Pregnancy requires special food precautions. Here's what to do to keep yourself and your baby-to-be healthy.
Meat, Poultry and Eggs
Cook red meat and poultry until they are done. Meat should reach about 160° F, while poultry should reach 170–180° F. Use a thermometer, because the color of the flesh isn’t necessarily an accurate indication of doneness.
Check the “sell by” date on packages of hot dogs, deli meats and meat spreads you purchase. It’s safe to buy these meats on the last date, but the product should be frozen or consumed within a few days. Listeria also has been detected in these types of foods.
Cook eggs until the whites and yolks are firm. Avoid foods that contain raw eggs such as Caesar salad, mousse, homemade ice cream and homemade mayonnaise. If your favorite recipe calls for eggs that remain uncooked, use a liquid egg substitute instead.
Fruits and Vegetables
Wash produce well to remove dirt, microorganisms and any surface pesticides. “Either hold the fruit or vegetable under running water or dip it into and then out of a bowl of water,” Snider suggests. Do not use soap unless it is made specifically for cleaning food.
Peel fruits and vegetables to get rid of surface pesticides or dirt. Packaged salads should be kept refrigerated at 35–40° F to keep them fresh and to minimize bacterial growth. Going organic is not necessary. In fact, organic foods can present some health concerns. “Some organic growers fertilize with sheep manure, which can carry Listeria,” Snider says. Purchase only pasteurized juices. Some farm-stand apple ciders and organic unpasteurized bottled juices have been found to contain E. coli, an illness-causing bacteria that is destroyed by the high heat of pasteurization.
Some herbal teas aren’t safe for pregnant women or their unborn babies; they may act as laxatives or cause uterine contractions. Chamomile, raspberry and ginger varieties are considered safe.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine in moderation — less than 300 milligrams daily, or the equivalent of about two or three cups of coffee (or 12–18 ounces) — appears to have no effect on pregnancy or on the development of your unborn child. But beware if you continue to drink it; caffeine may contribute to heartburn and nausea during pregnancy.
Alcohol should be eliminated from your diet completely. Even drinking in moderation — one or two drinks a day — could increase your chances of miscarriage or delivering a low-birth-weight child. Because safe levels are not known at this time, experts recommend abstinence.
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