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Pregnancy: Food to avoid during the Holidays

December 18, 2017

Let’s be honest, the prospect of all the food served during the holidays has everybody excited, and the sweets-craving pregnant woman is definitely no exception. But soon-to-be moms and new moms may need to be cautious around some common holiday foods and treats for safety purposes for themselves and their babies. Here are some foods to avoid and foods that are safe during the holidays to watch out for.


Soft cheeses, such as Queso Fresco, Brie, and Panela that are made with unpasteurized milk are not recommended for consumption by pregnant women. They contain listeria, harmful bacteria that can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. When you’re faced with an irresistible cheese platter, ask to see the packaging to make sure the cheese is pasteurized. Cheese such as cheddar, parmesan, Swiss, and Monterey Jack are usually made with pasteurized milk and are safe to eat.

Cold cut meats

The problem with cold cut meats is the “cold” part. When the meat is cold, it may also contain listeria. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favorite meat and cheese platter, but you should heat up the meat until it is steaming hot and at a safe temperature.


The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that any amount of alcohol can affect your baby’s growth, no matter how small the amount, and it’s best to abstain from alcohol altogether during pregnancy. Opt for sparkling cider when it’s toast time at your holiday celebrations. If you’re breastfeeding, it is safe to drink alcohol so long as you wait to nurse until your body has metabolized most of the alcohol. A good rule of thumb is if you’re okay to drive, you’re probably okay to nurse.

Cookie dough

Holiday baking is a tradition for many families, but if you’re pregnant you may need to be a little more careful this year. The raw eggs found in your dough or batter could contain harmful bacteria like salmonella that could make you sick. Resist the urge to taste the dough, or simplify this year by going store-bought to make it easier on yourself and avoid coming in contact with any harmful bacteria found in raw food products.

Seafood and Sushi

Seafood high in mercury should be avoided during pregnancy because too much mercury can result in birth defects, according to the FDA. Shark and swordfish are of particular concern, but raw fish found in sushi trays can also contain parasites and harmful bacteria. You don’t have to completely avoid all sushi, however. Reach for a California Roll made with cooked crab, or other cooked forms of seafood and fish.


Traditional eggnog has alcohol in it, so if you’re at a party with homemade eggnog it’s probably best to choose another drink. Homemade eggnog is also often made with raw eggs, which can be harmful to consume. If you can verify that it has no alcohol in it and that the eggs used to make it have been pasteurized, it’s okay to drink. Store bought eggnog is usually made with pasteurized eggs and is safer to consume, as long as it’s non-alcoholic.

What holiday foods are you most looking forward to eating? Do you have any tricks for modifying holiday treats to be safer for pregnancy?

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Avatar for Angela Silva

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams

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