15 foods to avoid during pregnancy: comprehensive guide

foods to avoid during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a marvelous period in the life of every woman. It’s filled with excitement and anticipation. However, this period requires extra care of your health. The mother-to-be has to take care not only of her health but also of her growing baby. To ensure healthy pregnancy, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet. While it is important to keep a healthy diet, it’s equally important to be aware of foods to avoid during pregnancy. We are going to provide you with a comprehensive guide, helping you make the right choices for you and your baby.

Why are some foods to avoid during pregnancy?

It is necessary to eat well while pregnant to noirish both the mother-to-be and the baby. Choose only high-quality and nutrient-rich products. The immune system of pregnant women naturally weakens, making mothers-to-be more susceptible to infections that may negatively affect the well-being of both the mother and the baby. Some foods carry a higher risk of foodborne illnesses, contamination, or other potential harm during pregnancy.

Stick to a healthy diet

It’s essential to stick to a healthy diet. Foods to avoid during pregnancy typically include those that carry a risk of infection, such as undercooked or raw meat or fish, but you’ll want to limit your intake of caffeine and processed foods, too. When you ask yourself what foods to avoid in pregnancy, here is a detailed list of foods, that may negatively affect the well-being of both mother and the baby.

Read our article on how to boost the immune system while pregnant.

High mercury fish

A highly toxic element, called mercury, occurs in polluted water. Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means it can harm the nervous system, particularly during fetal development. Exposure to high levels of mercury during pregnancy can have serious consequences for the baby’s neurological development. Consuming high-mercury fish during pregnancy may lead to:

  • Impaired vision and hearing
  • problems with the nervous system
  • delayed milestone
  • behavioral problems

Certain types of fish are known to have higher mercury levels and should be avoided or limited during pregnancy. So, what seafood to avoid when pregnant? They are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Undercooked or raw fish

Among the foods to avoid during pregnancy there is a raw fish. It may contain bacteria or parasites such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria. These infections cause weakness and dehydration, which is bad for expecting mothers as they increase the risk of preterm delivery, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and other serious health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

what not to eat when pregnant

Undercooked, raw, processed, and deli meat

Raw and undercooked meat also can be contaminated with infection from bacteria or parasites, including Listeria, E.coli, Toxoplasma, and Salmonella, which poses a risk to both mother and baby. Bacteria affects the health of the expecting mother and unborn baby.

Deli meat, pepperoni, and hot dogs are also foods to avoid during pregnancy. These types of food may become infected during storage. As regards processed meat, it may also have parasites and contain high levels of sodium and unhealthy fats. So, sausages and hot dogs are on the list of foods of what not to eat when pregnant.

Organ meat

Organ meat also should be added to the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. In spite of the fact it provides essential nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium, consuming too much of it, may preformed vitamin A, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, and lead to congenital malformations and pregnancy loss. It is advisable to eat a small amount of liver or kidney per week.

Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Make sure to wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Unwashed surfaces may have bacteria and parasites such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Toxoplasma. The expecting mother may experience no symptoms, but the parasite can affect the baby and cause vision loss or brain damage. It is advisable not only to wash fruits and vegetables but also to peel them to minimize the risk of infection.

Raw eggs

Raw eggs during pregnancy should be avoided as they contain Salmonella bacteria. This bacteria causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. It may also cause cramps in the uterus, potentially leading to preterm birth or stillbirth. Be sure to avoid foods that contain raw eggs, for instance:

  • Tiramisu
  • raw batter
  • homemade mayonnaise, cake icings, or ice cream
  • eggs Benedict
  • hollandaise sauce
  • homemade egg nog

Products with pasteurized eggs are safe to consume. However, always read the label to make sure.

raw eggs pregnancy

Unpasteurized dairy products

Unpasteurized dairy products and raw milk commonly have harmful bacteria, which can cause food poisoning, leading to life-threatening consequences for an unborn baby. To prevent any risk of infections, eat only pasteurized dairy products.

Soft cheeses

Eating cheese while pregnant should be avoided as it may contain listeria. This type of bacteria may lead to severe illness and pregnancy loss. When you love eating cheese and cannot refuse it even during pregnancy, then choose pasteurized types.

Smoothy and some types of juice

Fruit juices are useful for expecting mothers, but give preference to pasteurized juices without added sugar. Raw juices, including the squeezed ones, may have bacteria, which may have a negative effect on health. As regards smoothies, they may contain unpasteurized juice, so it is better to ask about ingredients before drinking.

orange juice pregnancy


Soft drinks, tea, coffee, and cocoa are foods to avoid during pregnancy as they contain caffeine. High levels of caffeine intake increase the risk of stillbirth, pregnancy loss, small weight of a baby, and other health problems. Caffeine is absorbed very quickly and passes easily into the placenta. According to the research of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the intake of caffeine during pregnancy should be limited to 200 mg per day.

Word from Sonohealth

A healthy diet during pregnancy is essential for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. While it’s highly important to eat nutrient-dense foods, it’s equally important to be aware of foods to avoid during pregnancy. When you have any doubts, talk to your healthcare provider and ask him/her about pregnancy foods to avoid. The doctor will provide you with personalized guidance on your pregnancy diet. By making informed choices, you can nurture a healthy and thriving pregnancy.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy FAQs

1. Can you eat seafood while pregnant?

Yes, sure. While you need to exclude high-mercury fish, you may eat other types of seafood options that are safe and nutritious for pregnant women. These include salmon and anchovies, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and sardines, and trout, which provide essential nutrients.

2. How much coffee is safe during pregnancy?

Caffeine is on a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. However, when you cannot imagine your life without coffee or other soft drinks, limit the intake to 200 mg per day. It’s about 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Make sure to stick to this daily norm, and it won’t harm the baby’s and mother’s health.

3. Can you eat mozzarella when pregnant?

Yes, mozzarella and other types of hard and pasteurized semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, ricotta, goat’s cheese, and feta are safe for eating during pregnancy. Make sure to avoid or limit the intake of soft cheeses as they are cheeses to avoid during pregnancy.

4. What foods to avoid during pregnancy?

The list of foods to avoid during pregnancy includes refrigerated or uncooked seafood, soft cheeses, organ meat, raw sprouts ( alfalfa, soybean, mung bean, radish, broccoli), raw fish, raw meat, etc. Talk to a dietitian or your healthcare provider to get a personalized diet.

5. Can you eat eggs while pregnant?

Pregnant women may eat only completely cooked or pasteurized eggs. Raw eggs are foods to avoid during pregnancy as they may have Salmonella bacteria. Also, avoid or limit such products as homemade mayonnaise, tiramisu, batter, or mousse.

6. Why deli meat during pregnancy isn’t safe?

Expecting mothers should stop eating deli meat because it contains Listeria bacteria. Hot dogs and fermented or dry sausages are foods to avoid during pregnancy. When you planning to eat deli meat, we highly recommend cooking them until they are steaming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *