Tuesday 10 August 2004

nuts to you

I keep coming across messages on pregnancy web boards from women wondering what they can and can't eat (American and UK), and I am constantly amazed by the answers/advice these women are getting. I've seen several women advise others to avoid all fish completely, don't have any caffeine whatsoever (ditto alcohol), avoid all cheese, and for god's sake, don't even come within 20 feet of a peanut. Obviously, what you choose to eat and avoid is a personal decision. Some women simply don't feel comfortable eating certain foods or drinking (I am still too chicken to drink any alcohol at this point), and I can respect that. What's starting to hack me off is the conflicting and/or vague information that's out there; it's no wonder so many women are confused. I am avoiding the obvious culprits: soft cheeses, raw/undercooked eggs, precooked meats (that aren't reheated), liver (um...not like I actually ate that before pregnancy), and undercooked meats and fish. I would probably eat rare tuna and scallops if I had a decent source of seafood, but I am not going to trust the stuff that's sitting at the fish counter at Tesco. I try to limit the amount of fizzy drinks or juice made with sweeteners, and I have cut down on the caffeine simply because I feel hyper and sleepless enough without it, thanks.

Now, about nuts. I know every book and web site I've read said to avoid it if you or your partner has allergies. The thing is, I'm just not convinced that this is more than a theory. I have allergies, and my kids will likely get them too because allergies can be hereditary - regardless of whether or not I enjoyed some peanut butter on toast whilst pregnant. Has anyone been able to link peanut eating to an increase in peanut allergies, or is it just that allergic Mums have allergic kids and this might include a peanut allergy?

I understand that we need to be as safe and cautious as possible during pregnancy, but it seems like the more we know, the more paranoid we become. I have seen too many messages from women convinced that they are bad mothers (not in a "bad muthas" Samuel L. Jackson kind of way) because they have unintentionally broken one of the gazillion food sins. We've got enough stress as it is, what with all the worrying about every ache and pain and wondering if that day we were really stressed out at work will affect our unborn children somehow. I would still like to enjoy my food without wondering if it'll make our child sprout an extra head.

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