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No time is nutrition more important in a woman’s life than when she is having a baby. This time she is plagued with worries about getting enough vitamins and minerals and not eating anything harmful.

The more we beg to know about our foods and what chemicals they contain and about them, the more fearful we become as mothers. Trans fat, saturated fat, unpasteurized milk, reconstituted corn syrup, genetically modified soy, mercury in fish, pesticides in fruits, sugar, salts; it is practically impossible to understand what a mother should eat.

Here is a list of easy-to-follow rules to avoid unhealthy eating during pregnancy:

1. Avoid everything reconstituted: read labels if you see reconstituted corn syrup, fruit juice, any ingredient, put the product back on the shelf. Reconstituted means they took the raw ingredients, changed them in some way, and used what was left to make this product. It is difficult to say what quality of ingredients are used when something has been reconstituted. During your pregnancy, it is much safer to opt for products that use whole ingredients, such as fresh fruit juices without additives.

2. Calcium is so important in pregnancy. You need approximately 1,500 mg of calcium every day to supply the fetus with enough for bone growth and prevent loss of bone density. The best source of calcium is definitely dairy as long as it is pasteurized. Cheeses, creams, milk, yogurt, ice cream can be eaten in moderation if you check the label and it clearly says that the product has been pasteurized. If you’re not sure, try tofu, salmon, or green leafy vegetables.

3. Many women choose to avoid meat during pregnancy. This is not necessary. However, there are some simple rules to keep meats safe. Cook all meats thoroughly, do not eat any raw or undercooked meat. Avid deli meats and processed meats can be a source of listeriosis. Avoid stuffed meats.

4. Seafood can cause alarm in some women but, like meat, if cooked properly, it is safe. Avoid raw or undercooked fish, such as sushi. Avoid local fish caught during contamination advisories. Canned fish is fine. Large fish like swordfish and shark may contain mercury, so it may be best to choose a different type during pregnancy.

5. Drink 2-3 liters of water a day. Most cities in developed countries have completely safe drinking water, but to be safe, you may want to test your water or invest in a water filter. Keeping a cold water bottle on the rim can help encourage some women to drink more, but invest in a glass bottle or stainless steel bottle to avoid contamination from repeated use of plastic bottles.

6. Choose organic foods: The cost of organic foods can be prohibitive for some people and there is very limited evidence to show that eating genetically modified foods when pregnant can affect your baby, but there are also very limited long-term studies that indicate that there are no impacts of eating genetically modified foods during pregnancy. If there was always a time to go organic, it is during pregnancy.

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