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Pizza is a popular snack that is enjoyed by almost all age groups – but, is it safe to have pizza during pregnancy? Owing to cravings that pregnant women experience during this crucial period, this question makes sense. A delicious, hot, sizzling pizza can always be tempting, but it’s important to understand its effect on your health because it’s not just you anymore – your baby’s health matters too!
Can Pregnant Women Eat Pizza?
The question that can genuinely bother a pregnant woman who adores pizza is – “Is pizza safe during pregnancy?” Well, pizza falls under the category of junk food which is not at all a recommended diet option for pregnant women, assuming the calories and the harmful effects of refined wheat flour on the body of the pregnant woman and the foetus. However, if the pizza is homemade from scratch, or is from a good brand that has quality standard ingredients and service, then it is safe to consume occasionally.
If you’re eating pizza during pregnancy, try to find the right balance between the veggies and cheese so that you don’t end up eating too much of one and too less of the other. This will not only help serve your temptations but also ensure that you get all your required nutrients. Also, it is best to eat pizza during the first trimester of pregnancy as it is only after that that you will require nutrient-rich food more often.
Are There Any Benefits of Eating Pizza During Pregnancy?
Talking about the benefits of pizza during pregnancy, we have listed out some that you need to consider:
- Pizza is classified as a comfort food item, which can directly or indirectly cheer you up.
- Pizza can provide some of the required nutrients and vitamins when you top it with fresh ingredients.
- It can help soothe your cravings and may not even harm you if the pizza is freshly made.
- Topping the pizza with high-quality sauces that contain vitamins A and C can help you immensely during pregnancy. The tomatoes present in the sauce contain the antioxidant lycopene, which helps mitigate the chances of developing cancer.
- Selecting a thin crust pizza base which is high in fibre can prove to be beneficial.
- Choose to top your pizza with part-skim mozzarella cheese as it can provide bone-building calcium and protein.
What Are the Harmful Effects of Eating Pizza While Pregnant?
Pizza has more harmful effects than benefits. Here are some harmful effects of eating pizza:
- Certain cheeses like Danish blue, camembert and brie contain mould-ripened bacteria, which contains listeria. These bacteria can cause a rare illness with symptoms similar to the flu.
- Topping your pizza with a lot of cheese can lead to high consumption of calories which would, in turn, lead to weight gain.
- Eating pizza can also cause heartburn or issues with the digestive system.
- Topping your pizza with pepperoni can be harmful as it contains saturated fats. Such fats are not good for heart health, and when consumed in excess, can also cause gestational diabetes.
- If your pizza is raw, not properly cooked or heated, which is generally in case of raw meat toppings such as salami, chorizo or pepperoni, it may lead to an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis.
In a study conducted in 2017 on rodents, scientists found that rats who consumed junk food during pregnancy gave birth to mice who were heavier and directly craved fat after weaning. A balanced diet developed soon after helped them with the craving for fatty food, but the mices’ brain activity still remained altered to crave fatty food well into adulthood. What you eat affects your baby, so it’s wise to eat well as much as you can.
How to Eat Pizza Safely While Pregnant
Eating pizza safely while pregnant is important for your health, and your baby’s.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked and heated pizza as the heat helps kill most of the bacteria certain toppings may carry.
- Try and order pizza only from reputed brands as they provide good quality food.
- Eat the pizza fresh as keeping it uneaten for a long period of time can cause the reformation of bacteria.
- In case you like your pizza topped with meat or shellfish, make sure it is cooked well.
- Prefer topping your pizza with vegetables as they contain essential nutrients a pregnant woman needs.
- Eating only one or two slices of pizza is recommended as it is a balanced option compared to an entire pizza.
- Refrain from eating pizza topped with cold cured meats.
- Refrain from eating pizza topped with mould-ripened cheese such as brie, camembert or Danish blue as they contain listeria bacteria.
- It is best to top your pizza with parmesan or cheddar cheese. These are hard cheese options which contain less water, thus lead to fewer chances of a microbe formation.
We realise that pizza is a tempting food item, but it should be avoided to an extent during pregnancy. However, if you are a pizza lover and can’t control your cravings, there is no much harm in eating a sizzling hot pizza on an occasional basis. Do consider to consume your slice of pizza keeping in mind the above-mentioned tips. Happy eating!
Resources and References: The Bump
Also Read: Eating Garlic during Pregnancy