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Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Every expectant mother wants what is best for their unborn baby, which is why you start practicing a healthy diet the minute you find out you are pregnant; you start adding slices of fruit to your fortified breakfast cereal, top your salads with peas and add more vegetables or snack on nuts. You add things you think are healthy and take away the ones you think are not. But do you know for sure what can be eaten and what should be avoided during your pregnancy?

The best way to do this would be to start with the basics in pregnancy nutrition. Understanding what food is best be avoided during your pregnancy can help you make the healthiest choices for you and your bundle of joy.


Seafood high in mercury

Seafood is without a doubt a great source of protein, plus the omega-3 fatty acids in many types of fish can promote your baby’s brain and eye development, which is probably why you might think adding all kinds of seafood to your diet would be great for your baby. But sorry to tell you, there are some kinds of seafood you have to avoid, such as the ones high in mercury. Now, you are probably wondering; what seafood is high in mercury?

Some fish and shellfish contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury. The high levels of mercury in this seafood can harm your baby’s developing nervous system which may lead to other complications along the way.

Keep in mind that the bigger and older the fish is, it is more likely to contain high levels of mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have encouraged pregnant women to avoid eating a few kinds of seafood. Some of them being;

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish

However, there is more than enough seafood that is safe for you to consume during your pregnancy. Some types of seafood contain very little mercury which is safe for consumption during pregnancy. Don’t worry; you do not have to abstain from all kinds of seafood because you are advised to have eight to twelve ounces of seafood a week.

Consider having;

  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Pollock
  • Catfish
  • Anchovies
  • Trout

However, it is best to limit tuna steak to no more than six ounces a week. Also, beware when it comes to canned tuna. While it may appear to look safe, some testing has shown that mercury levels in tuna cans are very high and vary from can to can.

Just bear in mind that not all researches agree with these limits because some women did not have side effects from eating too much seafood. Different people react in different ways, depending on their bodies.

Undercooked meat, poultry & eggs

One thing many pregnant women are not aware of is that when you are pregnant it puts you in a higher risk of getting bacterial food poisoning and the reaction it causes you might be more severe than if you were not pregnant. However, food poisoning only affects your baby on very rare occasions.

Even though it may not affect your baby, it is better to just completely prevent it from happening all together, which is why we have listed down some safe ways for you to enjoy your meat and eggs.

  • Fully cook all meats and poultry – You can always use a thermometer to check if your meat is cooked well.
  • Cook sausages and luncheon meats until they are steaming hot, or better yet avoid them completely.
  • They could potentially bring a serious foodborne illness called Listeriosis.
  • Avoid refrigerated pates and meat spreads. But, canned foods are sometimes okay to consume during your pregnancy.
  • Cook eggs until the egg yolk and white are firm. Raw eggs are sometimes contaminated with bacteria which is why you should avoid it. Some food containing raw or partially cooked eggs that should be avoided include poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and raw batter.

Unpasteurized foods

Many of your probably assume or have heard from people that all low-fat dairy products, such as milk, mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese are beneficial to your baby because it provides calcium, therefore you have to eat a large amount of it all throughout your pregnancy. Unfortunately, that is not true!

Anything containing unpasteurized milk could lead to foodborne illness, which is exactly why you should abstain from it. Some food that might contain unpasteurized milk is Brie cheese, Feta cheese, blue cheese and unpasteurized juices. However, it is safe to consume if the label clearly states that it is pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk.

Unwashed fruits & vegetables

We usually have the habit of washing fruits and vegetables before eating them but of course there have been times where we get lazy or there is no source of water for us to get them washed, which is when we close an eye and just eat them anyway. But, when you are pregnant, please avoid doing this because fruits and vegetables may contain pesticides which might cause a bacterial infection in your body if consumed unwashed.

Also, try your best to avoid all types of raw sprouts as they might also contain bacteria. However, if it is too hard to resist that temptation, be sure to cook them thoroughly before consumption.

Excess Caffeine

Caffeine has the possibility of crossing the placenta and affecting your baby’s heart rate. There have been some studies done that have suggested drinking too much caffeine during your pregnancy might increase the risks of having a miscarriage.

For some of you who were coffee addicts prior to your pregnancy, don’t worry because you do not have to completely cut of coffee or any other sources of caffeine from your diet for nine long months. It is suggested that you have less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day during pregnancy but do seek advice from your healthcare provider who may suggest a different option for you.

Herbal tea

There hasn’t been much data on the effects specific herbs could cause on developing babies but it would be a lot safer to check with your health provider before consuming any kind of herbal tea. You will come across several kinds of herbal tea that claim to be suitable for pregnant women, even then don’t consume unless your health provider says it is okay.


Alcohol is off limits during pregnancy – this basically goes without saying, right ladies? Well, one drink would not cause any harm to your baby but no level of alcohol is low enough to be considered safe for your baby. So, it is best to completely avoid alcohol entirely.

Pregnant women who drink alcohol have higher chances of having a miscarriage and stillbirth. Besides that, even moderate consumption of alcohol can cause facial deformities, heart defects and can impact your baby’s brain development which might result in mental retardation.

Being pregnant may seem like a tough thing because you have to avoid eating so many things – some of them being extremely yummy things. But, think about the long run. After these nine months of controlling your diet, you will have a healthy and happy baby to cuddle, kiss, play with and call yours. So, do this and sacrifice a little bit for the good of your own precious little one.

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