If you find yourself longing for ice cream during your pregnancy then you’re certainly not alone!
Ice cream was one of my strongest cravings while I was pregnant, and it’s often reported as the most common pregnancy craving.
So there’s no shortage of pregnant women who wonder if it’s something they can eat while expecting.
If you’re worried about having to give this treat up I’ve got good news for you – ice cream is generally safe to eat during pregnancy, and this typically includes both the pre-packaged variety, as well as gelato.
Table of Contents
- Why Am I Craving Ice Cream During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Eat Ice Cream While Pregnant?
- Is Ice Cream Pasteurized?
- Can You Eat Soft Serve Ice Cream During Pregnancy?
- Can You Eat Cookie Dough Ice Cream While Pregnant?
- Can You Eat McDonalds Ice Cream When Pregnant?
- Can You Eat Gelato While Pregnant?
- Safe Ice Cream Brands During Pregnancy
Why Am I Craving Ice Cream During Pregnancy?
While experts can’t be sure, there are thought to be three main reasons for this:
- Firstly, they give you a sugar boost, which will result in a temporary increase in energy.
- Secondly, many of us find ice cream to be a comforting food that provides more value than purely nutrition. If ice cream has nostalgic or sentimental value to you, or has a way of giving you some positive feelings, this could also be why you’re longing for the stuff.
- Lastly, your craving could be caused by your body looking for a way to cool down, especially if the weather is warm.
Is It Safe To Eat Ice Cream While Pregnant?
As you may already know, when you are trying for a baby or are pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ll need to make some changes to your diet, which is why certain foods like deli meat, medium-rare steaks and beef jerky are best avoided during pregnancy.
But what about ice cream – where does this come under in the safe / avoid list, given it’s made with dairy, which can pose a risk if the ingredients are unpasteurized?
Commercially-made ice cream is generally safe to eat during pregnancy, and this typically includes pre-packaged, store-bought ice cream, as well as soft serve, provided the vendor has good levels of hygiene in place.
Homemade ice cream on the other hand is not worth taking the risk on, because it typically contains raw eggs.
So if you fancy some during your pregnancy then you can go ahead and safely give in to this craving, as long as you have a balanced diet and your overall sugar intake is not excessive.
Is Ice Cream Pasteurized?
Pasteurization is a process whereby food is heat-treated to destroy pathogenic microorganisms that can be found in certain foods.
Manufacturers do this to not only extend the shelf life of a product, but also because pasteurization kills potentially harmful bacteria, and this is the reason why foods like burrata and yogurt are generally safe for pregnant women to eat.
Commercially-Made Ice Cream
Ice cream that has been bought from a big box store should therefore be fine to eat, because the producer pasteurize their products – something the FDA legally requires them to do.
Homemade Ice Cream
If you are thinking of eating homemade ice cream it’s probably best to skip this until after your baby is born, because the homemade variety usually contains raw eggs, which could pose a salmonella risk to both you and your baby.
Can You Eat Soft Serve Ice Cream During Pregnancy?
Soft serve requires a separate explanation, because the machinery involved is also a factor that contributes to safety.
Outlets (restaurants and parlors) that sell this type of ice cream will usually only use ingredients like milk and cream that have been pasteurized, meaning the finished product should be safe to eat when pregnant.
The thing to note however is that soft serve machines can be a breeding ground for listeria, which can be very serious if contracted during pregnancy given it can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm labor and even death in newborns.
So the ultimate safety or risk of eating soft serve ice cream comes down to the cleanliness of the machine in question, and for this reason a lot of pregnant women prefer to avoid it during the duration of their pregnancy.
As a side note, some major fast food chains have recently started using machines that self-pasteurise overnight, which kills off any bacteria that may be building up, so if you really fancy some soft serve then it could be worth asking the manager of the store if their dispenser has this function.
Can You Eat Cookie Dough Ice Cream While Pregnant?
Ben & Jerry’s are one of the best selling brands in the world, and when it comes to naming their most popular flavor, many people are likely to say Cookie Dough.
But because traditional cookie dough contains eggs, a common question is whether cookie dough ice cream is safe to eat.
If we’re talking about Ben & Jerry’s, they have thankfully already answered this question on their website, where they state that all their flavors are safe to eat during pregnancy, including their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookie Dough Chunks flavors.
This is because the milk, cream, and eggs used in their flavors are pasteurized during the production process, and when examining what goes into their chunks and swirls (such as cookie dough), the eggs that are used are also pasteurized.
If you’re opting for another brand of cookie dough ice cream, then provided it’s commercially-made then it should also be safe to eat.
So again, avoid homemade cookie dough ice cream to be on the safe side.
And if you’re tempted by the soft serve variety, play it safe by avoiding it completely or by sticking to restaurants and stores where you can trust they have strict levels of hyenine, which usually means the large chains or premium outlets, rather than ice cream vans and street vendors.
Can You Eat McDonalds Ice Cream When Pregnant?
As you would expect from one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, McDonalds take cleanliness and hygiene very seriously.
As a result their ice cream products, which includes their soft serve and sundaes, are all made with pasteurized milk and cream, meaning they should be safe to eat when pregnant.
The only thing worth stressing – and this applies to all soft serve ice cream as we saw above – is that the cleanliness of the machine is also vitally important, because soft serve machines can be a breeding ground for listeria.
So while McDonalds should take the cleaning and maintenance of these machines as seriously as anyone, you should be aware that listeria can contaminate soft serve dispensing machines.
Can You Eat Gelato While Pregnant?
Gelato is similar to ice cream, but it’s typically not made with raw egg.
Most flavors are egg-free, but it’s worth noting that some flavors do contain raw egg, so it’s always best to ask.
But in general gelato is safe for pregnant women to enjoy, and it might be a slightly better-for-you choice compared to ice cream, because it contains more milk and less cream and sugar.
Safe Ice Cream Brands During Pregnancy
If you are shopping in your local supermarket then you can safely browse the frozen aisle without having to wonder if any brands are a no-go.
This is because as we saw above, commercially-made ice cream is made with pasteurized ingredients, meaning it’s safe to eat while expecting.
So brands like Ben & Jerry, Breyer’s, Blue Bell, Nightfood, Halo Top, Magnum, Haagen Dazs, Turkey Hill, Favorite Day, Kemps and many others are all safe to eat during your pregnancy.
To wrap up, it’s reassuring to know that a little ice cream here or there won’t hurt your baby, but it’s best not to overdo things.
Nutritionists recommend pregnant women consume a balanced diet including plenty of protein, fiber and healhty fats, and to avoid eating too much sugar.
If you’re craving ice cream then you can go ahead and allow yourself to indulge from time to time, but it’s best to do so as you would do with any other treat, which means occasionally and in small amounts.