Mothers to be should be aware that some foods are better avoided when pregnant.
The following is a comprehensive but short summary of foods to avoid or to have in only small quantities whilst pregnant.
1. Low fibre, high fat foods e.g. white bread, take-away or commercial fried chicken, burgers and pizzas.
2. Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.
3. Caffeine (found in strong percolated coffee, cola drinks e.g. Coke as well as “perk up” drinks e.g. Red Bull) should be limited.
4. Artificially sweetened soft drinks should be avoided during pregnancy.
5. Raw milk (not pasteurised), smoked seafood, frankfurters and other processed sausages, paté, soft cheeses (e.g. cream cheese and cottage cheese), cold meats from the deli counter, and uncooked meats.
Why these foods should be avoided during pregnancy:
1. Refined foods, high sugar intake and high fat intake – especially the type of fats found in processed and fast foods – may have a negative effect on the foetus in that it will influence brain development and fat in particular will influence development of good eyesight.
2. Alcohol is neurotoxic (damages nerve and brain cells) for the unborn child. It is best to avoid alcohol completely. After the first trimester, some guidelines do allow 1 – 2 units of alcohol a week should the mother really feel she is unable to abstain completely.
3. Caffeine is a stimulant and could have an effect as such on the unborn baby. Just as some adults do not feel well when they experience increased heart rate or even palpitations as a result of caffeine intake, the unborn baby may also feel very uncomfortable and irritable.
4. Some artificial sweeteners have been shown to be unsafe. It’s not always an easy process to determine which foods contain which of the potentially damaging substances and in what quantities – hence our recommendation to rather avoid these completely.
5. Pregnant women are more susceptible to food poisoning and certain organisms causing food poisoning can affect the foetus (unborn baby). Pregnant woman should avoid foods that may be contaminated with a soil-borne bacterium called Listeria – such as soft, unripened cheese. Raw vegetables should also be washed well.