Food safety while a (secretive) gueset(14 Posts)
I am currently 9-weeks pregnant and not immune to toxoplasmosis. I was wondering if members could give me some advice on how to eat safely while staying at my French in-laws' for Christmas. My husband doesn't want to tell them until December 24th, so for two days we'll be eating at their place and around their outdoor cats. My mother-in-law doesn't usually wash veggies before making salads, etc. and leaves cooked meals out on the counter to eat as leftovers the next day. Of course I'll decline the drinks and foie gras, but I can hardly say no to everything they offer to eat.
Should I worry and what can I do?
Thanks in advance.
Is there a particular reason why your husband doesn't want to tell them till the 24th?
As you're going to tell them anyway I'd be inclined to do it when you get there to save any issues around food that could make things awkward. Also leaving it until the 24th would mean that there would be no time to make any menu changes if christmas dinner was packed full of foie gras, blue cheese and brie.
Don't worry about the cats though, the toxoplasmosis threat is from their feceas so as they won't have a litter tray you won't be exposed to this in the house.
Wash your hands very well after touching the cats or anything they've touched to be safe.
I'd agree that you really need to tell them when you get there - or stay elsewhere! The French do get given different dietary advice to what we get, so you may get thought strange for some of it whatever.
Thanks for your replies. My husband wanted to wait until his 86 year-old Grandma was present as well to see her reaction, as his mom won't be able to control herself and will tell her before the big dinner. I understand his concern but am not willing to take risks for it though.
Can you not be a helpful-in-the-kitchen type of DIL and get involved in the cooking so that you can keep an eye on what happens and what is OK to eat? E.g. it would be possible for you to offer to help by making e.g. a salad, and washing it to your heart's content.
If not, pack your bag with fruit and healthy snacks and just eat a little of what you think will be OK.
Can you suggest you eat out on one of the days to thank them for hosting you?
People have babies in France too, I am sure it will not be completely impossible to steer clear of some things for just a couple of days.
I like Deliaskis suggestion about being helpful in the kitchen and bringing some snacks along with you.
And as japhrimel pointed out, guidelines for healthy eating in pregnancy vary from country to country (I don't think the advice is a result of an exact science, because you can't test these things out on pregnant women, it's just all just antedoctal or so my GP tells me).
So do be prepared that even once you tell them, they won't necessarily understand why you're fretting so much over a bit of brie, for example. You will need to explain what you are avoiding (don't assume they know or will even be able to digest the whole list straight away) and try to be patient with them.
I also just checked out some stats related to toxoplasmosis in France... 65% of women in France have already developed an immunity by the time they fall pregnant, and they are all screened for it at the start of pregnancy. So when you get the strange looks you can explain that only 30% of women in the UK are immune and we don't get tested either!
I'm not surprised by those stats! I'm Canadian actually, and have lived here for the last 8 years. They eat some weird stuff here (raw, undercooked stuff, and the famous unpasteurized cheese) so I'm not surprised they're immune.
I'm Canadian too
35% of Canadian women are immunue - slightly higher than the UK but nowhere near France.
I guess you've had your screening and that's how you know you are not immune?
Hi Transatlantic, I just saw your reply. I had blood work done after telling my doctor I had started trying - it seems to be routine here to test quite early for these immunities or lack of, like you said. I was surprised, as I've had a cat my whole life. Indoor cats though, which don't eat meat.
Thanks for your help.
We have outdoor cats, and I used to grub about in the dirt plenty as a child and was never big on handwashing back then either. We also had a lot of organic vegetables from the garden and farmers etc. I've also always been big on cured meats and rare steak. I was pretty surprised and disappointed to discover I'm not immune to toxoplasmosis (I asked a midwife and he agreed to get me screened). Really annoying!!
A lot of the dangerous stuff is unhealthy, so maybe you could claim to be on a really strict diet.. or avoiding dairy for a bit? Or maybe claim some wacky faddy diet which can probably excuse you a lot of stuff - just do your research on it first in case they ask you questions!!
I would also favour telling them straight away. Imagine how they'd feel if they thought you'd been in a difficult position in their home?
I went to France on holiday in my first trimester and was surprised to find that, despite what I'd heard, French women
advised against eating unpasteurised cheese (although no rule against soft cheese per se I heard about) and also, interestingly, told not to eat red meat at all - I assume that's on the grounds that red meat that isn't rare isn't worth eating! So they may well already be aware of restrictions and why you are limiting what you are eating.
I'd say tell them ASAP and maybe your DH can have a special word so as to keep it a surprise for his Grandmother. Also, before you go, you may want to have a think and a chat with your DH about what you might say if you get a lot of " oh of course its fine, I had 28 children and ate brie / pate /" etc. You will get very tired of it. you may find you are constantly having to defend yourself and it will get wearing so if you can prepare a few stock replies or even go so far as to openly say "look, the advice is different in the UK and I am sticking to that" and have DH back you up - it will help. Sorry if I am assuming too much and your family are lovely I am sure but anyone who has ever had a baby has an opinion on this stuff and are often very evangelical about their views! Good luck and congrats also by the way!
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