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Food & Pregnancy

What’s Safe to Eat During Pregnancy

Food Preparation
Eating Fish
Diet & Weight Gain

There is a lot of information out there regarding what foods to eat, or not to eat, in pregnancy. Many people and organizations claim benefits from certain dietary supplements and vitamins. What follows here is a list of foods and food preparation issues related to mother’s and baby’s safety.

  1. Cook Your Food: No raw stuff, like sushi. Steaks should be medium rare, or better, Not Rare.
  2. Lunch Meat: Listeria is a bacteria which can be found on sliced deli meats. Listeria infection can cause everything from miscarriage to mental retardation. Women should avoid cold lunch meats during pregnancy.
  3. Cheese: Pregnant women should only eat pasteurized cheese. Today, most cheese, even soft cheeses, are pasteurized. Soft cheese is okay, as long as it is pasteurized.
  4. Cider and Egg Nog: Make sure drinks are pasteurized. Be careful of “fresh” cider and egg nog bought at farms, farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
  5. MILK: No RAW or Fresh milk. Milk must be pasteurized.
  6. Tuna Fish From a Can: No more than once per week.

Eating Fish During Pregnancy

(adapted from the FDA and HHS web sites)

The information about fish consumption in pregnancy is confusing at best AND it keeps changing, and every six months another study is published, contradicting or changing what the last study said. The following information is good, middle-of-the-road advice.

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality proteins and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.

However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

By following these 3 recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

  1. Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish or Snapper because they contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. [Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.]
  3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

 MORE DETAILS: FISH explanation and FOOD List

Diet & Weight Gain in Pregnancy

We know very little about diet and weight gain in pregnancy. Sure, there is lots published on the topic. Many doctors, mothers, mother-in-laws, web sites and books have some very strong statements and opinions about the topic. Unfortunately, most of what you hear about the topic was made up, decades ago, and just passed on, year after year, generation after generation…[read more]