You must be extra careful of what you are eating and drinking, especially during special occasions. There's no doubt that sticking to a certain pregnancy diet can be a lot harder during the holidays since you’ll find more items on the list that are ‘to be avoided’ than foods you actually can eat! Don’t fret though, if you eat something accidentally, the risk is small.
Pregnancy weakens your immune system to the extent that you become more vulnerable and susceptible to food-borne illnesses caused by the parasites and bacteria that can be found in uncooked or raw food items. These foods can make you sick and harm your unborn baby, too.
Be wary of leftovers. While not wasting leftovers and consuming it is economical and generally risk-free, it’s very important that the leftovers are stored properly. Many holiday treats are left out at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. Avoid all such food items, says the USDA, as they get contaminated by bacteria. Put those leftovers in the refrigerator or reheat them properly. Always maintain the 2-hour rule.
14 Craving Station
A celebration may feature a craving station, especially for you with a variety of sauces like hollandaise, aioli, béarnaise, etc. Don’t taste them to curb your cravings unless you’re sure they are well cooked as they may contain uncooked eggs.
13 Homemade Goodies
Homemade goodies are a treat in itself, but avoid eating them during pregnancy as there are chances that the egg that goes into the cookies or cake dough can remain undercooked and attract the bacteria salmonella and may cause food poisoning. Salmonella may adversely affect the growing fetus.
The best way to enjoy goodies or festive treats is to purchase them from well-known confectionaries/bakeries.
12 Street Foods
If your office, friend or family has ordered some street food for the special occasion, then totally steer clear from all street foods as they can upset your stomach, cause food poisoning and diarrhea. Street foods are generally prepared unhygienically.
You can cook your favourite brand of street food at home yourself.
11 Raw Sprouts and Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Unwashed fruits and vegetables generally contain harmful pesticides and/or parasites like listeria and toxoplasma gondii which can cause damage to the growing fetus.
Raw sprouts too contain E.coli bacteria which can cause food poisoning.
So hence, wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating and cook your veggies and sprouts well before consuming them.
10 Soft and Unpasteurized Cheeses
Soft and unpasteurized cheeses like feta, blue cheese, brie, Camembert are favorites for cheese platters at parties and celebrations. You should be sure that these cheeses are pasteurized and their labels say so, because you never know if these cheeses maybe made up of raw milk that can contained listeria, a disease-causing bacterium. Once consumed in ignorance, listeria can lead to miscarriage, early delivery or stillbirth.
Avoid these particular cheeses from the platter and try hard cheeses like Gouda, Emmenthal, Parmesan or cheddar if they are not from the same platter or cut with the same knife as were the other cheeses as it may cause cross-contamination.
9 Turkey, Ham, Barbequed and Grilled Meat
If you have turkey, ham or plan to barbeque or grill meat, pork, beef, lamb or chicken, make sure that they are cooked to perfection in order to destroy any traces of E.coli, salmonella, trichinella and toxoplasma type bacteria and parasites. Your festive treat should be cooked to at least 165-170 degrees F. Use a food/meat thermometer to check the meat is well cooked as the color of the food may not give an accurate indication.
8 Sushi, Swordfish and Other Seafood
As long as the raw fish that the sushi is made from has been previously frozen, and is from a source that you trust, it’s a strict ‘NO.’ Parasites live in the meat of raw fish like oysters, clams, and mussels. And because pregnancy weakens your immune system, you are more susceptible to fall sick from food-borne parasites. A parasitic infection could give you gastrointestinal problems that might affect your baby.
Mackerel, tuna, bluefish, etc, carry marine/histamine toxin in them and if eaten during pregnancy without proper care can cause flushing and dizziness.
Pregnant women should avoid eating fish like shark and swordfish, according to the FDA, because they contain high levels of mercury and too much of mercury in the food eaten by pregnant women can lead to birth defects like cerebral palsy and even blindness.
You can safely eat 12 ounces per week of a variety of cooked fish. So always eat properly cooked sushi or other seafood.
7 Unpasteurized Apple Cider
One classic holiday beverage to stay away from is apple cider or for that matter any fruit cider. Make sure that the juices or cider served for the holiday party is pasteurized. Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can be present in unpasteurized juices or homemade ciders.
Furthermore, most apple ciders that are served during the holidays are filled with other junk like whipped cream, caramel and artificial sweeteners. The bacteria H.pylori is known to feed on these simple sugars.
A safe alternative would be to eat freshly cut apple slices, sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon.
Homemade eggnog is often made with raw or undercooked eggs and so it may contain salmonella bacteria. Another concern is whether the eggnog is spiked with rum or whiskey. Eggnog is just a big ‘NO’ for pregnant ladies during the holidays.
You can definitely make one at home with pasteurized eggs or try buying commercially-manufactured eggnog from a store which can be safe as it is made with pasteurized eggs. The best and safest nog to enjoy would be ‘soy nog’ as it doesn’t contain eggs or any other dairy products.
5 Apple Pie
Apple pie is one of the most popular dishes during the holidays, especially topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sadly, it is a dish that should be avoided. The crust of the apple pie has lots of sugar and starches, and they all add up in degrading your gut while battling morning sickness.
4 Desserts, Ice Creams and Fruit-cake
It's believed, ‘cooking kills the bacteria, but freezing does not.’ You may want to avoid desserts like: custards, mousse or homemade ice-creams as they might contain raw or undercooked eggs.
Generally, it's fine to have fruitcakes and a few other desserts that use alcohol as an ingredient since alcohol burns away while being cooked; however, avoid any fruitcake that has been dipped in some kind of liquor after having been baked as the liquor doesn’t get a chance to evaporate completely.
Your partner, family or friends may bring you boxes of chocolates. While chocolates do contain caffeine, it's perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy, but don’t overdo it. Feel free to dig right in, but be on the safe side, avoid eating candies that are filled with alcoholic liqueur. Skip the chocolates if you have any underlying medical condition like ‘gestational diabetes’.
2 Juice by the Glass
Juices that are freshly squeezed may not be pasteurized or otherwise treated to ensure their safety. Only drink pasteurized juice that has been picked up from the refrigerated or frozen food section of the store. Pregnant women should avoid all unpasteurized juices.
Wondering if having one cocktail could do any harm? Can’t a pregnant woman enjoy herself just once? All public health experts in the US including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that any amount of alcohol is unsafe during pregnancy. So steer clear of alcohol, entirely.
To get a festive feel and to enjoy your time with family and friends, try having something refreshing like mixing cranberry juice in a cocktail glass, or try a Virgin Mary or a good old fashioned ginger beer or have something that’s ‘alcoholic-free’ but only after reading the labels carefully.