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Food For Thought: Understanding Your Cravings And How To Control Them

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Now that you’re eating for two, you can’t be too careful about what you eat. While you shouldn’t deny your cravings, it’s also important to remember that not every craving is good for you or your baby. And, even though a healthy diet consists of a healthy balance between the food groups (meats, grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables), some of nature’s bounty may be naturally harmful. Among these fine foods, certain types of fish, dairy products, including some cheeses; processed meats and some raw sprouts.

Scaling Down On Fish Consumption: Fish is well known for being one of the most nutrient packed foods. Brimming with essential vitamins and minerals almost all fish are a naturally healthy and tasty choice. But there is one catch….actually a few. Some fish contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided. According to medical experts, these high levels of mercury may be transferred to the growing fetus and transferred to the child. These include: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.

Health officials, while proclaiming the obvious benefits of fish, maintain that pregnant women limit their intake to between 6 and 12 ounces per week. Among the fish they can freely sink their teeth into: canned light tuna, a small amount of tuna steak, or canned white tuna (up to 6 ounces), shrimp, salmon, Pollack and catfish. But, they suggest steering clear of game fish (unless consulting your local health department) raw fish, and shellfish.

Authorities advise limiting intake to less than 6 ounces per week for all types of game fish for which you can’t obtain any information and make that your fish consumption for that week. Additionally, they emphasize that all fish be thoroughly cooked to ensure killing any disease causing bacteria or parasites.

Cutting Edge Meats and Cheeses: A little slice of reality when it comes to certain ready to eat meats and soft cheeses is that they can pose a problem in pregnancy. Various meats, including deli and luncheon meats, as well as some soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk and milk products may put you and your baby at risk for listeriosis, a type of food poisoning caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and which may lead to serious complications and/or birth defects.

While most healthy adults remain unaffected by this “basic bacterium”, nutrition experts affirm that pregnant women remain more vulnerable to its intense effects. Health care professionals report that listeriosis generally reveals itself in the form of the “flu” with symptoms including aches, pains, chills and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms, they advice contacting your doctor immediately.

The best protection, according to wellness professionals is adhering to the following standards:
· Steer clear of luncheon and deli meats, unless they are thoroughly reheated to rid them of any bacteria. And make sure they are piping hot.
· Stay touch about keeping away from soft cheeses. These include brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela unless they are labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Safe cheeses include: all hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese and cottage cheese.
· Pass on the pate and other meat spreads that may be spreading your health too thin. Nutrition exerts remind pregnant women that listeria intensifies at cool refrigerator temperature, but they say canned and shelf-stable versions are suitable and safe.
· Cast off indulging in any smoked fish or seafood, unless it has been thoroughly cooked (i.e. in a casserole) say the experts. They also advise that again, your safest bet is with canned and shelf-stable versions.
· Make unpasteurized milk and milk products a thing of the past.

The Raw Advantages: Raw foods, including fruits and vegetables generally offer more vitamins and nutrients than their cooked (or rather over-cooked) counterparts. When it comes to expectant mothers, experts find that raw foods are rarely advantageous. These earthly extractions (including grains, sprouts, fruits and vegetables) are breeding grounds for bacteria known to cause salmonella and E coli, making pregnant significantly ill and posing a threat to the unborn child via the mother. Health professionals suggest avoiding raw foods and herbs including herbal supplements and herbal teas. Juices should be pasteurized. They note that all unpasteurized juices much explicitly labeled as such…so, check the label. If you have any further concerns or questions consult your healthcare provider.

Reaching Your Boiling Point: Nutrition gurus encourage pregnant women to maintain a healthy diet rich in lean meats, poultry and eggs. Each offers the mother and child essential proteins and vitamins. However, each is also associated with potential pregnancy “problems” due to inherent bacteria prevalent in each. The best way to consume these foods according to authorities is by cooking foods very well.

Pregnant women should ensure meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked by using a meat thermometer. It’s suggested that pork and ground beef are cooked to at least 160° F. (with NO pink showing); roasts and steaks to 145° F. (slightly pink in the center); and whole poultry to 180° F. Eggs should be cooked until they are firm. Additionally, experts advise pregnant woman to abstain from any foods made with raw or partially cooked ingredients, including eggnog, mayo or hollandaise sauce.

Iron Maiden: One of the best sources of iron for women is through liver. Not to mention that it’s an excellent source of protein, and essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, and vitamin B.

While vitamin B, folic acid, is said to help prevent certain birth defects, vitamin A still has many deliverating over its effects. Some studies implicate that vitamin A (at lease in high doses) may actually do more harm than good and contribute to certain birth defects.
Experts inform us that vitamin A is a naturally healthy “substance” produced by and found in the body. The body produces vitamin A upon demand from beta-carotene, generally ingested via yellow and green veggies. Vitamin A in this form is totally healthy, unfortunately, we typically get our vitamin A in the preformed vitamin, retinal, which often offering “extreme” amounts of the substance, and giving rise to potential birth defects. And, experts warn that preformed vitamin A is also prevalent in a variety of vitamin supplements and some foods, including meats, eggs, dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals.

Liver is the only food that provides abundant amounts of vitamin A. Agricultural agencies further point out that the amount of vitamin A found in liver varies. Statistics show that a 3-ounce serving of beef liver could consist of 30,000 IU; chicken liver, 14,000 IU; and canned chicken pate, 724 IU. Authorities further suggest that expectant moms who consume liver regularly may absorb a substantial enough amount of vitamin A to face health risks for her and her baby.
Officials note that while liver has never been “proven” to cause birth defects, medical professional advise pregnant women to moderate their liver intake. They also suggest being aware of the contents of your multi or pre-natal supplements. They should contain no more than 5,000IU (international units) of performed vitamin A, substituting beta carotene or eliminating vitamin A completely), and not taking any vitamin A supplement exceeding this amount.
Getting A Handle On Food Safety: How you handle and prepare your food can be just as important as what you eat. Especially important, primarily for pregnant women is keeping it clean and avoiding possible contamination. Health organizations recommend carefully cleansing hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling foods. They also suggest thoroughly scrubbing utensils, counters, cutting boards and other kitchen paraphernalia after contact with raw foods, especially meats, fish and poultry. Keep cooked (ready to eat) foods away from raw foods and rinse off vegetables completely using a scrub brush. Additionally, experts suggest discarding of the outer most leaves of lettuce and cabbage, promptly refrigerating leftovers, and avoid eating any cooked foods that have remained unrefrigerated for more than two hours. The standard recommendation for storing food(s) is 40°F or below for your refrigerator and 0º F or less for your freezer in order to hinder bacteria germination.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Food For Thought: Understanding Your Cravings And How To Control Them

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