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TCM Perspective on Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy

13 Jun 2023

By: Aileen Chua

by Physician Aileen Chua

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now that you have a new life growing in you, naturally you would be more careful on what foods to avoid, especially for first time mums. Most of us know that we have to avoid raw and undercooked meat, unpasteurized soft cheese and seafood high in mercury during pregnancy. But are there other foods we need to avoid? 

In TCM, we believe that a warm and nutritious womb helps with the growth of your baby. Different body constitution can lead to different discomfort during pregnancy. And that during pregnancy, foods that increase circulation should be avoided. Hence, I have compiled a list of foods to avoid or take in moderation during pregnancy based on the TCM perspective. I hope this can help you with your pregnancy journey 🙂 

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1) Avoid foods that are cooling in nature

Avoid foods that are cooling in nature, especially during the first trimester (12 weeks of pregnancy) as this is the time when the main organs of your baby are forming. Vegetables that are cold in nature are more cooling when cooked in soup than when you pan fry them. Hence, if you really have a craving for any of these vegetables, you can pan fry them with ginger and sesame oil to reduce their cooling nature. For the fruits listed, if you want to eat them, have them in the daytime, and after meals, to reduce the cold effect on your body.

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2) Avoid foods that cause bloating

Avoid foods that cause bloating, especially in the first trimester. Ladies who have a weak digestive system tend to experience nausea or bloating when they are pregnant, especially in the first trimester. Hence, it is important to know which foods can cause bloating so that you can avoid them. Not all of the food listed below will affect you, different food might affect different people. So observe how your body reacts to different foods and eliminate them accordingly.

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3) Avoid foods that are high in sugar and fats

Avoid foods that are high in sugar and fats. During pregnancy, you might feel hungry all the time, or have cravings for all sorts of food. While it is a natural instinct to fill your tummy and to get your cravings satisfied, it is also important to eat healthily and watch the calories intake. Foods high in sugar and fats can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which might lead to gestational diabetes or having an oversized baby which can make labour tougher. Avoid these foods especially in the second and third trimester, as this is when most of the weight is gained.

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4Avoid foods that increase circulation

Avoid foods that increase circulation from the beginning of the pregnancy till week 36, as it could increase the risk of uterus contraction and bleeding.

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5) Take in moderation foods high in Vitamin K

Take in moderation foods high in Vitamin K throughout the pregnancy, as it might affect blood supply to the baby. This applies especially to ladies who used to have sticky blood during their period, or whose babies are growing at a slower rate, or are taking aspirin during the pregnancy.

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