August 5, 2005
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or eggs should be ìoff the menu– for pregnant women, says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect: Eating Well When You–re Expecting (Workman Publishing, $12.95).
Cooking these foods well kills any bacteria or viruses that pose potential hazards, and unpasteurized dairy products and refrigerated smoked seafood carry the risk of listeria and also should be avoided, she says.
Murkoff, who includes government seafood guidelines in her book, advises moms-to-be to make meals of tilapia, cod, sole or flounder.
Otherwise, according to Murkoff, it–s OK for those eating for two — though she cautions against doubling your calories — to enjoy most foods.
If you want a doughnut, give in to the craving. Just don–t make it a habit. Some women are lucky enough to crave foods that are good for them.
ìAnd if you suddenly can–t get enough milk, or you–re eating grapefruit by the crate-full, then go for it,– advises the author of seven What to Expect books — including the modern pregnancy bible, What to Expect When You–re Expecting.
If you–re craving salty and crunchy, eat some soy chips instead of potato chips. You–ll still get the salty taste and crunchy sensation, but you–ll also get extra protein and a lot less fat.
Cravings and aversions are real issues in most pregnancies, caused by hormones that are most active during the first trimester, Murkoff says.
ìChances are that long ago, both cravings and aversions were nature–s way of ensuring that a pregnant woman was well fed and protected from her environment. So when a pregnant cavewoman craved something sweet, it was her body–s way of sending her a memo that she needed vitamin C. So she–d go out and forage for berries, which were both sweet and rich in vitamin C, and she and her body had communicated well.–
Those signals might be more mixed nowadays, though, since women are more likely to feed their craving with a chocolate bar than strawberries.
Aversions are similar — and just as prevalent among moms-to-be. Years ago, women might have avoided something such as chicken because it was susceptible to contamination by bacteria. That–s not the case with modern refrigeration, but many pregnant women still can–t stand the sight, smell or taste of it.
Many women today also find they lose their taste for alcohol or caffeine, two things they should stay away from, Murkoff, the mother of two grown children, notes.
Some expectant mothers steer clear of healthy foods, especially green vegetables.
ìChances are it was once nature–s way of making sure that pregnant women stayed away from toxic plants when they were foraging since toxic plants are often bitter. Now we have produce managers to screen for toxic plants,– she says.
Mangoes, nectarines and cantaloupe offer many of the same vitamins and nutrients found in green vegetables.
No single food is a ìmust-have– for pregnant women, Murkoff says, but growing fetuses need calcium, which can come from milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified juice or even enriched antacids — a regular part of many expectant mothers– diets.
Murkoff says the best way to keep energy levels up is to eat satisfying, nutritious foods at well-timed intervals. She advocates the ìsix-meal solution.–
ìAll you have to do is take the food you–d normally eat over three squares and spread it out over six mini-meals, or three smaller meals and three substantial snacks. Each mini-meal should contain a protein and a complex carb: a cup of vegetable soup sprinkled with cheese and served with a whole grain roll, a half a sandwich and a peach, a smoothie and a handful of trail mix. This will keep your blood sugar up — and even — which will keep your energy level up and your moods more even,– she says.