Thanksgiving - What to Eat When Pregnant

If you are like me, you are looking forward to the warmth and craziness of Thanksgiving, all the family traditions, and the delicious food. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where most families have traditional dishes that have been prepared for years. In fact if your family is like mine, there are certain dishes they won’t let you change, like the stuffing! The good news is that most of the traditional dishes we eat at Thanksgiving are pretty healthy, usually freshly made, and perfectly great to eat while pregnant.

Being pregnant though, you and your soon-to-arrive little one are susceptible to certain food bacteria and toxins. Here then are some reminders to make your Thanksgiving thoroughly enjoyable.

1. Turkey – Yummy and healthy for you and your baby: Be sure however, that you follow safe food preparation rules while making the turkey:

  • Defrost a frozen turkey in the refrigerator rather than out on the counter
  • Be sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raw turkey and be sure you use a separate cutting board, and/or disinfect the counter surface that has come into contact with the raw turkey
  • Be sure the turkey is cooked thoroughly. Don’t judge by time in the oven or that beautiful color. Use a thermometer and be sure the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
Stuffing/Dressing: Every family has a traditional stuffing recipe. The most important thing about the stuffing is that it is heated thoroughly, which is hard to do if it is cooked inside the turkey. So, the best way to ensure the stuffing is thoroughly cooked is to cook it outside of the turkey in a separate baking dish to 165 degrees.

2. The Before-Meal Munchies: Cheese Platters, Pates, Smoked Meats, Dips, and Raw Vegetables: Wow! That’s a long cautionary list. Here’s the scoop.

  • With cheeses, you need to avoid unpasteurized cheeses. These are usually soft cheeses like brie, goat cheese, feta, blue cheese, and even Aunt Myrtle’s famous cheese dip if you think it might contain one of these kinds of cheeses. You can always whisper that you are just crushed you have to avoid the dip this year, but since you are pregnant, cheese makes you burp… or gassy… you get the idea, use humor to cover up your need to avoid the cheese platter and dip.
  • The same thing goes for pates and smoked meats like salmon, or smoked trout. The only time these are safe is if they are canned. So if you don’t know, then avoid them.
  • And similarly, watch out for that harmless nutritious fresh veggie platter; unless you have personally washed the vegetables to be sure they are clean, avoid them. Better safe than risking toxoplasmosis that could be in the dirt.

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3. Desserts: The only caution here is if you are like me and the baker of the pies and cakes and cookies, sometimes there is a huge temptation to taste the raw dough. Oops – not now! The raw dough most likely contains raw eggs and that is a big no-no while pregnant. So skip tasting the raw dough. On the other hand, anything that has alcohol in it but is cooked or baked after the alcohol is added is fine to eat. Just avoid desserts soaked in uncooked alcohol and served that way. That’s about it. Everything else is pretty much a go. The rules for Thanksgiving are actually no different than any other time during your pregnancy;
  • Avoid raw foods (and don’t forget about raw eggs that might be in homemade Caesar dressing),
  • Avoid unpasteurized foods like the above-mentioned cheeses, (and ciders),
  • Avoid smoked meats and alcohol,
  • Avoid seafood with high mercury content,
  • Avoid caffeine ( a little is okay if it doesn’t bother you),
  • Avoid saccharine (although other artificial sweeteners are OK),
  • Avoid smoked meats,
  • Watch herbal teas (some are fine and others simulate drugs and might be harmful – check with your doctor if you are unsure).
The “avoid” list seems long, but it leaves so many more delicious things to eat. And remember it’s only a short time that you have to be careful. A few last tips. Bring an additional side dish that you know you can eat to add to the already traditional dishes. Think up a few funny Thanksgiving stories to share. And remember, the most wonderful thing of all is that next year at this time, there will be an additional amazing little one at the table. Now that is something to be thankful for.

Read more about what you should and shouldn't eat when pregnant here. For more information call us today at (951)694-8388.