It is quite natural to have an uncontrollable desire to consume your favorite street food during pregnancy. The mouth-watering flavors and tantalizing selections, especially as you pass those stalls, will urge you to grab your favorite snack. Aaloo Chaats, Golgappas, Papdi, Pakoras, Bhelpuri, Pani Puri, and Dahi Bhalle are popular among pregnant women.
However, if you are pregnant, you must be vigilant about the ingredients and hygiene of the street food that you want to eat so much.
Can You Eat Street Food When Pregnant?
Although not all food on the streets is harmful, street food during pregnancy should always be avoided. One should be more careful about hygiene during pregnancy than ever before.
Your immune system is weak during pregnancy, and you are more susceptible to different illnesses and infections than others. Though we know that you are using these home remedies to boost immunity, still consuming street foods might put you at risk of illness. The reason you should avoid eating too much street food is that:
- Many foodborne illnesses can have significant consequences if not treated properly
- If you get sick, medicine is unavoidable
- Not all drugs are safe to use during pregnancy
Furthermore, street food might worsen heartburn and acidity, which are prevalent during pregnancy.
8 Drawbacks Of Street Food
The main disadvantage of street food is the inadequate cleanliness and low quality of the products used. The major downside of street food is indeed the increased risk of food contamination.
Various factors such as the site of preparation, utensils for cooking and serving, quality of raw materials, time and temperature abuse of prepared meals, and vendor personal hygiene can all contribute to this.
Related Reading: 21 Pregnancy Superfoods To Include In Your Pregnancy Diet
Topmost factors that contribute to the health risks from street food:
- Many vendors use the same oil again and again. Heating oil repeatedly results in oil deterioration. as a result, black compounds are formed that can be carcinogenic to the body
- Pests such as flies, cockroaches, and mice are considerably more common in open areas than in enclosed cooking facilities. Therefore, the risk of food contamination is high as the chances are more these pests or their droppings get into the prepared food or the ingredients
- Street food stalls are exposed to the heat and light of the sun and atmospheric humidity. These conditions favour the growth of fungus, bacteria, and mold in foods
- The quality of ingredients used for cooking the dishes is also highly compromised in many street food points. Many street vendors use stale vegetables or expired spices. This brings about many serious health issues
- Poor water quality used in food preparation is another important cause of food contamination. The risk of contamination is high in street food in this aspect. Many a time, street food vendors rely on nearby water sources which are contaminated. Not all germs will be killed at high temperatures
- Not all vendor’s cleanliness will be adequate. Inadequate personal hygiene can introduce various germs into the food, making you sick
- Many vendors fail to store the prepared food safely. Without a storage facility, some street food sellers use leftover perishable raw ingredients for the next day’s cooking
- Because these street food shops are usually located on the side of the road, dust and pollution particles might settle on the food and create health problems
6 Potential Risks Of Eating Panipuri/ Chaat/ Gola During Pregnancy
Following are 6 major potential risks of eating your favourite street foods during pregnancy.
1. Increased risk of contracting a gastrointestinal infection
Most types of street foods are generally prepared in the open. There is a chance of contamination of the food with rainwater. The stalls are sometimes located near open drains, where there is a chance of contamination with coliform bacteria.
Most of the issues associated with street food are gastrointestinal, like diarrhea and vomiting. Both increase the risk of dehydration. Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to serious pregnancy complications.
Related Reading: 13 Indian Home Remedies For Acidity During Pregnancy
2. The risk of contracting jaundice increases
Contaminated food and water will interrupt the normal functioning of the liver. This leads to the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood. A high level of bilirubin in blood causes jaundice.
Jaundice is a common disease that is rarely life-threatening. However, its combination with pregnancy can jeopardize the well-being of both mother and the child. It increases the chances of preterm birth.
3. Could get a cholera infection
The water used for preparing street food favourites like Golgappas is likely to be contaminated. Therefore, eating Golgappas or Panipuri increases the chance of contracting waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid. Both these diseases can bring about adverse pregnancy outcomes.
4. Chances of contracting an infection from vendor
According to research conducted among 400 street vendors,
- 80% of vendors have poor food hygiene. Most of them have long nails and uncovered long hair
- The majority of the vendors accept currency notes with the same hands they were cooking
- Only 10 to 12% of vendors were washing their hands properly
- The majority of them are using vegetables and other ingredients that are of low standards
- The number of vendors who wash their hands and utensils with soap and plenty of water is considerably low.
- 90% of vendors did not have dustbins
- Around 95 percent of vendors do not use gloves, aprons, and caps
Related Reading: 9 Common Infections During Pregnancy You Should Be Aware Of
Quite scary, right? Food cooked and served with dirty hands increases the possibility of contracting contagious diseases and infections. The danger hikes when the vendor uses the same hand (without cleaning) for multiple tasks like cooking food, serving food, handling money, taking out the garbage, or working machinery. This increases the chances of cross-contamination.
5. Risk of reheated oil
95% of street foods are cooked in multiple times reheated oil. Therefore, think twice when you buy fried kachoris from street vendors during pregnancy. Eating roadside deep-fried food:
- Can increase the risk of cancer
- May increase the risk of heartburns and acidity
- Increase the LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) level
6. Risk of eating Gola during pregnancy
Eating ice while standing or walking in the scorching weather itself is perilous. When you consume Gola on a sunny day, your body experiences a rapid temperature shift. The rapid change in temperature during pregnancy itself invites many health issues.
Apart from that, we can’t trust the quality of ice and sugar used by the vendor. We have zero information about the source of ice that the vendors use. If quality of the water used to prepare the ice is contaminated, or if the ice is handled in an unhygienic way it can lead to food-borne diseases.
6 Tips To Enjoy Street Food During Pregnancy Guilt-Free
Street food has certain drawbacks. This does not, however, imply that you must abstain from it entirely throughout pregnancy. By adhering to specific rules, you can experience the pleasure of eating out your favourite street foods.
The most dangerous aspect of street food is the absence of cleanliness. The food itself is not dangerous, but how it was prepared and the location/environment in which it was prepared has a significant impact on the food’s quality.
Street food can be healthy if the vegetables and other components used are fresh. Oil (particularly frying oil) should be pure and fresh (not reused). Water used for cooking is drinking water/ filtered water (that means clean and pure). Utensils used must be washed thoroughly.
Following are 6 tips to enjoy street food guilt-free during pregnancy.
1. Choose the food joint carefully
Choose a food joint well known for its cleanliness and food quality. Some street food joints are extremely clean and provide meals of higher quality than large restaurants. You can easily find a few through your family and friends. Never rely on street food while traveling. The known place is the best place when it comes to street food.
During pregnancy, it is safer to eat at a reputable snack chain rather than from a street vendor. These kinds of food joints more often will not compromise their quality, sanitation, and service. Food joints infested with mosquitoes, flies, or other pests should be avoided.
2. Avoid toppings/Chutneys
It is not advisable to consume Chutneys sold by street sellers such as Pudina, chili, or Imli that have been left out in the open all day, gathering germs. The preferable option is to use pre-packaged tomato ketchup or sauce. The raw components in the Chutneys may not have been adequately rinsed and cleaned, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
Similarly, coriander (Dhania), mint (Pudina) leaves, ginger (Adrak), onions (Pyaaz), and sliced lemons (Nimbu) should be avoided as toppings. Because they can harbour germs, if not properly cleaned and stored.
3. Avoid uncooked food
It’s best to consume freshly prepared food. Stick to cooked, piping hot, foods that can be made only after you’ve placed your order. Avoid food items that contain raw ingredients. It’s best to avoid uncooked foods like cut fruits and vegetables.
Fruits chats and vegetable chat is a big no. More often, raw vegetables and eggs in roadside burgers and sandwiches are a major cause of food poisoning. Fruit and vegetables that have not been washed thoroughly or peeled properly may contain residues of pesticides or toxoplasmosis from the soil.
Infections such as typhoid and hepatitis are frequently caused by contaminated food. Avoid using raw or undercooked eggs in recipes because of the increased risk of salmonella infection, which can be hazardous during pregnancy.
Related Reading: Can You Eat Instant Noodles During Pregnancy?
4. Choose frozen food wisely
If you intend to consume ice cream and kulfis from a street seller, you must select a well-known brand of ice cream and kulfis. Avoid any milkshakes sold by street sellers since the freshness of the fruits and milk used is questionable.
Most of the time, they even add artificial flavors to enhance the taste of milkshakes. Even the ice used to serve the shakes chilled can cause numerous serious diseases.
5. Be cautious with water.
Water may be a cause of many diseases, therefore, be careful what you drink from outside. It’s also difficult to know whether Jal Jeera, Aam Panna, or Nimbu Pani was made using filtered water. Therefore, it is better to avoid these along with a few other drinks that should be avoided during pregnancy
Always drink only sealed bottled water. Or always carry water from home when you go out.
6. Avoid consuming dairy products.
You should also avoid dairy products. It’s not always easy to discern if the curd or paneer is fresh. Dairy products spoil fast, especially during hot and humid months and if they haven’t been adequately refrigerated.
Related Reading: Curd And Yogurt During Pregnancy- Benefits, And Precautions
Listeria can also be transmitted through unpasteurized milk or food prepared with it. It is also advised not to eat cottage cheese or Paneer dishes from street sellers. Raw Paneer is a breeding ground for germs, and determining its freshness is difficult.
Though fulfilling all of your sweet and savory cravings isn’t all that bad, it is mandatory to be extra careful about what you eat during pregnancy. Craving all those hot and tangy street food is fine once in a while, but bear in mind that your cravings should be addressed with high-quality standards.
Food is the most common cause of food poisoning most of the time. It is usually preferable to look for recipes for these dishes online and cook them at home. It may be a pleasant and safe way to fulfil your cravings during pregnancy.