Don’t let the family buffet send you and your flourishing waistline to the ER.
‘Tis the season for cheat meal indulgence, and a lot of our health-minded mamas begin to loosen the reins on their healthy pregnancy diet during the holidays. During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to food poisoning than non-pregnant women, and the risks can be extremely severe for both mama and baby.
Here are just three examples on what is quite a long list of foods that you never thought you would have to forego.
#1 - Uncooked Vegetables
Crudités are usually a sure thing at any gathering, but if left unwashed (or washed improperly), raw vegetables can be contaminated with toxoplasma.
What is that you may ask?
It’s a parasite found in raw and undercooked meat; unwashed fruits and vegetables; contaminated water, etc. Toxoplasma can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis that can be harmful to mamas and unborn babies.
I suggest thoroughly cleaning your raw vegetables in a castille soap bath followed by a nice soak in key lime juice or vinegar…and then scrubbing with a soft vegetable brush before eating.
#2 - Leftovers
If the food has been left out on that buffet table for more than two hours (or cooked in advance and improperly stored in the fridge) I don’t want it.
Many of us use holiday feasts as a cook once, eat multiple times opportunity but if you are with child beware. Every year over 400,000 people get food poisoning from Thanksgiving leftovers…don’t let it be you (and baby).
If you are planning to gather with family and friends around the holiday table, I suggest bringing multiple side dishes to the event so you know that they were safely prepared. Or, you can follow in my family’s footsteps and bring your entire plant-based feast (including desserts) to the gathering and eliminate the need to nibble on questionable delights.
"About 50% of toxoplasmosis infections in the U.S. each year are acquired from food." – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
#3 - Soft Cheeses
I am not a fan of anyone, especially pregnant women, consuming dairy (or any animal or animal by-product for that matter) but if you are a vegetarian mama-to-be you must be especially mindful that you are not placing anything potentially dangerous onto your holiday plate.
I know the infamous charcuterie board will make an appearance this holiday season, featuring often unpasteurized soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, feta, Mexican queso fresco, and blue-veined cheeses, which means they can harbor listeria (a particularly dangerous bacteria for pregnant women that can lead to miscarriage or pre-term labor).
So, if you have a love affair with cheese, I suggest leaning all the way into the wonderful assortment of plant-based cheese options available to you (and baby).
Don't forget to make your DO NOT eat list...and check it twice!
Holidays are a joyous gathering time for love and laughter but when you are with child you must protect your health and nutrition at all costs…even if the currency is your favorite foods.
Click here for the full list of foods to avoid while pregnant and leave a comment below to share how you survived and thrived holiday meals while pregnant.
To Your Nourishment,