Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Give Me The Cheese

Moderation - Don't Let The Experts Freak You Out

I was talking to my friend Elida yesterday.  She is 6 months pregnant, so about 2 months farther on than I am.  She said " The thing is, everyone says, oh it's so great, you can eat whatever you want, but nothing could be further from the truth."

Here is the list of all the things you aren't supposed to eat - smoked salmon ( which I eat all the time) shark, swordfish, mackerel, tile fish, tuna, shrimp, oysters, deli meats, soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk, fresh juices, anything from a salad bar in a restaurant, any unwashed fruits and vegetables, vegetable sprouts, caffeine, herbal teas and remedies, shellfish, peanuts or peanut products ( which by the way knocks out most cookies) any form of raw meat ( bye bye carpaccio) sushi, some say meat in general, dairy as it can actually suck the calcium out of your bones ( go figure), and  alcohol.

Some of these are just stupid.  Fresh Juices?  Vegetable Sprouts? Herbal Teas?  Fish ( yes I know you have to watch out for mercury levels but c'mon)  Salad ( I'm sure they wash it) and yes you should wash your fruits and vegetables, but I think this  goes overboard.

Now I actually don't feel deprived at all, because there is a very limited assortment of food that my own little alien on board will accept.  I stick mostly to fruits and vegetables, toast, pasta and seafood. This however is through circumstance.. If I had less of a picky eater free loading on my taste buds, I have a feeling things would be different.

So the other day  at a BBQ, when a very sweet and well meaning friend almost jumped across the table to stop me eating a mushroom stuffed with blue cheese I said, "It's fine, the French have been doing it for years and they aren't known for an excessive number of mutants in their population." She said , " Are you sure"  I said, "Look, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I don't drink coffee, I don't eat many  sweets  so I am allowed this one little bit of stinky cheese in a tiny little mushroom, it's my first in four months." She smiled uneasily  and relented.

Does this annoy me?  Of course not.  She was looking out for me and wanted to ensure the food that she had prepared wouldn't poison me and sprog to be.  Everyone has been brainwashed with so many millions of things that you can't do in case you end up with a two headed version of Spiderman.  My own mother was addicted to oysters when she was pregnant with me and nothing particularly disastrous happened despite the warnings that say how terrible they are for you ( yeah, yeah, make your jokes now).

So what is truly bad?  The obvious stuff. However, my French friends all drank red wine throughout their pregnancies with no harm to their lovely kids ( obviously not to excess ) maybe a glass every couple of days.  There are studies that say an occasional glass of red is beneficial for you.  Something to do with the tannins in it and the propensity to lower blood pressure.  However, A GLASS, that is the limit.  Maybe the experts are worried that the general population is too stupid ,or to addicted to everything, to limit their imbibing behaviour to a sensible and beneficial level.

I have no idea how anyone can smoke in pregnancy. This is not from a moral perspective - this is from a physical perspective.  I  am better now, but between weeks 6 and 14, if I was 10 feet  downwind of it, it would make me violently ill. Same for the smell of alcohol on someone's breath.  My poor boyfriend once had half a beer, and I couldn't sit next to him.  He was sent upstairs to brush his teeth. Now in my second tri-mester, that has abated.

The experts give you so much to freak out about. ( I haven't  painted my nails in the last 4 months because I was told horror stories about the formaldehyde in  nail polish. )  Just do what you feel is safe, what is good for you and what your body tolerates.

Will a glass of wine be a disaster - no -  but if you polish off a bottle of wine per night, why would you be surprised if your little bumpkin had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?  Will one little piece of stinky cheese cause you to have an alien?  No but don't eat a pack a day.  Remember with most of these tests they have probably taken some miserable little pregnant rat, drowned it in whatever substance they are testing and then said - See - that's what happens.

So there you go, I am no doctor and obviously this is not medical advice, but moderation is the key. So I'm going to do what feels right for me and have a bit of smoked salmon and stinky cheese every once in a while.


  1. Hear hear Ali - moderation is key!

    6 years ago I found out I was pregnant while I was in Paris, having spent a week drinking copious bottles of wine and delicious coffee, smoking countless packets of cigarettes and living on a diet of devine assortments of naughty but nice cheeses and deli meats.. Ah........ oooops! I felt very guilty afterwards but thankfully no harm was done.
    I did actually induldge in a glass of red wine once a week.... after all it contains antioxidants! Guinness and stout (reportedly beneficial for those preggies deficient in iron) was not an option for me - tastes like vomit - bleuurrgghh!
    The only things I did avoid were cigarettes and peanuts and I had a healthy pregnancy and baby :-).

  2. I have heard of so many girls who have done that - especially in the first few weeks before you feel like crap and realise something is up..weirdly in Belgium they give you stout almost immediately after you give birth..Maybe it's to quickly up the iron content in your body after potentially having lost blood, and of course being super knackered.

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