Pregnancy: Your Guide to Eating Right (cont.)

Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

  • Avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol has been linked to premature delivery, mental retardation, birth defects, and low birth weight babies.
  • Limit caffeine to no more than 300 mg per day. The caffeine content in various drinks depends on the beans or leaves used and how it was prepared. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 150 mg of caffeine on average while black tea has typically about 80 mg. A 12-ounce glass of caffeinated soda contains anywhere from 30-60 mg of caffeine. Remember, chocolate contains caffeine -- the amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar is equal to 1/4 cup of coffee.
  • The use of saccharin is strongly discouraged during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues. But, the use of other non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA is acceptable during pregnancy. These FDA-approved sweeteners include aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet), acesulfame-K (Sunett), and sucralose (Splenda). These sweeteners are considered safe in moderation so talk with your health care provider about how much non-nutritive sweetener is acceptable during pregnancy.
  • Decrease the total amount of fat you eat to 30% or less of your total daily calories. For a person eating 2000 calories a day, this would be 65 grams of fat or less per day.
  • Limit cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day.
  • Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called white snapper), because they contain high levels of mercury. Avoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese. These cheeses are often unpasteurized and may cause Listeria infection. There's no need to avoid hard cheese, processed cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
  • Avoid raw fish, especially shellfish like oysters and clams.

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