Food, glorious, yummy, forbidden, food
One of the first things a newly pregnant woman does is look into what she’s supposed to eat and what she’s not supposed to eat. At least, that’s what I did. I had a precious cargo and I didn’t want something I ingested to hurt it. I viewed giving up certain foods as good practice for the many other things I’d most likely have to sacrifice as a mother.
All throughout the pregnancy, I’ve been vigilant about eating the right things. I have even visited a private nutritionist once per trimester to make sure I’m taking the right supplements and eating the best foods for the baby’s developmental stage. And I have to say, I’m particularly and perhaps worryingly proud of the fact that I’ve maintained a very healthy bowel throughout. But maybe that is too much information.
So it’s absolutely astounded me when I meet pregnant women who have completely ignored all food advice. In fact, when I’ve met these women, they’ve even gone as far as to make me feel foolish for caring about the guidelines. “French women eat blue cheese! Italian women eat salami!” And my favourite question: “Come on. Do you know anyone who’s ever had listeria?” Well, yes, actually, I do.
And she’s kindly written me this little piece on what it felt like:
‘If anyone is undecided on whether to follow the advice to avoid unpasteurised cheeses, etc. when pregnant, take it from me, it is a good piece of advice. While on holiday in France years ago, pre children, I ate lots of gooey gorgeous cheeses and ended up with listeria food poisoning. At the time I remember saying I could understand why they advise pregnant women to avoid foods that could be a problem, as my stomach was contracting so badly in what I equated to being what it must be like if you are in labour. Having now had children, I wasn’t far wrong! I can only imagine how terrifying it would have been to have had those contractions while pregnant, as it must put you at risk of miscarrying.’
One of the best sources on what to eat and what to avoid can be found on the FDA website, which is 100% correct. There is a wealth of helpful, but also wrong and conflicting information on the Internet and I’ve been in many a restaurant over the past 8 months, typing questions into my iPhone web browser along the lines of “meringue and pregnancy?” or “Are prawns okay?”
Here are a few things that surprised me to find out:
- I would always stop at mobile juice or “smoothie” counters in malls to get a fresh fruit juice squeezed for me. Fresh fruit = good. Well, it’s a no no. The juices at these stands are unpasteurised and, therefore, a bad thing for preggos.
- Pregnant women are told to avoid mayonnaise, but it’s actually fresh mayonnaise that we must not eat. My nonna taught me how to make fresh mayo once; it involves raw egg yolk and lots of olive oil. No wonder why it’s so fattening! Hellmann’s and the mayo you are most likely eating in sandwiches from Marks & Spencer are made with pasteurised egg. If it’s mayonnaise as an accompaniment in a five-star restaurant, it’s most likely fresh.
- We can eat blue cheese if it is cooked thoroughly.
- We can eat prawns, but it’s best to cook them yourself so you know they’ve been done properly.
- And finally cream cheese, like Philadelphia, is fine. I read in Mylene Klass’ book that it was not allowed, but it is. In fact, here is a yummy dessert recipe that involves cream cheese (use whipping cream, whipped, instead of Cool Whip). I made it the other day. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
Some of the best advice I’ve had is to bring a picnic containing all the foods you haven’t been eating to the hospital for devouring after the birth. You’ll be hungry and you’ll need the nourishment. My pack is going to have taleggio cheese, salami and a case of red wine. Make that two cases.