One of the first questions I get asked by a newly pregnant woman is “what can’t I eat?” There’s a laundry list of foods to avoid during pregnant, and information is conflicting. Raw fish? Soft cheeses? Deli meat? Liver? While not all claims come from unsupported theories, there’s also a bit of fear mongering that may prevent women from eating beneficial foods. So, what’s best practice?
?When considering a food, weigh the benefit to the risk. Many foods are advised against because they may increase risk of concerns such as exposure to bacteria. However, the benefits to eating some of these food may outweigh the small risk of contamination. For example, runny eggs can bring a small risk of salmonella, but eggs are the best food source of choline, an essential micronutrient for baby. Most women are deficient, so if having eggs runny is the only way you can eat them, it may be worth it.
?Opt for organic produce (check out the dirty dozen list)
?Pick high quality, grass fed and pasture raised proteins
?Consider nutrient density of foods like seafood and full fat dairy as much as any concern
?Sub out your choices. Try homemade guacamole over packaged, or slow roasted ham over deli meat
?Of all things, raw shellfish may be worth avoiding all together since the risk may outweigh the benefit
?Don’t feel comfortable eating something? Follow your gut and know pregnancy is temporary
?Be smart: talk with your doc about the risks of caffeine and alcohol
?Instead of obsessing over what you can’t eat, emphasize the foods you should eat, including those rich in B vitamins, Omega 3s, choline, folate, and fiber
? Hire a certified coach who can objectively help you break through the confusion
? Delve into more in-depth and research-backed information from experts such as Lily Nichols
It’s important to think critically about your prenatal nutrition and to not have a myopic view of foods to avoid during pregnancy. And remember, foods to truly avoid (like fast food) aren’t always on a list. Refined carbs, processed foods, trans fats and excessive sugar can actually be worse than that runny egg.