EATING HEALTHY AT CHRISTMAS: A PREGNANT WOMAN'S GUIDE
To eat or not to eat…that is the question! The tricky thing about eating during pregnancy is that you're eating for two. What you eat affects not only you but your growing baby as well. Christmas is just around the corner. With all the merrymaking that occurs during this festivity, chances are there will be lots of temptations and cravings which can be unhealthy for a mom-to-be. So, enough of the mix-up about the food taboos. Here's what to eat and what not to during this festive season.
Seafood is not entirely off-limits for a pregnant woman. You need to eat seafood that is cooked. Some options are grilled fish, baked or smoked salmon, tuna steaks, grilled calamari (squid) or barbecued prawns. As a matter of fact, seafood is a great choice for the first course of a meal. Smoked salmon, for instance, is a popular Christmas lunch starter. So long as it's cold and fresh, it is perfectly safe to eat. Besides, it is a nutrient powerhouse; packed with protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your baby's brain.
Seafood taboos are anything uncooked or raw. Shellfish like oysters, mussels, sashimi or prawns fall under this category. These can cause food poisoning unless eaten when served hot.
Raw eggs are taboo because of the high risk for salmonella, a bacterium. Salmonella causes salmonellosis, which is an infection that you can pass on to your baby. If your baby is born with this infection, he or she may have diarrhea and fever after birth. Or worse, he or she may develop meningitis. Additionally, it is best to avoid foods that contain eggs as an ingredient. These are mayonnaise, ice-cream, custard, meringue and mousse. Do also avoid eggnogs and hollandaise sauce. Trade these for other egg-free options like yogurt, sour cream, some homemade sorbet or homemade egg-free eggnogs.
You can eat hard cheese or pasteurized soft cheese. Do, however, eat these in moderation or mix them with some fresh fruits like grapes. Types of cheese you should be cautious of are soft mould-ripened or blue cheese. These must be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot since they can contain listeria. Listeria can cause premature birth.
Nuts get a pass as far as pregnancy food taboos are concerned. The best choices are dried apricots and walnuts. Dried apricots are very rich in iron, which builds a healthy brain and also helps to carry oxygen to you and your baby. The fibre in them also aids digestion. Walnuts are also rich in fatty acids (good for your baby's brain and eyes), vitamins and phenols (good for the heart). They are also known to prevent blood sugar dips that cause low energy and sudden sugar cravings.
You'll be happy to know that it's a green light for chocolate. Wouldn't it have been such a shame not to have a bite this Christmas? However, you cannot relish your chocolate since some may contain caffeine, which is somewhat a food taboo for pregnancy. The golden rule is to eat no more than two bars of chocolate per day. And your best options should be milk or dark chocolate, though dark chocolates have lesser caffeine than milk chocolates.
Eat your meats (cold or hot) with gusto so long as they have been thoroughly cooked. So, this Christmas, you can pile your plate high with some turkey, chicken, beef or lamb. These are indeed good sources of protein.
What you should avoid is cured meat like parma ham or salami. These can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis, which can harm your baby.
Make sure that cold meats are well refrigerated before you use them to make meals.
Trash leftover meat that has sat for long on the dinner table as these can be sources of bacteria.
You can tuck into your salads made from leafy green veggies as they are on the list of pregnancy-safe foods. These contain minerals and vitamins, which are good for your baby.
What you should avoid is coleslaw since it can contain listeria. Salads made from mayonnaise are also off-limits for obvious reasons.
Make sure veggies are thoroughly washed with some saltwater or vinegar.
Say goodbye to cocktail and hello to mocktail. Sorry to disappoint you, but no bubbles for you this Christmas - try next year after your baby is born. Alcohol is a definite no-no for pregnant women. We don't need to give you a lecture on the effects of alcohol on your baby – you should know this by now from your antenatal classes.
VEGGIES AND FRUITS
Go ahead and raid a bowl of sprouts or cranberries this Christmas. It’s an absolute yes, for veggies and fruits. These are good sources of vitamins and minerals that boost your immunity and your baby's, and also aid circulation.
Sprouts are very nutritious. They contain folate, magnesium, Vitamins C and K and also fibre. Cranberry is also a powerhouse for Vitamin C.
You can enjoy your homemade Christmas cake so long as you don't use any eggs to make it or the icing. You can also do some trifle and mince pie. For puddings, just be on the lookout for any sign of eggs. Bolt, if there are any!
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional advice nor a substitute for professional advice. Do a thorough check on your own concerning anything you have read here, when in doubt.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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