foods to avoid during pregnancy

A pregnant mother should always eat healthy food both for herself and her unborn baby. Therefore, before consuming any food, a mother should make conscious choices about her diet to avoid any potential harm. She should educate herself first on how and what foods to eat and what foods to avoid during pregnancy is crucial for both the well-being of a mother and a child.

Would-be mothers should incorporate in their diet nutritious fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins that satisfy all the vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy pregnancy. However, it is important to note that healthy foods can sometimes cause harm if they aren’t taken in the correct order. 

At this stage, mothers should learn about what foods to avoid during pregnancy even if they are their favorite foods. Doctors always suggest staying away from foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and any kind of uncooked foods. To understand what foods to avoid during pregnancy read the article.

List of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

The body of a pregnant mother is very sensitive and can get affected easily by certain germs.

Hence, certain foods to stay away from when pregnant. According to the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’, consuming some foods like raw meat, eggs, unpasteurized milk, unwashed fruits, and vegetables can cause food poisoning. Such foods are associated with foodborne illness. Those foods are in the following:

1. Unpasteurized Milk Products and Dairy Products:

Pregnant women should avoid raw milk or unpasteurized milk because raw milk contains pathogenic bacteria named Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli. Because E. coli. These bacteria make pregnant women ill or run a risk of miscarriage or death of a newborn baby. 

Therefore, pregnant mothers or anyone should consume dairy products made of pasteurized milk. 

As per the FDA, the pasteurization process kills bacteria in milk, and at the same time, the presence of macronutrients, and fat, lactose, and total protein levels in milk don’t get affected. The nutrient values remain almost the same.

2. Uncooked Meat and Poultry

During pregnancy, meat or poultry is a good choice for the mother and the unborn baby’s health. It provides energy to the mother and can develop the baby as it has many essential nutrients and proteins. 

However, on the contrary side, raw or undercooked meat and poultry are such a food to stay away from when pregnant. Raw meat contains pathogens bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Toxoplasma gondii. 

Therefore, consuming raw meat can cause food poisoning and can be life-threatening for pregnant mothers. Therefore, Meat or poultry should be cooked at a certain temp to eat.

According to the CDC, the cooking temperament is mentioned below:

                        Food                      Internal Temp
All poultry                      165-degree F
Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork                      145-degree F
Ground meat, such as beef and pork                      160-degree F
Deli meats, cold cuts, hot dogs, and fermented or dry sausages                      165-degree F
Meat spreads in sealed, airtight containers         Don’t refrigerate before opening
READ MORE: PCOD: What is PCOD Problem, Its Causes & Symptoms

3. Premade Deli Salads

Pregnant mothers should stay away from premade deli salads such as coleslaw, potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad. 

These preserved salads are contaminated with Listeria bacteria which is harmful to mothers and the unborn baby’s health. Hence, premade deli salads fall into the category of food to stay away from when pregnant. 

While keeping some precautions in mind, consider preparing it at home.

  • For vegetable salad, wash it with hot water or boil it for 2 to 3 minutes to ensure the hot water kills all the bacteria. 
  • If the salad contains meat, boil or fry the meat to a specific temperature, so that it is thoroughly cooked and safe to eat. 

Homemade things, if properly washed and cooked to a certain degree, are always safe to eat and you don’t need to worry about what can’t you eat while pregnant.

4. Raw vegetables and Fruits

Pregnant mothers should refrain from eating raw vegetables and fruits.

We often use sprouts in salads and sometimes in meals. But pregnant mothers should refrain from eating undercooked sprouts as they contain bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella which can lead to food poisoning.

 What can’t you eat while pregnant includes unwashed vegetables and fruits, which are not the safest option. Undercooked or raw food is often contaminated with bacteria and can harm your fetus. 

While making fruit juice, the bacteria in the fruit contaminate the juice. Therefore, try to peel the surface of the fruit before consumption.

 Additionally, instead of choosing vegetable juice, try to eat cooked vegetables to safeguard your baby from bacterial contamination.

5. Undercooked Eggs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests raw eggs are things to avoid in early pregnancy. Foods prepared with raw eggs like milkshakes, Caesar salads, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog, contain bacteria named Salmonella cause intestinal infection. 

Rather than opting for foods prepared with raw eggs,

  • consider cooking eggs until the yolks and whites become hard
  • Egg dishes if prepared with meat or poultry cook at 165 degrees F.
  • If you only prepare a dish with an egg cooked at 160 degrees F. 

Now you understand undercooked eggs come under the category of food to stay away from when pregnant.

6. Raw Fish or Shellfish

Seafoods like shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel are high in mercury and they are such things to avoid in early pregnancy. According to the FDA, pregnant mothers should not consume certain kinds of seafood that contain mercury as it can hinder the brain development of the fetus and young children.

Other than that, undercooked or shellfish like sashimi, sushi, and ceviche are also not recommended for bacterial contamination. 

Also, readily preserving the fish by freezing and cooking the fish in a smoking process is not suggested for pregnant mothers.

The safer choice to eat fish is in the following:

  • Fish should be cooked under a temperature of 145 degrees F.
  • Cook shellfish until the flesh looks white or pearly
  • You can eat fish that is low in mercury but not regularly. The fishes are—
  1. Canned light tuna
  2. Pollock
  3. Catfish
  4. Shrimp

You can also eat smoked fish if it is cooked in a casserole or other cooked dishes.

7. Beverages and Other Foods

Pregnant mothers should avoid certain beverages and foods.

Beverages such as caffeine, herbal teas, and alcohol are things to avoid in early pregnancy. 

  • Alcohol: 

If you ask a doctor about what can’t you eat while pregnant, the first answer that comes is alcohol. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, avoid alcohol because it can cause long-term harm to your baby.

  • Coffee or sugary drinks:

Caffeine is not recommended for pregnant mothers. But in any case, you have to take 200 mg per day. Doctors suggest strictly avoiding sugar-sweetened canned drinks because it is harmful and at the same time makes you obese.

  • Herbal Teas:

Before taking herbal tea, consult with your doctor because sometimes the herbs can cause dangerous side effects. More than 1 to 2 cups of herbal tea are not recommended. 

Other Foods That You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Licorice:

Though licorice has several health benefits, pregnant mothers should abstain from consuming licorice because it affects the development of a child.

  • Peanuts:

Eating peanuts during pregnancy is not harmful. But if you are allergic to peanuts stay away from it.

  • Vitamins:

It is recommended during pregnancy to not take high doses of multivitamins or vitamin A supplements as it causes birth defects.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Pineapple?

During pregnancy, mothers often experience the cravings of eating pineapples. They always suffer from confusion about can pregnant mothers eat pineapple or not due to a misconception that pineapple can induce miscarriage which is a myth.

 Pineapple is a nutritious food and can be taken during pregnancy. According to Jennifer Katz, who is a dietician and gives clinical services, has said, “There is no evidence that it is unsafe to eat pineapple during pregnancy. It does not cause early miscarriage or induce labor. Pineapple is a nutritious fruit that can be part of a balanced diet to support a healthy pregnancy.” 

The misconception arises of can pregnant mothers eat pineapple or not because of the presence of bromelain in pineapple.  During pregnancy, one should not take bromelain tablets because they break protein and cause abnormal bleeding.

But bromelain is found in the pineapple in a very small amount which doesn’t cause any harm. 

Therefore, pregnant women can add pineapple to their diet because it is very nutritious and good for would-be mothers’ overall health.

The nutrition contained in pineapple is —

  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B-6

The Bottom Line

There are so many suggestions about foods that mothers often get confused about what foods to avoid during pregnancy. Reading this article can easily draw a picture in your mind and you get a better understanding of food to stay away from when pregnant. Pregnancy is tough and not following rules can lead to complications. Especially, if you do not follow a proper diet and eat everything that should be avoided. Therefore, you should avoid certain foods for a healthy birth. If you are still confused about what can’t you eat while pregnant, you can consult with a doctor.