Nutrition and Food Safety Tips

During pregnancy, it's not only important to eat well, but also to handle your food properly. Here are some tips to make sure all your meals are safe.

Wash Up
Wash your hands with soap before you handle any food and again after touching raw meat, fish or poultry. Also, wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before you eat them.

Think Nutritious
When eating, always consider whether what you are about to eat will benefit your baby and try to avoid those foods that are low in nutritional value. Remember that although two foods have the same amount of calories, they do not necessarily have the same nutritional value. A doughnut with 300 calories is not as beneficial to you and your child as a bran muffin with the same amount of calories. When faced with similar decisions, try to choose the foods that are the most nutrient-dense.

Here are some good guidelines to follow in this regard:

  • always choose lean meats over fatty ones
  • try to reduce the number of fried foods you consume, opting for broiled foods instead
  • decrease the amount of butter or margarine you spread on your bread
  • if sautéing, use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil rather than greater amounts of vegetable oil

Utensils and Freshness
Always use a clean cutting board and knife. Wash them well after using them for raw meats, fish and poultry. Refrigerate any uneaten or unused food promptly.

Small Meals
Eat frequent small meals if you are plagued with nausea problems, heartburn or reduced stomach space later in pregnancy. This can also help level out blood sugar levels, making you feel a bit better during the day. You should never skip any meals. Remember, if you are skipping a meal, so is your child.

Variety is very important as it helps ensure that you’re gathering the daily doses of recommended vitamins and minerals every day. It also helps prevent boredom with your diet which can lead to straying. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Playing it Safe
Here are some foods to avoid and items to steer clear of when you're pregnant.

  • Deli Meats: Deli meats, such as ham, bologna and salami, are an occasional cause of food poisoning; avoid them or reheat them before eating
  • Allergies: Some women need to be especially careful about what they eat while pregnant. If you have a food allergy (to peanuts, eggs, wheat or cow's milk, for example), a family history of food allergies or a partner with a food allergy, you should avoid that food. Some studies indicate that your baby may have an increased risk of developing a food allergy later in life if you, your partner or a family member has a food allergy. You may wish to consult a food allergy specialist for help in planning your diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, your baby does too. Even small amounts of alcohol can harm your unborn baby — there is no "safe" level of alcohol consumption when you're pregnant. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy can have a baby with a group of birth defects called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Many more babies whose mothers drink lightly or moderately are born with lesser degrees of alcohol-related problems.
  • Junk Food: It's not very practical to believe that you won't touch any junk food during pregnancy. A more realistic approach is to watch portion sizes and to avoid going overboard. It's easy to think of being pregnant as the time to put on as much weight as you want, but that really is not the case. Develop a healthy attitude towards the sweets and fatty foods in your life and the habit will take you a long way even after baby is born!

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