Pickles and ice cream? Sure. Shrimp? Not so fast. Most women assume that seafood is off limits during pregnancy.
Table of Contents
- So, Can You Eat Shrimp While Pregnant?
- 6 Pregnancy Food Myths
- 6 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
So, Can You Eat Shrimp While Pregnant?
While there are certain types of seafood you should avoid, shrimp isn’t one of them.
The seafood that should be avoided during pregnancy are high-mercury ones, like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.
Doctors also recommend limiting albacore tuna and tuna steak to just 6 ounces per week, as they sometimes contain high levels of mercury.
Shrimp falls into the low-mercury category, along with catfish, salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies and pollack. Pregnant women can enjoy up to two meals of low-mercury seafood each week.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and nutrition. Here are 12 pregnancy food myths that may be keeping you from enjoying your diet – or hindering your health.
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6 Pregnancy Food Myths
1. Eat As Much As You Want – You’re Eating for Two
Yes, you are eating for two, but don’t overestimate how many calories your little one truly needs. The truth is that you really only need 300 extra calories each day during your pregnancy.
Think twice before you reach for that sundae or brownie. Opt for a healthy salad or fruit if you’re craving a snack.
2. Soft Cheese is Off-Limits
Pizza lovers, rejoice – soft cheese is okay. Brie, Gorgonzola and feta were long believed to be harmful during pregnancy because they can harbor listeria and other bacteria. Listeriosis can be passed onto your fetus, which can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery.
The FDA says it’s okay to eat soft cheese as long as the milk is pasteurized. The majority of cheese in the U.S. is pasteurized, but be sure to check labels first to make sure.
3. No Sweets – At All
Pregnancy cravings can be intense – especially cravings for sweets. While overconsumption of sweets should be avoided, especially if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, some sweets are okay.
Chocolate is an exception to this rule. Studies show that women who eat chocolate every day during pregnancy have happier babies who show less fear. Another study showed that women who eat five or more servings of chocolate each week during the third trimester have a 40% less of a chance of developing preeclampsia.
4. Obesity and Diabetes Have More to Do with Our Lifestyle than Our Experience as a Fetus
While your lifestyle as an adult will have an impact on your development of diabetes or obesity later in life, your mother’s eating habits during pregnancy also plays a role in the development of these conditions.
For example, low birth weight affects blood vessel functioning later in life, which can be just as harmful as the effects of smoking.
Research also shows that women who gain more weight than recommended during their pregnancy are four times more likely to have an overweight child. Children born to mothers of normal weight have bodies that are better able to process carbs and fats in a healthy way than siblings born to the same mother when she was overweight.
5. Say No to Coffee
Most women are told to avoid caffeine during pregnancy, but research shows that one small cup per day is fine.
A recent study at McGill University in Montreal found that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day increases the risk of a miscarriage, but the study never considered the type of coffee or how it was brewed. A French blend, served black, is much stronger than a weaker cup of American coffee with milk.
Remember, one small cup is probably okay. And you should double check with your doctor before adding coffee back into your daily routine.
6. Lay Off the Salt
While you shouldn’t pile salt onto everything you eat, you shouldn’t cut it out altogether either. Salt is an essential nutrient, and improves the flavor of food.
It’s also a myth that salt will make swelling worse. Swelling is normal during pregnancy, and salt isn’t necessarily to blame.
6 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
You know that eating well-washed fruits and vegetables (preferably cooked) is a good idea during pregnancy. But what foods should you be avoiding?
1. Raw Meat
It should go without saying that eating raw meat is not recommended during pregnancy. You take a chance when you eat raw meat period, so pregnancy only increases the risks.
Undercooked or raw meat can be contaminated with salmonella, coliform bacteria and toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to you and your baby.
2. Deli Meat
Deli meat may be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. Listeria can break through the placenta and infect the baby, which can cause blood poisoning or an infection.
If you plan on eating deli meat, reheat the meat before consuming – make sure it’s steaming.
3. Smoked Seafood
Like deli meat, smoked jerky and seafood can contain listeria. It’s okay to eat these foods if they are a part of a cooked meal, like a casserole. Shelf-safe and canned smoked seafood is usually okay to eat.
4. Raw Shellfish
Most seafood-borne illnesses are caused by undercooked shellfish, like mussels, oyster and clams. While cooking can prevent some infections, it will not prevent algae-related infections.
5. Raw Eggs
Raw eggs should be avoided because they may contain salmonella. Some foods like, homemade cream and custard, Caesar dressings, Hollandaise sauces and mayonnaise are made with raw eggs. If the recipe is cooked, it reduces your chances of being exposed to salmonella, but it is still best to avoid these foods altogether.
Commercially manufactured dressings and ice cream are generally safe as they are made with pasteurized eggs.
6. Unpasteurized Milk and Pate
Unpasteurized milk and pate should also be avoided as they may contain listeria. Make sure that you only drink pasteurized milk, and avoid pate until after the baby is born. Shelf-safe meat spreads and canned pate are generally safe to eat.
Nutrition becomes even more important during pregnancy. The foods you eat affect your baby and her development. While it’s safe to eat shrimp and some other foods you thought were off limits, it’s still important to avoid foods that may contain listeria or salmonella, like the ones on our list above.