Nutrition for Pregnancy: Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

 Nutrition for Pregnancy: Foods to Avoid While Pregnant


Food takes on a whole new meaning during pregnancy. What you eat not only helps a human being grow and develop, but it can also make you feel sick to your stomach and make you want to go to the restroom. It can be difficult to remember precisely which foods or beverages you absolutely cannot consume and which are safe in moderation when you are pregnant because there are already so many factors to take into account.

We've compiled a list of foods and drinks to stay away from to help you get through this exciting but undoubtedly stressful time so you can keep figuring out how to best fill your plate. We also compiled a list of foods whose safety for consumption during pregnancy is still being debated by experts.

Foods to stay away from when pregnant


Although it is not a food, alcohol continues to be on the list of things to avoid while pregnant, according to experts. As alcohol travels via the mother's blood to the growing baby, it may have an impact on the foetal development of the brain, facial features, and other vital body parts. Fatal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs, are physical and developmental abnormalities that can affect a child's life after birth.

We've compiled a list of foods and drinks to stay away from to help you get through this exciting but undoubtedly stressful time so you can keep figuring out how to best fill your plate. We also compiled a list of foods whose safety for consumption during pregnancy is still being debated by experts.

All seafood, whether raw or undercooked and shellfish

This one might be a little painful, but fish that is raw or undercooked, such as sushi, might contain bacteria and viruses that are dangerous to both you and your unborn child. Importantly, eating raw fish puts you at risk for listeria, an infection that is 24 times more likely to affect pregnant Hispanics and pregnant persons who are 10 times more likely to be pregnant. Listeria can result in stillbirths, premature births, miscarriages, and new-born deaths.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some types of seafood to stay away from include sushi, sashimi, ceviche, raw oysters, scallops, and clams. The clinic advises against eating seafood that has been chilled and has been branded as "nova style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky."

Fish High in Mercury

According to the Mayo Clinic, the likelihood that a fish contains mercury levels unsafe for pregnant women increases with fish size and age. Your body's accumulation of mercury can have an impact on your baby's nervous system. According to the Food and Drug Administration, common fish to stay away from including bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, shark, and tilefish.

Check local cautions for mercury levels and potential pollution if you catch your own fish or consume fish from nearby sources.

Meat that is uncooked and raw

According to the FDA, pregnancy impairs a person's immune system's capacity to fight against these diseases, increasing their risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Meat that is served raw or undercooked may contain dangerous bacteria including listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and toxoplasma, which can seriously make both you and your unborn child ill (who doesn't yet have a functioning immune system).

Therefore, it is recommended to order your burger or steak well-done while you are pregnant.

Flavoured Meat

You might want to stay away from foods like deli meat, hot dogs, and cold cuts when expecting. These "ready to eat" meats might also have dangerous germs or viruses in them. However, the FDA states that if the meat is "reheated to steaming hot," it is safe to consume. Anyone for some piping hot bologna?

A raw egg

Pregnant women should steer clear of eggs, whether they are cooked properly or not since both represent a risk of foodborne illness. Hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing, aioli dip, and mayonnaise are a few common homemade foods that may include raw eggs (although the FDA notes that store-bought dressings and dips are normally safe because they are created with pasteurised eggs). Additionally, it's crucial to fully cook your eggs. That entails hard yolks and scrambled eggs that are firm.

Fresh produce that hasn't been washed

Listeria and other common foodborne infections are once again to blame, but the FDA advises pregnant women to wash their fruits and vegetables in case they have been contaminated. According to the FDA, you should use simple water, wash away the dirt with a vegetable brush (if you have one), and treat any scrapes or bruises that may be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Unpasteurized cheese and milk

It is advised to avoid cheese or milk products that say "unpasteurized" on the label because a Listeria infection could cause a miscarriage, preterm delivery, or damage to a new-born. It is better to avoid cheeses like goat cheese, feta, Brie, blue cheese, Camembert, and queso fresco or Blanco because they frequently include unpasteurized milk, according to Parents.

Because their diets are more likely to contain soft cheeses like queso fresco or Blanco, panela, and asadero, Hispanic women who are pregnant may be significantly more susceptible to listeriosis. It is okay to eat queso Blanco and queso fresco if they are made using pasteurised milk. (The CDC advises caution, noting that some listeriosis cases have been connected to contamination in goods prepared with pasteurised milk.)

Fresh Sprouts

Sprouts can contain salmonella, a germ that the CDC estimates causes around 1.35 million infections annually in the US despite being delicious and healthful. It might be advisable to avoid sprouts while pregnant.

Organ Meat

Extremely high levels of vitamin A, which can potentially cause birth abnormalities or miscarriages during pregnancy, are present in organ meats, particularly liver. For the same reason, pregnant women should abstain from synthetic vitamin A forms like retinol and the acne medicine isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane).

Foods to be consumed with caution

Sugar Alternatives

There is conflicting expert advice regarding artificial sweeteners and "fake sugar" for expectant women. Because saccharin, the sugar substitute used in Sweet'N Low, can pass the placenta and remain in foetal tissue, doctors advise against using it while pregnant. Others point to a potential connection between high birth weights or childhood obesity and low-calorie sweeteners. However, according to other advice, such as that from the Mayo Clinic, artificial sweeteners are fine if used sparingly or in moderation.

Conclusion: It's likely safe for you and your unborn child to occasionally drink diet Coke. However, if you believe that your diet contains too much sugar, see your doctor before switching to artificial or low-calorie sweeteners in place of the genuine thing.


You might be thinking if you need to break the habit if you're one of the many people who need a cup of coffee to start the day. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists currently recommends avoiding caffeine altogether, but moderate consumption of less than 200mg per day doesn't appear to increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. (A standard 8-ounce cup of coffee has around 96 mg of caffeine, but actual quantities will vary depending on the brew.)

Caffeine can also be found in soda, chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and other foods and drinks in addition to coffee. Keeping your daily caffeine intake around 100mg may be preferable if you have a high sensitivity to caffeine, according to Healthline.

It's best to limit your baby's caffeine intake because it passes the placental barrier like many other chemicals that you can effectively metabolise. The chance of miscarriage was observed to increase with a daily caffeine intake of 200 mg or more in one study, although other evidence indicates that even modest caffeine consumption has been connected to low birth weight. Consult your doctor if you have a history of miscarriage or if you have questions about your caffeine intake.

Herbal tea

When some teas contain caffeine, drinking herbal tea while pregnant is a completely different matter. Due to the lack of information on the safety of herbal tea for both you and your unborn child, the Mayo Clinic advises against consuming it while pregnant unless your doctor specifically permits it.

There is still a lot we don't know about the quantity of herbs that are safe for pregnant people, despite the fact that midwives and others have utilised herbal teas as treatments for morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms. The Australian Department of Health suggests that ginger tea and green tea, both of which contain caffeine, may be safe to consume throughout the first trimester. In the second trimester, you might add red raspberry leaf tea to the list (the tea is associated with uterine contractions, so the agency suggests you wait out the first three months). Avoid exceeding the recommended daily limit of three cups of alcohol as this has been associated with an elevated risk of spina bifida.

Sage and parsley tea, which have both been connected to miscarriage, are two herbal beverages that should be completely avoided during pregnancy, according to the Australian agency.

Conclusion: Before drinking or continuing to drink herbal tea while pregnant, see your doctor. That also applies to tea that is promoted as "pregnancy" tea.


Despite the lengthy list of fish, you should avoid eating, there are a few you may take as part of a balanced diet. Fish are a great source of protein and many of them also include amazing nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids. The FDA advises consuming 8 to 12 ounces (or two to three servings) of fish each week. The Mayo Clinic suggests taking into account fish including anchovies, catfish, cod, herring, light canned tuna, pacific oysters, salmon, sardines, pollock, shad, shrimp, tilapia, and trout. White tuna is also acceptable, but limit yourself to 6 ounces each week.

What a lengthy list!

Every pregnancy is different, just like every individual, and you might not be able to stick to the diet that works best for someone else. Asking inquiries and taking into account your own health can help eating healthy during pregnancy feel less restricting, even though it's crucial to identify meals that provide nutrition for you and your unborn child. Contact your healthcare practitioner if you are unsure whether a meal is safe to consume while pregnant.

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