Being pregnant opens up a whole new world of foods to eat and foods to avoid. When you are pregnant, changes in your circulation and digestive patterns make you more sensitive to bacteria and viruses. To protect both your health and the health of your baby, avoid the following foods beginning in your first trimester:
High mercury seafood
Fish can be a great source of protein and the omega 3 fatty acids that will help your baby’s brain develop. The FDA recommends you avoid the following high mercury seafood sources, which may compromise the development of your baby’s nervous system: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish (or white snapper). For lower mercury varieties of fish, plan on consuming less than 12 ounces per week of: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
Raw meat and fish
Eating undercooked or raw fish and meat can put you at risk for harmful bacteria and viruses like toxoplasmosis and salmonella. To be safe always ask for well done meat at restaurants and when cooking at home, make sure your meat is fully cooked through (with no juices). Be sure to avoid sushi as well, though cooked rolls may be fine.
Soft cheeses and un-pasteurized dairy
To avoid the bacteria listeria, do not eat soft cheeses and milk products unless they are clearly marked pasteurized. Listeria is bacteria found in undercooked meats as well as un-pasteurized dairy products and processed foods (like deli meats and hot dogs). The Center for Disease Control claims that pregnant women account for 27% of reported cases each year and are 20 times more likely to be affected by listeria than non pregnant adults. Soft cheeses avoid include: brie, feta, camembert, blue cheese, mexican-style cheeses, such as queso blanco, queso fresco, queso de hoja, queso de crema and queso asadero. You can still enjoy full fat milks and hard cheeses that are pausteurized.
Although saccharin is the only artificial sweetener that is strongly discouraged for pregnant women, it is a good idea to use your own discernment with others like aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda). It’s always a good idea to replace foods that have no nutritional value with healthier, less processed varieties. Consider using grade B maple syrup and honey.