What food should you not eat when pregnant?

When you are pregnant, it is crucial to be mindful of the food you consume. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is vital for the proper growth and development of your baby. However, certain foods can pose potential risks and should be avoided during pregnancy to ensure the health and well-being of both you and your little one. In this article, we will delve into the types of foods you should steer clear of during pregnancy.

1. Raw or Undercooked Meat and Eggs

Raw or undercooked meat and eggs can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which can lead to serious infections. Therefore, it is essential to avoid consuming raw or undercooked poultry, beef, pork, or eggs. Make sure that all meat and egg products are thoroughly cooked to kill off any potential pathogens.

Tip: Invest in a food thermometer to ensure that meat reaches the appropriate internal temperature.

2. Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Unpasteurized dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, can carry the Listeria bacteria. This bacterium can cause a severe infection called listeriosis, which can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other complications. Always opt for pasteurized dairy products to eliminate any potential risk.

Tip: Check product labels to ensure it is made from pasteurized milk.

3. Seafood High in Mercury

While seafood is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients, some types are high in mercury. High levels of mercury can impair the development of your baby’s nervous system. Fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish should be avoided during pregnancy. However, low-mercury options such as salmon, shrimp, catfish, and trout can still be safely enjoyed in moderation.

Tip: Stick to two to three servings of low-mercury seafood per week.

4. Raw Seafood and Shellfish

Sushi, sashimi, and other raw seafood can contain parasites and bacteria that may cause food poisoning. It is best to avoid these types of raw seafood during pregnancy. Additionally, shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels, can contain harmful bacteria and viruses. It is crucial to cook shellfish thoroughly before consuming.

Tip: Choose cooked sushi options, such as tempura, during pregnancy.

5. Caffeine

Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of low birth weight and miscarriage. It is recommended to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day. This includes coffee, tea, certain soft drinks, and even chocolate.

Tip: Opt for decaffeinated versions of your favorite beverages whenever possible.

6. Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts, can carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses that can be particularly harmful during pregnancy. Cooked sprouts, however, are safe to consume.

Tip: Opt for cooked sprouts as a healthier alternative.

7. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are undoubtedly essential for a healthy pregnancy diet. However, unwashed produce can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption to get rid of pesticides, dirt, and potential pathogens.

Tip: Use a scrub brush to clean firmer produce thoroughly.

8. Alcohol

No amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of physical and cognitive disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). It is strongly advised to completely avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy.

Tip: Try non-alcoholic alternatives or mocktails instead.


During pregnancy, it is of utmost importance to be aware of the foods you should avoid to safeguard the health of both you and your baby. By steering clear of raw or undercooked meat and eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, high-mercury seafood, raw seafood and shellfish, excessive caffeine, raw sprouts, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and alcohol, you are taking essential steps towards a healthy pregnancy. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and specific dietary recommendations throughout your pregnancy journey.

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