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What Not To Eat When Pregnant

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What Not To Eat When Pregnant

You know about avoiding smoking and alcohol during pregnancy — but what about food? Many women worry about what kind of diet is best for them and their baby during this critical time. Below are basic guidelines on what not to eat when pregnant.

You Need to Avoid Some Dairy Products

Dairy, in general, is good for pregnant women because it gives you — and your baby — important nutrients like calcium and protein. However, there are some particular dairy products you should give a miss. Mostly, what you need to avoid are cheeses that have not been made from pasteurized milk. These can include brie, camembert, feta, roquefort and other blue cheeses, queso blanco, queso fresco and paneta.

The reason? Cheese made from unpasteurized dairy can harbor listeria bacteria. This can cause listeriosis, the condition which can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths and other serious health issues if women get this infection while pregnant.

You Should Also be Careful of Your Eggs

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Fresh multi-color farm eggs on the table.

    Again, eggs in general are okay — as long as they are completely cooked. They will provide you and your baby with protein and vitamins D and E, among others. However, raw or undercooked eggs can harbor the bacteria salmonella, which can cause food poisoning (salmonellosis) and other complications during pregnancy.

    The real danger here is eating raw eggs without realizing it. There are many food products that do, or may, contain raw eggs, including sauces like béarnaise or hollandaise, condiments like homemade mayo and desserts like raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream and mousse.

    You Should Avoid Some Meats as Well

    assorted raw meats

      When it comes to meat, there are a lot of no-no’s to keep in mind — and some might surprise you. First off, any fresh meat that you eat must be thoroughly cooked. You need to use a food thermometer and make sure that whole cuts of meat reach at least 145 degrees, ground meat 160 degrees and chicken breasts 165 degrees. This is because raw meat contains a parasite called toxoplasma, which can give taxoplasmosis to you and your baby.

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      You should also avoid deli and processed meats like hot dogs as well as pâtés and smoked, refrigerated meats like smoked salmon. All of these can harbor the listeria bacteria which, like unpasteurized dairy, can give you listeriosis.

      And the one meat you should avoid no matter how thoroughly it is cooked is liver. Yes, it’s high in iron but it also contains high amounts of vitamin A in the form of retinol. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects.

      You Need to Be Cautious with Fish and Seafood

      pieces of salmon with spice on wooden plate

        Fish is good for you and your baby — as long as it is within limits. It is recommended that women limit their fish intake to two portions a week, however, because of the possibility of mercury in the fish. Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means it can do damage to the baby’s nervous system and brain. Fish that are highest in mercury include king mackerel, shark, tilefish, swordfish and marlin. The best choices — which tend to be lowest in mercury — are catfish, cod, salmon and canned, light tuna.

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        Raw fish or shellfish, such as sushi or raw oysters, should never been eaten during pregnancy. They can harbor both parasites and bacteria and are a common cause of food poisoning.

        You Need to Know about Unsafe Preparation of Fruits and Veggies

        set of different fruits and vegetables isolated on white background

          Fruits and veggies are great to eat when you are pregnant. But you need to know about unsafe preparation habits that you need to avoid.

          Firstly, never eat unwashed fruits or vegetables when you are expecting, because this, too, can put you at a higher risk for toxoplasmosis. Do not use soap to clean: instead, use water and a small scrubbing brush to gently cleanse and rinse the surface of the fruits and vegetables.

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          Another thing to be aware of is unpasteurized fruit juices, such as those made fresh in health food stores, health-conscious restaurants and fruit juice bars. Yes, these juices are loaded with nutrients – but they can also be loaded with salmonella and E. coli, neither one of which you want in your body, especially while pregnant!

          Lastly, do not eat any kind of raw, sprouted grains such as alfalfa or clover. These can harbor bacteria as well.

          You Should Watch What You Drink as Well

          Drop falling into a cup of coffee. On a wooden background

            What you drink while you are pregnant can be just as important to your baby’s health as what you eat. To begin with, of course, no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, due to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. And it is recommended that women limit their caffeine intake to around 200mg a day. Excessive caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths.

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            You Can Get More Information about What Not to Eat When Pregnant

            This may seem like a lot to remember — but there are printouts to help remind you. For even more information on this topic, the Department of Health and Human Services has a wonderful printout about what specific foods are best to avoid. Basically, though, if you stay with thoroughly cooked eggs and meats, pasteurized dairy, and properly prepared fruits and veggies, you will be on track to keeping you and your baby healthy.

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            Last Updated on October 7, 2021

            Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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            Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

            In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

            Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

            There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

            Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

            Let’s get started, shall we?

            Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

            Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

            1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

            When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

            Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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            “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

            2. Teaches the Value of Family

            Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

            According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

            3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

            Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

            “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

            For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

            4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

            How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

            “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

            5. Creates a Safe Environment

            If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

            Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

            6. Reduces Stress

            This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

            According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

            So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

            How to Make Family Time Happen

            Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

            1. Family Dinners

            This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

            Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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            “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

            According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

            As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

            2.  Regular Movie Nights

            This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

            Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

            3. Game Night

            This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

            In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

            So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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            4. Sharing a Hobby

            If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

            Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

            Final Thoughts

            Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

            Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

            The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

            Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

            Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
            [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
            [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
            [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
            [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
            [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
            [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
            [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
            [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
            [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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