Foods to Avoid When You’re Pregnant

You are what you eat. The foods and drinks you put in your body determine how healthy you are. This is also the case for your unborn child when you are pregnant. The mom-to-be has to pay special attention to her diet, since she is now eating for 2 (or more). Calcium is required for yourself, and also for the proper development of your child’s bones and teeth.

Some women experience constipation during pregnancy. This means that you should be eating more kale and other leafy greens. Foods like broccoli, pears, almonds and walnuts, beans and peas are also high in healthy dietary fiber that can keep you from getting constipated. You will need a lot of iron in your diet for a healthy pregnancy, between 25 and 30 mg a day. Lean chicken, fish and liver are good sources of iron.

In addition to those foods you should be eating while pregnant, there are some foods you should definitely avoid. Skipping the following foods while pregnant will do you and your unborn child a world of good.

Seafood That May Be High in Mercury

Seafood is a wonderful source of protein, and you will definitely need a lot of protein for a healthy pregnancy. Protein is vital for your child’s growth and development in the womb. It forms the foundation of each and every cell in your unborn baby’s body. Protein is important for you during this special time as well, but you want to avoid certain seafood as a protein source.

Swordfish, king mackerel, tile fish and shark don’t need to be a part of your pregnancy diet plan. These fish can contain dangerous levels of mercury. Mercury can negatively affect nervous system development in your unborn child. You don’t have to avoid seafood altogether. Shrimp, salmon, catfish and trout are rich in protein, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids which promote healthy eye and brain development for your unborn baby.

Some Fresh Juices

How can fresh juice ever be bad for you? Isn’t juice squeezed from fresh apples, oranges and other fruits and vegetables good for you? In most cases, the answer is yes. Eating and drinking foods and beverages close to their natural state is usually a good idea while you are pregnant. The problem comes with some fresh squeezed juices, like the kind you get at a juice bar or farmer’s market.

Sometimes these drinks are not pasteurized. The pasteurization process protects against harmful bacteria entering the juice. E. coli and salmonella are just 2 types of bacteria that is sometimes found in unpasteurized juice. This can also be the case at your local grocer, so make sure you check the food label of any juice you purchase when you are pregnant. Stick with pasteurized juices only.

Say Goodbye to Sushi

Raw seafood can be dangerously high in bacteria, parasites and other unhealthy components. As mentioned above, seafood can be a great source of protein. Just make sure yours is cooked when you are pregnant. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States recommends no raw seafood for the entire length of your pregnancy. This means any pregnancy cravings for sushi will have to go unanswered. Seafood can be a smart part of a healthy pregnancy diet, just make sure it’s been cooked properly. Cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit is recommended.

Under-Cooked Meat

Your body is much more susceptible to infection now that you are pregnant. The pregnancy process is very taxing on your immune system. This means that bacterial food poisoning is an increased risk. This means totally cooking any meat or poultry you eat while you are pregnant. You should also avoid refrigerated spreads and pates that are meat-based.

You can either avoid luncheon-style meats and hot dogs altogether or cook them completely. The concern here is for a rare but dangerous illness called listeriosis. Pregnant women and others with an impaired immune system are especially susceptible to listeria, a bacteria which can cause meningitis and miscarriage. A full 20% of those infected with listeria die from this illness.

Purchasing a food thermometer is a smart way to eliminate any unnecessary infection from eating meat. Ground meat should always be cooked to at least 160° F. Roasts, steaks and chop cuts of fresh meat should register at least 145° F before eating. Cook any type of poultry to an internal temperature of 165° F. Fresh rabbit and ham need to reach a temperature of 160° F before they are suitable for pregnant women to eat.


As with fish and meat, the fear with eggs is that they might be under-cooked. Runny eggs should be avoided, as well as cookie dough or cake batter that may contain raw eggs. Beware of eggnog, custard, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing and any other homemade dessert or sauce which might contain raw eggs.

Some Cheeses

All you have to do to ensure milk is safe is make sure it is pasteurized. The danger is bacterial infection, as in the case of some fresh juice. A lot of soft cheeses are not pasteurized. Also avoid any cheese listing raw milk as an ingredient. If your cheese says “made with pasteurized milk” on its label, it is probably safe.


Alcohol is not a food, but it bears mentioning when discussing the things you should avoid ingesting during pregnancy. Doctors agree that drinking even a small amount of alcohol while pregnant has a negative effect on your unborn child’s development. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders refer to a wide range of alcohol-related problems which mothers who imbibe can pass on to their babies. Anatomical defects, developmental problems, vision and hearing issues and damage to the central nervous system can affect your child if you drink while pregnant.

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