Tips on What Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

If you have a real affection for sushi, steak tartar, soft boiled eggs and unpasteurized soft cheeses, it can be hard to deal with the foods to avoid during pregnancy.  Here are some ideas on forbidden foods and your choices.

Understandings Change
If you are old enough to remember cars without seatbelts or lap belts you will immediately understand where I am going.  Would you purchase a car today without those seatbelts, or the airbags?  Most people wouldn’t.  Why is that?

In the 1960s and 1970s people didn’t really understand just how much of a difference those seatbelts made and for a while, seatbelts weren’t very popular.  Even today people opt not to wear them, knowing the statistics are not in their favor.  There is a concept called culpability – it involves responsibility for a negative result from ignoring a known danger.

What’s This Got to Do with Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy?
Today we know that eating raw foods puts us in danger of certain bacteria, pathogens and parasites.  To choose voluntarily to affect ourselves is one thing; to deliberately ignore the risks and potentially cause devastating harm to our offspring is a different matter altogether. 

Just as we now know that appropriate weight gain, not smoking and exercise are part of a healthier pregnancy, we know certain foods can increase our risks.

What About Moderation?
There are times when even a doctor will suggest to a woman well into her pregnancy to have a small glass of wine and relax.  This would only occur late in the pregnancy, by the way.  The truth is that we have no idea just how much alcohol it would take to affect a fetus.  Nor do we know at what point in the pregnancy that alcohol would have the greatest effect – at least not yet.

The same holds true for many risk factors.  Mercury in fish seems to be mitigated by the benefits, but it is still best not to eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, just in case. 

If you have had toxoplasmosis prior to your pregnancy, you can’t get it again, but if you don’t know for sure, even moderate amounts of the wrong fish at the sushi bar could give you the disease and potentially affect neural development in your baby.  Not all raw milk contains listeria, but is the risk of a miscarriage worth having that piece of brie?

Check your Sources
If you have heard rumor of certain foods to avoid during pregnancy and you are uncertain, check your sources.  Some foods are avoided due to tradition, not necessity.  For example, some people recommend you don’t eat peanuts during pregnancy, in order to avoid having children who are allergic to them.  There is no basis for this belief.

By the same token, if someone tells you that raw shellfish is fine during a pregnancy, consider the source.  Is the source an avid raw fooder?  Does he or she actually know anything about gestational nutrition?  Learn about foods to avoid during pregnancy from a reliable source.

Your Decision
Clearly, the only one who can decide whether or not you will abide by the recommendations on any “don’t eat” list is you.  Erring on the side of caution may not be as much fun, but it really is only 9 months.  After your baby is born, then is the time to head out for sushi, enjoy a margarita and cook up that rare steak without worry.

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