Eating healthily in pregnancy

by JANE CLARKE, You magazine, Mail on Sunday
April 7, 2002

Maybe it's the spring vibes, or perhaps it's my age, but I'm seeing pregnant

women blooming all around me at the moment.

Yet while being pregnant is a

wonderful experience for many women, other unfortunate future mothers spend

the entire nine months feeling diabolical, wishing that their morning

sickness was at least limited to the mornings or that their swollen legs

wouldn't add insult to injury by aching so much.

It's one thing feeling

awful yourself, but quite another when it comes to your baby's well-being,

however, and whether or not their pregnancies prove joyous, the issue that

unites all mothers-to-be is eating the right things to ensure the healthy

development of their unborn babies.

And if you're pregnant, as well as

eating healthily, it's vital to avoid exposure to three strains of food

poisoning, namely listeriosis, salmonella and toxoplasmosis.

The most dangerous food-poisoning bug is Listeria monocytogenes, which will

happily bide its time in the fridge waiting for its chance to enter the

human body, whereupon it can erupt into listeriosis, whose flu-like symptoms

may ultimately result in either miscarriage or foetal damage.

It's important

to remember that all soft, moist, blue-veined cheese, be they pasteurised or

unpasteurised, and especially rindless ones, offer a fertile breeding ground

for Listeria monocytogenes and that you should therefore steer clear of all

blue-veined, mould-ripened cheese until the arrival of your baby (after

which it's safe to eat them, even while you're breastfeeding).


cheese and other soft, processed cheeses are risk-free, however, as are

unpasteurised hard cheeses, such as Pecorino, Manchega and Parmesan, and

pasteurised hard cheeses like Cheddar, which you could enjoy toasted on

wholegrain bread with a topping of roasted tomatoes as a safe alternative to

a straightforward sandwich for lunch or as a late-afternoon snack to keep

you going.

You should also avoid all pâtés (and the liver-based ones are anyway too

high in vitamin A to be suitable for pregnant women) and ready-made salads,

such as coleslaw.

Another important precaution is thoroughly rinsing all

salad vegetables - even prepackaged and prewashed ones - in cold water to

wash off the moisture that has coated them since they were packaged in case

it is infected with Listeria monocytogenes. In addition, you should further

minimise your risk of contracting listeriosis by avoiding soft-whip ice

creams and heating chilled ready-made meals until they are piping hot.

The second risk to you and your baby's health comes in the ugly form of

salmonella. If any food that contains salmonella bacteria hasn't been heated

to a temperature high enough to kill them, they'll flourish, inducing

diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and headaches (and, in rare cases, death), 12 to

48 hours after the infected food was consumed.

Because poultry, eggs and

unpasteurised milk are especially likely to harbour salmonella, it's

essential not to let the following foods pass your lips: anything that

contains raw or lightly cooked eggs, such as home-made mayonnaise, scrambled

eggs, omelettes (unless they've been thoroughly cooked), home-made ice

creams, egg-based sauces, such as hollandaise, and mousses.

You can continue

to enjoy commercially-produced ice creams and mayonnaise, however, because

they are typically made from pasteurised eggs.

Finally, although it will do you no harm, if you're infected with

toxoplasmosis, you could either miscarry your baby or your child could

suffer damage in the womb. Because the toxoplasmosis parasite may lurk in

all types of poultry and meat, it's vital not to eat raw meat, fish or

seafood, such as steak tartare, sushi, sashimi or oysters, and to ensure

that any meat that you do eat has been thoroughly cooked.

In addition,

because the culprit parasites can be found in animal faeces, don't feed raw

meat to your pets, wear rubber gloves when cleaning up their mess and keep

cat litter away from food. Follow these guidelines, and you'll increase your

chances of being rewarded with a healthy baby at the end of your pregnancy.



Serves 2 or one with a hearty appetite

2 thick slices of wholegrain bread

60g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Scraping( approx 1/2 tsp) of Dijon mustard

12 small ripe, cherry tomatoes

Drizzle of olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt

Freshly torn basil

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C. First roast the tomatoes by placing them in a roasting tin, drizzled with a little olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes or until they turn slightly charred and roasted on the outside and soft on the inside. You can set these aside now until you're ready to eat the cheese toasts.

Next make the cheese toasts by toasting one side of the two slices of bread, then turn over and spread half the mustard on each of the un toasted sides.

Place half the grated cheese on top of the mustard breads and place under a hot grill for approximately two minutes until the cheese has started to melt.

Next, place the tomatoes on top of the cheese and then finish them by sprinkling the remaining cheese on top, along with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt. The cheese has a strong taste (and the mustard enhances the flavour) so you shouldn't need much salt - pepper is a good flavour enhancer and much healthier for us.

Grill the toasts for a few more minutes until the cheese has started to turn golden brown. Remove from the grill and garnish with a little freshly torn basil if desired, otherwise, they're ready for eating.

You could always double or triple the quantity of tomatoes as it's just as easy to roast a lot as it is a few. You can then store the left overs in the fridge (covered with Clingfilm) for another day - they're yummy with roasted meats or in salads.

Jane Clarke(BSc SRD), sees patients at her Nutritional Consultancy; 29 Frith

Street, London, W1V 5TL, Tel 020 7437 3767.

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