Hey there! Are you pregnant and experiencing strange food cravings? Mama bear, you're not alone; most pregnant women experience these urges. In fact, this phase is so common that it now has a specific term, "pica", which is a health condition where the affected person compulsively eats inedible things.1 We understand that you may be hankering for some exotic fruits, snacks, and food, and that’s perfectly normal. However, there are certain foods that you should avoid during pregnancy as they may potentially impact your baby's health. So without further ado, let’s learn about the top food to avoid during pregnancy!
We know that you love sushi! But pregnant women must avoid having any raw seafood. This is because raw or uncooked seafood has a higher risk of being contaminated with bacteria and parasites compared to cooked fish.2
However, seafood contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are often recommended for pregnant women. Having said that, fish that are high in mercury can impact the development of the baby.3 Therefore, as a pregnant mom, you should avoid the ones that carry high mercury content. Examples include marlin, swordfish, shark, tankfish, orange roughy, king mackerel, and bigeye tuna.2,3
As a pregnant mother, you need to take care that everytime you eat seafood, it’s cooked thoroughly. Moreover, experts suggest to cook seafood to atleast a temperature of 63°C (if need to be, use cooking thermometer); this is done to eliminate any potential bacteria and ensure everything on your plate is safe.4
Unfortunately for non-vegetarian food lovers, pregnancy means avoiding processed meats such as sausages, cold-cut meats, and deli or packaged meat products. Furthermore when it comes to food to avoid during pregnancy, one should refrain from eating burgers, hot dogs, ham (all cured meats) and dishes made with ground chicken, liver or beef.5 The reason for this is to avoid the risk of consuming undercooked or improperly cooked meat that might be contaminated with certain bacteria such as Listeriosis or parasites like Toxoplasma gondii.5
Moreover, consuming raw or uncooked meat could potentially put you at risk of developing toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that could even lead to miscarriage.5 Despite these restrictions, one can still enjoy home-cooked non-vegetarian dishes by ensuring that the meat is thoroughly cooked.4
When we talk about the list of top food to avoid during pregnancy, our favorite unpasteurized dairy products are something we can’t miss out on. While dairy products are generally considered healthy, the "unpasteurized" aspect is a cause for concern. When dairy or milk is not cooked to a certain temperature for it to be bacteria-free, they can cause serious health risks.6 Examples of bacteria that can be found in unpasteurized milk include Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.6
Although most dairy products are now pasteurized, pregnant women should still avoid soft cheeses like brie, blue cheese, and feta as they are not usually pasteurized.7
Raw eggs are ranked number four on our list of food to avoid during pregnancy. Who doesn’t love a good sunny-side-up egg with toast, right? But these runny or raw eggs may contain the bacteria Salmonella.7
Pregnant women who are exposed to Salmonella may experience challenging symptoms such as fever and digestive problems, which are difficult to treat or manage during pregnancy. In extremely rare cases, it can also lead to intrauterine sepsis. Therefore, skipping them will do you good!7
Coffee lovers, sorry to disappoint but this is a big NO! We know how much joy a hot cuppa of coffee means to you, but being a preggo mom, you need to be conscious about your daily intake of caffeine. Better to restrict it to 200 mg per day!5
Wondering how to do that? Let’s make it slightly easier for you. The caffeine content of various beverages is listed below. So, whenever you have a coffee craving, just refer to this list and just simply plan your caffeine intake throughout the day.5
Finally, we would like to add highly salty snacks and dishes to our list of food to avoid during pregnancy. We know that pregnancy can make you crave salty snacks, but it’s advisable to consume them in moderation or not consume at all.
Preeclampsia is a medical condition that can cause complications for both the mother and the baby, such as preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, and placental abruption.9
If you already have hypertension (high blood pressure), it's strongly recommended that you reduce your salt intake and seek advice from a qualified dietician or doctor.7
We understand that pregnancy can bring on cravings for sweet, salty, and sugary food items, but it's important to be mindful of what and how you eat. While we have provided a comprehensive list of food to avoid during pregnancy, it's always best to consult your doctor for personalized advice. By taking care of your diet, you're not just eating well for yourself but also for the little bundle of joy growing inside you.
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Kindly consult your doctor or healthcare professional before incorporating any changes to your diet.