Can I Eat That Christmas Ham?

Pregnancy is filled with many joys and tribulations, and one such challenge is knowing what you can and can’t eat over the festive season.

There are a few different kinds of bacteria that can live in your favourite Christmas treats, so we thought we’d compile a short list to help you avoid them and make your life easier.

Snacks and nibbles:

The NSW Food Authority advises pregnant women to approach any cheese and fruit platters with caution. Ensure that all fruit is thoroughly washed and if in doubt either avoid it altogether or wash it yourself.

Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, fetta and blue cheese can carry listeriosis bacteria and should be avoided. Instead opt for harder cheeses such as cheddar, halloumi, Swiss or tasty. You can also still enjoy the likes of cottage and cream cheese, bocconcini and mozzarella. A listeriosis infection can be very dangerous as it can affect your immune system and be passed on to your baby.

Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients such as omega -3 and -6 fatty acids and are considered safe for pregnant women, unless of course, you’re allergic or a health professional has told you not to eat them for any reason. So, feel free to snack away.


Whether you’re serving turkey, ham, or beef, home cooked meats are perfectly fine to eat on condition they are cooked through and eaten while hot. If you’re a fan of stuffing, it should be cooked separately from the poultry and eaten hot.

Avoid fish with high levels of mercury such as Flake (shark) or swordfish as it can harm a child’s developing nervous system. It’s also best to avoid shellfish including oysters, prawns and mussels as they can cause food poisoning, unless served piping hot.

It’s also advisable to avoid cold meats such as parma ham and salami as they can cause toxoplasmosis, which can adversely affect the development of your baby.

Leafy green salads are fine too if they have been washed properly and don’t contain any bean sprouts. Mind the dressings as you don’t want to be eating anything that contains raw eggs such as mayonnaise or aioli, which can cause salmonella poisoning. Coleslaw should also be avoided as it can contain listeria.

The NSW Food Authority also advises to avoid pre-packaged salads and fruit, salad bars, smorgasbords and delis.


As far as dessert goes, you can enjoy most of those guilty pleasures as long as the ice-cream or custard you pair it with is store bought and not home-made. And of course, avoid anything made with raw eggs, e.g. egg nog or home-made chocolate mousse.


The best thing about the festive feast is that it goes on for a few days in the form of leftovers. Just make sure that any leftovers are refrigerated and eaten within a day to avoid any unwanted food poisoning or nasty bacteria.

Remember the food safety rules of keep it cold, keep it clean, eat it hot and check the label and you’ll have a safe and healthy pregnancy where food is concerned.

Consult with Dr Ljiljana for more information about what not to eat during pregnancy.