| 7.2°C Dublin

What to eat on Christmas Day if you're eating for two?

 

Close

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

Cucumber smoothie

Cucumber smoothie

Pudding

Pudding

/

Chestnuts

Cheese and alcohol-laden festive menus can be a minefield for pregnant women, so follow our guide to tasty alternatives

CHRISTMAS PARTY BUFFETS AND FESTIVE MARKETS

Don't have: Pâté, cured meats, dips that have been sitting out, raw shellfish, mulled wine, egg nog.

Why: Pâté (even the vegetarian stuff) can contain listeria bacteria which can cause an illness called listeriosis. In pregnant women (particularly those in the third trimester when the immune system is at its most suppressed) it can come with a range of health risks including pre-term labour, miscarriage and even maternal death. There's a risk of parasites in cold meat. Although mulled wine is heated, unless it's been boiled for a looooong time, it'll still contain alcohol (typically between 8 and 13pc abv), so avoid if you're being religious about swerving alcohol (and although the expert opinion differs on how much is safe to drink, all the experts agree that the only way to be sure is to totally avoid alcohol) ditto egg nog. Even if your nog is alcohol-free, you'd want to be sure the eggs are fully cooked and pasteurised, so probably best just to say no.

Have instead: Dried fruit, nuts, crudities.

Why: The latest research says nuts are fine during pregnancy and might even help the baby develop a natural tolerance. Almonds and walnuts are rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc while that old Christmas favourite the chestnut is a definite food hero full of protein, fat, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins to regulate blood flow, stimulate kidneys and provide nutrients to muscles. There's also some evidence eating chestnuts regularly when pregnant can reduce pregnancy fatigue. Dried apricots are great for digestion. Yes, of course you can chow on crisps and pastries but fried, fatty foods are not your friends (read on to find out why).

CHRISTMAS DAY BREKKIE

Don't have: A full fry with soft poached eggs washed down with buck's fizz.

Why: All the components of a fry are safe to eat when pregnant (even the eggs if they're fully cooked) but that doesn't make it the best option. Fried food is a trigger for pregnancy heartburn as are citrus foods such as oranges. The muscle at the top of the tummy that prevents digestive acids going up into the oesophagus relaxes during pregnancy making heartburn more common, particularly after 20 weeks when the uterus pushes the tummy against the diaphragm, condensing the stomach contents and moving it up the oesophagus. So steer clear of huge portions and fatty food.

Have instead: Banana pancakes (made with mashed banana, egg and baking powder) with yogurt and berries with a juice made from one cucumber and half an apple.

Why: Bananas give energy, setting you up for the big day and are good on the tummy if you're still feeling queasy; berries are packed with vitamin C, folate and fibre; and yogurt's a great source of calcium. Cucumber neutralises the acid in your mouth preventing against gum and teeth problems that are common in pregnancy. It also tightens the skin and helps regulate blood pressure.

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Starter

Don't have: Pâté, cured meats, oysters, smoked salmon or soft goats' cheese.

Why: Unfortunately all these carry a listeria risk. The guidelines from Safefood say to avoid smoked fish and meat unless fully cooked, but it's worth knowing that many countries consider smoked salmon a very low risk and safe during pregnancy so long as its fresh and refrigerated.

Have instead: Cooked fish, hard goats' cheese.

Why: The safest way to consume salmon or any fish is cooked, so opt for fish cakes or simply swap out soft chevre goats' cheese for the hard variety for a twist on your salad starter (but make sure lettuce is well washed as soil can carry a risk of toxoplasmosis, a dangerous infection that can cause miscarriage).

Main

There's absolutely no reason why any mum-to-be can't enjoy a full Christmas dinner. Make sure the turkey is completely cooked through, with not even a slightest tinge of pink and check that any stuffing has been cooked separately to the bird and pipping hot. Ham should also be piping hot, ditto gravy. Provided everything is well washed, spuds and veg are A-OK.

Go big on the Brussels sprouts if you're a fan because they're full of folate (important for foetal development) and bursting with fibre (great for constipation), vitamin C (needed to make collagen to build baby's skin and bones) and vitamin K (important for blood clotting). The vitamin C in cranberry sauce is credited with having immune-boosting powers.

Desert

Don't have: Mousse, merengue.

Why: The raw eggs carry a salmonella risk.

Have instead: Chocolate avocado mousse, Christmas cake/pudding.

Why: It sounds weird but avocado gives a very authentic luxurious, creamy mousse taste but with a big nutrition hit. Unless your fruit cake has been soaked in rum after cooking, it's okay to eat because the majority of the alcohol will have evaporated during cooking. Pudding will also have a fairly low booze content, but use your judgement.

Cheese board

Don't have: Soft blue-veined cheeses (Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort) unless cooked, soft mould-ripened cheese (such as brie, camembert and soft goats' cheese) or smoked soft cheese.

Why: Risks of bacteria like listeria.

Have instead: Hard cheeses, cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, halloumi (as long as they're all made from pasteurised milk) and smoked hard cheese.

Why: If you're really missing your blue cheeses, many health experts consider Stilton as very low risk as it's classed as a 'hard cheese'. Hard cheeses are fine because they don't contain as much water as soft cheese so bacteria are less likely to grow in them.

Drinks trolley

Of course you could just stick to sparkling water but the thriving alcohol-free drinks market means there are some great faux tipples to try out. Pregnant reporter Chrissie RusselL put them to the test

Rawson's Retreat Cabernet Sauvignon (Tesco, €6)

Widely hailed as being one of the best booze-free reds on the shelf but as a red wine lover I wasn't sold. It had a strange sweetness that I just didn't find compatible with 'normal' red wine. 1/5

Torres 'Natureo' Syrah (Tesco, €7)

Better than the Rawson's Retreat but still no 'authentic' red wine taste for me. Master of Wine Anne McHale agrees it's a tough one to imitate: "Unfortunately I've never had an alcohol-free red wine that's passable. The closest thing I've tried is the Torres 'Natureo' range, but it still has that sweetness to try and fill the 'gap' created by the no-alcohol issue." 2/5

Torres 'Natureo' Muscat (Tesco, €7)

This pleased me far more than the red. It's a really refreshing taste and not as sweet as I'd feared. I don't know if I'd go so far and say it felt like the real thing (there was a slight sense of grape juice to my palate) but definitely a pleasant, wine-like tipple. 3/5

Sparkling Muscato (Marks & Spencer, €9)

It shouldn't matter, but I loved that this comes in quite a swish bottle! Fruity and floral rather than sweet but also light and refreshing - a hit! 4/5

Franziskaner Non-Alcoholic 500ML (Tesco, €2)

This tastes pretty much like the real thing - good full, hop-y flavour that wouldn't feel out of place in a Bavarian beer garden. 5/5

Seedlip (see online for stockists, around €35)

Hailed as 'the world's first non-alcoholic spirit' this was a big hit with me when I tried it in Milano, which has it on its drinks menu (€7.15). Served with Fever Tree tonic and a garnish of mint and lemon, the Garden 108 variety tasted savoury, grown-up and delicious. 5/5

Mocktails

Most bars and restaurants now do a good line in alcohol-free cocktails but some can taste sickly and unsophisticated. Strong flavours such as ginger (always good for pregnancy nausea too) or mint (virgin mojitos or 'nojitos') taste grown up.


Most Watched





Privacy