Food To Avoid in Pregnancy

Of course this blog on Food to Avoid in Pregnancy is just as important for moms of single babies as well as moms of twins and triplets but I thought I would have a look at 5 foods that I avoided during my pregnancy and see if the reasons for avoiding them are still the same now as they were…… What I have found is there is contradiction on whether some of them are safe or not !  But having read about them thought it would be a good idea to lay things bare !

Raw/Partially Cooked Eggs

When I was pregnant, I was told that I shouldn’t eat eggs that weren’t completely cooked, so no runny yolks or white 🙁
And, no foods that had uncooked egg in, so no homemade mayonnaise.  The only thing was, I forgot that I was supposed to be avoiding it and when I made cakes, I would lick the spoon ! Oh !!

Today things are different, or at least the British Egg Information Service says it is in the UK.  They did a study of over 15,000 Lion Quality eggs over the the past two years and every one was free of Salmonella.  They state that runny eggs can now be eaten by pregnant women.  However, right now, pregnant mothers are still being advised to avoid eggs unless they are fully cooked or pasteurised. The Uk doesn’t perform any cleaning of the eggs before sale and are stored on supermarket shelves rather than refrigerated.  They have the Lion Quality mark and as a non-pregnant mom right now, I eat runny eggs and uncooked egg. Im not sure I would if I was pregnant.

In the USA, eggs are treated differently. They are washed in water at at least 90°F to remove all fecal matter, which also removes the cuticle, the natural protection on the egg. So consequently all eggs are refrigerated.  But they recommend the same caution for pregnant moms. Eggs should still be fully cooked.

 

 

I think, that caution is always the best policy. If you can’t give up your runny egg or home made mayonnaise, use  the pasteurised liquid egg or pasteurised in- shell. Watch Hollandaise Sauce, this is made with uncooked egg and also Tiramisu recipes add uncooked egg and egg white to the Mascarpone to make it taste richer.

Babies And Children and Uncooked Eggs

Mom with children baking and tasting cookie batter.

My triplets were very premature, I never gave them uncooked egg… I know its a sort of normal thing in the UK to make your toddlers runny eggs with toast strips (soldiers!) to dip into the egg. But I didn’t do this.  I was very careful not to stress their immune systems for a long time….. probably longer than was needed… but you know how precious they are !

Older kids, as long as they’re healthy are okay with eggs now, but in the UK in the ’80s there was a huge outbreak of Salmonella and that’s probably why the authorities are reluctant to change their standpoint.

 

 

Fish

A broad collection of foods here… Safe to say that anything that is uncooked should be avoided. That includes sushi which can potentially contain tiny worms that will give you diarrhoea.  It has no effect on your unborn babies but will make you feel pretty grim.   When I was pregnant with my triplets, Sushi wasn’t high in popularity as it is now so I didn’t have any problems with that one.

Raw shellfish, such as oysters  should be avoided… a pregnant mom is much more susceptible to food poisoning and if you’re having two or three babies, food poisoning will not be fun!

Cooked fish and shellfish is fine, although they can contain environmental pollutants (PCB’s). Whilst these chemicals are no longer used, they are still hanging around in our environment. Restrict fish to no more than twice a week.

Shark, swordfish, marlin and tuna all have the potential for containing mercury, only because they are long living and eat smaller fish that have smaller amounts of mercury too.  Mercury is a naturally occurring element in the environment, plants, animals, but coal fired electricity and smelting have increased the environmental mercury entering our rivers, lakes and oceans where it is gobbled up by the fish and so it accumulates in the ever larger fish. Smoked salmon is safe, the curing process destroys the potential bacteria Listeria but make sure you purchase it from a trusted source.

Meat

All cooked meat is perfectly safe, you can’t go wrong with cooked chicken, cooked beef etc. Its raw meat, for example ordering your entrecôte steak medium/rare or having steak tartare – which is wrong in so many ways, including the uncooked egg on the top !

Cured meat fares no better  – chorizo, parma ham, salami.  All these are fine if they are cooked ontop of a pizza or in a pot but not if you’re eating them with no cooking.  So don’t eat uncooked meat toppings on pizzas! They, and uncooked meat can potentially harbour toxoplasmosis.  It is very rare and certainly can be an issue if you have never been exposed to it before.

 

If you have a cat or had a cat, the chances are you are immune to it. But if not, then you also need to watch out for unpasteurised goats milk and cheese, eating unwashed fruit or vegetables and take care when gardening as soil harbours Toxoplasmosis too (cat’s poo).

The advice regarding liver, is to avoid it.  Whilst you need vitamin A in your diet when you’re pregnant, by eating more than one portion of liver or liver based foods, could give you too much.  Foods such as yellow, red and green leafy vegetables (spinach, carrot, sweet potato, red peppers) and yellow fruits(mango, papaya and apricots) are good sources of beta-carotene which the body can change into vitamin A. (Liver paté is also to be avoided mainly because it can contain Listeria)

Cheese

Stilton, contains very little water, so much less opportunity for Listeria to multiply.

Soft cheese is not safe to eat during pregnancy as it contains bacteria and potentially Listeria.  So stay away from the likes of Danish Blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort.   Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms in the pregnant mother, fatigue, muscle aches, fever. But the infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Soft cheese such as Cottage cheese, mozzarella, Feta, Ricotta, Halloumi , PASTEURISED goat’s cheese are all perfectly fine to eat. Those that do not contain mould and are made from pasteurised milk.

Hard cheeses are not a problem – Cheddar for example.  I have also read that Parmesan and Stilton are safe even if they’re made with unpasteurised milk because they don’t contain very much water and so bacteria cannot grow int them.

 

 

Seems that there are quite a few foods to avoid during pregnancy and to take into consideration with your babies, especially if you have preemies like mine were.  But having said that, with a little care on food choices, there are still plenty in each food group that you can eat ! 


 

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2 Comments

  1. Good evening Helen,

    To start with I cannot “boast” having twins or triplets, a bit sad I must say.
    My family consists of 4 cats, 1 dog, and my better half. As we met later on in life the issue of having children did not need to be talked about. I have read your recommendations on foods a pregnant woman should avoid. That I found interesting to read and the advice, given by you, very sensible. I am interested in what food does to our body, pregnant or not, it has a huge influence on our overall health. When one gets older one will notice for better or worse how well you have taken care of yourself.
    Your website is certainly a big help for women in this so important phase of their lives.

    • Thank you Taetske for your comments. I appreciate you taking time to read my article. I feel very strongly about setting things straight regarding what you should and shouldn’t do in pregnancy by offering sensible reasons rather than ‘old wive’s tales’. It is very important as you say, to consider the influence food has on your health.

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