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Being pregnant and eating sushi

Now I'm eating raw fish. This pregnancy is going straight to hell.

Here's the deal: maybe some people don't like sushi but I freaking LOVE it. I crave it, and hate that I couldn't eat it while pregnant. I even bought my husband/cook a sushi making kit last year for Christmas and said "get to it"! and because he's a bad-ass, he TOTALLY did, and he's gotten awesome at it! He's gotten in great with the guys at the seafood shop at Central & Oliver who explained to him that, like, there's not really a such thing as "sushi grade tuna", but really freaking fresh tuna is fine to eat raw, and they can tell him when the fish they have in stock was thawed after being flash frozen per regulation to kill all the parasites that are theoretically what makes sushi dangerous... in the US, like the raw milk/soft cheese controversy I wrote about earlier, the real dangers have been made illegal. Nobody thought to tell the pregnant women.

Now, improperly handled food will still give you food poisoning. And I got food poisoning several months ago from a buffet dinner at a wedding at a nice hotel with professional caterers serving us, like, beef stroganoff. The food was hot, I was among the first in line, I had no clue it wasn't safe. But there was an outbreak... even the staff at the hotel reported being sick that weekend. I had to go to the hospital for IV fluids, to the tune of $800, because when you're pregnant being dehydrated is very dangerous and I got into an inescapable vomiting trap on top of my normal morning sickness. Just being sick really isn't dangerous, whatever MADE me sick wasn't the doctor's concern, babies are tough, but you have to stop throwing up. That's why it's best to avoid food poisoning when you're pregnant (because it makes you want to kill yourself) but you can get it anywhere, any time, from anything, so the whole experience made me wonder why I was giving up foods I loved from restaurants I'd been going to for years when all my care and attention did not spare me the misery I experienced that weekend!

Back to sushi: There's an interesting website I found called pregnant chicken, written by a plain old person but one who likes to do research into the REAL reasons we don't eat stuff. That's where I first read about the parasite myth. And she's the first person who raised this point with me: the no sushi rule may just be prejudice against a food that some people call "icky".

Then I got to talking to a gal in a members-only entry in livejournal's pregnant community who used to work in a high-end sushi restaurant. She said that when she was pregnant, and told the guys she worked with that it was no more sushi eating time, they were shocked. They brought up the point that in Japan, women celebrate their pregnancies WITH raw fish and are told that if you don't eat sushi, you're doing harm to your baby who needs the omega-3s and everything. What's more, they thought american's attitude towards sushi, as a risky, potentially "dirty" thing, was an outright insult towards the entire japanese culture.

Knowing Americans, I can see this.

The woman did some reading up about the parasites and flash freezing and concerns and realized that it wasn't dangerous, and started hitting the sushi bar whenever she darn well pleased, limiting the tuna because there is a mercury level thing but whitefish and salmon were ALL THE TIME. And today her babies are great kids.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. I told her that I *had* been eating sushi, just sticking to the cooked stuff, like eel is always BBQed and crab is fake crab (marc and I jokingly refer to it as kay-rab, or krab) and she was like "Oh, I wouldn't eat eel. Here in the states it's always packaged in MSG and processed into a chemical shell of its former self, there's nothing good about it." Not dangerous. Just not healthy.

So, because of other people's "ewe icky raw fish" squeamishness, I'd been eating chemical crap instead of truly good things like salmon that will give my baby a powerful brain later in life. FML!

People who don't love sushi will ask me, "Can't you just eat cooked salmon, and skip sushi for a few short months? I mean is it really worth the risk?" But the thing with "risk" is, it's everywhere you want it to be. I drive my car to work every day, is it "worth it"? If I told you chairs that were painted blue were dangerous to pregnant women, would you still sit in them? Is it worth it? You can surely do without blue chairs for nine months, FOR YOUR PRECIOUS TINY BABY FROM GOD! But I just made that up! What else do you want to let the world just invent, to scare you, until all you can do is lay on your left side in a padded room eating toast starting two weeks after your last period? Isn't it better just to be informed and evaluate these things, so you don't end up eating eel like I did, naively thinking you're doing something good for your baby?

I swear, every day the media and misinformation can bring up a new "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario for pregnant women. So I'm going back to the basics.

1) Everything in moderation.
2) Eat at places you know and trust, pay attention to food handling.
3) Do whatever the hell you want.

Next entry: kegstands. Just kidding. But I am eating salmon roles when they're on the menu.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
astrogeek01
Jan. 8th, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
Sushi is gross. :P But eat it if it's safe, no problems with that.

The soft cheese, I totally ate ones that were definitely pasteurized but you CAN get ones that are unpasteurized here (some of my most favoritest imported ones), so it is important to only eat the pasteurized ones. Cuz that stuff can cross the placenta. Sadly the pasteurized ones are just not as tasty.... :P
eeekster
Jan. 8th, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
Sometimes places that you should be able to trust aren't as good as you think they would be:
MASTER CHEF

 937 N HILL ST
 LOS ANGELES, CA 90012

Current Score:	 66	 Only Numeric Score Displayed for less than 70 scores (No Grade Posted) 
 
Violations:
	 001 	 HOLDING OF PHF - MULTIPLE SERVINGS (MAJOR) 
	 007 	 HANDWASHING - EMPLOYEE DID NOT WASH HANDS 
	 016 	 CLEAN / SANITIZING - FOOD CONTACT SURFACES (MAJOR) 
	 022 	 IMPROPERLY COVERED / LABELED / ELEVATED 
	 023 	 READY TO EAT FOOD - EXPOSED TO POSSIBLE CONTAMINATION 
	 027 	 RISK FOR CONTAMINATION 
	 036 	 THAWING - IMPROPER METHOD 
	 040 	 DISPENSER - DISREPAIR / UNAPPROVED SUPPLIES / MISSING / EMPTY 
	 048 	 NON - FOOD CONTACT SURFACES - NOT CLEAN (MINOR) 
	 049 	 STORAGE 
	 050 	 UNAPPROVED TYPE / IMPROPER USE / IMPROPER INSTALLATION 
	 051 	 WIPING CLOTHS - NOT CLEAN / INADEQUATE SANITIZER / STORAGE 
	 055 	 NOT CLEAN 
	 059 	 OPEN DOOR / AIR CURTAIN / NOT FULLY ENCLOSED 
 
Inspection Date:	07/24/2012


Notes: First three violations are considered "high risk"; PHF = Potentially Hazardous Food
spacefem
Jan. 8th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
Never hurts to check.

And since I have lots of local friends, here's the link to the Kansas inspection records:
http://www.ksda.gov/SearchDB.aspx

However just for fun I just checked the sushi restaurant I go to... no critical findings. The hotel that poisoned me... no critical findings. The applebee's down the street... three critical findings, but who'd ever guess.

I guess any restaurant can be unsafe and I'm glad inspectors are out there, but I still have no reason to think that sushi is any more dangerous than any other food I run out for, and I don't think I'd be any safer if I checked the database every time I went out.
astrogeek01
Jan. 8th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
I looked up on Mayo Clinic website, because I was curious about the parasite thing. I don't have my Pregnancy Book any more, because I've lent it out, but I didn't remember anything about parasites.

Mayo says you shouldn't eat raw fish due to "bacteria and viruses" that the fish may contain which are different - and respond differently to flash freezing - than a parasite. I don't know that for sure, but I do know that some bacteria and certainly viruses can survive being frozen.

Unfortunately I don't see a reputable source either for or against the flash freezing argument killing bacteria. Flash freezing goes colder than regular freezing, so it's hard to say for sure. I'd guess it's probably fine, as long as it's eaten fairly quickly after the thaw.

They do say to avoid oysters and clams especially though. Gross anyway. :P
spacefem
Jan. 9th, 2013 02:40 am (UTC)
I can totally avoid oysters and clams :) see, I can be good, when it's convenient for me!
(Deleted comment)
spacefem
Jan. 9th, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)
Sure!
smittenbyu
Jan. 8th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
my OB-GYN at the time said the same thing... her motto was always "anything in moderation".

She was also fine with me not taking any prenatal vitamins...heresy in this country!

My doc I was seeing before felt that way...she almost guaranteed that my daughter would come out all wrong since I got pregnant even before getting on prenatal vitamins! yeeks! It was shocking to have a doc with misinformation, let alone non-medical background folks!
jume
Jan. 9th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
I know better than to link that blog to my friend who just spent 9 months giving up sushi and caffeine both for her first child, but I linked another article to her husband so maybe it will filter through
tara3056
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:08 pm (UTC)
Go ahead and have a half-glass of wine or beer with your sushi while you're at it! No, seriously, it tastes SO good while pregnant and is safe in moderation.

Coincidentally, I'm pregnant again myself now, which was rather a shock. I just found out a few weeks ago. Going through the nasty feeling-sick-constantly-but-not-actually-vomiting stage now. Ugh.

I avoid *all* alcohol in the first trimester + fish that are high in mercury, etc. I'm also really big on eating only grass-fed beef and mostly organic produce even during my normal, non-preggo life, so I feel pretty good about my normal diet. But even when I was pregnant with Will, I didn't deny myself sushi, deli meats, cheeses, the occasional glass of wine (like a half-glass every month or so), and coffee/tea. I think Americans in general are way too uptight and self-sacrificing when pregnant, for no notably better outcome than people living in most of Europe. We've been travelling to France for years now, and love their culture, so I looked at what French women do, and copied most of that.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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