Pregnancy food confusion: what you can and can’t eat

You joined us on Facebook to tell us which foods you miss eating during pregnancy - but guess what? Some of them you can eat...

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Ice cream

Several of you told us that during pregnancy you had major cravings for soft ice cream, and while some of you have been steering clear, the NHS confirms there’s no need to avoid it.

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It states: “Soft ice creams should be fine to eat when you’re pregnant, as they are processed products made with pasteurised milk. However, if you have any concerns about eating these products, you might wish to avoid them while you’re pregnant.”

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Sushi

Sushi is so often cast aside as a pregnancy no go. But there are certain Sushi dishes that can be enjoyed during pregnancy. While raw shellfish should absolutely be avoided during pregnancy – as it can contain harmful bacteria – raw fish that has been frozen is OK. This may be more difficult to tell in a restaurant, so you may wish to avoid to be sure, but as the NHS states:

“Lots of the sushi sold in shops is bought in already made, not made at the shop. This type of sushi should be fine to eat, because if a shop or restaurant buys in ready-made sushi, the raw fish used to make it must have been frozen at minus 20C for at least 24 hours.” If cooking sushi at home, you should also freeze it for a 24 hour period to kill off parasites.

The easiest way to enjoy sushi during pregnancy is to opt for the following dishes:

  • Cooked seafood eg. unagi (fully cooked eel) or ebi (cooked shrimp).
  • Kappa maki (cucumber and other vegetable-based dishes).
  • California roll (avocado)
  • Fully cooked egg

Away from sushi, make sure you follow the NHS guidelines on other fish. This is an avoidance of shark, marlin and swordfish and limit tuna consumption to no more than two steaks a week (140g cooked or 170g raw each) or four medium sized cans a week (140g when drained).

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Cheese

Lots of you mentioned that you’re sad to see the back of soft cheese during your pregnancy. Unfortunately, this is correct as mould-ripened soft cheese contain listeria, a type of harmful bacteria.

However, the good news is that all cheese is not off the table (or the cheese board come to that!). Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, parmesan and stilton are fine to eat, even if made from unpasteurised milk.

The NHS adds: “Many other types of cheese are OK to eat, but make sure they’re made from pasteurised milk. This includes cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, goats’ cheese (but not chevre) and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads.”

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Peanuts

Peanuts have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with pregnancy, but now peanuts (and peanut containing products such as peanut butter) are fine to consume as part of a healthy balanced pregnancy diet (unless you’re allergic of course!).

Previous research suggested they could impact your child’s future allergies, but this advice has now been officially changed.

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Prawns

Back to thinking about fish, lots of you admitted cutting prawns out of your diet during pregnancy, however, NHS choices states:

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“You can safely eat prawns in pregnancy as long as they are cooked thoroughly until steaming hot. You can also eat them if they have been previously cooked, for example in a prawn sandwich.” Yippee, prawn sarnies all round!

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