As soon as you find out you are expecting, you will likely have many questions about pregnancy nutrition. In particular, you may wonder what foods are safe to eat for the next nine months, and which foods should be eliminated from your diet completely, or at the very least, consumed in limited quantities.
You may wonder if the guidelines you hear are old wives’ tales, or if there is some truth to them. In this article, we highlight four of the most common foods you will need to cut back on during pregnancy, and explain why trimming them from your diet is beneficial to both you and your baby.
Caffeine should be cut significantly from your eating plan, if not eliminated completely, for four crucial reasons. First, it stimulates your central nervous system. It also leaches calcium—badly needed during pregnancy for both mother and child—from your body.
Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, and if you are in danger of dehydration, especially from morning sickness, drinking too much caffeine can aggravate it. Finally, it crosses the placenta and affects your baby.
Most experts recommend limiting your consumption of caffeine to 150mg daily when pregnant. This is the equivalent of one cup of coffee or two cups of black tea. However, it is not recommended that you severely limit or even go off caffeine cold turkey.
Stepping down your consumption slowly, over time, will help minimize the effects of detoxing on your body, which can be quite difficult to handle when pregnant.
Both sugar and artificial sweeteners should be cut from your diet during pregnancy. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin contain potent and questionable chemicals that could cause lasting harm to both your health and the health of your baby.
Sugar can contribute to a host of pregnancy issues, but the most troubling is the rapid release of insulin in your body. This can cause your pancreas to fall short of doing its job, leading you to have increased blood sugar levels in your body.
Even if you don’t develop gestational diabetes, high blood sugar will contribute to excessive weight gain, birth complications, and the development of a large fetus, which can make labor very difficult.
If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, it’s wise to make the switch to all-natural sweeteners which do not contain troubling chemicals and also do not pack the caloric punch of sugar. Agave syrup, raw honey (used in moderation, since it does contain calories), xylitol, and stevia are all excellent alternatives to raw sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Processed foods contain fillers, sodium, and preservatives, all of which can aggravate issues of weight gain, hunger, oscillating blood sugar levels, and water retention. Consumption of processed foods should be limited during pregnancy. In lieu of these types of foods, switching to whole, organic, and all-natural foods such as chicken, beef, eggs, and vegetables, should be your goal.
“Can I eat shrimp while pregnant?” you may be wondering. The answer is yes. Not all seafood is allowed throughout pregnancy, however. The varieties of seafood that are highest in mercury include shark, swordfish, tile, orange roughy, grouper, marlin, tilefish, and king mackerel. These should be completely eliminated from your diet while you are pregnant.
However, varieties that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, wild salmon, butterfish, tilapia, crab, catfish, shad, sole, crayfish, lobster, hake, herring, sardines, anchovies, Pollock, caviar, and calamari, may be enjoyed on a limited basis during the next nine months. Limit your portions to no more than two six-ounce servings per week and you should be fine.
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