Blog Reviewed by: Casey Seiden MS, RD, CDN, DCES
When it comes to nutrition during pregnancy, there are many myths, misconceptions, and old-wives tales that make it difficult to navigate a healthy diet. Our Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Casey Seiden, weighed in on some of the most common myths about your diet during pregnancy and gave her recommendations for which foods to avoid, the most important nutrients, and more.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
What are the most important foods to avoid during pregnancy? Our dietitian, Casey Seiden, says “moldy or expired foods! It may sound like a joke, but in all seriousness, there aren’t too many foods that you always need to avoid during pregnancy, except for ones that could pose a serious food safety risk.” This includes foods that always have a higher risk for foodborne illness that you may want to avoid generally, but should especially steer clear of through your pregnancy. Such foods include unpasteurized or raw dairy, raw seafood, unheated deli meats or cured meats, cold smoked meat and fish, pre-prepared fruit or veggie trays, sprouts, and fish that contains high mercury levels like ahi tuna.
In addition, Casey recommends avoiding foods that contain too much added sugar. Stick to “less than 25g of added sugars per day.”
In terms of caffeine, “the current literature shows that upwards of 200 mg of caffeine per day is safe to consume in pregnancy.” This would translate to about:
- 8-10 oz hot coffee
- 2 shots of espresso
- 3-4 8 oz cups of green or black tea
- 6 caffeinated sodas (but it’s best to avoid both regular and diet soda as much as possible!)
The Most Common Nutrition Myth During Pregnancy
Casey explains that “many women believe that pregnancy is a time when it’s okay to ‘eat whatever’ for the sake of the baby, and that as long as they take their prenatal vitamin they will be okay.” Instead, she encourages patients to have a mindset of “nourishing for two” to grow a healthy baby. While women should eat when they are hungry through pregnancy, they should also “try to create balanced meals full of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and limit too many processed and refined grains, added sugars, and unhealthy saturated fats.” Prenatal vitamins can “fill in the gaps,” but should always be used to supplement a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet.
Don’t Skip These Nutrients Through Pregnancy
In most prenatal diets, Casey believes that vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and choline can be overlooked.
Most women are deficient in vitamin D, which is important for fetal development, placental functioning, and insulin regulation.
Iodine is important for thyroid function, and the demand on the thyroid increases during pregnancy. Seafood and dairy are good sources of iodine.
Magnesium can help with nausea, constipation, and insulin regulation during pregnancy, but this nutrient is not commonly included in high amounts in a prenatal vitamin. Good sources of magnesium include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, black beans, spinach, or avocado.
Choline is “the new kid on the block” in prenatal nutrition and is beneficial for the eye and nervous system development, placental function, and more. Two eggs meet half of daily choline needs, and it can also be found in beef, chicken, fish, or pork.
Try These Foods During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, Casey recommends that patients focus on “ample fruits and vegetables of all colors, fatty fish 2-3 times per week, full-fat dairy, and healthy oils such as olive and avocado oils.” In addition, beef or chicken liver are each a “nutrient powerhouse that can be enjoyed as a spread, in a sauté, or snuck into dishes like meatloaf or burgers.”
Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about prenatal nutrition or meet with one of our OB/GYNs, schedule an appointment at Carnegie Imaging for Women in New York City. Call our offices or contact us online for your first appointment.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!