Everyone was shocked when fitness influencer and pescetarian Carly Rowena posted a picture of her eating a burger during her pregnancy. The Instagram celebrity feared the backlash from her fans, but the photo inspired experts to jump in and explain why such craving occurs and how to deal with it.
You can eat a burger during pregnancy. “Even fast food can have a small place in a healthy pregnancy. It’s important to find a balance between eating healthy for the sake of yourself and your baby, and enjoying your food during pregnancy,” says registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Torey Armul, MS, RD.
With that approval, allow us to educate you further on the real effects of eating burgers during pregnancy, as well as how they can be safe and even beneficial.
What Are the Possible Risks of Eating Burgers During Pregnancy?
There a few reasons experts advise against eating burgers during pregnancy. Here are the following harms they want expectant mothers to avoid:
High-fat — Burgers have high-fat meat and toppings that are rich in calories. Craving for a burger during pregnancy means you’ll be having more than one in short intervals, which leads to excessive weight gain.
Gaining unnecessary weight increases the odds of having the following complications:
- Having a premature baby.
- Have a baby with fetal macrosomia, when a baby is overweight (more than 8 pounds / 3.63 kg). This can cause difficulties in labor and heavy bleeding after birth.
- Need for a c-section.
- Having challenges in losing weight after birth, which increases the risk of getting diabetes and hypertension.
Food poisoning — Processed meats like burger patties may contain parasites or bacteria like E. coli that aren’t good for both the mother and the child. We’re pretty sure burger joints take safety measures to prevent these bacteria from growing in their meats.
However, it’s the risk of undercooked meat that worries experts the most. Expectant mothers should make sure that they only eat well-done meat.
Risk in the child’s mental health — A journal paper from National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows a significant link between an unhealthy pregnancy diet and conflict in the mental health of the children.
According to the findings, a non-wholesome diet increases the likeliness of a child to develop depression, ADHD, anxiety, and behavioral issues as early as five-years old.
Over consumption and bacteria from raw meat are the only harm in eating burgers during pregnancy. Monitoring your intake of burgers and ensuring that the meat is thoroughly cooked should make it safe.
What Are the Health Benefits of Burgers in Pregnancy?
By now, you’ve probably understood that it’s all about how you make and take your burgers during pregnancy. If you’re craving for burgers non-stop while pregnant, here are a few tricks you can turn that into a healthy diet.
- Source of protein — Lean meat like chicken is a good source of protein, so you can try having chicken or other poultry patties for your burgers instead. We do understand if it’s the red meat you’re craving for, though. In that case, this won’t work.
- Vegetables — Whether you’re having lean or red meat for your burger, remember to add lots of healthy vegetables in it like carrots or tomatoes. That will trick you into acquiring the necessary nutrients for your pregnancy such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B1, and C.
- Antioxidant spices — Adding spices and herbs like oregano, thyme, and sage are healthy for pregnancy. They are good antioxidants that can help prevent birth complications associated with alcohol.
What Are the Types of Burgers Safe for Pregnancy?
It’s hard to find burger delis that can serve you burgers with fresh meat or just healthy burgers in general. In that case, we suggest you look for restaurants that serve vegan food as they usually have pregnancy-friendly burgers in their menus, too.
Some fast-food chains cater to customized orders from pregnant women as well. However, not everyone’s lucky enough to be living around those options. So why not make your own burger at home?
Making burgers at home allows you to monitor the ingredients you put into your burger. It could also be a therapeutic activity for expecting parents.
Here are top pregnancy burger ideas along with their health benefits:
Aside from high-quality protein, soy also contains folate, iron, calcium, and zinc. These minerals are needed to be monitored in the expectant mother’s system for her and the child’s safety from pregnancy to birth.
Protein is an essential nutrient in pregnancy as it contributes to the growth and development of the baby. It helps in strengthening their muscles, producing antibodies for the immune system, and transporting oxygen through their blood.
Most recipes of veggie burgers you will find online are soy-based or at least topped with legumes. Plant-based diets have always proven their advantage to our health — no fats, better for digestion, etc.
Still, many people think that such a diet won’t suffice for the other nutrients needed in pregnancy. Many people believe that the nutrients produced by meat can never be replaced by any vegetarian alternative.
Vegan pregnancies are as healthy as typical pregnancies. Vegetables balance out folate intake so the mother won’t have to take artificial boosters. Leafy greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and lentils are rich sources of folate.
Folate, along with folic acid, prevents birth defects such as neural tube defects. This issue directly affects the brain and the spinal cord of the baby.
Just make sure that you don’t consume too much market-sold soy products as they are most likely to qualify as junk, too. Processed legumes are as bad as real meat taken on a regular basis. If you’re adding commercial soy for your meal, take them in moderation.
Did you know that bison or buffalo meat is abundant in iron? The bison liver is particularly rich in that mineral, too. Experts have been recommending the consumption of this meat for low-iron or anemic people and pregnant women.
Iron helps in moving oxygen from the mother’s lungs and into her whole body, including the baby. Iron is important in supplying extra blood for the mother and child as well.
Buffalo burgers are also low-calorie meat that only contains 2.42 grams of fat per 3.5-ounce burger compared to the regular burgers that have up to 18.54 grams of fat. So you get the idea why this meat is a good substitute for carnivorous mothers.
Here are other essential nutrients abundant in bison meats that can make pregnancies healthier:
- Protein (28 grams): Good for the baby’s development
- Vitamin B12 (2.86 μg): Prevents defects on the baby’s nervous system
- Omega 6 (235 mg): Prepares the baby for life after birth
- Omega 3 (10 mg): Recommended for the baby’s heart, vision, and brain health
- Potassium (364 mg): Plays a role in the mother’s muscle contractions and balance in electrolytes and body fluids
You can find plenty of recipes on how to make bison burgers online. More and more expectant mothers recognize this hack.
Bison is the answer to satisfying meat or burger cravings without gaining unnecessary weight and putting a pregnancy at risk. Buffalo meat also makes a great alternative for iron pills that are often forgotten or are simply not appealing to taste.
Is Fast Food Burger Safe During Pregnancy?
When Kylie Jenner released her short pregnancy documentary, many expectant mothers wondered about the seriousness of the doctor’s disapproval of her going to In-N-Out. The video also showed how she went through the drive-thru anyway and ordered a well-done double cheeseburger with fries.
She made sure her burger was cooked well, so what could be the problem?
It’s not that you’re not entirely allowed to eat fast food burgers, but any fast food meal is generally soaring with salt, sugar, and fat content. That’s not something you would want to risk-taking in your system during such a sensitive case of pregnancy.
So can you eat a Big Mac when pregnant? No. McDonald’s is one of the guiltiest fast-food chains when it comes to those limitations mentioned above. Whether you don’t eat much of their burgers or not, their unhealthy ingredients could still affect pregnancies.
Kudos to Kylie Jenner, though. She at least showed that it’s good to satisfy a fast-food burger craving when pregnant as long as you order it well-done and observe moderate consumption.
Pregnant women are allowed to consume meat during pregnancy, especially if they’re craving it. Just make sure the intake is in moderation and balanced with other nutritious foods. Also, remember that the only way to do this right is by taking any meat well-done.
Another thing to remember is that consulting the doctor about pregnancy cravings is the best course of action when in doubt. We might have educated you here on the effects of regular burgers to general pregnancy, but each case is different so you might as well inquire further with experts.
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