Foods To Avoid When Pregnant
If you’re pregnant and expecting a new child in your family, it can be helpful to know what you can and can’t eat. Here are the foods to avoid when pregnant and why.
7 Foods To Avoid When Pregnant
If you’re pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, there’s a lot to prepare for and learn. On top of the newness of preparing your home for its newest member and figuring out your parenting styles and methods, you also have to follow certain guidelines. For instance, you have to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and even certain types of foods.
Nutrition is the most important during the beginning days of your baby’s development, even when they’re still in the womb. Some foods can also be dangerous to eat when you have a little on in the womb.
Here are the most important foods to avoid when pregnant and some other tips to help you get the nutrition you need.
1. Some Kinds of Cheese
If you’re pregnant or expecting to get pregnant soon, it’s important to be extra careful of what cheeses you eat. Some types of cheese may potentially harm your baby while in the womb. Here’s the type of cheese that you should avoid when pregnant.
Avoid blue cheeses like Danish blue and gorgonzola cheese. Feta cheese should also be avoided. It’s also good to avoid any cheeses that mold before eating, like soft cheese, brie, a kind of goat cheese known as chevre, and camembert. Blue cheese and soft cheese may contain a bacteria known as listeria. Other foods with listeria include all kinds of pate, raw fruits and vegetables, and meat spreads, so it’s important to avoid these, too.
While listeria won’t hurt you, it may harm your undeveloped baby and result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other illnesses.
It’s best to avoid these cheeses altogether. However, if you love eating cheese by itself or just find yourself craving certain cheeses while pregnant, not all cheese is off-limits. For example, you may eat cheese made with unpasteurized milk as long as they're hard cheeses.
These include cheddar and parmesan. You may eat soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, paneer, halloumi, goat cheese, and mozzarella, only if they’re made from pasteurized milk.
2. Some Types of Eggs
It’s also important to be careful of what types of eggs you consume when pregnant. You may still eat eggs, but instead of enjoying a runny fried egg, you should make sure the yolk and egg white is completely solid and cooked all the way through. Avoid broken eggs or dirty eggs, too.
Uncooked eggs can risk food poisoning like salmonella, which can be life-threatening for your baby. If you typically make homemade mayonnaise with undercooked or uncooked eggs or like to snack on cookie dough, put this on pause throughout your pregnancy. You can also consider alternatives to eggs, such as pasteurized liquid eggs.
3. Some Types of Meat
It’s vital to avoid raw or undercooked meats while pregnant. Unless you’re chomping on sushi, you probably don’t eat much raw meat on purpose. However, when you’re pregnant, it’s important to be extra careful around meat.
Make sure all meat you eat is fully cooked. Raw or undercooked meat can pose threats to your baby and lead to salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter. This infection leads to intense nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and can be life-threatening in your baby’s bloodstream as their immune system is not strong enough to fight it.
Here are a few specific types of meat you should avoid that have a higher risk of being raw and containing bacteria.
One of the most obvious types of raw meat people eat daily is sushi. While sushi can be delicious and packed with nutrients, it’s important to avoid this food when pregnant. This applies to more than just sushi rolls as well.
Avoid raw oysters, sashimi, cooked prawns made ready-to-eat, or any sushi with raw shellfish included. You can cook shellfish and eat it, but avoid all sushi or seafood with uncooked shellfish. These foods contain listeria and can have the same harmful effects as soft cheeses.
You should avoid other types of fish include bigeye tuna (tilefish), ready-to-eat smoked seafood like salmon (lox), and king mackerel. These types of fish tend to carry a high mercury content.
If appropriately cooked and eaten in moderation, you can enjoy shrimp, salmon, tilapia, catfish, canned light tuna, mussels, clams, trout, marlin, shark, albacore, and swordfish.
Eating steak or other meat that is cooked rare is especially dangerous during pregnancy and can lead to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a rare infection that occurs in birds and other animals but can sometimes occur in humans. Because of their undeveloped immune systems, unborn babies cannot fight off this infection if it is passed on to them.
If you have a pet, this infection can also be caused by feces exposure. So, it’s important to be careful around any litter boxes or animal feces while you’re pregnant as well. While toxoplasmosis is very rare in pregnancy, it’s important to be careful of.
Some Deli Meats
Deli meats, also known as cold cured meats, can also carry the risk of listeria contamination. If you like to eat deli salami, ham, chorizo, or pepperoni, or even smoked fish, it’s best to avoid these foods during pregnancy. Avoid cold, ready-to-eat chicken or cold meats that are pre-packaged.
Otherwise, they could harm your baby’s health and expose them to bacteria that their bodies are unable to fight against.
How To Cook Meat While Pregnant
There are some ways to eat meat while you’re pregnant. For instance, if you cook it correctly and take the necessary precautions to ensure the food you’re eating is safe, you can eat most meats.
Be sure to cook all poultry, meat, and shellfish until it is steaming hot. There should be no pink or blood, even if you’d typically be fine with a bit of pink in your burger or steak. Once you eliminate pink and blood traces in meat, be sure to check that it’s thoroughly cooked all the way through. Be extra careful when checking pork, sausage, and minced meat like burgers or taco meat.
Take care to thoroughly wash all cooking tools, utensils, countertops, stovetops, and grills after cooking any meat. Wash your hands very thoroughly if preparing meat yourself. This will prevent bacteria from getting on your food and into your body while also preventing the spread of harmful bacteria throughout your home.
4. Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid
Another food to avoid while pregnant that may come as a surprise is some fruits and vegetables. While fruits and veggies are typically the most nutritious foods you can eat, some are not suitable to eat during pregnancy. For instance, bean sprouts have a higher risk of salmonella, and rockmelon can have higher listeria contamination. Avoid these fruits and vegetables while pregnant.
It’s also to avoid eating fruits or veggies from pre-packaged salads. When pre-made and packaged, salads have a much higher risk of containing listeria, so it’s important to avoid these as well.
Raw sprouts, radish, alfalfa, clover, and mung bean should all be avoided.
5. Vitamin A Supplements
Excess intake of vitamin A during pregnancy can have harmful effects on your liver and pose the risk of toxicity. Be sure to avoid extra vitamin A supplements, fish oil, or liver products that contain vitamin A. Overconsumption of Vitamin A while pregnant is also linked to fetal malformations in the nervous system, urinary tract, and bones.
Don’t take any vitamin A supplements outside of your prenatal vitamin unless otherwise directed to by a doctor.
6. Unpasteurized Milk
Just like unpasteurized cheeses, unpasteurized milk has a higher risk of listeria contamination and can harm your baby’s health. Only drink pasteurized milk or boil unpasteurized thoroughly before consuming it. This applies to goat’s milk and sheep’s milk as well as cow’s milk. Look for the label “pasteurized” or “Ultra Heat Treated (UTH)” before buying and consuming milk or dairy.
Some dairy products that should be avoided include eggnog, mousse, tiramisu, raw cookie dough or batter, homemade ice cream, and queso Blanco or queso fresco.
7. What About Caffeine?
If you’ve researched pregnancy at all, you’ve probably come across warnings on caffeine consumption while pregnant.
There are a few reasons for this. First, you’re eating for two. What you eat, your baby ends up eating as well, so it’s important to eat foods you’d want to give them. In addition, too much caffeine raises blood pressure, heart rate and can increase the frequency of urination. When you urinate more, you can lose blood volume, and your fluid levels may reach dangerously low levels lose to dehydration.
Caffeine is even linked to higher rates of miscarriages for women who drink more than 200 mg of caffeine a day over women who don’t drink any caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic, so it’s best to avoid drinking too much caffeine while pregnant. Luckily, this doesn't mean you can’t have any caffeine.
Experts recommend women consume less than 200 mg of caffeine each day. Different types of coffee can have different amounts of caffeine—for example, an eight oz. Latte can have anywhere from 63 to 126 mg of caffeine and an eight oz. cup of coffee can contain 95 to 165 mg.
If you make your own coffee, check the type of coffee you use, and if you get your coffee from the store, be sure to get clear nutrition ingredients to see exactly how much caffeine you’re consuming. Be sure to check the blend of coffee and tea that you’re brewing to make sure you’re staying within these limits.
Energy drinks, sodas, iced teas, and even some medications or energy snacks contain caffeine as well. Be extra careful when consuming these, and always check the nutrition label to see how much caffeine you’re consuming. When in doubt, less is better. Talk to your health care provider about what types of caffeine are safe for you and what isn’t.
Some chocolate contains caffeine, so if you have a sweet tooth, eat it in moderation.
So, What Can You Eat?
We know it seems like many of your favorite foods might be off the table, but pregnancy is a great time to explore other food combinations that you might love while tuning into what your body needs.
After all, you’re creating life inside you. Simply keep these precautions in mind as you enjoy this time of pregnancy.
Start Nourishing Your Little One Now
What you feed your little ones during the very first days of their development sets the stage for their nutrition for the rest of their lives. By learning what to eat now, you can start this process. And, when they’re ready for solids and finger foods, we have all the tools you need, with food designed for your baby’s development that makes every bite count.