Buh bye eggs benny. So long sushi. RIP Thursday happy hour. This was the beginning of my eulogy to food once I found out I was pregnant.
Of course there was excitement, but that excitement was also followed by a wave of fear. In terms of food and nutrition, as an RD, I already knew about all the foods I should be avoiding while pregnant, but it becomes slightly terrifying when you think about one piece of unpasteurized cheese potentially jeopardizing your baby’s health. I was ready and willing to say no to deli meat (amongst other things), but what I really wasn’t ready for was the serving of judgment that comes from other moms-to-be about your eating decisions.
While I have been trying to keep myself healthy to get ready for my li’l babe, another “babe” out there is doling out some serious spoonfuls of fallacy and falsehoods, all of which add more fear onto the vulnerable psyche of pregnant women. As if we didn’t have enough!
Here’s what I mean, straight from the “babe’s” mouth, about eating a hamburger at a fast food restaurant: “ … [T]here was no way I was going to feed my growing baby that tainted meat on that processed to death sesame seed bun!” Really, “babe?” There is an inherent judgment in this type of remark that makes pregnant women feel like they are inferior if they decide they don’t want/don’t have the time/don’t find the value in only cooking food at home like “other” women.
So here’s my plea for all pregnant women: Know the difference between necessary precautions and preference. The FDA guidelines for eating during pregnancy are important to follow to prevent any risk of foodborne illness. Anything above and beyond that is preference. If you choose to eat a certain way, please don’t judge other ladies for choosing a different path.
Now, at 7 months, I’ve been choosing to focus on making sure I get all the important nutrients I need for a healthy pregnancy, like protein, unsaturated fats, and carbohydrates. I’m always cognizant of the foods I should avoid, but I choose to intentionally nourish my baby with nutrients (even with a well-done hamburger from a fast food restaurant; protein and iron are critical to a baby’s development!), rather than perpetuating a myth of “tainted” food from any source. Even though there are a few restrictions on eating during pregnancy, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods out there that we can eat.
It turns out that my eulogy wasn’t really necessary because you can get eggs benedict with scrambled eggs instead of poached or sushi with cooked fish like shrimp (or vegetarian sushi), and happy-hour nibbles can be almost as good as the drinks!
So if your fellow future moms decide to eat something that is not aligned with your “healthy eating beliefs” (I call them that because they can be either science or belief, not a mix of the two), then support them, without judgment or scrutiny, and don’t be a baby about it.