So what food changes do you need to make while you are pregnant?
You are pregnant and you want to enjoy it - but you are hearing from friends and family that you now need to stop eating some of the foods and drinks that you previously enjoyed. On this page we have a closer look at which foods are a 'no' and which foods are a 'go'.
You may be asking 'why do I need to stop eating certain foods during pregnancy?' You've been eating these foods for many years and haven't experienced any adverse symptoms. During pregnancy there are shifts in immunity with improvements in some areas and detriments in others. Pregnant women are more susceptible to infection with some pathogens - including Listeria. Also if a pregnant women does pick up an infection the consequences are usually more severe. A Listeria infection in a non pregnant healthy adult usually produces very few side effects or none at all, during pregnancy it can cause serious disease of the fetus. Risks of infection are low but it always better to err on the side of caution.
In addition, we all consume foods and drinks that contain low levels of contaminates which in relation to our body size/systems has little if any effect. If the same level of contaminate is passed onto the fetus it can be damaging. Its not all doom and gloom though, there are still plenty of lovely foods to enjoy during pregnancy!
Cheese - Avoid soft ripened cheeses including Brie, Camembert and some goats cheese. Also soft blue veined cheese like danish blue and roquefort or any unpasteurised dairy foods. But - if you cook them really well (steaming hot throughout) you can continue to enjoy them, as any bacteria should be destroyed. You can continue to eat hard cheeses like cheddar and halloumi or any other cheese which states it has been pasteurised, like cottage cheese, feta and ricotta. Cheese is a great source of calcium!
Fish - Avoid Shark, Marlin and Sword fish due to the mercury content. Limit fresh Tuna steaks to 2 portions (140g per portion) a week, canned tuna to 4 medium cans a week and oily fish (like salmon, mackerel and sardines) to two portions a week.
Eggs, meat, poultry and shell fish - Continue to eat when well cooked but avoid raw or undercooked, this means no 'rare' steaks or runny egg yolks. Also foods should be cooked not smoked.
Ice cream - Soft ice cream bought in a tub from the supermarket is fine, avoid soft ice cream from a machine (ice cream vans/kiosks).
Fruits and vegetables - Peel or wash before eating. Wash pre packed salads.
Pates, deli meats and ready to eat foods - Avoid all pate including vegetable pate. It's also recommended to freeze ready to eat deli meats for a few days before consuming. Freezing, as well as cooking thoroughly, kills bacteria. Heat ready to eat meals thoroughly.
Liver, liver products and fish liver oil supplements - Avoid all these products as thay are high in vitamin A.
General hygiene - Wash hands well after gardening particularly if you have cats, or visiting cats. Keep cooked meat away from raw meat in the fridge. Wash your hands and utensils well after handling raw meat and poultry. Don't eat any food past the 'use by' date. Store foods as guided by the manufacturer.
A final word - alcohol. Current UK advice is to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy! There is not enough evidence to be able to make any 'safe limit' recommendations.