BY SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK — Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or eggs should be “off the menu” for pregnant women, says Heidi Murkoff, author of “Eating Well When You’re Expecting.”
Cooking those 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 should also be avoided, she says.
Murkoff, who includes EPA seafood guidelines in her book, advises moms-to-be 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.
Same goes for a salami-and-peanut butter sandwich (on raisin bread, of course), and even sushi with cooked seafood and vegetables. Some women are lucky enough to crave foods that are good for them.
“And 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, all published by Workman. “But more often, we crave foods that aren’t so healthy. And it’s fine to give into those cravings once in a while — but more often it’s a good idea to try to find a substitute that satisfies the craving — because that’s important — but also satisfies some nutritional requirements — because that’s important, too.”
Some of her suggestions:
If you’re craving cold and sweet, try a nice cold fruit smoothie instead of the gallon of ice cream.
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. “Chances 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, because 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, herself the mother of two grown children, notes.
Some expectant mothers steer clear of healthy foods, especially green vegetables, which were a turnoff to Murkoff. It’s probably another leftover protective measure.
“Chances 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.