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Fitness & Nutrition

Avoid These Foods During Pregnancy

By on 05/11/2023

When you are pregnant, everything you put in your body affects not only you but your developing baby. You’ll likely receive recommendations from your doctor about foods to eat that help promote the healthy development of the baby growing inside of you. You may also be told to take certain vitamins to make sure you get enough nutrients. But in addition to all the things you should add to your diet, there are some foods you should limit or avoid.

Here are some common foods and drinks that it’s best to steer clear of during pregnancy. If you can’t live without them, talk to your doctor about whether there is an amount that is safe to consume.

Alcohol – One substance that’s not surprising to see on the “do not consume” list during pregnancy is alcohol. Drinking alcohol when pregnant may increase your chance of miscarriage, stillbirth and fetal alcohol syndrome in the baby. It is best to avoid alcohol completely since there is no research showing that any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

Some types of fish – Fish and shellfish can be a great source of protein. Some varieties are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are not only good for mom, but are also good for baby’s brain and eye development. But some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, and too much mercury can harm the baby’s nervous system. Fish containing high levels of mercury should be avoided. This includes tuna, swordfish, mackerel, shark, marlin, tilefish and orange roughy. It’s also best to avoid any type of raw fish to limit the chance of ingesting bacteria or viruses that may be present in uncooked seafood.

Raw or undercooked eggs, poultry and meat – If you get food poisoning when you are pregnant, you may have a more severe reaction. Make sure all foods made with eggs are fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to make sure poultry and meats are cooked to recommended temperatures before eating.

Unwashed produce – For the same reason that you’ll want to avoid eating undercooked eggs, poultry and meat, you’ll also want to make sure you thoroughly wash fresh produce before eating. Raw fruits and vegetables may contain harmful bacteria on the surface and washing them reduces your chance of getting sick. Any type of sprouts should not be eaten raw at all because there is more likelihood of them containing harmful bacteria. Only eat sprouts if they are cooked.

Unpasteurized foods – Although milk and cheese can be a part of a healthy diet when you are pregnant, avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or eating anything made with unpasteurized milk, such as some cheeses. This lowers the chance of getting food poisoning from these foods.

Caffeinated foods and drinks – It is recommended that pregnant women limit caffeine to less than 200 milligrams a day or avoid caffeine completely. That’s about the amount of caffeine in two 8-ounce cups of coffee. Aside from coffee, caffeine may be found in tea, energy drinks, soda, kombucha, chocolate or anything made with these foods.

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Date Last Reviewed: March 17, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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