Question: I’ve heard there are tons of additives in pre-packaged foods, like pesticides on vegetables and antibiotics in meats. How can I make sure what I’m eating during my pregnancy is safe?

nutrition during pregnancyAnswer: The truth is, everything we eat has some chemicals in it. Some chemicals are harmful and some aren’t; some are even beneficial. Natural foods are often better than artificial or unnatural, but natural things may be harmful as well. Consider this: a “natural” mushroom may be poisonous; “natural” butter, eggs, and animal fats are often linked to heart disease; and too much “natural” sugar is associated with diabetes.

No food or additive currently in use has been entirely proven to cause birth defects. From what we know right now, the danger to your baby from the chemical additives in food is small. If you want to attempt to remove even this small risk, here are a few guidelines to assist you:

  • Use most sugar substitutes in moderation
  • Try to steer away from processed foods
  • When possible, prepare meals from scratch with fresh ingredients. Or, to make things easier, you could use frozen or packaged organic ready-to-go foods.
  • Avoid fish like king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish, which contain high levels of mercury
  • Keep away from foods preserved with nitrates, like frankfurters, salami, lunch meats, and smoked meat
  • When cooking, don’t use MSG or flavor enhancers that contain it
  • Select lean cuts of meat and remove any fat you can see before cooking (chemicals that livestock ingest concentrate in the fat of the animal)
  • Buy organic produce whenever possible and practical