7 Food Myths: The Truth About What To Avoid During Pregnancy
If you’re having a baby, chances are you’ve been warned against at least one if not all of the following, each of which could use some clarification.
In places around the world like Australia and the U.S, it is a long-standing, popular belief that any drop of alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman is on par with a criminal act. Yet in countries like France, an occasional glass of red wine during pregnancy is actually considered beneficial. What is the truth? A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2012 found that light drinking during pregnancy actually had no negative effect on the unborn baby’s development at all. The study defined light drinking as 1-2 drinks per week, and no more than one standard unit – 7.9 grams of alcohol – on any one occasion. Moderation is the key.
“No coffee” or “decaf coffee only” is arguably the most talked about of all. The zero-caffeine myth, including cola and black and green teas, is founded on the perceived risk of low-birth weight, miscarriage and stillbirth which was supposedly linked to excessive caffeine consumption. However it has been proven that 200mgs or less of caffeine per day, equivalent to one standard 12-ounce cup of strong coffee, is perfectly safe.
You can’t eat sushi? This is also false. Especially in Japan, sushi with cooked fish is regularly eaten by pregnant women. Note you should certainly be careful with eating raw or exposed seafood, such as oysters, clams and freshly peeled prawns, because these can contain parasites. Fish, like salmon, which contains omega 3 fatty acids, are great for the baby’s brain development and vision. But you should avoid high-mercury fish like swordfish, mackerel and tilefish.
If you’ve ever been told to avoid cheese altogether, disregard that advice. Most common cheeses, like Parmesan and Cheddar, are harmless. Unless included in fully cooked products, the only cheese to avoid are soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Fetta and Ricotta particularly if they have been exposed during the manufacturing process. This is because there is an increased chance of contamination with the bacteria, Listeria during this process. Listeria is commonly found in exposed foods and if a pregnant woman were to be infected by this bacteria, this could be potentially fatal for the baby.
5. Hot dogs
Unless you eat them raw, a hot dog, well cooked as normal (i.e. at a high temperature of at least 75C) is perfectly fine. Pregnant women are often validly warned about cold cuts and deli meats, as these contain the highest risk of Listeria and other types of contamination in their raw state.
“Don’t eat sweets”, or even “Skip dessert”. Being pregnant should not feel like some form of punishment. While there is truth to cutting down on your sugar intake during pregnancy, new studies revealed that eating chocolate once a day while pregnant actually reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia and that these babies have better emotional health.
7. Raw vegetables
You may have heard it stated that anything raw (i.e. uncooked) during pregnancy is dangerous to the unborn baby. This does not apply to most vegetables. As long as they are rinsed and prepared thoroughly, raw is actually the most nutritious way of eating vegetables. The only raw or even lightly cooked vegetable types to avoid due to potential high-risk of bacteria are sprouts, like alfalfa and radish.
Its important to keep in mind that with the basic principles of due care, hygiene and moderation, modifying the way you eat and drink during pregnancy should not feel like an anxiety-inducing life change.
Along with ensuring your health is maintained during your pregnancy, you should also ensure that your finances are well protected. Having a baby is often a very important time for people to consider life insurance for peace of mind and to protect their growing family. Please consult with your GP or health professional when considering this information.