Christmas and New Year mean party time, but when you're a mum-to-be it can feel like a minefield. We show you which party food faves are safe, and what to avoid.
Party food and pregnancy can mix! Sure, there are some finger foods you need to steer clear of in pregnancy, but Christmas and New Year parties don't have to see you miss out on all the fun festive treats. Here are the foods to avoid and foods that are safe to enjoy, so you can keep your healthy pregnancy on track without the stress...
Say yes to: Hard cheeses, such as Cheddar, and pasteurised soft cheeses, like Boursin.
Say no to: Soft mould-ripened cheeses, such as Brie or Camembert, and blue cheeses like Stilton. These can contain listeria unless they're cooked thoroughly and eaten hot.
No, sorry! Hot, spiced wine counts as a proper drink and alcohol's on the list of things to avoid. Stock up on non-alcoholic wine or elderflower cordial for New Year. At least it means fewer calories - every cloud and all that!
Say yes to: Sushi, as long as the fish was frozen first. The raw variety may contain tiny worms that are killed by freezing. Ready-made sushi should be fine as regulations mean that the fish must be frozen first. But a restaurant making sushi may use fresh fish, so ask before you order.
Say no to: Shellfish, including oysters, prawns and mussels. They can cause food poisoning, unless served piping hot.
Say yes to: Christmas cake - although if it's home-made check that the icing doesn't contain raw egg - mince pies, cake, trifle and most shop-bought ice-cream - as long as it's been made using pasteurised eggs.
Say no to: Puddings containing raw or partly cooked eggs, such as home-made mousse, cheesecake and meringues, as these can contain salmonella.
Say yes to: Smoked salmon. However, if it's been on a buffet table for a while, the risk of listeria increases.
Say no to: Parma ham and salami. These are cured but not cooked and can cause toxoplasmosis, which can adversely affect your baby's development.
Say yes to: Leafy green salads, but only if you make sure they're thoroughly washed first.
Say no to: Coleslaw, as it can contain listeria, and steer clear of salads made with home-made mayonnaise, as the raw eggs may contain salmonella. Mayonnaise from a jar is a good, safe alternative.
You can say yes to nuts, including peanuts, unless you're allergic to them or you've been advised by your doctor or midwife to avoid them.
In the past, the guidelines stated mums-to-be should steer clear of peanuts. But the latest research has revealed there's no clear evidence that eating peanuts increases your baby's chances of developing a peanut allergy.
Many nuts are also a fab source of nutrients. For example, walnuts are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help keep the skin soft. Omega-3 is also essential for your baby's brain and nervous system.
Don't worry if you eat something accidentally - the risk of food poisoning is small. But you're more susceptible due to changes to your immune system, and the consequences can be long-term. If you're not sure how food has been prepared, ask, or play it safe and avoid it.
Dr Rana Conway
Yes, some festive foods actually have more to offer than taste! Here are the benefits you can enjoy from common Christmas foods during your pregnancy...
Brussels sprouts are a great Christmas superfood with lots of nutrients, including folic acid - particularly vital in the critical first three months of pregnancy, when there's rapid cell replication as your baby develops. Folic acid is one of the B vitamin family and is very important for helping your body to function at its best.
Turkey is a great lean source of protein (the building block for growth) and also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which can help aid relaxation. So, if you're feeling stressed, eating it could induce a bit of calm. Try to opt for a free-range or organic turkey, to help you avoid ingesting any artificial hormones or growth hormones.
Whether in a sauce or as a juice drink, cranberries are a great source of antioxidants that help protect the body's cells, but in both cases, try to opt for low sugar varieties. They can also help stop bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls and so are useful if you're prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs). When you're pregnant, your risk of contracting a UTI is slightly increased.
Snacking on these is a great way to get a good boost of vitamin C. Among other benefits, vitamin C helps to strengthen the arteries and the walls of your veins, which are under a lot of pressure when you're pregnant.
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