According to Chinese tradition, most foods you will be tempted to eat will have a profound negative effect on the fetus. This list of offensive foods has been compiled over a period of centuries. Inevitably, every dynasty or so, a wise sage or herbalist will want to prove his worth by discovering a new, previously unknown harmful effect caused by a popular food item. Over five thousand years of Chinese civilization, the list of banned foods has grown to include nearly every species of animal and vegetable on earth.
You will be warned that shrimps will cause the baby to have bad skin. Admittedly, eating shrimps caught in south China coastal waters will cause the diner--and any growing tot inside--to become infested with heavy metals, toxic waste, e. coli bacteria, hepatitis and diphtheria. Bad skin is the least of the kid's worries.
Other banned foods include (you figure out why): crab, mango, banana, lamb, melon, papaya, watermelon, black sesame paste, ong choy, curry...well, you get the idea.
Not only Chinese insist on limiting what pregnant women eat. It's just that western beliefs make more sense. Take, for example, the ban on eating spicy food. Anything containing peppers is considered deadly to the fetus. As proof of this, look at Mexico, where they eat raw jalapeños for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between snacks. Or Thailand, where people drink chili oil as a party beverage. As a result, there are no children in Mexico or Thailand. The fact that Mexico City and Bangkok are two of the most overpopulated metropolises on earth is a hoax, invented to induce foreign aid and World Bank handouts. Children you see in photos are rented from countries that don't eat spices, like Iceland and Liechtenstein.
At the top of the list of foods banned under western beliefs are coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, cola drinks, sugar, salt and fried foods. There is a clear scientific basis for not allowing any of these foods: they all taste good and make you feel good! A pregnant woman is not supposed to feel good. She's supposed to have headaches and nausea and cramps and swelling and stiff joints and insomnia and varicose veins and be subject to a 24-hour kick-boxing assault on her liver and kidneys. She's supposed to feel tired and irritable and uncomfortable and needing to pee a lot and have crying fits and constantly be worried about mysterious discharges and excessive weight gain and be scared out of her wits about the unavoidable, galactic pain of childbirth. If she suddenly feels good, that would be something to worry about! Maybe something's wrong with the baby! Maybe it's hurt! Or brain damaged!
For this reason, all pleasure-inducing foods are banned, in order to not add to the new mother's already considerable stress.
On top of all the prohibited foods, add the fact that pregnant women become nauseated at the sight of most of the food items that are left, and you end up with a diet consisting of (in my wife's case) canned mushroom soup and Skittles.
From the book AIEEYAAA, I'M PREGNANT! (Hong Kong: Hambalan Press, 1995)
©1995 Larry Feign