Why do I need to avoid cheese and deli meats?
Despite my own mother not excluding these foods whilst pregnant with me, many of us know now that during pregnancy it is recommended to avoid soft cheeses, deli meats (ham, salami, cooked chicken), salad bars, raw egg and soft serve ice cream - but why?
The main reason for avoiding these types of food is due to the high risk of food poisoning. Listeria is a bacteria that is found in some foods and can be passed onto the baby and cause premature birth, miscarriage or damage as the baby’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off the infection. The risk remains throughout the whole pregnancy so its important to be strict about this.
On top of this, safe food handling is also so, so important. Make sure foods are stored, thawed, cooked (above 60℃ for hot foods, less than 5℃ for cold foods) and reheated appropriately (above 74℃ for more than 2 minutes) and hands and utensils are washed thoroughly to avoid cross contamination.
Click here if you want to know more about the in’s and out’s of food handling.
Sugar Sweet; 26 week screening for diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a condition very much like Type 2 Diabetes, however is caused due to hormone changes during pregnancy. Many women I see say that they are terrified of being diagnosed or even getting the test done, however it is vital to find out especially if there is a history within your family. Gestational diabetes that is not picked up or poorly managed will result in a bigger baby that can lead to a complicated delivery for mum. All women should be screened at 26 weeks with a glucose tolerance test to ensure they don’t have high blood sugar levels and if a diagnosis is made, there is lots of support available from your GP, midwife, dietitian and Endocrinologist to keep both mother and baby fit and healthy.
Do I avoid all fish?
Fish is a really lean source of protein and aiming to eat two servings of fish per week can be healthy for mum and baby. Coldwater fish in particular contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with your baby's brain development and vision.
What you need to avoid is fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, deep sea perch and king mackerel as high levels of mercury can cross the placenta and inhibit the development of baby’s nervous system. Salmon, shrimp, and canned tuna are better choices but not everyday.
Make sure you also skip any raw fish too, including sushi or sashimi as raw fish is more likely than cooked fish to contain parasites and bacteria that can be harmful to baby’s growth and wellbeing.
Eating for Two
Are you helping yourself to seconds of potato salad or giving into that ice cream craving EVERY night? Not so fast. Yes, you are eating for two -- but that doesn't mean two adult-sized servings are necessary.
The average woman with a normal weight pre-pregnancy needs only about 720 kilojoules (or 300 calories) extra per day to promote her baby's growth, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE). That's roughly the equivalent to a glass of skim milk and a piece of fruit! The table below provides a guideline to how much weight women should gain during their whole pregnancy, based on pre-pregnancy weight status.
If your pre-pregnancy BMI* was... | You should gain…..
Less than BMI 18.5 kg/m2 | 12.5-18 kg
BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 | 11.5-16 kg
BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2 | 7-11.5 kg
BMI more than 30 kg/m2 | 7-9 kg
Reference: Queensland Health “Healthy Eating during Pregnancy”
* BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by your height squared (in metres)
Boosting iron and iodine
During pregnancy, both iron and iodine requirements increase to help the body ensure it has enough for both mum and bub. Iron is necessary for making red cells in both mum and baby and helps to carry oxygen in the blood. Many women can become anaemic in the first trimester so its essential iron rich sources such as lean red meat, leafy green vegetables, legumes and fortified cereals are eaten regularly. Adding a source of vitamin C whilst consuming high iron foods can boost the absorption but avoid pairing caffeine and high calcium sources with iron foods as this blocks iron absorption.
Iodine requirements also increase during pregnancy as this is a vital nutrient for baby’s growth and brain development. Iodine is found in fruit and vegetables, seafood, eggs and iodised salt as well as bread (as it is now mandatory to use iodised salt in bread production). If you think you may not be getting enough, speak to your GP or dietitian to check.
For more information, check out the AGHE for pregnancy.
** With all medical and health issues, it's imperative to consult your doctor or dietitian for tailored advice regarding your personal situation before commencing any changes. This article is written to inform and like anything, a balanced diet and regular activity is important to maintain health and well being.
The way to Carla's heart is all things food. Follow her thoughts and opinions on the latest food news and myths.