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One of the overlooked joys of pregnancy is that food is incredibly delicious, especially the delicious treats you crave. Unfortunately, your love affair with food can be short-lived because when you're pregnant, your obstetrician-gynecologist will give you a list of things to eat and others to avoid. One of them is a hot dog, a real summer food. So, if you're looking for sausages, is it safe to eat hot dogs while pregnant? The answer is rather complicated.
Are Hot Dogs Healthy For You?
While there are other foods that aren’t healthy at all, nutritionally, there’s not a lot that you’re going to reap if you eat a hot dog. “Hot dogs are very nutrient-poor, meaning that it doesn't contribute much to mom or baby's health,” Heather Hanks, MS, a nutritionist, tells Romper. If you’re looking to up your protein intake, you might be better off with chicken or beef, but not a hot dog.
But Is It Safe To Eat Hot Dogs During Pregnancy?
You're on a backyard barbecue full of that fried food that makes you salivate. But (welcome), you might want to take that hot dog off your plate, because frankly (no pun intended) hot dogs aren't actually all that good for you or your unborn child. “Most people (not just pregnant women) should avoid hot dogs because they are processed meat, which can cause severe inflammation in the body,” Hanks says. "Hot dogs tend to contain refined sugars, excess sodium and nitrates, which can cause cancer."
And that is not all. “Adding sweet fillings like ketchup and eating them with buns made with fortified white flour will only exacerbate the inflammation factor,” Hanks says.
What about hot dogs during pregnancy?
You've probably noticed that many people have many opinions about what you should or shouldn't do (or eat) during pregnancy. You don't have to listen to all of them, but sometimes it's worth paying attention to, just to be on the safe side.
The two main problems associated with hot dogs during pregnancy are:
- They're not particularly good for you, and they won't cover many of the nutritional basics for you or your baby. (But let's be honest, this is probably not why you were so thirsty at all.)
- Hot dogs have been linked to a rather unpleasant form of food poisoning - listeriosis.
Eating hot dogs during pregnancy carries the same risk as eating any other deli meats that have been pre-cooked and then served cold. After pretreatment, they can become contaminated with a bacteria called Listeria. These bacteria can cause listeriosis.
Are Hot Dog Toppings Safe in Pregnancy?
Hot dogs, of course, aren’t usually eaten on their own. Here’s a common list of items that either come part of, or as a topping on a hot dog that you also need to consider if you’re pregnant:
- Hot Dog Buns – although there is nothing unsafe about eating regular hot dogs buns, pregnant women should try to opt for whole grain / whole wheat or brown bread where possible, though many hot dogs buns are usually made with white bread only.
- Mustard, relish, salsa and ketchup – all of these are safe to eat if you’re pregnant. Bear in mind, though, that some can be quite acidic and might aggravate indigestion or discomfort if you’ve been prone to it in pregnancy.
- Onions – raw, fried or crispy – these are also safe for pregnant women to consume but may carry the same risk of indigestion.
- Coleslaw and mayonnaise – not often seen on hot dogs, but each to their own! Pregnant women should only eat salads with mayonnaise that has been pasteurized. It’s probably better to avoid coleslaw, though. The same goes for any other slaw-like ingredient such as sauerkraut.
- Cheese should be pasteurized. This is often the case if it’s processed cheese or cheese slices, which should be safe in pregnancy. If in any doubt, check which cheese is used. Hard cheeses are usually fine.
- Salad, (e.g. lettuce) if not prepared yourself, should be avoided as it may be contaminated with listeria if not thoroughly washed.
- Keep in mind that listeria and other microbes can grow under refrigeration on common hot dog toppings if they’re left too long or aren’t stored properly.
As with many aspects of diet during pregnancy, it is always good to practice common sense. Don't eat hot dogs that are just warm and have been swimming in old brine all day. Avoid reaching for the ketchup bottle that has been out in the sun all day and avoid toppings that could be unsanitary.
To be on the safe side, hot dogs are better prepared at home, where you can control and monitor the cooking temperature of the hot dog itself and everything else. With this in mind, hot dogs can be enjoyed sparingly but safely during pregnancy.