Food poisoning is never fun, but certain bacteria can affect your diet during pregnancy and cause serious complications and illness. Therefore, it is doubly important to take all the necessary precautions to eliminate common bacteria like e coli, salmonella, and listeria by practicing both safe cooking methods and keeping your kitchen scrupulously clean during pregnancy.
You should also avoid certain foods that simply harbor too much bacteria over the course of the next few months. Following are some simple tips you can follow to make sure you stay healthy and safe—and protect your baby’s wellbeing—during your pregnancy.
Clean Fruits and Veggies
Before you eat any fruits or vegetables, you need to make sure they are properly cleaned. The easiest way to remove any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides is to spray the surface first with vinegar, and then with hydrogen peroxide. Then wash under running water to remove the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as well as any impurities.
If you can afford to buy organic produce, this will significantly cut back on the amount of pesticides you consume during pregnancy. If you cannot afford to go completely organic, focus on the Dirty Dozen, the produce proven to have the most concentrated amounts of pesticide: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, and grapes.
Cook Meats Thoroughly
When it comes to eating meat, you should choose organic or all-natural cuts of meat and cook them thoroughly. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, now is the time to buy one and use it often.
Meat–even precooked meats–should be heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To register the temperature properly, you will need to insert the thermometer probe in at least two inches, into the center or thickest area of the portion.
Wash Surfaces and Your Refrigerator
The solution of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide you used to clean your fruits and veggies with can also be used to clean your kitchen surfaces and refrigerator, especially if you are avoiding chemicals throughout your pregnancy. Your kitchen counters should be cleaned after every meal preparation, and every clean up.
Your refrigerator should be cleaned at least once a week, or more than that if you have any kind of spills. Keeping your kitchen clean and sanitary will kill off any bacteria that could potentially contaminate your meals.
Wash Your Hands
We all know how important it is to wash our hands, but it’s easy to forget when you are rushed or distracted. So it’s important to make a special effort before meals, after meals, and before and after food preparation. Using warm water and soap, you should work a lather into your palms and the back of your hands.
Continue working the lather, and sing “Happy Birthday” three times in a row to make sure you have washed your hands for a proper length of time. Then dry your hands on a clean, sanitary towel such as a paper towel. This is the most sanitary way to wash your hands and keep them clean, eliminating bacteria that could cause food poisoning and make you and your baby quite sick.
Avoid Processed Meats
Eating lunch meat while pregnant is generally not a good idea, because processed meats can contain listeria. This bacteria is found in deli meats, soft cheeses, and processed foods. While cooking will kill of the listeria bacterium, studies show it can grow back after cooking and before the food product is packaged.
Unless you reheat your deli meat to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you run the risk of getting listeriosis. So avoiding processed foods, deli meats, and unpasteurized cheeses is the safest way to prevent listeriosis during pregnancy.
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