Healthy Eating while Pregnant

Eating a consistent, nutritious diet throughout your pregnancy benefits both your growing baby and you. What you eat directly affects how well your body copes and recovers from the physical changes of pregnancy and birth. Eating well also helps with the mental and emotional challenges of carrying and delivering a baby.

In general, try to eat a healthy whole food diet during and after your pregnancy. Eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty, but aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.

Foods to Avoid

If in doubt, play it safe and avoid eating it!

Cheeses

Not all cheeses are off-limits, but many can be potentially harmful to a pregnant parent.

Avoid both pasteurized and unpasteurized soft cheeses which usually have a surface mould or rind such as bleu cheeses, Brie, Camembert and Danish Blue.

Also avoid cheeses coated in wax such as Gouda, Post Salut. It is best to stay clear of the majority of blue cheeses such as Stilton, Gorgonzola and Roquefort. 

Hard Cheeses such as Cheddar, Parmesan, and Red Leicester fall into the safe category, as do softer cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as Cottage cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, processed cheese and cheese spreads. 

Eggs

Salmonella bacteria are most commonly found in eggs. It is best to avoid any foods made with raw or partly cooked eggs such as homemade mayonnaise, meringues, cheesecakes, sorbets or mousses. 

Eggs are only safe if they have been cooked long enough that the yolks are hard. Store-bought mayonnaise is usually safe as long as it is been made with pasteurized eggs. Always check the label if in doubt.

Milk and Dairy

Avoid all dairy products which have not been pasteurized. All pasteurized products are safe to use all through pregnancy and beyond.

Meats

Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or poultry. Also avoid meats which have been preserved in nitrates such as salami, hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meat (cold cuts). 

Always cook meat so the juices run clear and there is no ‘pinkness’ or blood within. When preparing raw meat and poultry, always wash your hands thoroughly before touching any other foods. 

Liver contains vitamin A in the form of Retinol, which if taken while pregnant can increase their levels way above the recommended daily level and potentially harmful to the baby. Liver should be avoided, as well as products containing liver such as paté and liver sausage.

Seafood

Avoid oysters and raw or uncooked fish. Avoid shellfish unless they have been thoroughly cooked and are served hot (ex: crab, prawns/shrimp, crawfish, lobster)

Most seafood bought from a fishmonger or supermarket should be safe. Fresh tuna should be eaten sparingly, if at all, because of the levels of mercury it contains.

Salads

Avoid prepackaged store-bought salads, as well as mayonnaise-dressed salads such as coleslaw and potato salad. It is best to make your own fresh salads and ensure all leaves and vegetables are thoroughly washed, free from soil and other contaminants.

TL/DR Foods to Avoid

Raw Egg: Avoid raw or soft-cooked eggs and foods containing raw egg.

Milk  and Dairy: Avoid all unpasteurized dairy products. Avoid both pasteurized and unpasteurized soft cheeses (they usually have a surface mould or rind), and skip cheeses coated in wax.

Meat: Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or poultry. Avoid meats preserved in nitrates (ex: deli meat and bacon). Avoid liver and products containing liver (ex: paté and liver sausage).

Seafood: Avoid oysters and raw or uncooked fish. Avoid shellfish unless they have been thoroughly cooked and are served hot (ex: crab, prawns/shrimp, crawfish, lobster)

Salads: Avoid prepackaged store-bought salads, as well as mayonnaise-dressed salads such as coleslaw and potato salad.

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