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Pregnancy Food Guide: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Confused about what you can and can’t eat during pregnancy? Figuring out what foods are safe, what foods to avoid in pregnancy, and what is the “forbidden fruit” (literally!) can be a nightmare for moms-to-be. If you watch the news, it seems like there’s another story every day about a common food that’s a no-no for pregnant women. Like earlier this summer (in 2010), diet drinks (or sugar-substitutes) were linked to causing pre-term labor and delivery. And just earlier this month (October 2010), we learned that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy was related to future childhood obesity. I’m not sure if you know but pesticides are everywhere! Unless you have the luxury of always buying 100 percent organic foods or you grow your own veggies, you’re not going to avoid them.

With all the “do this” and “don’t eat that” advice you’ll find on the web, you may be left feeling a bit clueless and scared to take a bite out of your favorite meal. But don’t stress. I’ve broken down the categories of foods to stay away from.

Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

Here are the top eight “Do Not Eat” – a.k.a. “Forbidden Foods During Pregnancy.” You will want to avoid eating the foods on the below Pregnancy Food Guide, or reduce your consumption of them. Remember that when it comes to your baby, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.

1. Caffeine– You’ve gotta give up that eye-opening java each morning. While a small cup a day won’t hurt you or your baby – in fact, it may actually give you a extra lift – high levels of caffeine have been linked to causing birth defects and miscarriage. Studies have shown that daily caffeine intake of more than 4 to 7 cups of coffee a day actually doubles your risk of miscarriage.  So to be on the safe side, you should probably avoid drinking any caffeine-containing drinks or foods.

2. Alcohol – This is a no brainer, but alcohol is a no-no during pregnancy. While new studies have given the OK to drink just a little bit of alcohol during pregnancy, you should probably still avoid it. Have you heard of fetal alcohol syndrome? Please don’t risk your baby’s health.

3. Raw Meat – Sorry, no sushi or beef carpaccio during pregnancy. Raw and undercooked meat can contain toxoplasmosis and Salmonella – both of these can harm your baby and cause miscarriage. Plus, you have double the risk of getting food poisoning during pregnancy, so unless you want to puke up and feel even more nauseous, I’d suggest only eating fully-cooked, fully-done meat.

4. Deli Meats – You might think that a sandwich or hot dog is harmless during pregnancy . . . but No. Deli meats can contain listeria – which can cause miscarriage or result in a stillborn delivery. That’s a dead baby. If you’re craving hot togs, or deli turkey, beef, and chicken, reheat them until they are steaming.

5. Imported Soft Cheeses – Just like with deli meat, unpasteurized cheeses (blue cheese, feta cheese, Brie, and Camembert) may also contain listeria. Only cheeses that are pasteurized are safe for you to eat during pregnancy. If you’re not sure whether or not your favorite cheese is pasteurized, avoid it.

6. Raw or undercooked eggs – Eggs that are not fully cooked can potentially contain Salmonella. You should avoid any raw eggs, even those in your favorite egg nog or Caesar salad dressing.

7. Fish – While eating fish can be healthy, you should avoid eating too much fish that contain high levels of mercury, because mercury can affect your unborn baby’s nervous system. These fish include sharp, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna and tile fish. In general, it’s OK to eat 12 ounces of other fish, such as salmon and tilapia. You should avoid canned tuna, since it may contain mercury.

8. Artificial Sweeteners – Put away that diet coke or diet soda during pregnancy. Studies have suggested that artificially sweetened drinks can increase your risk of preterm delivery.


I hope you found this Pregnancy Food Guide helpful. For more pregnancy eating tips:

Sushi in Pregnancy: Is it Safe?
Fish in Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not
Tips for Safe Eating During Pregnancy
Chocolate in Pregnancy is Safe

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • erika June 8, 2012, 9:02 pm

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