Can Pregnant Women Eat Steak?

Dig In: A Steak is Okay While You're Pregnant

Pregnancy comes with many reasons for excitement: the much anticipated arrival of your little one, planning a nursery and choosing a name are just a few. It also comes with bans on what may be a few of your favorite things, including foods you shouldn’t eat. Fortunately, for the meat loving mom, you can still eat steak, but you should take some precautions.

Eating Steak Safely

Sliced steak Ribeye with onions and tomatoes

Can You Eat Lunch Meat When Pregnant?

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You can still cut into that juicy T-bone while you’re pregnant, it just might not be quite as juicy. That’s because it needs to be cooked to at least medium well, which is 160 degrees.

Use a food thermometer to safely check the temperature of your steak. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak. Don’t touch any bone, fat or gristle. Check the temperature a few minutes before you expect it to be done so you don’t overcook your meat. Then, sit down and enjoy that steak even if it’s not cooked exactly the way you like.

Listeria Risks

You have to give up the medium rare steak while pregnant because of the risk of listeria. Listeria is a bacterial infection that although rare, can be very serious for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Pregnant women are ten times more likely to get listeria and if you get it, you can pass it onto your unborn baby. The infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and preterm labor.

If you avoid the right foods, you should be fine, but keep an eye out for the following symptoms of listeria.

  • Mild flu like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. Listeria can be treated with antibiotics and the sooner the better.

Food Precautions

Sliced steak Ribeye with onions and tomatoes

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Along with undercooked steaks, you should avoid some other foods while you’re pregnant.

Avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, big eye tuna and king mackerel, which are all higher in mercury. This can interfere with the normal development of your little one’s brain and nervous system.

While you're cutting out fish high in mercury, cut out raw shellfish like oysters and clams as well.

Stay away from raw or undercooked sprouts, like alfalfa, clover, mung bean and radish. They may contain E. coli or salmonella. As long as you cook them thoroughly, though, you’re safe.

Easy, ready-make salads are also a no-no because they might contain listeria.

If you get an itch to bake, go for it, but licking raw cake or cookie dough off the spoon is off limits as they may contain salmonella.

Hot dogs, lunch meats and unpasteurized dairy foods are also prone to listeria. You can eat lunch meat if you heat it to steaming hot and check the label on cheeses to make sure they’re made with pasteurized milk, which makes them safe.

Make sure juices and ciders are pasteurized, too. If your juice is unpasteurized, bring it to a rolling boil and boil it for at least one minute before drinking.

Super Foods for Pregnancy

Some food may be off limits, but you should dig into others. Whole grains, such as whole grain bread or pasta or brown rice, are all full of folic acid, iron and fiber, all good for you and the baby.

Beans, beans, beans. Add any type of beans to your dishes for additional protein, fiber, iron, folate, calcium and zinc.

Salmon is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your baby’s brain and eyes. The fish also has lots of protein and B vitamins. Try to keep your fish intake to no more than 12 ounces a week, however, and stick to fish low in mercury.

Scramble up an egg or two in the morning. Eggs provide extra protein, amino acids and vitamins to benefit you and your little one; just make sure they’re cooked thoroughly.

Load up on berries, which are full of Vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. Add them to oatmeal, yogurt or just eat them by the handful.

Low-fat yogurt is another good snack while you’re pregnant. One cup of plain yogurt actually has more calcium than milk and is also high in protein.