Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Posted by | November 27, 2019 | Nutrition, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

Pregnancy can be a time of unusual cravings, but there are definitely several foods that women should avoid during these nine months. It is important to thoroughly discuss with your healthcare professional about your diet and nutritional needs during pregnancy, and be sure to also have a conversation about what not to eat when pregnant.

Deli Meat – As easy as it can be to grab a deli sandwich for lunch on your break at work, it is also that easy to contract listeria. This poisoning is caused by a bacterium that sometimes exists on deli meat (among other places). In healthy people who are not pregnant this can cause painful and uncomfortable side effects, but in pregnant women it can result in miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. Some physicians and dieticians recommend heating your meat until it steams in order to kill the listeria.

Undercooked Meats and Eggs – Just as with the deli meats, undercooked meats and eggs carry the potential of bacterial food poisoning which can be dangerous for your pregnancy. Always use a meat thermometer to make sure that the food is properly prepared, and don’t purchase raw poultry that has already been stuffed because there are increased opportunities for bacterial growth in the stuffing. Raw eggs can contain salmonella, another potentially very serious source of bacteria. Cook the eggs until both the whites and yolks are no longer runny.

Seafood – While not all seafood is potentially harmful to your baby, some fish and shellfish can contain high levels of mercury, posing a significant health risk to your baby’s nervous system. The general rule of thumb is that the older and larger the fish is, the higher the potential mercury level will be. If you’re concerned about what to avoid when pregnant, it is generally recommended that you stay away from:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Raw fish
  • shellfish

Unpasteurized Foods – Always check the labels on your milks, cheeses, and juices to be certain they have been pasteurized. Unpasteurized products can be other sources of foodborne illnesses that can harm your developing baby. Soft cheeses such as Brie, Feta, and Blue are not always pasteurized so it is important to read the processing labels thoroughly.

Raw Sprouts – The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advises strongly against eating raw sprouts of any kind while pregnant. The tiny sprout seeds are often home to bacterium and it is almost impossible to wash this away. If you decide to eat sprouts, make sure they are cooked thoroughly to kill the bacterium first.

Raw Cookie Dough and Dessert Batter – These are often made with raw eggs, which increase the likelihood that there will be bacterium of some kind present. You can still indulge every now and then in these desserts, but just make sure they have been baked first.

Unwashed Fruits and Veggies – Be sure to eliminate dangerous bacteria by thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables before eating them, and remove any bruised portions. Pay attention to the sources of your fresh produce and know whether or not pesticides and fertilizers are used.

The list seems long, but it’s not impossible to navigate. Always be sure to consult your physician with specific questions, but let this list be your guide to general foods to avoid during pregnancy.

[Feature Image Courtesy of artur84 /]
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”

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