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What Not To Eat When Pregnant

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.

            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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            Brian Wu

            Health Writer, Author

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            Published on May 7, 2021

            20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

            20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

            From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

            There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

            1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
            2. Introduce brain breaks.

            Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

            But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

            It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

            If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

            The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

            It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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            Active Brain Breaks

            Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

            1. Swapsies

            Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

            Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

            2. Dance Party

            Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

            3. Freeze Dance

            Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

            4. Keep It Up

            Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

            5. Simon Says

            This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

            6. Animal Movement

            Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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            7. Find It Fast

            “Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

            8. The Frog

            Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

            9. Pizza Delivery Time

            Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

            10. Limbo

            We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

            11. Human Knot

            Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

            12. Feather Balance

            This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

            13. Stack them high

            The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

            Relaxing Brain Breaks

            We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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            14. Meditation

            Meditation

            is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

            15. Kaleidoscope

            Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

            16. Reading/Listening to a Story

            When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

            17. Doodling

            My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

            18. Coloring Sheets

            Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

            19. Deep Breathing

            Deep breathing

            is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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            Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

            20. Going Outside

            Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

            My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

            How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

            The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

            I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

            Final Thoughts

            Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

            Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

            If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

            Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
            [2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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