Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
Updated: Mar 12
You have probably been told a million times not to eat soft cheese now that you are expecting. Well sadly, the list of foods that can be harmful to your growing baby doesn’t stop there. When it comes to your pregnancy health, few things are as important as making sure you are maintaining proper nutrition. There are many foods that are incredibly good for you to consume as your body works hard to grow your baby, but these are not them.
Soft and Semi Soft Cheeses
Well we saw this one coming. Cheeses that are considered soft, or semi-soft, like brie or camembert, blue vein cheese, feta and ricotta varieties are more moist and less acidic than ‘hard’ cheese, which makes them a prime environment for bacteria growth, which in turn can cause listeria. Surprisingly, cream cheese, while technically ‘soft’ is considered safe to eat while pregnant. This is due to its processed nature.
Unpasteurized Milk and Dairy Products
While most milk and dairy products these days are pasteurized, some unpasteurized, or ‘raw’ milk is still available. Pasteurization helps to reduce bacteria and pathogens in dairy products, and is also used in production of other products, such as juices, syrups, vinegars, canned foods and wines (not that that really concerns us). Unpasteurized products carry an increased risk of containing bacteria and should be avoided.
Raw and Undercooked Eggs and Egg Products
While cooked eggs are considered one of the ‘pregnancy superfoods’, raw and undercooked eggs are considered unpasteurized products, and are not considered safe to consume during pregnancy. This includes products that contain raw eggs and are not cooked, like mousse, fresh mayonnaise and gelato.
Rare or Undercooked Meat, Poultry and Meat Products
While it goes without saying that you should always ensure that chicken and poultry products are cooked thoroughly before you eat them, when you are pregnant it is also important to cook red meat to a ‘well-done’ standard. Meat, when undercooked, can carry bacteria that can result in toxoplasmosis or E. coli. Meat products like pate and processed deli meats should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Raw Fish and Shellfish
Goodbye sushi, see you in 9 months! The levels of bacteria and harmful parasites that can be present in raw and undercooked fish and other seafood make it a big no-no when it comes to pregnancy nutrition. Things like oysters, clams and smoked fish can be eaten as long as they are cooked, not raw, or ‘natural’.
Mercury Rich Seafood
Fish is a great source of protein during your pregnancy, but you have to be eating the right type. Fish that is high in mercury can cause damage to your baby’s developing nervous system. Shark, marlin, orange roughly and swordfish are all high in mercury and should be avoided. Atlantic salmon, sardines, mackerel, snapper and trout are all high in Omega 3 and low in mercury. Always check the mercury content of seafood before you eat it.
While most experts will tell you that it is ok to consume some caffeine during pregnancy, they will also warn against the dangers of having too much. While there is no concrete evidence that caffeine increases the odds of a miscarriage, it is still recommended to only consume around 200mg of caffeine a day. That includes the caffeine found in coffee, tea, soft drink, chocolate and energy drinks, among other things.
Well, here we are. The one big one that everyone knows about – alcohol. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to serious birth defects for your baby. Many people assume that only heavy drinking while pregnant is harmful for your baby, but even consuming small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can be detrimental. Looks like you are on designated driver duties for those 9 months.
There are probably many other food items that people will tell you ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have that!’ while you are pregnant. If you are unsure of whether a something is safe for you to eat or not, consult your healthcare professional. During your pregnancy your nutrition is vitally important. Read our article on pregnancy superfoods for some ideas of how you can boost your vitamin and nutrient intake.