What is safe to eat when pregnant at Christmas

Don’t despair, you can still enjoy Christmas treats while you’re expecting

For many of us, Christmas is a time to indulge in foods we might not have during the rest of the year. But what is safe to eat when you’re pregnant at Christmas?

Problem: I crave lightly cooked eggs and some indulgent smoked salmon at breakfast – is this safe for me and my baby?

The best way to start Christmas Day is to have an enjoyable and leisurely breakfast. The good news is that the Department of Health says softly cooked and even raw eggs are safe to eat as long as they have the red lion mark on them, meaning they have been vaccinated against salmonella. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says they also contain a daily amount of choline, which is necessary in the diet of pregnant women and babies. Smoked salmon is high in nutrients and safe so long as you purchase it in a sealed package from a store. Make sure it’s within its Best Before Date.

Alternative choice: Don’t like salmon? Try scrambled eggs on bagels, or smashed avocado on rye bread with, a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil.

Problem: all these tempting treats on the buffet – can I eat them?

If you’re invited to an evet where the food choices are on a buffet, there are some things to avoid. These include soft cheese, unpasteurised cheese, paté, shellfish like oysters, some charcuterie including salami and Parma ham. Make sure salads have been well washed to take away any potential bacteria.

Alternative choice: Sushi, is safe to eat as it has been frozen. It’s a good choice instead of soft cheese and uncooked, smoked or cured meats.

Problem: Can I eat turkey or does it cause salmonella?

Turkey’s quite good for you as it’s lean and has several beneficial vitamins. You do have to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked – where the juices run clear when you slip a knife into it, with no traces of blood.

Don’t wash the turkey before cooking it, as you can spread bacteria around the kitchen. Wash your hands and surfaces well afterwards to avoid toxoplasmosis, which can cause blindness in babies.

Alternative choice: Chicken breasts are quicker and easier to cook, or choose a vegan or vegetarian main course like nut roast.

Problem: Cream custard and ice cream are banned

All shop-bought custard, cream and ice cream are fine as long as they are within their sell-by date. Avoid products made with raw eggs and Royal icing.

Alternative choice: Why not try fresh fruit or sorbet?

Problem: Which cheese is good and which is bad?

You’ll be told lots of conflicting facts about which cheese is safe to eat. Simply put, hard cheese is fine, but you need to be careful about soft cheese. Hard cheeses from Cheddar to Gruyere are fine. Some cheese contains the listeria bacteria, which can give you food poisoning and this is dangerous during pregnancy. You should not eat cheese that have mouldy rinds like brie and camembert, goat’s cheese and Stilton. Avoid raw or unpasteurised cheese. Those safe to eat are cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, Feta, crème fraiche, processed cheese and cheese spread.

The good news is you can eat them cooked, as long as they get hot all the way through, like baked camembert or on pizzas and in pies.

Alternative choice: Not sure if it’s safe? Stay safe with Cheddar or eat it cooked

Read more about the kinds of food to avoid while pregnant here

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