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10 Foods You Should Avoid Or Limit During Pregnancy

By Edited Sep 14, 2015 1 0

Stay healthy by eliminating dangerous food items

During pregnancy, it is advised that women eat a balanced diet and avoid restricting their calories or any one nutrient group. However, some foods are to be avoided completely during pregnancy, because they either pose a risk to the unborn baby or pose a risk of severe forms of food poisoning, and others are to be limited. Here is a list of what you should not eat when you are pregnant.


To be avoided:




All types of Paté, including vegetable patés, need to be avoided because of the risk of listeria. Although it is unlikely that you could contract it, listeria causes listeriosis, which can cause severe problems in the unborn baby, even including miscarriage or stillbirth. Listeria is a virus that multiplies in cold temperatures rather than warm, so processed meat products, such as hot dogs, left in the fridge, can contain this virus.


Undercooked eggs


Raw or undercooked eggs have a minute chance of containing harmful bacteria which could cause salmonella food poisoning. Products made using raw eggs, such as home-made mayonnaise or home-made ice cream should be avoided as well. Store bought products are fine to be eaten.


Salmonella can also be contracted from unpasteurised milk such as goat's milk, and certain raw vegetables such as sprouts, as well as undercooked meats.



Soft cheeses such as brie and camambert or blue veined cheeses such as stilton


These cheeses could also contain listeria and are best avoided to be safe. Pasteurised soft cheeses such as cheese triangles or ricotta are perfectly fine to be eaten during pregnancy.




The advice regarding whether or not peanuts are safe to eat during pregnancy changes frequently. The general advice is that if there is a history of food allergies in your family, avoid eating peanuts throughout your pregnancy. But if there is no history of allergies, peanuts are perfectly safe. In some countries, such as Spain, peanuts are regarded completely safe to eat during pregnancy without any warnings whatsoever.


Raw meat such as steak tartar


Raw or undercooked meat is to be avoided because of the risk of E coli bacteria.


Certain fish such as shark and marlin


These fish should be avoided due to the levels of mercury in them. Excessive amounts of mercury could lead to defects in your baby's central nervous system. For this reason, tuna fish should be limited to four cans a week, or two steaks a week.




Liver is to be avoided because it contains high levels of vitamin A (retinol) which is stored in the body, and can harm your unborn baby. You should not take any products containing vitamin A, including multi-vitamins or cod liver oil capsules. You can buy special multi-vitamins suitable for pregnancy and these contain no vitamin A. All liver products, such as liver sausage, should also be avoided.


 Raw seafood such as oysters 

Osyters and foods such as sushi should be avoided if they have not been frozen before eating, as they have a very short shelf-life, and freezing foods helps to kill of strains of bacteria. Shop-bought packages of ready prepared sushi is fine to eat, but in restaurants, there is less chance that they have been frozen first, and these should be avoided.




Alcohol is another controversial topic and advice on its use during pregnancy varies from country to country and is continuously being updated. Currently, the WHO states that alcohol should not be consumed at all by pregnant women, but generally the advice is that 1 or 2 units of alcohol, once or twice a week, is fine. In certain countries, such as France, red wine is drunk daily by pregnant women without any apparent ill-effects, so this is a matter that is left to the discretion of the pregnant mother and her healthcare professionals.




Caffeine is a stimulant drug and should be limited to 200mg per day, which is around 4 or 5 cups of tea or coffee per day, or 2 cans of coca cola or other caffeinated drinks. Remember that other products, such as chocolate, contain caffeine too.


 Some general advice on avoiding bacteria during pregnancy:


--- It is important to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking.


--- All raw foods must be cooked thoroughly prior to being eaten.


--- Leftover foods, particularly those containing meat, need to be re-heated thoroughly, to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


--- Consume foods before the use by date.



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