7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant

7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant 7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant

Watching what you don't eat in pregnancy is almost as important as enhancing your diet with healthy foods, so here are 7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy typically include those that carry a risk of infection, such as undercooked or raw meat or fish, but you should also limit your intake of caffeine and processed foods.

Here are 7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant.

7 foods to avoid if you're pregnant

  1. High mercury fish: Mercury is a highly toxic element and can occur in polluted waters. In higher amounts, it can affect your nervous system, immune system, and kidneys, so it’s best to avoid high mercury fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding. High-mercury fish to avoid include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, and marlin.
  2. Undercooked or raw fish: Raw fish, especially shellfish, have a high risk of containing bacteria or parasites such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria. Raw fish can become infected during handling, storing, and processing, including smoking or drying. These types of infections can cause dehydration and weakness in mom, and some can pass through the placenta to your baby, even if you don’t have any symptoms. They can increase the risk of preterm delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC notes that the chance of having a listeria infection is up to 10 times higher during pregnancy than at other times.
  3. Undercooked or raw meat: Eating undercooked or raw meat can also increase your risk of infection from bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Bacteria may threaten your own health and the health and safety of your unborn baby.
  4. Processed and deli meat: Hot dogs, lunch meat, pepperoni, and deli meat can also become infected with various bacteria during processing or storage. Cured meats are not cooked and may have bacteria or parasites. In addition, processed meats can contain high levels of sodium and unhealthy fats.
  5. Raw eggs: Raw eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria. Symptoms of a salmonella infection include fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. It may also cause cramps in the uterus, potentially leading to preterm birth or stillbirth. Foods that commonly contain raw eggs include lightly scrambled eggs, tiramisu, raw batter, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, some homemade salad dressings, homemade egg nog, homemade ice cream, some homemade cake icings, and Eggs Benedict.
  6. Unpasteurized dairy products: Raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products can contain harmful bacteria. These bacteria can cause a range of infections commonly called food poisoning. These infections can all have life-threatening consequences for an unborn baby. To reduce the risk of infections, eat only pasteurized dairy products.
  7. Soft cheeses: Some soft cheeses contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause severe illness and pregnancy loss. Only eat soft cheeses that have a label to show they are pasteurized.

Food poisoning in pregnancy

Food poisoning can be dangerous when you are pregnant.


To avoid food poisoning:

  • wash your hands before, during and after food preparation
  • use different knives, chopping boards, and utensils for raw and cooked food
  • put food in the fridge as quickly as possible
  • keep raw and cooked meats separate
  • wash all fruits, vegetables and pre-packed salads before eating
  • eat leftovers within 2 to 3 days
  • do not eat foods past their use-by date
  • make sure all meat, poultry, seafood and eggs are cooked thoroughly
  • avoid deli counters as the food hygiene can be compromised.

Other things to avoid in pregnancy

You should avoid alcohol when expecting and limit your daily caffeine intake to 200 milligrams.

This is the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

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