What not to eat while pregnant (and what to eat instead!)

Posted in Pregnancy.

Knowing what you can and can’t eat or drink when pregnant and breastfeeding can sometimes be a little tricky – and actually having to give up a staple from your diet can seem impossible! But never fear – sometimes you can find an alternative, so that’s just what we’ve done here. Here are five things expecting mums should avoid and some great alternatives to take their place.

We know a lot of the advice around what you can and can’t have during pregnancy can depend on the storage and cooking temperatures, but there are still some that are best avoided all together.

Thankfully there are often some great alternatives worth considering. Here are five we found.

1. Coffee

Coffee-lovers will often say their day doesn’t really start until after that first cup but expert opinion is divided on the impact caffeine has during pregnancy. If the taste of coffee is an important part of your morning routine (or anytime really) but you’re keeping an eye on your caffeine intake, you need some options! Decaf is an excellent option if you’re looking for that roasty morning taste, but if you’re still desperate for that pick-me-up (hello, second and third time mums!) Australian guidelines say it’s safe to have up to 200mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy, which is about two espresso-style coffees, or three instant coffees. Don’t forget to include tea and cola in these calculations – as these also contain caffeine in smaller amounts.

2. Alcohol

There is enough research out there now to show the damage that can be done by alcohol to unborn babies. For many, going nine months without alcohol isn’t a hard ask and, for those mums who go on to breastfeed, it is probably a sacrifice they just come to accept.

Just because you can’t hit the sauce at the moment, doesn’t mean you need to go without on a fancy night out. The proliferation of alcohol-free spirits and mixers means that even if what you’re craving is a Negroni or a gin and tonic, there is a yummy, safe option to keep you satisfied. 

3. Soft cheeses

Soft white cheeses such as brie and camembert provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as listeria, which can cause harm to an unborn baby and lead to miscarriage, premature labour and still birth. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible because their immune systems are suppressed, leaving them unable to adequately fight off infections like listeriosis. And although in Australia soft cheeses are all made with pasteurised milk, this doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of listeria, so you’re better to steer clear. One way you can still enjoy the gooey goodness of a ripe softie, however, is to bake it first. Baking a wheel of brie or camembert thoroughly should eliminate any risk of listeria, and has the added bonus of making it even more delicious. Winner!

4. Soft-serve ice cream

Soft-serve ice cream is another food expecting and breastfeeding mummas are urged to avoid due to the risk of listeria. Its higher likelihood of contamination is because it is transported at refrigeration temperatures compared to frozen hard ice creams. Safer and still completely delicious alternatives include hard ice creams and gelato, so go ahead and indulge!

5. Sushi

The Australian Food Authority highlights store-bought sushi as a food to avoid completely during pregnancy due to the risk of dangerous bacteria developing as it sits on the shelves, or that could be present in the raw meat or seafood ingredients. Moreover, high mercury levels in certain varieties of fish are also a concern for pregnant women. But, if your sushi cravings are overwhelming, why not try making your own sushi at home – the raw meat and fish-free kind?


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