Pregnancy Food Myths

It is a common pregnancy myth that women should not eat sushi. The cause of concern comes from the high content of mercury sometimes found in raw fish. However, it should not really be a surprise that this is a myth. Why would it be damaging for a fetus to be exposed to mercury, but perfectly fine for a women to eat it otherwise? The myth that women should not consume sushi while pregnant is merely the result of people suggesting sushi be generally avoided, in the chance that a high content of mercury were accidentally present. This was a case of “better safe than sorry.” The only types of sushi that should be avoided during a pregnancy are mackerel, shark, tilefish and swordfish, or those specified by a personal doctor.

While it’s understandable if a woman should choose not to “risk” eating sushi, it’s a myth that it actually poses a uniform risk during pregnancy. Eating only fresh sushi, or sushi from a reputable source, will seriously cut down any said risk. Paying attention to the media’s report on mercury levels will also seriously minimize the associated risks. Obviously it’s possible mercury may be present in an elevated level before the news can report upon it, but similar concerns exist in a huge number of common meats, such as chicken and cow.

Salmon was also thought to be off limits for women during pregnancy. Luckily, for those of us who enjoy sea food, the need for this restriction is also a myth. In fact, salmon is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, or nutrients which help develop the brain. Even if you’re still weary about sushi, salmon is a freshwater fish and is always cooked, making it even less likely that consumption will pose a threat during pregnancy.

Hot Dogs And Deli Meats
Hot dogs have received a considerable sum of slander in the media recently. Despite anything else, they are safe to eat during pregnancy if steamed. Deli meats have received less coverage, but they may also be consumed if they have been steamed. The pregnancy myth that these foods should be avoided comes from the fear of contracting listeriosis, a disease caused by listeria. While listeria potentially caused by deli meats and hot dogs is not easily contactable under normal circumstances, listeriosis poses a serious threat to women during pregnancy.

Eating for Two
A popular expression tossed about is “eating for two.” While a woman must consume more during pregnancy, the idea of eating for two is myth and myth alone. On average and unless contradicted by a personal doctor, a woman needs only an extra 300 calories a day to keep her unborn baby healthy. While tempting, eating excessively will not only increase the baby’s chances of having unhealthy eating habits later in life, but will be extremely difficult to lose once the pregnancy has ended.

Broder, Michael S. The Panic-free Pregnancy: [an OB/GYN Separates Fact from Fiction on Food, Exercise, Travel, Pets, Coffee, Medications, and Other Concerns You Have When You Are Expecting] . New York: Berkley Pub. Group, 2004. Print.

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