Holiday Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy


by Sarah G. Mason


Even if you’re normally healthy as a horse, pregnancy weakens your immune system and can make you – and the little guy inside – more susceptible to food-borne illnesses. Though the holidays are filled with merry gatherings and fancy feasts, there are a few specific foods to add to the no-no list. Here are a few tips on how to handle the holiday spread.

Turkey and All the Trimmings

This Thanksgiving, it’s important to ensure that your turkey is fully cooked. Dangerous bacteria and parasites like salmonella and E. coli can lurk in improperly cooked meat, causing illness when ingested. In addition, listeria and toxoplasma can cross your placenta and affect your baby. To be safe, cook the bird until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degree Fahrenheit, using a meat thermometer to check.

Stuff ‘Em with Stuffing

It’s customary to cook stuffing inside the turkey, but this year expecting moms should skip this tradition. When you stuff a turkey’s cavity, it can’t get hot enough to kill off harmful bacteria. Instead, cook the stuffing in a separate dish and then stuff it inside a fully cooked turkey for a traditional presentation.

Unpasteurized Problems

We love holiday juices like apple juice and cider, but pause before partaking. Is it pasteurized? Unpasteurized juices aren’t safe during pregnancy because they can contain bacteria like E. coli. If your juice is store bought, check for a warning label on the packaging; any unpasteurized juice sold in a container is required to have one. Avoid juice served at juice bars, especially if it’s “freshly squeezed.” If the juice is homemade, ask or stick with water.

Party Platters

Fun cheeses, salty crackers and winter fruits are party platter staples, and as you attend gatherings with friends and family, you’ll see them at every turn. While these are mostly safe, watch out for unpasteurized, “raw milk” cheeses. These, like unpasteurized juice, can contain dangerous bacteria. Since it’s hard to double check the label while you’re at a party, stay away from soft cheese like Brie, Camembert, feta, goat cheese and Mexican-style cheeses, as these are more likely to be unpasteurized. What’s safe? Hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss.

Enjoy Your Eggnog

Homemade eggnog is generally off limits; it’s usually made with raw, unpasteurized eggs and alcohol. To make this classic holiday drink pregnancy safe, try the store bought stuff. If you’re visiting friends or family, double check before you sip to ensure their eggnog isn’t spiked! Looking for something new to try? Consider “soy nog,” which is dairy free.

We hope the holidays are safe and satisfying for you and your little one!

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