Pregnancy can cause unusual physical changes to your body, like an uncontrollable urge to urinate, bothersome brain fog, and an inability to regulate your — ahem — flatulence. Put it down to the hormones.
Additionally, if you’re like most of us, pregnant cravings can be a unique difficulty.
These cravings could be quite strong and, to be honest, downright strange.
I’m here with my third pickle-and-peanut butter sandwich of the week.
Of course, not every hunger for food involves strange pairings. You might simply be craving a simple, well-liked snack, like beef jerky.
However, before grabbing that Slim Jim or bag of gas station jerky, you might want to reconsider.
Although beef jerky may have been your go-to snack before becoming pregnant, it can be harmful to consume while doing so.
Let’s look more closely. Read on to learn more.
✅ It could be difficult to resist the urge for beef jerky, but you can do it.
✅ Take a steak, some vegan jerky, or some well-cooked lean protein if all else fails.
✅ You might need this to sate your intense urges.
What dangers exist?
A straightforward, delicious snack that is available almost everywhere is beef jerky. It’s meat, and no, eating meat while pregnant is not harmful. But beef jerky differs from other types of meat products. You most likely haven’t given the process of making jerky much thought; in reality, neither have most people.
Nevertheless, you were undoubtedly informed about the risk of consuming raw animal products during your pregnancy due to the possibility of contracting a foodborne illness.
Toxoplasma and foodborne illness
Foodborne disease, sometimes known as food poisoning, can affect anyone, but because pregnancy can negatively impact your immune system, your chances of getting sick are increased. Your body may therefore struggle to fight off microorganisms that can make you ill as a result.
Toxoplasma-causing microorganisms are included in this. Your infant can also become ill in addition to you. What’s the big deal, you’re presumably thinking—beef jerky isn’t raw.
Jerky isn’t technically raw, but it’s also not cooked in the conventional sense either.
High-temperature cooking of meat helps eliminate microorganisms that can make you unwell. Meat is dried to make jerky, however, not all microorganisms are completely destroyed by drying. You cannot be certain of the temperature at which jerky was dried when purchasing it from a retailer.
You are literally gambling with your health every time you eat jerky. In healthy individuals, toxoplasmosis is a common infection that seldom results in life-threatening complications. As a result of the infection’s ability to go away on its own, some people aren’t even aware that they have it.
But it’s crucial that you take all possible precautions to prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy because this condition might cause birth abnormalities. This includes avoiding beef jerky, cleaning your hands after handling raw meat, and washing fruit and vegetables before eating.
Salt intake and blood pressure increase
Beyond the possibility of contracting a foodborne illness, pregnant women should stay away from beef jerky. While jerky can satisfy a need, it also contains a lot of salt.
Your blood pressure could increase depending on how much you consume, which is bad for both you and your unborn child. Having too much salt might make swelling-related discomfort worse. Preeclampsia and preterm labor are at an increased risk due to high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Alternatives that you may prefer
So what if your hankering for beef jerky just won’t go away? Well, you could always make a steak yourself (or have someone else do it!). Just make sure it’s cooked thoroughly, which means letting it stew until it reaches a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Fear not; well-done meat can still have flavor. A visit to the spice rack can produce wonderful results. (And if you’re craving jerky, a lot of black pepper can be the answer!)
Or pick up some vegetarian or vegan jerky made with diverse components like tofu, mushrooms, jackfruit, eggplant, and so on. Though it might not taste exactly like beef jerky, plant-based jerky can still be tasty and gratifying.
However, be gentle. Despite being a plant-based snack, it is still processed, therefore salt levels may be significant. Bacon that has been cooked properly is similarly safe but about as salty as snacks go.
What about attempting to heat and kill bacteria on beef jerky in the microwave or oven? Well, there’s no assurance that it will, but it might. Avoid jerky and err on the side of caution. You can welcome it back into your life in a few months.
We don’t mean to be a downer, but you’ve undoubtedly heard this before. We can confirm that foods to avoid during pregnancy don’t just include beef jerky. Basically, you should stay away from unpasteurized drinks and anything that hasn’t been fully cooked.
Also, avoid the following:
- Raw oysters
- scallops raw
- uncooked cookie dough; however, baked cookies are not included on this list.
- uncooked eggs, which are used in products like homemade mayonnaise
- Undercooked poultry, fish, and meat
- Raw sprouts
- pre-made chicken and tuna salad from the supermarket
- Apple cider, juice, and unpasteurized milk
- raw dairy items like feta
- Deli meats; but, by zapping them in the microwave, you may eliminate any bacteria.
Read food labels often and stay away from anything marked as smoked, nova-style, kippered, jerky, or lox. Hot dogs, lunch meat, cold cuts, and dry sausages can all be consumed, but not right out of the package. Always reheat these until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Don’t merely assume that poultry and other meats you prepare at home are safe to eat because they appear to be cooked. Test the internal temperature with a food thermometer; it should be 165°F.
Consult with your doctor if in doubt
It may be challenging to discern between typical pregnant sickness and a food-borne illness if you are already experiencing nausea and vomiting. Following are a few warning signals of a real illness:
- Flu-like signs
- Achy muscles
- A skin rash
- A throat ache
Call your OB-GYN right away if you experience these symptoms and think or suspect that you may have consumed undercooked meat or seafood.
Medical care for illnesses
Toxoplasmosis can be identified by a blood test. A prenatal test called amniocentesis, which can also check the fetus for infections will almost certainly be done by your doctor.
If you have an infection, you will be given an antibiotic that won’t harm your unborn child.
OK, how about some good news
Not all of the news is bad. While there are some items you should avoid while pregnant, such as pork jerky, you can still eat most things.
You already drink a gazillion gallons of water every day to prevent dehydration, so why not enjoy a fantastic, balanced meal as well? It could even be a good idea to replace processed foods with healthier alternatives now.
- lean foods, such as cooked fish, poultry, beef, and turkey
- Whites of eggs
- Delicate fruits
- Pasteurized milk and other dairy goods are high in calcium!
- Pasteurized juice from oranges
- Fresh veggies that are high in folates, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables.
- Cereals, whole-grain bread, and rice
- peanut butter
- Low-mercury fish, such as trout, flounder, haddock, and whitefish