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Understanding what foods to avoid during pregnancy can help you make the healthiest choices for you and your baby. During pregnancy your immune system is slightly less effective making you more vulnerable to stomach bugs affecting the health of you and your baby. In addition, consuming certain foods during pregnancy may harm your baby, while you feel fine. Below is a list of foods to avoid throughout your pregnancy.

Raw or undercooked foods

There are illnesses transmitted through undercooked or raw foods that can cause a miscarriage or health problems for your baby. Ensure your meat, poultry and fish are “well done.”

Cheese and dairy

Raw and unpasteurized dairy products can cause food-borne illnesses. You can ingest pasteurized milk and yogurt, well-cooked eggs and hard cheeses, but should avoid raw milk and dairy, including cheese and yogurt. Avoid any cheese not clearly marked as pasteurized. Avoid uncooked food that may contain raw eggs, e.g., dressing and protein shakes.

Caffeine and herbal tea

Caffeine can affect fetal heart rate and respiration, and certain herbs can cause reactions. Consuming up to 300 milligrams of caffeine or flavored decaffeinated teas in filter bags, including ginger, peppermint and citrus are OK. However, you should avoid teas containing goldenseal, cohosh, ephedra, dong quai, feverfew, juniper, pennyroyal, St. John’s Wort, rosemary or thuja.

Artificial sweeteners

While there is no known harm associated with artificial sweeteners, it is best to limit the amount of saccharin, aspartame and sucralose you consume. Focus on healthy drinks like water and milk, and avoid diet drinks with no nutritional value.

Fish

Fish is a healthy, high-protein, low-fat food that can be a part of a balanced diet for you and your baby. But some fish have levels of mercury that may be harmful to your baby’s developing brain. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have young children, follow these guidelines when eating fish:

• Do not eat any: kajiki (pacific blue marlin), shark, or swordfish.

• Group A – Limit eating these fish to no more than once every two weeks: ahi (bigeye, tombo, yellowfin tuna), ono (wahoo) or opah (moonfish).

• Group B – Limit eating these fish to no more than once a week: ahu (skipjack tuna), chunk light canned tuna, cod (butterfish), grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi (dolphin fish), nairagi (striped marlin), orange roughy, pollock snapper, sardines and tilapia.

• Mercury builds up in the body. If you eat fish from Group A, wait two weeks before eating any more fish from Group A or B.

• Seafood you can eat anytime: akule, awa (milk fish), moi, mullet, opelu, salmon (wild, not farmed or canned), fish small enough to put in a frying pan whole, ika (squid, calamari and tako), scallops, shrimp,

So what should you eat during pregnancy?

Overwhelmed with the list of foods to avoid? No need to worry, there is a lot of delicious foods that offer the nutrients required for healthy development of your baby. The following foods are packed with healthy vitamins you and your baby need: avocado, walnuts, Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, salmon, lean meats, dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, or swiss chard. And don’t forget to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to your fruits and veggies. Eating a variety of green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and white fruits and vegetables is the best thing you can do to ensure you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. Just remember to “eat the rainbow” the next time you’re in the grocery store. Your baby will thank you – someday.

For more healthy pregnancy information or to schedule a prenatal appointment, please contact North Hawaii Community Hospital’s Waimea Women’s Center at 885-9606.