The holidays definitely tend to center around food for most people, but if you’re pregnant, some dishes may not be so safe. For the inside scoop on what holiday foods to pass up, here are a few tips from dietitian and nutritionist Mary D. Brown, owner and founder of Budding Baby in Charlotte, N.C.
• Watch the temp: According to Brown, the basic rule is that if a dish is generally eaten hot, be sure you’re eating it hot. And if it should be served cold, eat it cold. Steer clear of anything that’s been sitting out long enough to waver toward room temperature. The truth is that your odds of food-borne illness are fairly low, but pregnancy isn’t the time to take chances.
• Easy on the teas: “I recommend that people really stay away from hot tea, unless they’re sure it’s from safe sources,” Brown said. Most non-herbal teas are chock-full of caffeine, and the tough thing with herbal teas is that for the most part, they aren’t FDA-regulated — meaning you don’t truly know what’s in there.
• Cut the caffeine: What’s a girl to do when the coffeepot starts making its rounds? Consider going for decaf. There are conflicting views when it comes to caffeine consumption during pregnancy, but Brown thinks it’s best to err on the side of caution.
“I say keep it to around 200 mg,” she said, pointing out that you might be consuming caffeine from other sources as well, like chocolate goodies, soft drinks and tea. (Even some coffee-flavored ice creams have as much caffeine as half a cup of instant coffee.)
• Lose the booze.
• Keep it cooked: If your holidays are ultra-chic, politely refuse the sushi and steak tartare. As for more traditional fare, try to keep an eye out for undercooked meats.
• Stick with sugar: When it comes to dessert, Brown recommends keeping your distance from artificial sweeteners. (“I recommend staying away from artificial anything,” she clarified.) When you’re baking a dessert, go ahead and toss in real sugar.