No food please, we’re pregnant.
If we needed any more proof I am a terrible mother-to be, the evidence is in my stomach. I have just broken the pregnancy eating guidelines by accident. Again. Third time this month, by my reckoning.
The culprit in this case is my lunch – a chicken schnitzel wrap. It’s not as if it looked particularly evil, being stuffed to the gills with loads of different veggies and minimal mayo. None the less it was a no-no, something I completely forgot when I left my office to forage for food. I wanted salmon sushi – oh, how I want salmon sushi – but remembered the You’re-Pregnant-Bitchface list of things I can’t have include raw fish. What I forgot is all the other stuff that gets pushed off the menu once you actually apply the list.
The Don’t-Eat-While-Up-The-Duff list doesn’t sound too exhaustive at first. No unpasteurised juices or dairy products. Soft and blue cheeses are off limits (sob!). So are raw eggs. And pate (double sob). Raw fish and any refrigerated shellfish. Undercooked meat. Salami, processed meat, cold meats generally. My old and excellent friend, Mr Alcohol. They also recommend washing the hell out of all fruit and veg, skipping buffet and bain marie items and avoiding pre-made salads full stop.
It seems pretty reasonable, you think. Surely I’ve can beat into my fluffy fatigued omni-starving pregnancy brain into remembering this small list of off-limits items. There are some things I’ll miss in there, it’s true, but not an unreasonable amount of foods to take off the menu for a few months.
Or is it? It’s only when you think about how that list will work in practice when you are out and about you realise how many easy eating options are suddenly on the naughty list. Meat that has been cooked but is now cooled is right out, especially if it’s chicken, so unless you’re a vegetarian most pre-made sandwiches are off the menu before you have even checked if the cheese is safe to eat.
That’s where my poor old chicken schnitzel fell down – I wanted a hot schnitzel, but they had none left so I took a wrap, completely forgetting that the reason I wanted it hot was the “no cooked but cold meats” prohibition. I was half-way through when I remembered it and you know what? I just sighed, and finished my fucking sambo.
The term undercooked meats actually means anything other than incinerated-until-it’s-well-done, making me less than popular at roast meals and barbecues, especially as I have turned my nose up at the pate, cheese and salami board passed around. Swordfish and shark are out due to mercury levels, which is reasonable, but they also recommended you don’t have more than two servings of tuna, salmon, crab, white fish – any fish really – all the while admonishing you that fish oils are something most prospective mothers don’t get but are needed for brain development.
They recommend you avoid food from a bain marie or a buffet table. And don’t think you can just get proactive and bring in your own – if you’re having leftovers at home, they must be under a day old and reheated until they’re at tongue-burning temperatures.
And if you’re preggers chickens are really out to get you; cooked but cooled their delicious flesh hide naught but listeria and DEATH, and pre-stuffed poulty you cook yourself may have so much DEATH even 2 hours at 200C won’t kill it, and unless their eggs are completely cooked, you are apparently rolling out the red carpet for listeria and salmonella both.
And raw egg? It turns out that it’s in loads of stuff, from mayo to dressings to delicious desserts. I’ve just discovered the tiramisu I had last week was off-limits, as was the gelato the week before. And I don’t care, because they were fucking delicious. In fact, I have no idea about the dressing used in my wrap was okay for me to eat. Did I ask if it contained raw egg? Did I bollocks. I was tired and hungry. I just finished the fecking thing.
And that’s before you even look at all the advice on what to eat for a healthy pregnancy because there are five million tons of crazy out there and all over the internet. One magazine I read insisted I needed to be eating help, chia and seaweed by the bucketload, because apparently I need to both build baby’s brain and be able to shit ropes. Another recommended “whipping up” a warm chicken salad for work lunch, because most people can cook at their desk – just bring in a camping stove if you don’t have access to a Masterchef kitchen! Several suggest going completely organic to get away from pesticides and other nasties, because as someone with a small and terrifyingly expensive child on the way who will need to take almost a year off work my main goal at the moment is to spend as much money as I physically fucking can. Twats.
I will try not to do it again, but I will not be berating myself for today’s slip-up. My pregnancy diet plan is less about obsessive eating and more about chilling the fuck out. I eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg in a varied diet with minimal fast-food or frying, and I take a multi-vitamin. I’ll be grand, thanks. Assuming the chickens don’t get me.