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Training for Baby: Pregnancy diet

Posted September 20, 2011

I had no idea how many foods pregnant women should avoid!

When I first mentioned wanting to start a family, my doctor gave me a handout with information about what to not to eat while pregnant. It included the basics – soft cheeses and certain kinds of fish.

Then, I saw an article from the American Pregnancy Association about Listeria, which can be found in uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and foods made from it (which is why pregnant women need to avoid soft cheeses) and processed foods. Listeria has also been in the news recently after an outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe.

The article recommends only eating hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats after they have been properly reheated to steaming or 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is also warns against eating refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Also, it says not to eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole.

Wow! I had no idea that deli turkey that hasn’t been reheated could cause a miscarriage. Though it is rare, it scared me! I don’t want to get a craving for a sub and get Listeria!

I was talking to my mom about it and she was in shock. Having children several decades ago, she had no idea the type of dietary restrictions that today’s mothers have to deal with.

She was also surprised to hear about the limits on fish due to mercury. Down in south Louisiana (where I am from), everyone eats seafood multiple times per week. She had no idea how pregnant women survived.

Was Listeria a concern for any of you while pregnant? How did you combat the dietary restrictions and still eat a healthy diet?

I’ve already started weaning myself off of seafood multiple times per week and queso, so I will be less likely to want it while pregnant. Instead of queso, I am starting to get salsa as my side with chips.

Kathy is a web producer, entertainment expert and concert photographer for She has written a manuscript about her life as an entertainment reporter and pop culture. Learn more about Kathy on her website. On Wednesdays here on Go Ask Mom, she's chronicling her efforts to lose weight before she and her husband start a family.


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  • hmurphy19 Sep 23, 2011

    I'm 7 months pregnant with my first and while there is a lot that you have to "give up" -- it is worth it 100 times over the first time you hear the heartbeat or feel it kick.

    I too crave sandwiches from Jersey Mike's - my husband already knows where to go once the baby comes for my meal. In the end, eating something isn't worth the risk to me. I would never be able to forgive myself. I was able to give up caffeine too - it wasn't as bad a I thought. There are days when I will have some, but they are far and few between. Drinking lots of water helps - and club soda is a great alternative as well.

    I haven't avoided pepperoni or bacon -- they seem to be fine.

    Just follow your doctor's recommendations and don't be affraid to ask him or her what they would do.

  • brassy Sep 21, 2011

    I ate sushi! What do you think pregnant Japanese women eat?

  • swirlgirl027 Sep 21, 2011

    I totally agree with Carolina Girl. People always say, well, I drank a glass of wine a day with my baby and everything was fine. Well, it may be fine but you never know and I would not want to be questioning my choices saying "what if".

    I craved a Jersey Mike's sub through all my pregnancies and after delivery my husband went out each time and got me the biggest one they had and brought it to the hospital!

    I also wanted salami so I would order it on my pizza so it would be hot.

    It's not really that much to avoid - just limit the fish, and who eats pate anyway?!

  • unc94gal Sep 21, 2011

    I would indulge in the occasional BLT when I absolutely had to have a deli sandwich. But I couldn't give up the caffeine, like "justbcaz" did (I applaud the willpower). I eventually asked my doctor what was the max I could have, and he said 1 can of Diet Coke per day was OK, though I did cut it out the first trimester.

    One thing I didn't know until last week (and I was lucky) was to have the thyroid checked before you get pregnant. Mine was out of whack and I didn't know it (my daughter is now 7 months old). The endocrinologist I saw 2 weeks ago said that miscarriage risk is increased if the thyroid is off. It's a simple blood test and may be worth checking into. Good luck!

  • justbcauz Sep 21, 2011

    Being pregnant now with my second child, I can relate. Jokingly, I tell my husband that I have a list of foods I want in the hospital after my c-section. In addition to the foods to avoid, I also made the choice to cut out all caffeine, including chocolate. I figure it's worth the sacifice.

  • kimmyb0519 Sep 21, 2011

    I agree with carlinagirl. I would rather have known and taken responsibility to avoid a food than consume it and then have the unthinkable happen. Then you would be screaming "I wish someone would have told me!." I avoided all of the "don't touch" foods, but it sure was hard when your craving a cold turkey sandwich! I also think it helps you begin to focus on your health and your childs by consuming more fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables.

  • carolinagirl28 Sep 21, 2011

    I hate it when people say we're just making things more complicated because we have more information now compared to "their generation." This is a good thing! It's not "too much information" as macharsam says. Yes, it's a lot to learn and a lot to remember, but isn't it a good feeling to know that there are some things you can control in this process? I've had 3 kids and can tell you there are so many things out of your control in trying to have a healthy baby, that it's nice to know that watching out for certain foods can decrease your chances of certain problems. I can remember not wearing a seat belt and babies not being in car seats, too, but now we know more and so we make better choices. Sometimes more information is a blessing, not a constraint.

  • snowl Sep 21, 2011

    My generation was not warned about foods to avoid while pregnant, I have to think that you are given too many things to worry about these days....Also called...too much information. Listen to your own body and use common sense.

  • lilypony Sep 20, 2011

    I just took my chances. My first pregnancy I ate about a pound of deli meat every day for months. It was the only protein I could deal with, sometimes beans, but mostly deli turkey and ham. That along with peaches, avocados, and rainbow sherbert - so weird! I only gained like 10 pounds with that one so it worked out fine. Second time around... not so lucky in the weight department!

  • bcmom Sep 20, 2011

    Well if you have any food aversions, which most do -- you likely will crave other things anyway! I love chicken when not pregnant, but with each pregnancy (3) I couldn't touch it in any form. Same with coffee. I actually felt the same about fish while pregnant...just couldn't handle the consistency.