Eating for two
What you eat affects your growing baby.
Congratulations new mommy to be! Pregnancy is pretty amazing. You’re creating a mini human that will probably look like a tiny, chubby, bald version of you and your partner. Loving this little small fry, starts now.
Thinking about a ham sandwich with a glass of juice to wash it down? If you’re eating for two, that’s not a good idea! There are so many “old wives tales” out there, enough to confuse anyone! Since you have found out about your pregnancy, there are probably quite a few things that might stress you out, don’t let food be one of them.
So, if eating healthy hasn’t been a habit, remember that the first trimester is one of the most important periods in your baby’s development, now really means now! You should be thinking more carefully about what you’re feeding yourself because the foods that you eat are the main source of nutrients for your growing baby. During pregnancy, for example, you’ll need protein and calcium for your baby’s tissues and bones. You’ll also need extra folic acid to protect against neural tube birth defects, as well as more iron to help red blood cells carry oxygen to your baby.
Why are some of your favourite foods off-limits when you’re pregnant … but fine if you’re not?
When you’re pregnant changes to your immune system make you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. What would’ve meant stomach upset before, could mean serious complications now … from dehydration to miscarriage. So, be safe and avoid the common culprits of food-borne illnesses.
Red flag foods
Yellow flag foods
- Eggs. Raw eggs may be tainted with salmonella, which could cause fever, vomiting diarrhoea. Watch out for restaurant-made Caesar salad, raw cookie-dough or soft sunny-side up eggs. If eggs are cooked, the risk is gone.
- Sushi. Uncooked items may cause illness-inducing parasites. Stick to California rolls and other cooked items if you can’t do without.
- Unpasteurized milk or juice: Stay away from juice sold at farmer’s markets; it may not have been pasteurized. Read your labels.
- Some varieties of fish. Most fish contain traces of mercury, so limit yourself to roughly 2 meals a week of lower mercury fish such as salmon, catfish, shrimp or canned tuna. Fish with high levels of mercury should be shunned, this could negatively affect baby’s nervous system. Avoid swordfish, shark and tilefish.
- Deli meats. This includes processed ham, turkey, chicken, salami etc. So, stay away from hotdogs unless they are steaming hot!
- Liver. Liver contain dangerously high amounts of vitamin A, especially during the first few months of pregnancy, has been linked to birth defects.
- Biltong. Moist biltong should be avoided and dry wors is seldom really that dry and has a high fat content, which can support the growth of organisms. A small amount of very dry biltong is fine, but only if it is obtained from a credible source.
- Alcohol. This is a no-brainer. No-one knows exactly what amount of alcohol causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; it’s smart to steer clear.
Some foods are fine in moderation, but don't go overboard.
- Coffee. While some studies have linked caffeine to increased risks in a foetus, stronger studies have shown that caffeine is not harmful in small amounts. What a relief! Research suggests no more than 2 or 3 cups a day.
- Nitrate-rich foods: What about your beloved diet soda? They're considered safe during pregnancy, but again, in moderation.
Green flag foods
A few foods you may have thought to be forbidden actually aren’t.
- Soft cheeses. Brie, feta and gorgonzola are allowed as long as it’s made with pasteurized milk – don’t take this for granted, check your labels.
- Fresh produce. Fruit and veggies rich in vitamins and fibre should be a staple during your pregnancy, BUT, rewash bagged lettuce (even if the label says it's washed) to wash away possible traces of salmonella or E.coli. Wash all fruit and veggies – whether you eat the skin or not you could drag germs into the flesh when you cut it.
If you’re worried about your diet, talk to your doctor to find out exactly which foods you can or cannot eat.