Healthy foods during pregnancy
By Laura E. Stachel
Cassidy
Dear Cassidy,

Pregnancy is the perfect time to commit yourself to a healthy diet. I've written an article on this for Fisher-Price which details this topic. In general, eat a variety of wholesome foods that are low in sugar and fat and high in nutrition. Whole grains and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products such as milk and yogurt, and varied protein sources such as lean meats, beans, nuts, tofu, and eggs should be central to your diet. It is best to avoid foods with lots of processing, artificial additives, and artificial sweeteners. Drinking lots of water is important: include at least 8 cups of liquid a day. And stay away from alcohol, drugs and excessive caffeine.

I recommend avoiding raw or undercooked meat, fish, or shellfish which can sometimes contain harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites. Similarly, avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs such as Caesar salad, unpasteurized eggnog, and Hollandaise sauce. Don't consume unpasteurized dairy products, which includes many soft cheeses (e.g., Brie, Camembert) because of the risk of Listeria (a bacterial infection).

Deli meats and hot dogs can also harbor Listeria and should be thoroughly reheated before consumption. Deep sea fish can contain high levels of mercury which can impair your baby's brain development. These include tilefish, shark, king mackerel, and swordfish. Even tuna fish contains mercury and should be eaten only occasionally (no more than 6 -12 ounces per week). Fish from contaminated lakes and rivers may contain an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Your local health department can advise you on which fish is safe to eat.