Pregnancy is one of the beautiful phases in a woman’s life. It’s not just your body that will change, but the way you think and feel about yourself, your priorities, your attitude, your lifestyle…well, everything is about to change. So to facilitate a happy pregnancy, careful food habits needs to be infused in your system at an early stage.
Craving for your favourite food during pregnancy is a perfectly normal thing. You can enjoy eating anything you desire. Just have a habit of averting few foods that pose health risks for you and your baby. Pregnant women are usually showered with tons of well-meant advice on what not to eat when pregnant, which later arises confusions for the expecting mother. In such situations it is best for you to seek only expert advice, as they are the better sources to confirm you what you need to add or minus from your regular diet.
Top 23 Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy:
Here is our expert guide of 23 foods to be avoided during pregnancy with solutions. To help you make wise food choices to protect and nourish you and your baby. Read through and enjoy a healthy pregnancy:
1. Certain Seafood And Fish:
No, we are not asking you to give away all your fish cravings! Only some type of fishes should be avoided to stay away from any fetal damage possibilities and other complications.
Fish Containing Mercury: Mercury on consumption during pregnancy can lead to brain damage and developmental delays. Therefore, it is advisable not to take fish that contains high levels of mercury. These types of fish include king mackerel, swordfish, shark and tilefish. Fish like chunk light tuna contain low levels of mercury, and can be taken in moderate amounts.
Smoked Seafood: Refrigerated and smoked seafood with labels such as lox, jerky, novastyle or kippered should not be consumed as they will be contaminated with Listeria bacteria. You will get this fish in the deli section.
Fish Exposed to Pollutants: Avoid fish cultured in contaminated rivers and lakes that are highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls. They usually include salmon, striped bass, bluefish, walleye and trout.
Raw Shellfish: Undercooked shellfish like oysters, mussels and clams can cause majority of sea borne illnesses. Cooking them can prevent some of the infections, but not algae related infections. Therefore, it is good to avoid any kind of shellfish during pregnancy.
To have a healthy pregnancy these are certain taste sacrifices a mother should go through!!
Solution: Fishes are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids,if you cannot do without fish, you can go for fresh water ones.You can easily enjoy up to 12 ounces, that is two servings a week of very low-mercury freshly cooked fish, such as salmon, shrimp, etc (1).
[ Read: Fish Oil During Pregnancy ]
2. Raw Or Undercooked Eggs:
Mmmm…yummy cooked eggs are so delectable isn’t it? Yes it is, but as our article illustrates, there are certain ways of having your perfect egg during pregnancy. Raw eggs, runny eggs and undercooked eggs are a big no-no. Homemade desserts and sauces such as chocolate mousse, cakes, mayonnaise, etc., containing raw eggs must be avoided as they may be tainted with salmonella bacteria causing vomiting and diarrhea (2).
Solution: The one and only way of having safe eggs is that – Eggs should be cooked until the yolks are firm. Go for a well done omelet. Buy salad dressings that are either egg-less or use pasteurized eggs. These kill the risk and you can enjoy a happy egg-tarian meal!
[ Read: Egg During Pregnancy ]
3. Undercooked Meat & Poultry:
Yes we know meat is vital need for any non vegetarian person. Expecting women, who love to gorge on meat, would need some restrictions during pregnancy. Research has proven that raw or uncooked meat must be avoided as they contain listeria bacteria. Refrigerated meat such as goat, lamb, beef, etc., must be heated up to 73 degree Celsius. Same is for poultry such as chicken, ham, turkey, duck, geese, etc.
Due to toxoplasma gondii parasite present in raw meat & poultry expecting mothers can experience food poisoning. These can cause vomiting, miscarriages and fetal damage.
Solution: If at all you need to consume meat, make sure it’s not uncooked or under-cooked.Wash meat and poultry items well before using, so as to remove the bacteria in them. Always prefer to eat meat or poultry at home rather than outside. Use of food thermometer while cooking is recommended.
[ Read: Can I Eat Turkey While Pregnant ]
4. Unpasteurized Dairy Products:
No doubt everyone has been telling you to have lots of milk pregnancy, and they are not wrong. Milk does provide you with calcium, proteins and minerals. However, if unpasteurized dairy products are ingested, you run the risk of contracting severe food poisoning. Therefore, avoid all sorts of dairy products that are not pasteurized.
Solution: If youlove milk and milk products you can easily enjoy a happy pregnancy time with simple quality checks. Always drink fresh and boiled milk. Dairy products such as ice cream, ghee, paneer (cottage cheese), etc should be bought off labels which use pasteurized milk.
Without pasteurized milk the food is not healthy for expectant mothers. The other, rather unconventional, option is to opt for non-dairy milks like rice milk, soy milk (only fermented and organic), oat milk and almond milk. These are safer, contain the same nutrients and are also custom made for the lactose intolerant.
[ Read: Milk During Pregnancy ]
5. Unpasteurized Soft Cheese:
Cheese…this word for sure is mouth watering. Pregnancy has its own set of diet rules. Unpasteurized soft cheese such as Brie, feta, camembert, queso fresco, etc., must be avoided as they may contain Listeria bacteria, causing listeriosis. Miscarriage, premature birth or birth defects are common results for having these cheeses.
Solution: Simple, eat hard cheeses instead. Cheddar or Swiss cheese are better options. Always use cheese made of pasteurized milk. Check labels for listeria free pasteurized milk cheese (3).
6. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables:
You’d think that’s a weird point! But you will be surprised to hear that as many as 78% people eat or cook fruits and vegetables without first washing them. If you do this during pregnancy – BEWARE! Besides ingesting harmful pesticides, the fruit and veggie skins can also contain the toxoplasma gondii parasite and listeria. Both can cause considerable damage to the fetus. . Raw sprouts or any unwashed vegetables especially lettuce and cabbage must be avoided.
Solution: Well, there’s no substitute to cleanliness and hygiene! You should wash fruits and vegetables properly, peel them and then keep them separately in clean utensils. Try to avoid eating long-refrigerated fruits and veggies to stay healthy in these nine months. Cook your veggies appropriately, try not to have uncooked vegetables especially leafy ones (4).
[ Read: Fruits To Eat During Pregnancy ]
7. Raw Vegetable Sprouts:
You heard that sprouts are excellent sources of proteins and minerals? But, is this another food to avoid during pregnancy? Yes, it is true only when taken raw at this time of your life. When raw, sprouts can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses which can be a cause of bad food poisoning (5).
Solution: You can have sprouts, but consume them after shallow frying them or better still, cooking them. They will still taste good.
8. Nuts That Cause Allergies::
Various kinds of nuts are available in the market which you may love to enjoy. These can be a healthy addition to your daily breakfast or evening snacks. Discretion is while consuming nuts during pregnancy. Some nuts such as peanuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts can cause allergies or skin rashes on your body. These are also some of the pregnancy foods to avoid, as they may result in swelling of body parts.
Solution: Always consult with your doctor on what kind of nuts to include in your pregnancy diet.
9. Restaurant-Made Salads:
Do you look for types of salads offered in a restaurant? Well then we would suggest it’s better to prefer a homemade salad than a restaurant one. As the fruits, vegetables, meat or eggs might not be of high quality. These may contain listeria bacteria which can cause fetal problems during pregnancy.
Solution: Fruits and veggies needs to be cleaned and chopped in clean surroundings, whereas meat and eggs needs to be cooked properly. It’s best to enjoy your favorite salad at home. It’s safe and hygienic!
10. Unpasteurized Juices:
Juicing is a best habit for any healthy diet. Isn’t juice good during pregnancy? It surely is, but fresh juice puts you at risk of contracting the very harmful E.coli and salmonella bacteria. It is said that both raw fruits as well as veggies can get contaminated with this strain of bacteria and can wreak havoc on you and your fetus (6).
Solution: Choose packaged juices as they are pasteurized and are kept under refrigeration. Also it’s better to have fruits and vegetables cut or cooked rather than in juices.
11. Excessive Caffeine-Related Products:
Too much caffeine is never good for you, especially during pregnancy as it acts as a diuretic and is linked to low birth weight. Caffeine is more dangerous as it is often hidden in some product you never suspected. Besides coffee, tea and chocolate, caffeine is a part of energy drinks and some cold and flu medicines. Expectant mommies consuming more caffeine during this phase are at higher risk of stillbirths, fetal deaths or spontaneous abortions.
Solution: Limit your caffeine intake to a maximum of 200 ml or 2 cups of coffee a day. Also check with your doctor and pharmacist to eliminate hidden forms of caffeine.
[ Read: Effects Of Caffeine During Pregnancy ]
12. Herbal Teas And Supplements:
Though people may be badgering you that taking herbal tonics, herbal teas and other herbal supplements is good for you, some herbs can do more harm than good during pregnancy. Plus there is always the possibility of buying spurious herbs as you don’t know how to check for genuineness. Avoid herbs like Senna, wormwood, Saw palmetto, as they are not thoroughly tested like medicines.
Solution:If you are worried that you are not healthy enough for pregnancy, ask your doctor to prescribe a good health tonic or multivitamin. It’s better to have a hot cup of regular chai or tea until you deliver, rather than herbal tea.
[ Read: Herbal Tea During Pregnancy ]
13. Canned Foods:
These are other particular foods to avoid in pregnancy. Canned foods are packed and stored for longer period of time; these are absolutely not recommended during pregnancy. These are harmful for two reasons – firstly, the lining in the cans often contains Bisphenol A (BPA), which affects fetal endocrine activity. Secondly, the tinned foods might be too old and harbor harmful bacteria due to their long shelf life (7).
Solution: Opt for fresh vegetables, fruits and fish. Fresh is always better! Go for seasonal choices, to ensure maximum nutrients and minimum expense.
14. Nitrate-Rich Foods:
It’s a known truth that chemical-contain foods deteriorate our health easily. Bacons, sausages, diet-sodas, artificial sweetener (saccharin), etc., are some of the known nitrate-rich food items. Usually these are not harmful to health, but the low nutritional value of these nitrate-rich foods makes them seriously unhealthy during pregnancy. Consumption in high quantity can lead to fetal abnormalities and poor development.
Solution: Avoid nitrate rich foods, or at least prepare them at home as far as possible. Make a chart of “nitrate-rich food items” and follow it religiously.
15. Sugar-Rich Foods:
During pregnancy women experience crazy cravings, this is absolutely normal. You should check on your Ice creams and chocolates consumption. As midnight snacks these may sound tempting, but in reality they will only increase the sugar content in you.
Solution: Too much sugar is bad for health – you must be aware of this phrase. So as to curb it, decrease your sugar intake especially during nine months.
16. Street Foods:
Do you crave for those spicy, sour treats sold at roadside stalls? Cravings are good during pregnancy; just make sure your cravings are met with high quality standards. Avoid street food during pregnancy as it may give you an upset stomach, food poisoning and other problems. Besides, it is unhygienic.
Solution:If you like street food, find recipes of these foods online and make them at home! It will be a fun activity and safe eating option.
17. Fatty Foods:
So, you think you can gorge on all those fatty, yummy treats during pregnancy because you’re getting big anyway? You’re wrong! Too much fatty food can make your cholesterol sky rocket. Apart from the hideous fat body you’ll be stuck with after delivery, the fatty foods can out you at risk of heart disease and obesity (8).
Solution:Moderation is the key here. Foods containing the Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids are vital. But do not binge on fatty food.
18. Artificial Sweeteners:
If you think that cutting back on natural sugar will help your pregnancy, think again. Artificial sweeteners, especially saccharin, are not filtered by the placenta. Hereby, you are giving artificial sugar to your unborn child (9)!
Solution:Substitute normal sugar for artificial sweeteners, but do it in moderation.
19. Excess of Vitamins:
“Too much of anything is bad” – this is meant for vitamins during pregnancy. You should not consume higher than the recommended dose of vitamins, as these posses direct health threats to you and your unborn child. They can disrupt normal fetal development and can even trigger pre-term labor. Some vitamin overdoses are also linked to congenital disorders.
Solution:Don’t self-medicate! Follow your doctor’s orders. She knows best. Trust her and get all your doubts clarified with her.
20. Simple Carbohydrates:
This is just a fancy name for ‘carbs’ like bread and muffins. They aren’t exactly harmful for your baby. The only thing is that they can cause painful constipation. Anything made from fine flour (bread, pizza, etc.) can cause constipation.
Solution:Avoid these as much as you can and replace them with high fiber flour. Brown bread or whole grain carbs are best (10).
21. Homemade Goodies:
Love baking? Well, avoid them all during your special nine months, because if the dough is left even slightly raw, it may attract harmful bacteria. You may contact severe food poisoning in the least and even cause harm to the fetus.
Solution:You can have fun while baking at home for your family. If you just can’t keep your hands off the baked treats, go for the commercially manufactured ones purchased from well-known bakeries.
Licorice or Mulethi, is a common, harmless spice used in many cuisines. However, its intake during pregnancy can cause uterine contractions. These contractions can lead to preterm labor.
Solution: It’s best to avoid licorice in all its forms during pregnancy (11).
Being pregnant leftovers should not be consumed. As these foods, even if stored properly in refrigerator, have chances of attracting bacteria. Unhealthy ways of food consumption must be avoided during your special phase of life. This will ensure good health for you and your baby.
Solution: Only eat fresh cooked foods. If required heat the leftovers in clean utensils. Put a chart of “Do not eat” on your fridge (12).
Disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you include or avoid any of the foods mentioned above in your pregnancy diet, consult your Gynecologist or health care provider.
It is of paramount importance that you follow a proper diet and nutrition plan, but above all, also don’t spend the entire magical journey of pregnancy in fretting over little things. Trust your motherly instincts and enjoy your pregnancy!
Hope our post helped you know what not to eat when pregnant. Do share your thoughts if you know other foods to avoid during pregnancy in the comment section below:
- Top 10 Fruits To Avoid During Pregnancy
- Is It Safe To Eat Pizza During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Eat Spicy Food During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Have Artificial Sweeteners During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Consume Meat During Pregnancy?
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