Foods to Avoid while Pregnant
We help you make the right choices and show you what foods to avoid to nourish your body and protect your baby.
Being pregnant is a time of big changes, to your body, your life and now your diet! We outline some of the foods that you need to avoid so that you can make better decisions.
We are not banishing all fish from your plate, but care has to be taken when eating fish while pregnant. It can be difficult to figure out what fish are safe to eat because there are so many warnings. Use the below as a guide to choosing fish.
Mercury: Fish containing Mercury is very dangerous as it can lead to brain damage and developmental delays. These types of fish include king mackerel, swordfish, shark and tilefish. Tuna contains low levels so can be eaten in moderate amounts.
Smoked: Refrigerated, smoked or pickled seafood, like the types found in delis, may be infected with Listeria so can be dangerous. These items can be heated until steaming and then eaten.
Pollutants: Fish found in contaminated rivers and lakes are exposed to to polychlorinated biphenyls. They usually include salmon, striped bass, bluefish, walleye and trout.
Raw shellfish: Avoid undercooked shellfish like oysters, mussels and clams as they may cause illness. Cooking them may reduce risk of infection, but not algae related infections. To be safe also skip raw fish when ordering sushi, select an option where the fish is cooked.
Solution: Eat fresh water fish that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. You can also choose a healthier fish like light tuna or cod. Cook fish to a high heat or until opaque in the centre.
2. Raw Eggs:
Raw eggs, runny or undercooked eggs are a big no-no during pregnancy. This extends to homemade desserts and sauces that contain raw egg – such as Chocolate Mousse, custard or raw batter or cookie dough. Remember to avoid sauces that contain egg like Mayonnaise or certain salad dressings. Raw eggs may be tainted with salmonella Bacteria causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
Solution: The one and only way of having safe eggs is that – Eggs should be cooked until the yolks are firm. Go for a well done omelet. Buy salad dressings that are either egg-less or use pasteurised eggs. These kill the risk and you can enjoy a happy egg-tarian meal!
3. Meat & Poultry:
We don’t expect you to go vegetarian during your pregnancy, but you will need to take care when consuming meat. Raw or uncooked meat may contain listeria bacteria. Refrigerated meat must be reheated until steaming in order kill any bacteria. Due to toxoplasma gondii parasite present in raw meat & poultry expecting mothers can experience food poisoning. These can cause vomiting, miscarriages and foetal damage. Most liver products also contain dangerously high levels of Vitamin A, which has been linked to birth defects in babies.
Solution: If at all you need to consume meat, make sure it’s not uncooked or under-cooked.Wash meat and poultry items well before using, so as to remove the bacteria in them. Always prefer to eat meat or poultry at home rather than outside. Use of food thermometer while cooking is recommended.
4. Dairy Products:
Also be sure that the milk that you are drinking has been pasteurised, otherwise you run the risk of food poisoning. Soft cheeses made from unpasteurised milk (Brie, Feta, Camembert, Blue Cheese, Queso Fresco, etc) can pose a huge health risk. Listeriosis is a dangerous infection that can lead to miscarriage, severe illness and even stillbirth.
Solution: Always drink pasteurised fresh and boiled milk. Dairy products such as ice cream, ghee, paneer (cottage cheese), etc should be bought off labels which use pasteurised milk. You can also try non-dairy options like rice milk, oat milk and almond milk. Eat hard cheeses like Cheddar or Swiss, and be sure to check the labels.
5. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables:
You will be surprised to hear that many people do not wash their fruit and veggies before consuming them. During pregnancy this may lead to consuming harmful pesticides, parasites and the listeria virus. Take care when ordering a salad in a restaurant as you have no control over the hygiene levels. Enjoy your favourite salad at home.
Solution: Wash fruits and vegetables properly, peel them and then keep them separately in clean utensils. Try to avoid eating long-refrigerated fruits and veggies to stay healthy in these nine months. When eating sprouts be sure to shallow fry them to kill all bacteria and viruses. Cook your veggies appropriately, try not to have uncooked vegetables especially leafy ones.
Nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet, packed with vitamins and nutrients. Some nuts such as peanuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts can cause allergies or skin rashes on your body. These are also some of the pregnancy foods to avoid, as they may result in swelling of body parts.
Solution: Always consult with your doctor on what kind of nuts to include in your pregnancy diet. 7. Unpasteurised Juices: Fresh juices must be part of a healthy diet? Remember the above about unwashed fruits and veggies? Fresh juice can put you at risk of contracting E. coli and salmonella bacteria. Solution: Choose packaged juices as they are pasteurised and are kept under refrigeration. Also it’s better to have fruits and vegetables cut or cooked rather than in juices.
8. Caffeine-Related Products:
Caffeine should be limited during pregnancy, it acts as a diuretic and is linked to low birth weight. Caffeine can also cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. Often caffeine is hidden in products that you didn’t expect – like chocolate, energy drinks and cold/flu medicines.
Solution: Limit your caffeine intake to a maximum of 200 ml or 2 cups of coffee a day. Also check with your doctor and pharmacist to eliminate hidden forms of caffeine. Some doctors will say that caffeine in moderation is fine, while others advocate a ban. Get all the info that you need to make an informed decision.
9. Herbal Teas And Supplements:
Take care in the types of herbs that you are consuming as some herbs do more harm than good. Avoid herbs like Senna, wormwood, Saw palmetto, as they are not thoroughly tested like medicines.
Solution: If you are worried that you are not healthy enough for pregnancy, ask your doctor to prescribe a good health tonic or multivitamin. It’s better to have a hot cup of regular chai or tea until you deliver, rather than herbal tea.
10. Canned Foods:
Canned foods can be dangerous as they are stored for a longer period of time. The lining of the can may contain Bisphenol A (BPA) or other harmful bacteria due to their long shelf life. Be sure to wipe the can throughly before opening and always check the expiry date.
Solution: Opt for fresh vegetables, fruits and fish. Fresh is always better! Go for seasonal choices, to ensure maximum nutrients and minimum expense.
11. Artificial Sweeteners:
If you are wanting to cut down on your sugar intake by replacing them it with artificial sweeteners, take note. Artificial sweeteners, especially saccharin, are not filtered by the placenta.
Solution: Substitute normal sugar for artificial sweeteners, but do it in moderation.
12. Excess of Vitamins:
Too much of a good thing, hey? Always follow the recommended allowances or daily doses. Vitamins can disrupt normal foetal development and can trigger pre-term labour.
Solution: Don’t self-medicate! Follow your doctor’s orders. Doctor knows best, trust them and get all your doubts clarified.
13. Simple Carbohydrates:
“Carbs” are not exactly harmful for baby, but can lead to harmful constipation. This includes anything made from fine flour – bread, muffins, cakes, pizza, etc. Be sure to remember not to eat any raw dough because of the raw egg content.
Solution: Avoid these as much as you can and replace them with high fibre flour. Brown bread or whole grain carbs are best.
Liquorice or Mulethi, is a common, harmless spice used in many cuisines. However, its intake during pregnancy can cause uterine contractions. These contractions can lead to preterm labor.
Solution: It’s best to avoid liquorice in all its forms during pregnancy.
Being pregnant means that you are at a higher risk so leftovers should not be consumed. As these foods, even if stored properly in refrigerator, have chances of attracting bacteria. Unhealthy ways of food consumption must be avoided during your special phase of life. This will ensure good health for you and your baby.
Solution: Only eat fresh cooked foods. If required heat the leftovers in clean utensils.
Disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you include or avoid any of the foods mentioned above in your pregnancy diet, consult your Gynaecologist or health care provider. It is of paramount importance that you follow a proper diet and nutrition plan, but above all, also don’t spend the entire magical journey of pregnancy in fretting over little things. Trust your motherly instincts and enjoy your pregnancy! Hope our post helped you know what not to eat when pregnant.
Do share your thoughts if you know other foods to avoid during pregnancy in the comment section below: