The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Before you were pregnant, you probably didn’t think twice about enjoying a tuna-fish sandwich, a salad sprinkled with blue cheese or a glass of red wine. After all, tuna is brimming with protein, blue cheese contains bone-building calcium, and red wine in moderation can benefit your heart. But now that you’re expecting, these foods could pose a health risk to you and your growing baby, which is why it’s important to know exactly which foods and beverages you should avoid. These important food facts will help you make safe choices.
I love sushi, but isn’t raw fish bad for a growing fetus?
Yes. When you are pregnant, eating any raw seafood, including sushi that contains uncooked fish, is a bad idea, says American Dietetic Association spokesman Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D. That’s because raw foods can carry harmful bacteria, such as listeria, which can cause flulike symptoms as well as miscarriage or stillbirth. They can also contain parasites, toxins and viruses, including hepatitis A and B.
Raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs also should be avoided because they can contain listeria, salmonella and E. coli. To help protect yourself from these bacteria, cook meat to 160° F and poultry to 180° F. Undercooked hot dogs or deli-style lunchmeats also can contain listeria, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant women avoid eating them unless they are heated until steaming hot.
*For a safe alternative to traditional sushi, try our recipe for Shrimp Sushi Rolls at www.fitpregnancy.com.
I’m diabetic. Are sugar substitutes safe to eat now that I’m expecting?
Based on years of research, sugar substitutes, such as saccharin and aspartame, appear to pose no health problems for pregnant women or their growing babies, Ayoob says. If you do choose to include them in your diet, consider eating them in healthful foods, such as sugar-free yogurt, rather than in diet soft drinks, which contain no nutrients.
I’m a vegetarian. Can I get all the nutrients I need without eating meat?
Yes, as long as you make sure you get enough vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D and the B vitamins, says Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy (Henry Holt and Co., 2002). Eggs, milk products, legumes, whole soy foods, vegetables and nuts are all excellent sources of these nutrients.