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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

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            Published on August 15, 2019

            15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

            15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

            As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

            Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

            How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

            The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

            If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

            If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

            1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

            By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

            As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

            The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

            Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

            2. Get a Little Curious

            Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

            You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

            If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

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            3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

            Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

            Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

            4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

            You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

            In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

            When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

            This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

            5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

            When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

            This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

            Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

            6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

            Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

            For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

            From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

            7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

            Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

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            As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

            By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

            This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

            8. Give Baby Parts a Break

            No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

            For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

            I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

            9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

            What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

            Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

            These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

            If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

            When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

            10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

            Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

            More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

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            There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

            Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

            Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

            11. Play with Time

            In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

            Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

            For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

            The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

            12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

            When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

            Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

            Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

            13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

            Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

            Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

            Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

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            14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

            Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

            While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

            15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

            From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

            Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

            There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

            One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

            Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

            Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

            When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

            Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

            Final Thoughts

            Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

            Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

            Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

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            Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

            Reference

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