Pregnant women have to change their daily diets when they become pregnant, but what about during the holidays? Are the traditional foods of the holidays safe for women who are expecting?
Pregnancy weakens your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses that could make you sick and harm your baby. So it's important to avoid certain foods during pregnancy — even on special occasions. Here are some foods to avoid this holiday season, for you and your unborn baby.
Fruit and cheese platters are a party staple, and a relatively healthy way to fill up, but stay away from soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized or "raw milk" cheeses may contain listeria, which is killed during the pasteurization process. If you're not sure which cheeses are safe, stick with hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss, and semi-soft cheeses like Monterey jack and mozzarella. Cream cheese and pasteurized processed cheeses like American are also safe.
If your party features a carving station with roast beef or turkey, make sure the meat is cooked well-done and is still steaming hot. Unless you're sure they're well cooked, avoid sauces like bearnaise, hollandaise, and aioli, which can contain uncooked eggs.
Homemade eggnog is generally off-limits, because it's usually made with raw, unpasteurized eggs — and alcohol. But you can make a virgin, pregnancy-safe version at home with a pasteurized egg product or an egg alternative like Egg Beaters. Or try store-bought eggnog — just check the label to make sure the eggs are pasteurized. You might also consider "soy nog," which doesn't contain eggs or any other dairy products. You can find it during the winter holidays in most large grocery stores and in natural food stores.
You'll also want to avoid desserts that may contain raw or undercooked eggs, like some custards and mousse, and homemade ice cream.
Fruitcake and other desserts that use alcohol as an ingredient are generally okay, because most of the alcohol burns off during cooking. If the fruitcake has been soaked in rum or other liquor after being baked, however, little of the alcohol will have evaporated, and you should probably steer clear.