Is it Safe to Eat Chicken During Pregnancy?: Indian Moms’ Guide

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Can I Eat Chicken Biryani/Fried Chicken During Pregnancy?

When you are on the roller-coaster ride of becoming a mother, your body craves lots of nutritious and junk foods also. There is a big myth associated with including the non-vegetarian food in the pregnancy diet. Here are few frequently asked questions by soon-to-be-mommas related to eating chicken during pregnancy.

Can I Eat Chicken While Pregnant?

Absolutely Yes (With a few exceptional Chicken Dishes)
The exceptions and precautions, later in the post. (DONT MISS THE IMP NOTE on CAUTION regarding KFC Chicken/Biryani/Tandoori Items, answers given later in this post)

Benefits of Eating Chicken during Pregnancy

1. Low in Fats and High in Proteins

Chicken is a much suggested non-vegetarian food during pregnancy. It is low in fat and rich in protein. Chicken satisfies the nutrient cravings of the body of a momma-to-be adding to the body fat. It has 9 important amino acids and vitamins that help to build the muscles. Unlike mutton, chicken doesn’t heat up the body and adds to the discomfort. Increasing body weight is a big concern during pregnancy.

Fatty Acids

As chicken is low in fat, it helps to maintain the body weight and strengthens the teeth and bones. Various parts of chicken have different benefits. Chicken breast is rich in fatty acids but low in cholesterol. It improves the metabolism through Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Vitamin B present in chicken fights with cancer. The chicken liver contains iron and foliate that are easily absorbable and prevents the baby from many serious illnesses like Spina Bifida. The phosphorus content takes care of the kidney, liver and neurological health of the to-be-mom.

Vitamins

The presence of Selenium, Vitamin E and Vitamin A, Niacin equivalent and Thiamine perks up the metabolism and keeps a to-be-mom energetic throughout the day. The elements like Iron in chicken are easily absorbed and therefore eating chicken doesn’t affect the digestive health of a to-be-mom. Also, the pregnant women need iron-rich food to avoid iron deficiency in the body. The essential elements in chicken also keep the baby away from a range of chronic illnesses like Diabetes, cardiac issues and high cholesterol troubles.

How to Cook Chicken

People often think that chicken is a rich calorie food and hence it’s better to drop it from the pregnancy diet menu. But, it’s totally a myth. There is nothing wrong with the chicken but with the cooking. Putting too much spice or oil in a chicken recipe can affect a pregnant woman’s health. Heating the fresh chicken over 160 degree Fahrenheit ensures there are no bacteria in it. People often eat the pre-cooked chicken taking it straight out of the refrigerator which is a major causing of illnesses due to the listeria bacteria. Always heat the chicken before eating it for a good health. Eating too many chicken slices a day just because your tummy is giving so many calls is not good for your health during pregnancy. Doctors recommend 2 slices or 100g of chicken serving per day for to-be-moms.
Read: Foods To Eat During Pregnancy for Healthy Baby

Q. Can I eat KFC Fried Chicken During Pregnancy?

NO!! A big No!!
This is my personal experience. On call of my pregnancy cravings, once I went to KFC, I ordered and sat on the chair waiting for my food, the staff came and politely told me, they can’t serve me the chicken as it contains harmful ingredients for pregnant women. They also showed me the note on the package where they mention ‘Not recommended for the pregnant women’.

Can I eat frozen Chicken Salad?

NO, Should be avoided.
The problem is with the hygiene or remaining exposed to the regular environment for a long time. Chicken salad contains mayonnaise which has an excess amount of Omega-6 and many unhealthy fats. It is harmful for pregnant women. It’s not safe to freeze the salad with yogurt or mayonnaise dressing and eat it during pregnancy.

Can I eat Half-baked/Half Cooked Chicken?

NOT AT ALL
When you are pregnant, not just your own body requires a significant dose of protein but your unborn baby needs it as well. E.Coli is a common bacteria residing on the raw meat. Half-baked or half-cooked chicken can make you and your unborn prone to many illnesses. A small amount of E.Coli stains is transferred to your unborn baby when the chicken is not heated above 160 degree Fahrenheit. If proper hygiene, handling and cooking or baking is not maintained, there are major health risks of cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Though a selection of food items can be eaten half-cooked or half-baked but try not to do this with chicken or other poultry products.

Can I eat Chicken Biryani During Pregnancy?

Yes only if
1. It is not very spicy: It will just worsen the heart burning and nausea
2. Not if the meat tenderizers are used. Restaurants use meat tenderizes, like chemicals or green raw papaya pulp and both are very harmful for the unborn baby.

Can I Eat Tandoori Chicken During Pregnancy?

Yes and No!
It’s one of the top 10 foods craved by non-vegetarian Indian expectant women. But is it safe?
Well again, if the meat tenderizes are used, which is pretty common and mostly yes for small restaurants, even the busy and popular Tandoor restaurants use the meat tenderizes, especially for Tandoor as they have to be cooked in a short span of time.
So, it’s best you order it from the most trusted and high-quality restaurants only where hygienic, healthy and first-rate quality of food is prepared.
Though the meat tenderizing properties of the agents are lost/reduced after cooking, it’s safe to avoid them.
Also, avoid the colorful Tandoor meats especially the Tandoori Chicken which has an intense or vibrant orange color. The artificial food colours are harmful for the pregnant women.

How to Cook Chicken When You are Expecting?

The best way is to steam, as it’s easy to digest and healthy too. Cook it thoroughly. Avoid too many spices and chillies. Avoid deep fried chickens; also do not use the MSG/Aginomoto while cooking the Chinese chicken recipes. Try counting on the soups whenever your hunger calls you. The Chicken soup for pregnant women is very healthy food. Also, it is easy to prepare and saves your time.
During pregnancy, the goal remains to build a healthy body and transfer the goodness of healthy foods to the unborn baby. When your hormones and taste buds change during this phase, a selection of foods may seem fascinating but as a smart mom, you need to make a choice and embrace hygienic and healthy foods only. It’s better to consult a dietician and get a diet chart mentioning what to eat and what not.
Read: Eating Papaya During Pregnancy

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Sapana

Software professional - now work at home mom

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