So last week I had a roast beef sandwich. And then a turkey and Swiss sandwich.
Horrors! Enemy Number One on the Official Pregnancy Diet! Except that I asked my OB about lunchmeat and he said, "Mmm. Love it. Good source of protein." And added that the risk of listeriosis is so low it wasn't worth worrying about. Enjoy, he said. Obviously I took him at his word.
And thus another complete contradiction in the world of preggie eating. Most Web sites and people (and, from my perusing, many OBs) will tell you to avoid lunchmeat like the plague it is. In addition to alcohol, caffeine, soft cheeses, tuna, swordfish, sushi and various other random things that people get in a panic about. Example: the site I found that warned of the risks of soft-serve ice cream, because bacteria could get into the machines if they weren't cleaned properly.
OK, first of all, yes, listeriosis happens. For instance, this outbreak in Canada. But so do E. coli in spinach and salmonella in peanut butter cookies, as we have seen recently. Should we seal off all the supermarkets and grow our own food?
Second, not all of the above sources are trustworthy. I trust my OB because he's very commonsensical and doesn't rattle easily. I don't trust random Web sites that contradict each other. For instance the one that warned against all herbal teas -- listing green tea as herbal! Any serious tea drinker will tell you that green tea uses the same leaf as black tea, just prepared differently. Herbal tea by definition involves something other than Camellia sinensis. (My OB also cleared me for tea. Regular and herbal. I've been drinking blueberry green.)
The magazines are no less contradictory. One said flat out canned tuna was a no-no and offered an alternate salad using canned salmon and cannellini beans. (Which is pretty good, I must admit.) Then another one I was scanning recently offered a tuna recipe.
Why do pregnant women get so neurotic about food? This is why. You can't get a straight answer.
There was a NY Times story a few years back -- and if I could find a link to it, I'd post one -- pointing out that a lot of these warnings aren't necessarily based in science. Because who's going to test out these theories on actual pregnant women? There's also this story from Slate which delves into the issue more deeply than I'm doing. And I have gotten the impression, lurking on various boards, that some of these recommendations are U.S.-specific -- that if you were to visit another country, you'd hear an entirely different list of forbidden foods.
What happens when you don't know whether down is up and cheese is safe? You stop a waitress in a restaurant after she serves your entree and ask whether your risotto was cooked in alcohol. Even though you've *made* risotto at home and know precisely what goes into it. That was near the end of pregnancy #1. The waitress gave me a kindly talking-to. "When we were pregnant with you," she said, "we drank, we smoked, we ate whatever we wanted, and you all turned out fine."
I'm of course not advocating the drinking and the smoking. But: In the four weeks before I figured out I was pregnant with kiddo, I ate sushi, a turkey sub, tableside Caesar salad, swordfish, and went to a wedding and drank. I can't remember if I broke the rules so flagrantly this time around, although backdating puts us at around the holidays and there would've been eggnog involved.
My point is, you're not supposed to view every morsel of food you see as a potential enemy. You're supposed to enjoy food. And your doctor knows more than Web sites or magazines.
Also, roast beef with provolone, lettuce and tomato, with just a little oil and vinegar, is really, really good.