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A Pregnant Woman’s Guide To Festive Feasting
We run through the menu of your party table to sort out the good, bad and ugly for the health of you and your baby.
Christmas was just over, and with that comes the promise of a mirthful festive season abounding with laughter, good company, and, of course, the irresistible dishes of the Christmas dinner table. With a plus-one in the belly, you are in for a double celebration. But no matter how tempting the turkey looks, or how much the glazed ham is calling out to you, it would be prudent as a pregnant mum to rein your appetite in and be extra mindful of what you (and your little one) are eating.
A diet high in nutrition is important when it comes to pregnancy, and on the surface, turkey is an innocuous choice. As the centerpiece of the Christmas feast, it would be a cardinal sin to miss it. Turkey is lean and packed with protein—a vital building block for maintaining your body tissue and your baby’s growth and weight. When you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you will require an extra 25 grams of protein in your diet. Our favourite Christmas bird does the job, offering around 32 grams for every four ounces consumed, and is an excellent source of vitamins B6 and B3—essential B vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.
However, a poorly handled turkey can turn from being a showstopper to a hotbed for bacteria in an instant. Undercooked turkey contains the listeria bacteria, which can penetrate the placenta barrier and infect the birth canal. These infections increase the risk of neurological damage and loss of hearing to the unborn child, as well as causing miscarriages and preterm delivery.
So if you are thinking of tucking into a helping of turkey, make sure that the meat is well-cooked with an internal temperature of at least 82 degree Celsius (use a meat thermometer). Any stuffing should also be cooked to at least 74 degree Celsius in a separate pan to kill off the bacteria.
A hearty slab of beef with a nicely-roasted crust is a dish that makes you go for seconds. It also provides pregnant women with much-needed iron, which helps to produce red blood cells and reduces your risk of premature births.But think twice before you hit the carving station. Roast beef is high in sodium content, which can cause bloating especially in your third trimester, along with saturated fat, both of which should be severely limited when pregnant.
Well-cooked is the way to go in order to consume meat safely. Ensure that your roast is cooked piping hot and kept warm. When preparing the dish, rid your knives and chopping boards of the juices from the meat to prevent cross-contamination.
If you wish to play it safe, switch to other alternatives like roast chicken, which is typically cooked through. If you simply can’t forgo the beef (we understand), cook it shredded in a robust pot roast where the meat is slow-cooked over a longer period of time.
The idea of eating smouldering slices of Christmas gammon might be off-putting to purists of the traditional holiday ham, since it can be enjoyed at room temperature or as cold cuts, unlike the aforementioned meats. But while opinion on the safety of eating ham during pregnancy varies, we recommend erring on the side of caution and giving your roll of honey baked ham a good steam bath before serving, or if you are unsettled enough to want to keep pigs off your holiday table, try your hand at making vegan ham as a substitute, topped with a vegan plum glaze.
Is your pregnancy craving making you reach for that decadent log cake? While there is nothing immediately life-threatening when you succumb to your sweet tooth during this time of enjoyment, there are some sacrifices you have to make for both you and your little tot’s well-being.
A rule of thumb when it comes to picking your dessert is to ensure that there are no raw or undercooked eggs used. Go for cakes without frosting made with raw egg whites to minimize the risk of salmonella, which can be passed on to the fetus through the blood stream.
Besides contributing to your empty calorie count, log cakes are also high in sugar, which can add to excessive weight gain, heightened lethargy and gestational diabetes, which afflicts pregnant women with excessively high blood sugar levels. We suggest swapping out the log cake with healthier options like mince pies or a fruit platter, or get your doctor’s green light—being pregnant is no cakewalk.
It is a well-established fact that alcohol is harmful to both a pregnant mum and her unborn child. Even though there is no research on how much exactly constitutes to a harmful amount, studies have shown that alcohol passes through the placenta immediately, allowing it to be directly absorbed by the fetus.
As such, it is safest to avoid alcohol altogether while you are pregnant and go for virgin versions of your beloved tipples, like a well-concocted Virgin Bloody Mary. Alternatively, opt for a healthy yet delicious fruit soda, or simply grab a good old fashioned ginger beer.