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What Not to Eat During Pregnancy


You know what comes close to getting a feeling of godhood? Not absolute power, wealth or possessions. It is the feeling that you get when you know a life akin to yours, within you, is completely dependent on you. The onset of motherhood with the initial months of pregnancy has its trials and tribulations as well as its own set of joys. While care and concern doubles up from the family, it is also important that you, the mother, know what is right for you and your baby. The first and foremost things that should top your checklist are your diet and food habits.


You’d often get advised by your mother, in-laws, and kin about what you should be eating and if you are the curious cat, you’d also get to know the why. But what about the absolute NOs? While people may frown and abruptly tell you to not eat something, you can read on to find out why you should be wary of certain foods during pregnancy.


The time of pregnancy, as joyous as it is, also takes a toll on the energy quota required by your body. While your daily diet of rice, pulses, vegetables and baked breads will increase significantly, occasional food cravings also serve to bring in the much needed calorie intake for you. Let’s look at what foods should stay off your cookbook during your pregnancy.


Foods to be Wary of


Protein forms a major part of diet when it comes to repairing tissues, it is also a major component of hair and nails, as well as serving a building block for muscles, bones and cartilages. That itself goes on to say volumes about why pregnant women need to have it. But most sources of protein are also tainted with various types of bacteria, if not processed well enough. In this list come the following food sources –


Seafood and fish


Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids but we would advise you to stick with the freshwater type. Salt water fish or sea fish could contain pollutants and if the fish is preserved or frozen, there could be bacteria in the same. Swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish contain high amounts of mercury and should be avoided. If you are a fan of sushi, best stay away from it. Any kind of raw seafood could be potentially dangerous for the foetus due to the presence of algal infections.


You could substitute your fish cravings by having properly cooked freshwater fish. Else if you just need the nutritional aspect, you could make do with capsules of cod liver oil as prescribed by your doctor.


Meat and Poultry


Somewhat of a similar precaution follows this category as well. While animal protein is one of the richest sources of protein available, proper cooking is necessary to eliminate harmful bacteria that can be present in frozen or fresh meat. This includes beef, mutton and pork. In case of poultry, it doesn’t matter if you love chicken, ham, duck, geese or turkey, they also have to pass through the same rigorous cooking.


Frozen meat and poultry should be heated to at least 73 degrees Celsius. Traditional methods of cooking meat in India can suffice. If you like having chicken or meat stock, you should take extra care in washing the food items. While making any kind of curries, the use of turmeric in the spices is advised since it acts as a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal ingredient.


While speaking about poultry, eggs come up for discussion. Some people have the habit of having raw eggs for breakfast. This is a strict no for pregnant women. Salmonella bacteria can be found in raw eggs and can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Raw eggs are also present in most of the mayonnaise products and salad dressings that bear a brown dot inside a square on the packaging. Avoid such types of food during pregnancy. If you do need to have eggs once in a while, you can have hard boiled eggs or a proper fried omelette. If you have had a history of high cholesterol or heart disease, just skip the egg yolk and the rest of the egg is fine to go on your diet plan.


Dairy Products


What?! Now milk, cheese, paneer and cream too? No. Dairy products are a great source of calcium and protein and you should have them. But make sure all the products that you have are pasteurized. If you prefer having the milk delivered by your trusted milkman rather than buying the packets at a store, you can pasteurize the same first.


Bring the milk to a boil slowly till it reaches 63 degrees Celsius while constantly stirring it. Then place the container inside a sink/larger container filled with ice water and keep stirring it till the temperature drops to 4 degrees Celsius. You can then refrigerate the milk for future use. Homemade cheese from this milk is very safe to eat, as is the raw paneer made from it.


Avoid having raw paneer bought outside or any other soft cheese like brie, feta, and camembert. If you have cheese cravings, check the labels of hard cheese like cheddar and Swiss cheese if the products are pasteurized or not.


Fruits and Vegetables


Just because you get the fruits and vegetables from a supermarket than your neighbourhood green grocer doesn’t make them any extra safe. Make sure you wash everything carefully before having anything, raw or cooked.


For certain vegetables and nuts, it is a good idea to blanch them so that any bacteria and microorganisms get destroyed and the items can be cooked later when needed. Almonds and pistachios can be blanched to remove the outer skin. The outer skin of such nuts is most often riddled with preservatives and as such can also cause constipation for certain individuals.


Considering fruit and vegetable juices, refrain from buying anything outside and try to get everything done at home through a good juicer. Whole vegetables and fruits are anyway a lot better than having juices.


Stimulants and depressants


Caffeine, nicotine and tannin are the most commonly available set of stimulants that one can get. In simple terminology, coffee, tobacco and tea. Cocoa solids or dark chocolate also have a high amount of caffeine. While an occasional cup of hot chocolate and coffee doesn’t hurt, try not to get hooked on to the same. During pregnancy, it is normal for your body to get tired and you might feel drowsy at odd times. But a shot of black coffee or a bar of dark chocolate is not always the healthiest answer. Being stimulants, all three (caffeine, nicotine, tannin) have the ability to force the system to wakefulness, burning more energy to help you work, at the cost of your much needed dose of rest.


On the flipside, depressants like alcohol, marijuana, wormwood, absinthe, cannabis slow your heart rate down and reduce the efficiency of your body to clean itself of toxins. Remember, at the time of pregnancy, your body is cleaning toxins from two organisms, you and your baby. Do not tax your body more than it can handle.


General Precautions


As the adage rule goes, ‘Excess of anything is bad’. This thumb rule is especially useful if you are pregnant. Give in to your cravings, but make a list of what is healthy and can satisfy that craving better than the unhealthier alternative. Junk food can taste great, but your digestive system will not thank you for it. If ever do a binge while stressed out, make sure you have enough water and juices to flush the excess material out of your system.


10-11 months are not a very long stretch. You can still make the best of a house party if you have supporting friends and a loving partner. Alcohol and smoking are not the creative options you should be looking forward to.


In the end, it all boils down to a few simple points –


1. Wash your food properly before eating


2. Make sure home preserved food and homely pre-cooked food are not past their due date


3. Avoid canned and commercially preserved food whenever possible


4. Drink lots of juices and water to keep your internal system clean and flush


5. Make it a point to have glucose instead of tea/coffee whenever you feel really tired


5. Make it a point to have glucose instead of tea/coffee whenever you feel really tired


You might have friends and family around to suggest you better diet, and then you always have us and the community you are a part of at TinyStep. Wish you a happy motherhood!


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