked beef or poultry. Raw meat carries health risks due to coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella.
• Raw eggs or foods containing raw egg (such as mayonnaise), Caesar salad dressing, unpasteurized eggnog or Hollandaise sauce. Raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella.
• Soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, Brie and Camambert as they may harbor harmful bacteria.
• Fish containing accumulated levels of mercury in their fatty tissues such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and tuna.
• Farmed salmon that is high in a chemical pollutant called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). PCBs have been linked to attention disorders, lower IQs and a decrease in memory. Choose wild salmon (canned and fresh) instead.
• Minimize the amount of liver consumed. While liver may be good for you, it is also extremely high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can build up in the tissue. An excess of vitamin A can lead to birth defects in babies.
• Although the FDA recommends artificial sweeteners are safe for consumption during pregnancy, I do not recommend using them. Aspartame, for example, consists of three components: the amino acids phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol, otherwise known as wood alcohol. Methanol is toxic in humans even when consumed in small amounts. Although research studies have not yet been able to prove that aspartame causes neurological disorders, some of the most documented side effects include headaches, migraines, seizures, dizziness, muscle spasm, heart palpitations and numbness. It is far wiser to use natural sugar instead of a sugar substitute.
• There have been incidences of an outbreak of salmonella from eating raw sprouts. When pregnant, it is best to eat cooked sprouts.

Now that we have reviewed which foods should be eliminated from the diet, it is also important to mention which foods you should be consuming on a daily basis. Optimal food choices for your growing baby include:

• Carbohydrates – Organic fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain breads and pastas. In terms of fruits and vegetables, aim to have a serving at each and every meal or snack. Remember, the more colorful (e.g. blueberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc.), the better.
• Proteins – Cooked egg whites, chicken, fish, turkey, soy, protein powder, low-fat dairy products and lean beef.
• Fat – Eat as much "good fat" as possible to support proper brain and nervous system development. Optimal choices include nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oils, cold-water fish and omega-3 eggs.


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