A well known part of pregnancy is cravings. So much that it even pervades our sitcoms. It’s interesting, however, because it is largely accepted that these cravings are just an indication that your body needs particular nutrients and your brain is simply telling you where to find them (in a delivery method you can both agree on!). So, is eating pizza in your time of pregnancy safe? In this article we are going to discuss if pregnant women can eat pizza and what, if any risks, are involved when eating pizza during pregnancy.
Can I eat pizza while pregnant?
You will be happy to know that yes, you may eat pizza while you are pregnant… with some caveats. The glory of pizza is, after all, the toppings. So while you can eat pizza when you are pregnant, the KIND of pizza that you like the most may come with some rules. To explain this, we’ll need to break pizza down to its basics so that you can get a proper prospective.
Factor 1 – Pizza dough
Sometimes infused with cheese (and we will discuss that next), dough is generally going to be fine but you want to make sure that it is fully baked. This is generally not a problem when you are obtaining your pizza commercially but if you are baking it at home and impatient you will want to resist taking your pizza out early for furious noshing. The reason for this is raw eggs. If raw eggs are present in that dough then it needs to be fully cooked, otherwise you are risking salmonella and that is certainly not good for you or for your baby.
Factor 2 – Don’t forget the cheese!
Cheese is where it can get weird. If you are just going with standard mozzarella then you are in the clear. Mozzarella won’t hurt you or the baby so you can eat it to your heart’s content (within reason, of course). When you get to other cheeses, however, that is where it gets complicated. Lots of French style pizzas incorporate mold-ripened cheeses, like Camembert or Brie, and while these cheeses are tasty they are also a risk for a bacterial contamination factor known as Listeria. Listeria manifests with flu-like symptoms that can make you feel ill for many weeks and is dangerous for your baby. To avert this risk, simply be sure to cook that pizza well. If you obtained it commercially and you aren’t certain if it was properly cooked, throw it in the oven for a few minutes. This should kill the bacteria and you will be able to eat it safely. One further note, however. When it gets cold again it becomes a risk, so if you add these cheeses on top of your pizza then no cold pizza for you! Heat it first, just to be safe.
Factor 3 – Meats, meats, meats
When you get a craving to eat pizza while you are pregnant then you likely have some specific meat toppings that you like. Maybe pregnancy makes you want anchovies or lots of pork. Whatever your favorites, they will need to be well-cooked. The reason for this is that some meats are going to be a risk for toxoplasmosis. This is a parasite that is extremely dangerous for you and for your baby, so you need to make sure that all meats you are ingesting on your pizza are fully cooked. Another factor involves those
” You can balance things a little with a good vitamin load.”
anchovies or other fish. Depending on the type of fish and where it comes from there are different levels of mercury that may be present in the meat. This means that you will want to be careful of how much you ingest, based on the type of fish. Anchovies are relatively low on this scale, but if you are eating some sort of fancy crab or lobster topped pizza then that may be a different story (lobster is only recommended once a week, for instance). In order to get a better idea of your allowed fish-portions you should Google ‘pregnant women mercury fish’ and click for Americanpregnancy Org or simply the FDA/Food and Drug Administration link as they can provide you with lists showing mercury levels and recommended weekly portions to fill those cravings safely. Lastly, if your pizza contains cured meats then make sure to only eat them when they are hot, as cured meats can pose a Listeria risk just like those cheeses that we mentioned earlier.
Factor 4 – Tomato sauce and veggies
You’ll be happy to know that your tomato sauce is safe and so are your veggies (provided that it is all well-cooked, as your veggies will may have been in contact with raw meat). While you are meeting your cravings we suggest that you add a lot of veggies to go with all those meats on your pizza, just to take advantage of the vitamin load. Fruits are good as well (one popular craving-pizza is pineapple and pepperoni, for instance). While the grease factor tends to take a lot of the healthy aspects out of your pizza you can balance things a little with a good vitamin load. Not a requirement, of course (you know how you like your pizza), but we thought that it couldn’t hurt to suggest it.
Today we’ve explored the do’s and don’t of healthy pizza eating while you are pregnant . So that we are clear, you can certainly eat pizza when you are pregnant, just make sure that it is well-cooked (especially if you are cooking it at home) and watch your fish portions if you like your pizza best with a little seafood flair. Beyond this the only thing that you have to worry about is the calorie load, so try to make pizza a treat rather than a regular go-to meal. While it is delicious and often delivered at lightning-speed we all know that it’s not good for us. It sure is delicious, though!