You are here

Confessions Of a Pregnant Nutritionist

Forget Sushi (and Other Raw Deals)

One thing that really irked me was how many foods you can't eat when you're pregnant. Although I would faithfully list all the no-nos for my clients, the list never seemed so long as when I had to abide by it.

It wasn't so hard when I had time to cook at home, but when dining out it seemed like every item on the menu had some delicious forbidden food as a key ingredient. And this aside from the fact that I love a glass of wine with a good meal. (If there was one blessing in the early weeks of morning sickness, it was that I was disgusted by the smell of alcohol, so abstaining from that lovely glass of Cabernet was a nonissue.)

I also considered it an occupational hazard that each time I picked up a professional journal I read about another food to avoid during pregnancy. I knew the basic ones: raw or undercooked fish and meat; unpasturized cheeses; soft cheeses such as feta, brie, goat, Camembert, blue-veined, and the Mexican-style queso fresco (any of these can be contaminated with the bacteria listeria); and unpasturized juices. But then I read about how it's important to avoid cold cuts and smoked fish "unless thoroughly heated" to guard against listeria. It seemed a bit oxymoronic to me to heat a cold cut. I could just imagine the expression of the guy at the deli counter if I had asked him to heat my ham sandwich to a steaming 165 degrees.

And then there's fish. Seafood menus are a veritable landmine of pregnancy don'ts. Pregnant women shouldn't eat high-mercury fish like swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish, as per an advisory from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Easy enough. But then the FDA began issuing warnings about tuna. Limit canned albacore "white" tuna (canned light tuna is okay) and fresh tuna steaks to just 6 ounces per week, they said.

So what was left? As far as quick and easy lunch foods go, I survived on grilled chicken sandwiches and salads, hummus and pita, egg salad, homemade pizzas, bean soups, and the occasional hamburger. I also made a point of preparing extras at dinner the night before, so I'd have an instant, pregnancy-friendly lunch the next day. And although I grumbled a bit at restaurants, I always managed to find something appealing.