To Avoid or Not to Avoid: What to eat during Pregnancy!

To Avoid or Not to Avoid: What to eat during Pregnancy!

From our friends over at Working Against GravityÊ


The internet is full of forums and ideas of what you ÒcanÓ and ÒcanÕtÓ eat while pregnant.

It can be tricky to discern fact from fiction. Just like most of nutrition, there isnÕt a black and white answer, so weÕre here to help you decide if these safety recommendations apply to you and your pregnancy.

LetÕs break down some of the most commonly cautioned-against foods (and determine if the basis of caution is worth the hype):

Why is it a concern?ÊHigh mercury intake and food poisoning.
What nutrients could I be missing?ÊDHA, iodine, zinc, iron, vitamin B6, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and glycine.[1] For a reminder about what some of these nutrients do in your body, check out ourÊblog on micronutrients!
How can I consume it safely?

Certain fish have a higher concentration of mercury and should be avoided. These fish include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.[2]
Seafood like cod, haddock, salmon, shrimp, and many other options are safe to eat during pregnancy if they are sourced responsibly. The seafood market is very tightly regulated so if you make sure to select fresh-caught, responsibly stored seafood from a reputable establishment, you can still consume seafood.[1]
Cooking food helps eliminate potential bacteria, which is why consuming raw seafood while pregnant is often discouraged. However, if raw seafood is wild-caught, stored correctly and sourced responsibly, it can be eaten during pregnancy [1].
Raw shellfish is responsible for 75% of food poisoning from seafood so we suggest you avoid it altogether.[3]


Deli Meats
Why are they a concern?ÊListeria.
What nutrients could I be missing?ÊDeli meats can provide a good source of lean protein.
How can I consume them safely?

We love to recommend whole foods first, so if youÕre craving turkey deli meat, try just cooking some turkey at home first. But itÕs nice to know that if you do have a hankering for deli meats, FDA researchers estimate that only one in every 83,000 servings causes listeria.[4]
Trust your nose and throw away odd-smelling meat.
Be smart about where youÕre purchasing your deli meat (gas station versus meat from a local store) and eat within two to four days of purchasing.
Heat your deli meat until itÕs steaming to decrease pathogen exposure.[1]


Runny Egg Yolks
Why are they a concern?ÊSalmonella.
What nutrients could I be missing?ÊProtein, choline, DHA, and iodine are all found in egg yolks.[1]
How can I consume them safely?

The odds of an egg containing salmonella are between 1/12,000 and 1/30,000.[5] These odds decrease significantly when you purchase free-range organic eggs. So, much like seafood, it comes down to sourcing and knowing where your eggs are coming from.
You can also eat eggs scrambled or over hard to ensure theyÕre cooked all the way.


Soft Cheese and Raw Milk
Why are they a concern?ÊListeria.
What nutrients could I be missing?ÊProtein, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12.
How can I consume them safely?

The odds of contracting listeria from soft cheese have been estimated by the FDA to be about 1 in 5 million.[4]
We recommend ensuring that any soft cheese you consume is sourced from happy animals. Organic cheeses from grass-fed animals will be safer than cheeses made from conventionally raised animals.
Heating cheese will help kill unwanted bacteria.
Ultimately, there is no concrete answer to guaranteeing which foods are determined to be safe or unsafe during pregnancy.

Nearly 22 percent of foodborne illnesses in the United States can be attributed to green leafy veggies[7], but the odds of reading a prenatal book that tells a pregnant woman to avoid salad are slim to none.

If there are foods on this list youÕd rather avoid, that is totally fine! No matter what, itÕs important to do some homework, find out where your foods are coming from and talk to your doctor. This way, you can ensure youÕre not missing out on foods you love or foods that provide the essential vitamins and minerals for a happy, healthy pregnancy. We have WAG coaches who would love to support you through this vital time!



Nichols, L. (2018). Real food for pregnancy. (n.p): Lily Nichols.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2014).ÊEating fish: what pregnant women should know.ÊRetrieved fromÊ
Iwamoto, M., Ayers, T., Mahon, B.E., & Swerdlow, D.L. (2010). Epidemiology of seafood-associated infections in the United States.ÊClin Microbiol Rev, 23(2), 399-411. doi:Ê10.1128/CMR.00059-09
Tam, C., Erebara, A., & Einarson, A. (2010). Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy.ÊCan Fam Physician, 56(4), 341-343. Retrieved fromÊ
Ebel, E., & Schlosser, W. (2000). Estimating the annual fraction of eggs contaminated with salmonella enteritidis in the United States.ÊInt J Food Microbiol, 61(1), 51-62. Retrieved fromÊ
Mie, A., Anderson, H.R., Gunnarsson, S., Kahl, J., Kesse-Guyot, E., Rembialkowska, E., … Grandjean, P. (2017). Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review.ÊEnviron Health, 16(1), 111. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4.
Painter, J.A., Hoekstra, R.M., Ayers, T., Tauxe, R.V., Braden, C.R., Anguloa, F.J., & Griffin, P.M. (2013). Attribution of foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths to food commodities by using outbreak data, united states, 1998-2008.ÊEmerging Infectious Diseases, 19(3). DOI: 10.3201/eid1903.111866



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