Monday, March 30, 2009
A Yearning for Cheese
There's certain things you're advised not to eat while pregnant. Those things totally differ depending on which country you're in and what the current research says. In Sweden, women are told (among other things) to stay away from any raw, dried or cured meat (no parma ham for me...), to not eat their beef rare, to never have any soft cheeses (even if they're pasteurized), to avoid certain fishes because of the toxins, and to not drink a single drop of alcohol.
And I can't wait to eat cheese again. It's ok if you heat it up, which is what prompted the risotto you see above - it has gorgonzola, mushrooms, ham and broad beans - but I'm really missing the texture of it. Blue cheese. And chèvre. And brie. Oh well - only about six weeks to go! I wonder if they look at you funny if you bring cheese to the hospital..?
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I have a 15 month old boy (first and only) and I followed all the "rules" pretty strictly for the most part.
But after about month 7, when it was abundantly clear that baby Axel was doing just fine in there, I let some of my rules slide. I started having coffee again, I started eating my favorite salami again, and I even had a salad with raw egg in the dressing (okay, I had forgotten it was in there, but I didn't let the realization stop me from finishing it off).
My thinking was this: These foods have never made me the least bit sick before, and I trusted the makers. The baby was well into trimester two at the least and was showing no signs of having any issues whatsoever. If anything, I should have given up driving, as we were much more likely, statistically, to be hurt in an accident than by an errant piece of cheese.
A friend of mine, while she was pregnant herself, would microwave her lunch meat every day, before she put it in a sandwich. I thought she was insane. There's plenty to be scared of when you're growing another human being in your body, but I wasn't about to let lunch meat run my life.
My advice to you is do a lot of reading, talk to your midwife/doctor/etc., and decide for yourself what is acceptable risk and what is just fear.
If anything, the exercise will prepare you for Round 2: What People Say You Can't Feed to Your Baby.
P.S. Thank you for the blog. It's my Scandinavian Cooking, Season 6.
P.P.S. Birth and babies are great. I was bone tired for about three months straight, but I've never been happier. Oh, and food tasted REALLY good afterwards. Nice side effect!
Rebecca - that's pretty much my thinking, too!
I've had coffee all through the pregnancy - I never drink that much anyway, and I doubt it's going to affect anything. I don't worry about cooked meat at all, but avoid things that have been sitting for long, or don't look fresh. Raw eggs aren't an issue, Swedish eggs are apparently completely salmonella-free so they don't even tell you to avoid them. Not that I make a habit of eating them anyway, but it's not on my worry-list :)
Round 2 will be *very* exciting - I realise it's a bit in the future, but I really look forward to cooking (or mashing, as it'll be in the beginning) for the baby.
I'm on my 33rd week, well starting 34th already and I haven't stopped eating anything for the past 8 months!
I wasn't allowed to eat salami and other kind of raw uncooked meat (like sushi, which I never tried- so I don't know what I am missing), but neither salami is my fav food.
So, I am happily eating everything here :) just like I did before the pregnancy!
Raine ja Manuel - you're about a week ahead of me! :) Here, sushi is actually allowed, as long as the fish as been frozen beforehand. I've just given in a few times to that craving, and in *really* good sushi places where I trust the chefs. :)
Not that I am pregnant, or will be any time soon, but no cheese??? Oh my god...
Sometimes I think all these do´s and dont´s are a bit exaggerated. Being careful - ok no problem with that. But a few rules. Even after the baby is born. I have seen that with my cousin who followed nearly all the advice she got from the books and so one. My mum always looked at me and rolled her eyes. She never really followed that instuctions and advice and I grew up pretty well, too.
"..but I really look forward to cooking (or mashing, as it'll be in the beginning) for the baby." Sounds soooo familiar!! My mum tried to feed my with baby mash while my parents had their usual food. But as I am not that stupid even as a little one I very soon realized that my parents meals tested much better so I refused the mash and wanted to have real meals as well. :) That´s what my parents told me. :)
I'm 32 weeks pregnant and I have to say that nobody could stop me of eating sushi...I just love it! One funny thing we noticed with my husband was the issue about eating liver. Basically the whole Scandinavia is on the hard line against it but for example in Italy the first iron-rich food you are advised to eat while pregnant is liver!
A friend of mine had Sushi between her contractions during labor because it took more than 20 hours to deliver. I don't know if I'd want to eat Sushi in this condition but if you feel like it -I think there have been enough 'human experiments' by pregnant women to show that it's pretty safe.
Also probably depends on the country. In Japan & Sweden I'd say it's safe to eat Sushi when pregnant but not in places like Spain where there's regular incidences of food poisoning related to eating seafood (which isn't even raw).
Liver's no problem in Italy :D Until it's cooked well, there is no problem. In fact the doctor suggested me to eat it at least one a week...
With raw and uncooked meat I have be careful because I don't have the antibodies against Toxoplasmosis...
It's very dangerous illness to get during the pregnancy...
In Germany 2 cm worth of red wine per day is fine with a pregnant women. Good for ze baby and ze mother. I don't have any children so I don't have any self-experience but I have a friend who really went overtop (if you ask me). She avoided hair colour, cheeses, coffee, all the foods you are suppossed too etc. All it fed was anxiety.
Like Rebecca N a small portion of food is not likely to cause harm. I think they list all those foods, and lets face it -- it's a huuuge list of foods to avoid -- to be on the safer side. I don't understand why you have to avoid pasteurised cheese. If you have to avoid pasteurised cheese then you'd have to avoid milk pretty much.
Tardis - good for you! As long as the baby will eat homemade food rather than jar food, I'm happy!
Interesting about liver indeed! It's not recommended here because of the high levels of vitamin A (and possibly toxins) but since I don't like it anyway, I haven't bothered to look into it.
Jessika - it's the risk of listeria, which apparently can be present in moldy cheeses even if they're pasteurized. But it's really, really rare. (If you get it though - it can be pretty serious, just like toxoplasmosis.)
It all really comes down to the risks you're willing to take. Some are bigger, some are smaller. I've chosen somewhere in between, but I am less concerned the further along I get :)
I understand the safety concerns about toxoplasmosis. However, you can get that from handling refuse from animals as well (cna we spell cats?). Listeriosis, there is, maybe perhaps or not, two or three cases that might be contributed to cheese during pregnancy. The risk for fetal damage is, as I understand it, at its greatest during the 1st and 2nd trimester, and you learn as you go as you say. I stay away from raw eggs due to meds I take even though Swedish eggs are salmonella free (so far). It is all about risks you are willing to take. It is however rather telling that the advice on what not to eat during pregnancy varies so from country to country and not so much considering actual risk associated to food in a specific country.
Some women become afraid of eating pretty much, and that can't be the reason behind these advices. Also, I am slightly concerned that there seems to be few if any actual research backing up the advice. It is not concerning food but years ago the advice was to avoid animals around infants and children to prevent allergies. Research has, however, shown this theory to be wrong. Rather the opposite applies. Because you can't really submit pregnant women to any actual experiments some of the advice remains not so much a question of science but rather an issue of opinion. That might be fine, but does become a bit too much at times.
Jessika - you can certainly get toxoplasmosis from animals as well, but it's not so easy. I was tested when I found out that I was pregnant - after all, I've grown up with cats and now that I'm a breeder, I obviously am around them a lot. But no, no antibodies. So, if I haven't been infected during my first 32 years, I doubt I will be during these nine months... But then again, there are so many things that can go wrong with a pregnancy any way, no matter what you do, that a lot of women - me included - don't mind following even slightly irrational guidelines to hedge our bets.
Right, I'm not saying eat away at everything. You do afterall want a healthy baby. the advice is a dab inconsistent but I can't argue with anyone's choice about what to eat or not during a pregnancy.
I won't make any food while pregnant comments but just wanted to say that I have loved reading what you have been eating while pregnant as the 'rules' are different the world over and look forward to the next instalment of you cooking for your child. Enjoy your last few weeks!
Oh, the memories! The day I returned home from the hospital with our son, I sent my husband and mother-in-law out to buy me a wedge of cheese...and a bag of peanuts.
I developed gestational diabetes and had to eat a very strict diet anyway...but I swear, that last couple weeks were spent obsessing about Brie.
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