Dr. Kristen Mitteness
5 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
When it comes to growing another human being, there are foods that will help to provide baby with the building block to be healthy and foods that won't and may even make pregnancy more complicated. Baby doesn't get to choose which foods she/he eats - mama does. Let's give our future children the best possible chance at a healthy and happy life by avoiding the foods that cause the most distress to our hormones and overall health.
Sugary drinks: Gestational diabetes affects between 3 and 20% of women in Canada. A baby born to a mom with gestational diabetes has higher risk of obesity and type II diabetes. What's the quickest way to mess up your blood sugar and insulin levels? Drink sugary drinks. Eliminating soda, pop, frappuccinos, slurpies, milk shakes and more will instantly reduce the amount of sugar you are exposing yourself and baby to. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check will keep mama and baby healthier, happier and more comfortable during pregnancy.
Ultra refined "foods": These are foods that come in a box or package and have more than 5 ingredients, often with unpronounceable ingredients. Unfortunately, these foods make up nearly 60% of the calories we eat today. They have been linked to diabetes, obesity and lead us to be overfed and under nourished. Think of these as empty calories. They might help the baby grow, but they won't help a baby thrive. This means you're going to have to start reading labels to avoid anything with more than 5 ingredients or anything unpronounceable. Focus on consuming more real, whole foods. Here are 5 excellent choices. And here are many super easy recipes.
Soy: Most of the soy available today is genetically modified and utilizes pesticides. Neither have been studied enough to be considered safe during pregnancy, in my opinion. Glyphosate (the pesticide used in GMO crops) has been linked to birth defects, miscarriage, preterm delivery, sex issues and childhood diseases in rat studies. Soy also contains lectins and phytates. These are considered "anti-nutrients" because they prevent the abortion of other nutrients. Although, this can be mitigated through soaking, fermenting and sprouting. Soy also has isoflavones that act like estrogen and could potentially disrupt hormone balance. If you do choose to eat soy, please look for organic, fermented options like miso.
Alcohol: There is no safe amount of alcohol to be consumed during pregnancy. The nervous system is most at risk of the damages of alcohol and is one of the first systems to develop. Alcohol can also deplete nutrients critical to baby's development. If you plan to become pregnant, greatly reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake before you conceive can provide your baby with a better chance of strong nervous system development.
Artificial sweeteners: I don't recommend artificial sweeteners for anyone, but I especially encourage the avoidance during pregnancy. When consumed, even though they don't have any calories, they still trigger a hormonal response and have been linked to weight gain, obesity and metabolic syndrome. They also have a neurotoxic affect and could impact the development of the nervous system.
I whole heatedly believe that whether you intend to conceive tomorrow or in three years, it is never to early to start improving your diet (and thus hormones and nutrient stores) to give any future children the best possible chance at a healthy and happy life. Baby can only receive nutrients from mama during gestation. What mama eats, baby eats. Like all life forms, a strong house requires a strong foundation. We can't control everything, but we can control the food we put in our mouths. At the end of the day, focusing on real whole foods is best. Want more information on this? Read Lily Nichol's book, Real Food for Pregnancy.