Christmas parties are not quite the same when you’re pregnant. These usually revolve around wine and cocktails, soft cheeses, meats, pates and smoked fish, all wonderful delicacies that will leave you feeling left out, and wondering if there’s anything that you can eat or drink at the party. Not only that, but if your colleagues still don’t know you are pregnant, they may be pretty certain that you are by the end of the party if you’re having to avoid everything. So let’s start with what you can eat, so you can relax a little and find things that you know are safe:
All those hard cheeses such as cheddar, goat’s cheddar, gouda, gruyere, gloucester, halloumi, lancashire, manchego, parmesan, pecorino, leicester, jarlsberg, are all fine to eat.
Soft cheeses including mozzarella, mascarpone, feta, cream cheese, ricotta, quark, goats cheese without rind, roulade, cottage cheese are all safe as well.
Brie & camembert are not safe to eat uncooked, but oven baked until piping hot they are absolutely fine. So if you have a say encourage these to be cooked. They are delicious when dipping bread into the melted cheese!
Blue veined cheeses are generally not safe unless cooked, except for stilton. Stilton is generally thought to be safe as it is a hard cheese, and the risk of listeria infection is extremely low.
Cold meat cuts are a bit of a controversial one. They are mostly safe and the risk of infection with listeria is very low. To be absolutely safe, it is recommended that you freeze the cold meats for 4 days before eating them as this will kill the possible parasites in the meat. If it is you hosting the party or someone close to you, you can do this in advance. However, if you don’t know if this has been done you may want to avoid these if you are at all concerned.
Smoked fish is safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as you know it has been refrigerated appropriately, is fresh and within its sell by date.
All nuts are safe to eat during pregnancy (unless you are allergic of course!). Recent research has shown that eating nuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding reduces the risk of your child developing an allergy to nuts.
Avoid all pates, including vegetable ones. They are normally made from liver, which is very high in vitamin A, and can cause abnormalities in your baby’s development.
Avoid all alcohol. Yes there are different schools of thought on this, but it is clear that alcohol has the potential to harm your baby so best to avoid it altogether. Although mulled wine & cider often have less alcohol content, as most has evaporated during the heating process, they will still contain some alcohol. There are sure to be alcohol-free drinks available for those designated drivers, so scout out your options. Alcohol-free beer, juices, cordials, mocktails, are all good alternatives, or check out my Virgin Bellini recipe.
Mince pies, Christmas pudding, sherry trifle- are they safe? The answer to this one depends on the amount of alcohol and the amount you eat. In general, the amount of alcohol content in these desserts is relatively low, and if you only have a small portion, I wouldn’t be too concerned. If it tastes very alcoholic- then you’ll know to stop eating.
WATCH OUT FOR RAW EGGS
Some desserts or sauces may contain raw eggs, such as mousses, ice creams, icing or homemade mayonnaise. Ask whoever has made them if they contain raw eggs, and if they do, avoid.
A final note…
Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, you may be feeling stuffed after just a few canapés, or still very hungry. Follow what your body is telling you. Don’t overeat too much as you may regret it later. And remember little and often is the key.
Enjoy the holiday season, as the next one you’ll have a baby to keep you occupied!