Pregnant? Thinking of getting pregnant? If you’re like I was, you might be worrying about a lot of things, like just how many foods (and beverages!) are “off limits” and how you’ll get through the next 9 months without a wine and cheese pairing. I thought it would be helpful to share which foods I missed the most during pregnancy, what I had instead to satisfy those cravings, and to debunk some myths that I heard floating around. Feel free to chime in in the comments with your experience!
Alcohol, especially during the first trimester, is extremely dangerous to your unborn child. You may have heard of the the CDC’s new guidelines for women of childbearing age urging them all to abstain from alcohol. This got quite the (negative) response in the media. It seems extreme and I personally believe it’s unrealistic and unnecessary, but if you are actively trying to get pregnant? Probably not a bad idea. And if you know you’re pregnant? Best to stop drinking. Substitute a sparkling juice/cider for that glass of vino or a fancy mocktail for the gin & tonic. Try Trader Joe’s Sparkling Pink Lemonade or Martinelli’s Gold Medal Sparkling Cider.
It’s true. You shouldn’t be eating the raw stuff because it poses a higher risk for food borne illness which can be very dangerous while you’re pregnant. There are also certain types of fish that contain high levels of mercury like swordfish, tuna and king mackerel. But, good news! There are some dishes on a sushi menu you can still enjoy. Any of the cooked rolls or sides are a great choice. Shrimp tempura, a dragon roll, or a simple avocado & cucumber roll are good choice. Or how about some edamame or shumai? Just be sure to use low sodium soy sauce and enjoy in moderation as you should be conscious of your sodium levels during pregnancy. Also, make sure to ask for any rolls without fish roe since that is considered raw.
3) Prosciutto (and other cold cuts)
Cold Cuts like prosciutto are considered a high-risk food for pregnant women because they may contain harmful bacteria called Listeria. Listeriosis (the disease caused by Listeria) is very rare, but pregnant women are more vulnerable to its effects and it can do serious harm (or even be deadly) to your unborn child. Not worth the risk if you ask me. But, if you are having a craving you can enjoy deli meats while pregnant as long as you heat them to a safe temp of 165°F. This high temperature will kill any lingering bacteria. So, go ahead and make a ham and (pasteurized!) cheese panini.
4) And speaking of Cheese…
You might have heard that eating certain cheeses while pregnant is a no-no. Most of my friends were under the impression that any/all soft cheese is not recommended. However, the truth is that the CDC recommends pregnant women steer clear of “unpasteurized cheeses” whether they are hard or soft. Raw milk is 150 times more likely to cause food borne illness, something you don’t want to contend with while pregnant since your immune system is depressed.* As long as the cheese has been pasteurized, it is safe for anyone to consume. So go ahead, have some brie, feta, or fresh mozzarella, just make sure you check the label before eating. You’re unlikely to find unpasteurized products at the supermarket, but you should be particularly careful if you’re buying milk or cheese at a farmer’s market. Since they are not usually labeled you may need to ask the farmer.
5) Last but not least…Coffee
If you’re like me, you envision that steaming cup o’ joe when you awaken in the morning. It’s the best part of waking up, right? Well, you may not have to give it up cold turkey if you don’t want to. Research regarding caffeine consumption during pregnancy is mixed and the official recommendation is to consume no more than 150-300mg per day. A 12 oz. cup of coffee usually contains about 200mg so if you limit yourself to one cup a day, you’ll be well within these guidelines. However, keep in mind that a “grande” cup at Starbucks is 16oz. and contains around 400mg of caffeine (more than the recommended daily limit) and you may be getting some caffeine from other things in your diet like soda or tea.