What a pregnant mother must understand is that while their own immune system may be incredibly strong and able to fend off bacteria with no real fuss, the same cannot be said for their unborn infant. As such, it’s not only a case of being careful what you eat for the sake of your own health – you also need to take into account what’s directly beneficial or otherwise for your baby. Of course, certain foods and drinks like trans fats and alcohol should be steered clear of in a big way, but there are some common foods like bacon for example that are to some extent debated. After all, bacon contains a lot of good stuff as well as its slightly less healthy attributes, so what’s the truth about eating bacon while pregnant?
Can You Eat Bacon When Pregnant?
Technically speaking, there is nothing at all wrong with eating bacon while pregnant, just as long as it is consumed in moderation and as part of a healthy diet. It’s a case of understanding that bacon can contain more than its fair share of salt, fat and additives, but this of course depends on the brand you buy and how much of it your eat. No doctor will ever tell you that bacon is a serious danger to you or your baby, but at the same time it’s unlikely they will directly recommend it.
1. Risks of Listeriosis
Perhaps the biggest concern of all that surrounds the subject of eating bacon while pregnant is that of literiosis – a common bacteria that’s found in raw bacon. Pregnant mothers are far more susceptible to suffering infections caused by this bacteria if it is ingested – infections that have been linked with an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. This is precisely why it is so important to make double-sure that all bacon you consume is cooked properly.
2. Sodium Nitrate
Most cured bacon contains a certain amount of sodium nitrate, which can be harmful due its potentially carcinogenic status. This is however disputed by certain professionals and it is perfectly simple to buy bacon that’s certified as 100% ‘nitrate free’ just for peace of mind. Once again though, proper cooking is key to limiting risks.
3. How to Properly Cook
Almost every potential danger that comes along with bacon can be killed-off outright simply by cooking it properly. Proper cooking means not only heating the meat thoroughly, but also consistently to ensure that no raw spots are left over when the rest of the bacon is cooked. What’s more, it is imperative that if you are going to eat leftover bacon, you should once again reheat it as if it was raw. The general guideline is to go for a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but always err on the side of caution and go for well-done bacon if at all possible.
It’s also important to understand the principles of safe food handling, which means keeping raw bacon away from all other foodstuffs and washing your hands, surfaces and utensils thoroughly after handling the stuff.
When Should You Be Concerned?
After figuring out the question: can you eat bacon when pregnant, you need to know when you should be concerned. While it’s highly unlikely eating bacon will cause you any problems during your pregnancy, it’s still a good idea to know the kinds of symptoms you should be on the lookout for. Generally speaking, a listeriosis infection will begin with symptoms that feel a little like those associated with the flu – general lethargy, an upset stomach, fatigue and so on. Of course, these are also the kinds of symptoms associated with a healthy pregnancy from time to time, so be sure to contact your doctor if you’re in any way concerned.
What About Other Cured or Smoked Foods?
The risks that have been long associated with cured and smoked foods for consumption when pregnant all come down to their potential for holding bacteria. In pretty much every case, bacteria will be killed-off entirely by cooking the meat or any other food thoroughly and properly, so as long as you follow safe cooking guidelines there is no specific danger to speak of.
That being said, if you’re trying to look out for the best interests of yourself and your baby, which of course you are, it’s a good idea to stay away from any foods that are high in salt, fat and artificial preservatives – smoked and cured foods like bacon are often rife with all three. What’s more, you should also get into the habit of reheating smoked and cured foods to the same high temperature as if they were raw, if you intent to eat the leftovers.
Last but not least, experts suggest that getting plenty of vitamin C is also helpful when eating foods like bacon as it helps your gut break down and neutralize all toxins to further minimize risk to you and your baby.
Nothing is more important during pregnancy than maintaining a healthy diet, which isn’t nearly as complicated or unpleasant as you may have thought. It’s all about common sense and moderation – here’s a video looking at some of the basics: