The holidays definitely tend to center around food for most people, but if you're pregnant, some dishes may not be so safe. That's what we are gonna tell you- the 411 on Holiday foods to avoid when pregnant. For the inside scoop on what holiday foods to pass up, here are a few tips from dietitian and nutritionist Mary D. Brown, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Watch the temp
According to Brown, the basic rule is that if a dish is generally eaten hot, be sure you're eating it hot. And if it should be served cold, eat it cold. Steer clear of anything that's been sitting out long enough to waver toward room temperature. The truth is that your odds of foodborne illness are fairly low, but pregnancy isn't the time to take chances. Brown recommends sticking any cold foods in the fridge after guests make their rounds at the buffet. If you feel the urge to dig into hot foods that have cooled, just pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to zap any bacteria that may be hanging around. (Brown's tip for dips and cheese-based goodies: If it gets hot enough to bubble and you eat it while it's still warm, you're fine—soft cheeses included.)
Cheese Yay or Nay?
Cheese can be confusing but to put it simply, hard cheese good, soft cheese bad. Certain cheeses can harbour bacteria called listeria, which can possibly give you food poisoning and potentially harmful for your baby.
Here is the low-down on eating cheese while pregnant:
- Soft cheeses that are ok to eat, include cream cheese, feta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, crème fraiche, sour cream, cheese spread and processed cheese (provided they’ve been made from pasteurized milk).
- Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses (cheeses with a white rind) like camembert, brie and goat’s cheese. Def, avoid soft blue-veined cheeses such as gorgonzola, roquefort and danish blue.
- BUT you can eat these cheeses if they are cooked thoroughly, so any cheese baked goods are fine, as is the cheese on pizzas and in pies.
- All hard cheeses (such as cheddar, gruyere and parmesan) are fine to eat when pregnant, even if they are made with unpasteurised milk.Easy on the teas
Easy on the teas (except pregnancy tea)
Most non-herbal teas are chock-full of caffeine AND Midwives encourage certain steamy brews, like red raspberry leaf, during pregnancy, but other ingredients, like ginseng, have been shown to increase your risk of particular complications, such as gestational diabetes. Happy Mornings pregnancy tea for nausea & Bottom of the 9th Labor Prep Tea are both great and safe during pregnancy. Black cohosh is even thought to induce uterine contractions. Opinions do vary, so talk to your doc or midwife about what brands she trusts and what herbs she thinks are no-nos. Cut the caffeine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
What's a girl to do when the coffee pot starts making its rounds? Consider going for decaf. There are conflicting views when it comes to caffeine consumption during pregnancy, but Brown thinks it’s best to err on the side of caution. “I say keep it to around 200mg,” she says, pointing out that you might be consuming caffeine from other sources as well, like chocolate goodies, soft drinks, and tea. (Even some coffee-flavored ice creams have as much caffeine as half a cup of instant coffee.)
Lose the booze
Due to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, Brown suggests holding off on alcohol if you’re pregnant (or trying to get that way). However, don't freak if you find out the concoction you've been sipping is laced with a little liquor. Always try to ask about the ingredients first, but if you’re surprised mid-drink, just keep your cool and switch to something that isn't spiked. There is no real evidence that an accidental ounce or two of booze will do anything to harm your baby.
Keep it cooked
If your holidays are ultra-chic, politely refuse the sushi and steak tartare. (Hey, you never know.) As for more traditional fare, try to keep an eye out for undercooked meats. “Watch out for color and texture,” Brown says. “Turkey should be pretty dry and fall apart a bit. Pork should shred fairly easily with a fork.” Don't trust your own judgment? Brown suggests picking an outside slice—they're always the most well-done. Also, steer clear of homemade eggnog (spiked or not). It usually contains raw eggs.
Stick with real sugar
When it comes to dessert, Brown recommends keeping your distance from artificial sweeteners. (“I recommend staying away from artificial anything,” she clarifies.) When you're baking a dessert, go ahead and toss in real sugar (yum!). But what about other people's sweets? “A lot of people are on diets. They're trying to watch their sugar intake,” Brown says, admitting that it might be impolite to grill every cousin and pal on the ingredients of their cupcakes. Don't worry—a spoonful of Equal isn't going to give baby two heads. As with everything, just do your best and practice moderation.
Tell us, mama, what are you craving this Holiday Season?