photo credit: Geschenk fig.1 via photopin (license)
Hey, what did you just put in your mouth? Aren’t you pregnant? Is it safe to eat that?
Boy! aren’t these questions tiring? The hullabaloo around what to eat and what to avoid begins from the day that you announce you are pregnant. Really, what is all the fuss about which foods to avoid during pregnancy? Everyone has an opinion on what you must not put in your mouth. “Eat this, not that”, “Do you really need that extra cup of coffee”, “OMG is that maggi you are eating”, “Chinese food…no..no..no..”, “Give up diet cola”…phew
Wow ! All this can be annoying and stressful. Particularly when you are trying to come to terms with the overall changes in your body and lifestyle. With your hormones playing truant, the last thing you need is elaborate conjecture on what not to eat. After all, isn’t THIS the time to eat! I thought I could eat everything in exchange for giving up my glass of wine. APPARENTLY NOT ! …scowl, frown, grumpy look…Well, it seems there is a long list of no-no’s when it comes to pregnancy nutrition. Some of these are justified but others are just plain myths.
Here are the 5 foods to avoid during pregnancy that I just gobbled up !
Giving up my daily doze of coffee (yes, the caffeinated variety!) was a no-brainer. I was working round the clock during my entire pregnancy and needed the coffee like never before. So I went ahead and had it. Like any expectant mother, I scoured several articles on google and read some great pregnancy blogs to educate myself. Thankfully, I did not need to give up my cappuccino but just needed to moderate my consumption. It is recommended not to exceed 200 mg of caffeine a day which is 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea (yeah! the blasted caffeine is in tea too!). So while nausea in the first trimester had a role to play in my sticking to the 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea rule, I did not stick to it in the second trimester. What can I say, I needed my sanity and my tea and coffee kept me going.
photo credit: Regular and Diet Pepsi via photopin (license)
2. Diet Cola
Now I like the taste of diet cola better than the regular variety. I find the regular cola too sweet. Since I could not have alcohol, I often had a craving to enjoy a meal with a chilled can of diet cola. And I did 🙂 Its not like diet cola was the only cold beverage I consumed throughout my pregnancy but I did enjoy it when I had it. Now cola also has caffeine. But apart from caffeine, the thing about diet cola which gets people all bothered is the aspartame. As per US FDA, aspartame is safe to consume during pregnancy apart for women suffering from a condition called phenylketonuria. So as long as you aren’t a diet cola addict an occasional can of diet cola isn’t going to hurt you or the baby.
photo credit: 234/365: 08/22/2013. Maggi!! via photopin (license)
3. Chinese Food/ Maggi Noodles
This is probably the worst time to be sharing that I ate Maggi during my pregnancy. The jury is out on whether Chinese Food and Instant Noodles are safe to eat during pregnancy. Now, I am not a proponent of “instant food” – it is not nutritious and lacks vital nutrients. I ate Maggi during pregnancy when I was working really late at work because it was the only tasty and convenient snack option available. MSG is what most pregnant women are concerned about when consuming instant noodles or Chinese food. I did not pay any heed to the naysayers who said Maggi has MSG because the pack said it did not have MSG and I believed it. In hindsight, I am not so sure. Maggi currently has been deemed unsafe and unfit for consumption in India by the FSSAI and as a lover of Maggi I hope they are proven wrong. I also love Chinese food and had it once every two months but only at restaurants where the chef could serve us the fare without MSG.
4. Green Tea
Caffeine really did turn out to be enemy no. 1 for me during pregnancy. It is in every blasted food product I love ! I have a habit of sipping a cup of green tea after lunch and dinner and sometimes a cup in the evening. So moderating all the caffeine intake was a BIG CHALLENGE for me. Green tea is said to contain 40-50 mg of caffeine per cup. In my head green tea = antioxidants = healthy drink which is true. But this crazy cap of 4-5 cups of tea drove me nuts through the first couple of months till I stopped counting ! Some days I had less than the 200 mg limit of caffeine and some days I went over. I also read some articles of how green tea MAY prevent you from absorbing folic acid properly ! I don’t really know if this is true. All I know is that my OB GYN was happy throughout my pregnancy and she NEVER stopped me from having any of the above mentioned foods. Thank god for some mercy 🙂
5. Junk Food
Junk food as the name suggests is rubbish. But it is such yummy rubbish ! In the normal course it is tough to avoid junk food and in my pregnancy I threw caution to the wind and actually devoured it. I forgot about the calorie count of the junk stuff that I stuffed in my mouth. Needless to say I indulged in the local junk fare from burgers to fries to pizza to fried food stuff. Eating this stuff has its repercussions – it adds weight quickly and can also cause gestational diabetes. Some experts say eating too much junk food can make your baby become addicted to it in the future. Also junk food has higher preservatives which are not great for the mother or the baby.
I think the key term here is “moderation” ! The list of foods to avoid during pregnancy is actually a list of food stuffs to eat in moderation. I gave birth to a perfectly normal and healthy kid despite eating these foods to avoid during pregnancy.