There’s probably nothing more frustrating for a pregnant woman than having a craving for something she’s not allowed to eat.
A perfect example of this is soft serve ice cream, which is usually on the list of no-no’s.
The reason why pregnant women are told to avoid soft serve is due to the risk of contracting an infection called listeriosis.
Listeriosis is an illness which can be contracted by eating food contaminated with bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes.
During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to listeriosis infection and complications can be serious, however it is very rare. According to the New South Wales Food Authority, since 2001, there have been between one and 14 confirmed cases during pregnancy each year. Considering there are over 300,000 births per year, you can see how rare it actually is.
Women’s Health and Reproductive Specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr says, “We only see about five cases of listeriosis per million people in Australia. Basically, there’s about 0.3-0.4% chance of getting it, yet we make such a big deal about it. This is not to discount it, however. But the fact is, far more people get food poisoning from other bacteria or poor food handling compared to listeria.”
He continues, “If a health issue such as listeria poisoning is so rare, why do we make such a fuss about it and not warn women of other potentially worse issues that cause more cases per year, which can be potentially fatal too?” A perfect example of this is gestational diabetes. It affects over 15,000 pregnant women each year, with an annual increase of around 5%. Uncontrolled diabetes significantly increases the risk of perinatal death – recent studies say by around 30% compared to non-diabetic mothers. In the meantime, pregnant women aren’t even warned about eating sugary foods, highly processed foods and grains, all of which are believed to be a major cause of diabetes. Nobody says a thing! But mention the word brie, however, and everyone chimes in with disgust!”
Find out more in our article about what you can and can’t eat during pregnancy.
Eating Soft Serve Ice Cream While Pregnant
The fact is, soft serve ice-cream is made with pasteurised milk, which is safe for pregnant women. Soft serve continues to be safe if hygienically stored. This is the key to being able to enjoy soft serve ice cream.
Doctor Orr says, “Fast food chains like McDonald’s have a strict hygiene policy where the machines are washed and cleaned every day. However, it’s best to avoid ice-cream trucks because they aren’t regularly inspected for food standards.
So if you see an ice cream truck or a store which looks unclean or unhygenic, give it a miss.
While you might decide to eat a soft serve cone, or regular ice cream, it’s important to be mindful of sugar consumption while pregnant.
Bear in mind there are around 17 grams (just over 4 teaspoons) of sugar in a single serve. One teaspoon is just under four grams, which means one serve of ice cream quickly eats into your daily recommended intake of 6 teaspoons of sugar from the foods and drinks you consume.
Excess consumption of sugar (which is inflammatory in the body) during pregnancy can lead to excess weight gain and insulin resistance, which puts you at risk of complications like gestational diabetes, which then increases your risk of interventions at birth.