women

Can you still eat or luak and rojak when you’re pregnant? Nutrition experts ladle out advice to Eveline Gan on hawker delights that are safe to consume.

Say goodbye to…

Kopitiam breakfast set

Description: Coffee and soft-boiled eggs are a quintessential Singaporean way to start the day.

Coffee and soft-boiled eggs are a quintessential Singaporean way to start the day.

Coffee and soft-boiled eggs are a quintessential Singaporean way to start the day. But if you’re pregnant, your baby to have a low birth weight and birth defects,” says Nehal Kamdar, senior dietitian at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), in the worst-case scenario, you may even suffer a miscarriage.

Tip: Stick to two cups of weak tea or coffee and go for protein-rich hard-boiled eggs instead, advises Nehal.

Rojak

Description: Raw food may also carry E coli and intestinal worms.

Raw food may also carry E coli and intestinal worms.

Food poisoning can be fatal. On one of the worst cases in Singapore, two people died and a woman suffered a miscarriage after eating contaminated rojak from a popular Geylang Serai stall in 2009.

KKH dietitian Jenette Yee says the dish is prepared using mainly uncooked food – a perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as listeria. In pregnant women, listeria infection can result in miscarriages, premature or still birth. Raw food may also carry E coli and intestinal worms.

Tip: Don’t change it! When dining at the hawker center, avoid all uncooked food. If you lovw raw salad, eat it at home – after you’ve washed the veggies and fruit well.

Fried oyster omelette (or luak)

Description: Fried oyster omelette (or luak)

Fried oyster omelette (or luak)

Seafood like oysters, crabs and lobsters are particularly susceptible to heavy metal residue (lead and mercury). These are toxic to your unborn baby, says nutritionist Mayura Mohta, founder of Healthfriend, which conducts nutrition workshops.

“Too much mercury can damage a baby’s developing nervous system,” shares Agnes Wong, dietitian at the National Healthcare Group (NHG) Polyclinics. Raw shellfish may also contain bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. “These could lead to minor symptoms like a mild bout of the flu, but it could also be severe enough to cause miscarriage,” she adds.

Tip: A safer alternative is shrimp omelette, says Agnes. Shrimp is a good source of lean protein, zinc, iron, selenium and vitamin B12 – nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. Plus, this dish usually also contains mushroom, onions and carrots, which provide fibre and other nutrients. Just make sure it’s fully cooked.

Roti prata

Description: “Other than fat and carbohydrate, this dish does not contain significant amounts of nutrients like protein, iron, calcium and folate, which are important in pregnancy.”

“Other than fat and carbohydrate, this dish does not contain significant amounts of nutrients like protein, iron, calcium and folate, which are important in pregnancy.”

Go easy on this oil-laden dish made of flour and ghee (fat), and cooked with even more oil. “Mots women need only 300 extra calories during pregnancy,” says Lim Siew Choo, senior dietitian at KKH. She explains that two pieces of plain roti prata with curry gravy can easily total 500 calories. “Other than fat and carbohydrate, this dish does not contain significant amounts of nutrients like protein, iron, calcium and folate, which are important in pregnancy,” she says.

Tip: A nutritious breakfast should consist of slowly digested carbs (fresh food, wholegrain cereal) paired with protein (egg, reduced fat cheese, soya bean milk), advises Siew Choo.

A healthier choice would be thosai or idli with dal curry, which contains just 305 and 269 calories respectively. “Dal curry also provides protein and fibre, with very little added fat,” she adds.

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