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foods to avoid when pregnant2016-01-09T08:01:01+00:00

Foods To Avoid When Pregnant

by UP Ellis (Nutritionist)

Pregnant women are a risk group, being more sensitive to infections due to immunological changes, especially excessive levels of female sex hormones. This is why it’s so important to know which foods to avoid when pregnant. Typical symptoms such as food poisoning, vomiting and diarrhoea will deprive your foetus of nourishment, which is clearly not okay. Special attention should be given to which foods to avoid when pregnant, proper food preparation and, most of all, its proper storage. Food is often found to contain various bacteria that are invisible to the eye. The most dangerous include Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Shigella, strange names, I know. So here are the foods to avoid when pregnant and of course why; in addition, we can also show you what to expect from weight gain during pregnancy.

Listeriosis (Listeria)

Infection by this bacterium is very rare yet very dangerous. It brings a load of trouble. In preggies, it causes various inflammations, meningitis and in the worst cases even miscarriage. The symptoms of poisoning are much like the flu – high body temperature, pain in the muscles, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, disorientation and loss of balance.

Avoid milk not treated by heat, poorly heat-treated meat and raw vegetables. Milk untreated by heat is found in milk vending machines that are now being widely and happily used. The milk in vending machines is raw. In laymen’s terms, this means it is not “boiled” after milking. Milk bought in cartons is heat-treated. It is heated to approximately 70°C to destroy virtually all bacteria including the evil Listeria monocytogenes. Also avoid products made from raw eggs (cakes, pastry, sauces…), egg salads, mouldy cheese, cottage cheese, fresh cheeses… Humph, only the tastiest of goodies should be avoided.

Another tip – provided they are washed very well, raw vegetables of course needn’t be avoided, being a treasury of vitamins and minerals.

Salmonellosis (Salmonella)

The salmonella bacterium is widespread in the natural world as the intestinal parasite of various mammals, birds and people. Living salmonella causes illness when it enters an organism. It’s not tolerant of high temperatures; a temperature of about 70°C is enough to kill it reliably.

The first symptoms of Salmonella infection most commonly appear 12 to 36 hours after eating food or, less frequently, at an even later stage (up to 72 hours). The symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

An attack will usually start with headaches and chills. Pains in the stomach are another possible first symptom. These main symptoms are joined by general weakness, weak muscles and thirst. The body temperature is almost always high and occasionally nervous disorders may appear such as restlessness and shooting pains in the muscles.

Where does salmonella hide?

A very simple rule: Keep it cold, Keep it clean, and Cook it hot

When hygiene in the kitchen is neglected, it’s all over the place, so to speak. Poultry carries the greatest risk, of course only if not properly stored, heattreated or thawed. Any type of meat is best stored in the refrigerator at 4°C. When you go to the shop, first head to the fruits, vegetables, bread… and so on.    The final item you should put in your shopping basket is meat, to keep its time at room temperature to a minimum. When frying, cooking and stewing, make sure the temperature of poultry is over 70°C. Thawing meat is a problem for most housewives, because they always go about it the wrong way. Thawing at room temperature is the worst option because that is ideal for the harmful substances in meat to grow and multiply. I recommend you to put meat in the fridge a day before cooking it to make the thawing safer and also to preserve its quality.

Excellent breeding grounds for salmonella also include various egg melanges, especially if left for the whole night at room temperature. Milk and dairy products can also be infected by this villain if not properly heat-treated.

Fish caught in polluted waters may also carry this nasty bacterium. When you stroll along the seaside in the summer (with the baby still in your belly) passing ice-cream stands, you’d better look the other way. In your place, I would avoid this variety of ice-cream and go for the one in shops.  You never know what kind of milk this ice-cream is made of and how long it’s been sitting there.


You should avoid steak tartare given that it is made of raw meat and contains raw egg to boot, which means it is a definite no-no for 9 months. If you’re a fan of prosciutto or cured ham, you’ll have to give that up also. If you are a cat lover, pay special attention to cleaning the litter tray. Always wear gloves for the job and wash your hands well afterwards. You probably can’t resist cuddling and stroking your pets either when they look so cute resting on your belly. After every contact with a house pet, wash your hands well!

If you’re one of the lucky ones with a large garden at home and grow your own fruit and vegetables, it is essential to wash them well. The agent of toxoplasmosis can also be found in soil and cat droppings. You never know when your little kitty might sneak out at night to go for prowl.

The signs of toxoplasmosis are similar to the flu – pains in the muscles, possibly for several days or even weeks. If you pick up this dangerous parasite, heaven forbid, there is a 30–40% chance of the foetus getting infected. This does not bode well for your baby. The development of the foetus could be disturbed with severe consequences, i.e. blindness, deafness, brain defects and epilepsy… There are of course tests now that will help you find out if you have antigens for the agent of toxoplasmosis.

Other foods to avoid when pregnant

Fans of mussels, here’s the deal: if you’ve really looked into how and where the mussels were grown and how they were cleaned and if you’re 100% certain that they can’t harm your health, do treat yourself every now and then but not too often. As mentioned above, muscles (oysters) are a treasury of zinc, which your body needs during pregnancy.  They just need to be cooked!

Treats such as coffee, tea, energy drinks – which I simply adore – will also have to be given up!  But only for the first thee months, hip hip hurray! It is not recommended to consume caffeine during the first trimester because it promotes the risk of having a miscarriage, so I recommend you to go for decaf instead. After this period, when the baby grows stronger, you can have a maximum of 300 mg caffeine/day, i.e. around 6 cups of coffee, if you can manage to drink so many. Caffeine reduces the use efficiency of foods and hence the baby’s birth weight. Okay, if you really crave coffee, have a cup, otherwise it’s better to give it up completely. Where is caffeine found?

In coffee, tea (which also contains theine, likewise not advisable during pregnancy), Coke, energy drinks, which also contain taurine, chocolate and various guarana preparations.