Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Mitigating risks

When I posted yesterday about eating meat straight out of the bag in the Farm Boy parking lot, Loukia commented that pregnant women are not supposed to eat cold cuts. Hey, I never said they were cold cuts - it was raw steak I was snarfing in the hot June sun.

Okay, so that's not true. It was cold cuts - Westphalian ham to be specific, a thinly-sliced, extra-salty ham that my German grandmother used to serve with sliced Gouda on rye bread for Sunday lunch, one of my favourite childhood traditions. No sandwich has ever tasted as good as the ones she cut into tiny triangles for me, served in her tiny, crowded kitchen that always smelled of my grandfather's cigars and some indefinable sweet perfume. Salty comfort food - there's nothing better.

I have to say, I've become rather cavalier about the pregnancy food rules. For my first two pregnancies, the one I lost in 2000 and Tristan, I was obsessive about the "rules". I would not eat cold cuts or hot dogs, salmon or soft cheese. I dropped coffee completely - or, more accurately, it dropped me and I switched to expensive foamed hot chocolate instead. I gave up caesar salads because of the raw eggs, and Greek salad because of the feta. I can't remember exactly what I was eating, but it must have been a complete departure from my usual fare.

In the last few pregnancies, I've become much less obsessive in my eating habits. A younger me would have been scandalized by the "risks" I take. This is partly motivated by experience, and partly by sheer laziness. Sandwiches are one of the foods I tolerate best right now, so I'll eat cold cuts a couple of times a week. I'd be face-down on the floor without some injection of caffeine during the day, so I'll drink a cup of tea in the morning, or a rare cup of coffee. I'll actively seek a caffinated soda some afternoons, just to make it though the day.

It's become an issue of moderation for me. The incidence of listeriosis is incredibly small; this study found an annual occurence of 7.4 cases per million people. I've discovered that almost all cheese in Canada is pasteurized, and have been hard pressed to actually find any that is unpasteurized at the local grocery store. Having squeezed out 9 lbs and 10 lbs babies, I'm not too worried about interuterine growth retardation (she said while touching wood.)

There are a few things I've remained diligent about. I have never been a fan of aspartame, and suspect it contributes to my headaches. Plus, I just can't stand the taste of it. So I'll go to great lenghts to avoid it while pregnant - which is too bad, because I've just recently discovered that Coke Zero actually does taste a lot like my beloved Coca Cola without the 12 teaspoons of sugar in it. But, for the remainder of the pregnancy at least, I'll stick with the original - and the extra calories.

Same with alcohol. It's not a huge stretch for me to avoid it, but I do find myself with a wicked craving lately for Corona with lime. It's a summer thing, I guess. But I'll hold off.

Is it wrong to be salivating at the thought of a beer at 8:15 on a Tuesday morning?