Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy (especially this summer)

foods to avoid during pregnancyWith the onset of summer and July 4th just around the corner, so are the poolside lunches, beach picnics and barbeques that offer many of our favorite summertime staples – hotdogs, clambakes, potato salad, club sandwiches – just to name a few. For pregnant women, these events can provide an easy way to get the extra nutrition and calories needed to help ensure the health of you and your baby, but the foods you may want to eat may also be on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Keep in mind, just as important as what you’re eating is what you’re not eating as you head into summer.

The Danger of Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a type of food-borne illness caused by bacteria and pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get listeriosis than the general population. While it may only cause mild, flu-like illness in a pregnant woman, the results to your baby can be life-threatening, so it’s best to avoid foods that are known to carry the bacteria.

Foods to Avoid while Pregnant

Unfortunately the cookouts and picnics that earmark this time of year are typically where you can find many of the foods that can cause listeriosis. To limit your risk of infection, use this guideline of foods to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk
    Avoid unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk, including soft cheeses such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, Camembert, Brie, or blue-veined cheeses unless the label specifically says “made with pasteurized milk.”
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats and cold cuts
    If you’re considering having a hot dog or have a craving for deli meat, only consume the product after its been heated until steaming hot just before serving.
  • Refrigerated pate and meat spreads
    All refrigerated pate or meat spreads should be avoided, however canned pate or shelf-safe meat spreads can be eaten.
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
    This recommendation includes such fish as smoked cod, smoked salmon or lox, smoked mackerel, smoked trout, smoked tuna and smoked whitefish.
  • Raw and undercooked seafood, eggs and meat
    Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and Raw eggs too should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Sometimes we find raw eggs as an ingredient in some tasty indulgences, so take caution with homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauce.

Avoiding Food Poisoning while Pregnant

In addition to limiting the risk of listeriosis, pregnant women should be equally as diligent in avoiding food poisoning. Food poisoning is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but for a pregnant woman the intense vomiting and diarrhea can cause your body to lose too much water and adversely affect the baby.  To prevent food poisoning, you can follow these simple guidelines:

  • Wash your food
    All raw produce should be washed thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking. While the crudité may look like a good choice at an upcoming BBQ, it’s important to consider whether or not the food has been properly cleaned.
  • Keep your kitchen clean
    When handling and preparing uncooked foods, spend the time to be extra diligent in washing your hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards.
  • Avoid all raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat
    Yes, these appeared above on the list of foods to avoid, giving you two reasons to stay away from them. If you need to feed your sushi craving during the course of you pregnancy, you’ll be safe to opt for a cooked variety that avoids any raw seafood.
  • Avoid eating perishable foods that have been left out too long
    Perishable foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Before adding a side of potato and pasta salad to your plate, be sure that the food has been refrigerated properly to lower any risk of food poisoning.

Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

Armed with a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy, you can focus on creating healthy nutrition during pregnancy that’s high in proteins, vegetables, fruits and grains, and low in sugar, fat and cholesterol. A healthy pregnancy diet will make a significant difference in your baby’s fetal development and your overall well-being, so talk with your prenatal care provider about your body’s specific dietary needs during pregnancy, inclusive of your targeted calorie intake, and make a plan that works for you.

Additional information

If you have any questions about prenatal care, feel free to contact us for more information or schedule a new patient consultation to discuss your particular situation.  You can also download the guide, “Prenatal Care Visits – From Pre-Conception to Labor & Deliver.”Prenatal Care Visits Week-by-Week

About the practice

Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is an ob-gyn located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.

Laury Berkwitt, APRN, is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s health care in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for more than 10 years, caring for women of all ages.

For more information, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. John Garofalo, MD, and Laury Berkwitt, APRN, can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.803.1098.