Your family is planning a dinner at the local Chinese restaurant and you want to join. You’ve been trying to eat a healthy, nutritious pregnancy diet, but you love Chinese food and the restaurant was your favorite spot before your pregnancy. Are buffet meals safe for pregnant women?

The Dangers of Buffet Meals

No matter how delicious those meals on the buffet look, there are hidden dangers everywhere. Old foods and mixed with new foods and the restaurant is constantly trying to keep foods at a temperature that inhibits bacterial growth – hot or cold. Utensils are handled by hundreds of guests every day increasing the risk of food contamination. 

The Risk is Minimal, Right?
Wrong. Foodborne illnesses associated with buffet restaurants are reported every year, but you’ve been eating at the local buffet restaurant for as long as you can remember and never had a problem – or have you? Food borne illnesses can land you in the hospital, but more often they will cause mild symptoms like diarrhea, loose stool or abdominal cramping. Generally the body can fight off most small bouts of food borne illness, but during pregnancy your immune system is compromised so that bout of diarrhea could be far worse when you’re pregnant. 

How to Fight the Dangers of Buffet Restaurants During Pregnancy
The best choice is to order from the menu. Foods are prepared in the kitchen and delivered to your table without touching the older food on the buffet or the serving utensils handled by every diner in the restaurant. If you must eat from the buffet, choose foods that look fresh – skip the dried-up mashed potatoes and roast beef. Steaming foods and iced foods are better options than lukewarm dishes. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for a fresh dish if the dish on the buffet looks questionable. 

Dining out at your local buffet restaurant is something you enjoyed before your pregnancy, but things are different now. Your body is not as effective at fighting off those food borne illnesses and the last thing you want is to end up in the hospital with food poisoning.