Holiday smorgasbords of food can seem like a dream come true to a pregnant woman, however, there are several foods to watch out for because they can pose a risk to an unborn baby. Before you dive into the spread, know your food.
Deli meat. While cracker and meat platters may seem like a healthy option, deli meat can actually contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause a life threatening condition for the developing fetus.
Soft Cheeses. If you are pregnant, it’s best to avoid the cheese ball. Soft cheeses may not be pasteurized and can also contain the food borne bacteria, listeria. Check the label to be sure it says “made with pasteurized milk”. Common cheeses to avoid include soft cheeses like Brie, goat cheese, feta, and queso.
Undercooked and raw meat/seafood (including sushi). Raw meat can contain parasites and bacteria. Always be sure the meat is cooked all the way through and is steaming hot.
Raw batter. As tempting as the raw cookie and brownie batter may be, steer clear of the raw taste test. Raw batter contains uncooked eggs which increase your risk of exposure to salmonella.
Unwashed Veggies. Avoid veggies? Only if they haven’t been properly washed! All produce can harbor pesticides and bacteria and should be washed before consuming it – whether you are pregnant or not! Don’t overlook this simple but important step.
Eggnog. This delicious holiday treat contains both raw eggs and alcohol – both of which should be avoided. If you love this treat, buy it from the store and check the label to make sure it was made with pasteurized ingredients. You can also try “soy nog” as an alternate that doesn’t contain dairy products.
Fruit cake and other alcoholic desserts. If the dessert contains alcohol as an ingredient and is cooked, it is probably safe to consume. However, if the alcohol was added after the cooking process ended, make another choice because alcohol can cause serious health problems for the fetus.
Apple cider. Almost all cider sold in stores has been pasteurized, but double check the label. Unpasteurized cider can contain bacteria that can lead to listeriosis and toxoplasmosis in pregnant women.
Protecting you and your baby’s health is the most important job you have during the holiday season. Avoiding these foods is a great place to start, but don’t forget about taking some important “me time” to relax and reduce stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! And don’t be shy. If you are at a dinner party and aren’t sure about what is in a dish, don’t hesitate to ask how it was prepared so you can make the best choice for you and your baby.
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