11 Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2022
Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are at risk of food poisoning, so they should make sure to cook their food completely before eating.

When a woman is pregnant, she has things that need to be taken care of. One of these includes what she eats. She should avoid many foods because they may not be safe for her to consume.

Pregnancy is one of the most awaited moments in a woman's life. Although she will have cravings for many foods, she should be mindful of her choices in the interest of herself and the baby.

Having proper knowledge of the healthy foods that can be eaten will keep her healthy. If in doubt, she should consult her healthcare provider to receive advice on the proper care she needs.

Simple steps of cleaning and cooking food before consumption are essential to maintain the appropriate health of both pregnant women.

11 foods and drinks pregnant women should avoid

Here are 11 foods that women need to avoid during pregnancy:

  1. Seafood with a high mercury content:
    • Seafood is one of the best sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Omega-3 fatty acid helps in the development of the baby’s brain. However, some fish contain high levels of mercury which is not suitable for the baby because it may harm their nervous system. Therefore, mothers should be careful about what fish they consume. In addition, they should avoid eating older and bigger fish because they may contain higher levels of mercury. Tuna and mackerel are some of the fish that need to be avoided.
    • Oysters, catfish, salmon, trout, and shrimp can be some of the fish that can be eaten by pregnant women because they contain lesser levels of mercury.
  2. Raw, undercooked, or contaminated seafood:
    • Raw fish such as sushi and oysters should be avoided. Moreover, women should avoid undercooked, refrigerated foods.
    • Fish bought from local fisheries should be eaten only when you are confident about the fish supply, such as whether it is coming from unpolluted waters. Fish should be cooked properly until its internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C). The fish will come out in flakes if cooked properly. Even shrimp and lobsters should be cooked until they turn milky white. 
    • Cook oysters and mussels until their shells open. Otherwise, they should be discarded.
  3. Undercooked meat and poultry:
    • Meat and poultry should be cooked properly before eating them.
    • Pregnant women are at risk of food poisoning, so they should make sure to cook the meat completely before eating. Canned meat can be consumed.
  4. Raw eggs:
    • Avoid foods with raw or partially cooked eggs such as eggnog or Caesar salad dressing, bearnaise sauce, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, and any homemade dressings and sauces made with raw eggs. Mousse, meringue, and tiramisu should not be eaten because raw eggs may be contaminated with harmful bacteria.
  5. Unpasteurized foods:
    • Many dairy products, such as skim milk and mozzarella cheese, are healthy. However, anything that contains unpasteurized milk, such as blue cheese, is not to be consumed because it can be a source of food-borne disease.
  6. Unwashed fruits and vegetables:
    • To eliminate bacteria, fruits, and vegetables should be thoroughly washed. Raw sprouts should be completely avoided. If you want to eat sprouts, then cook them properly. Additionally, unripe papaya should be avoided.
  7. Excess caffeine:
    • Although caffeine can cross the placenta, its effects on the baby are unclear.
    • Put a limit on your caffeine consumption, and do not exceed more than 200 mg a day. 
  8. Herbal tea:
    • Data on the effects of herbal tea on babies are limited. Hence, any herbal tea, although specifically made for pregnant women, should be avoided. 
  9. Alcohol:
    • Alcohol needs to be avoided while you are pregnant. There are many harmful effects of alcohol because it may cause stillbirth, miscarriages, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
    • With so many disadvantages to the consumption of alcohol, it is necessary to stay away from it.
    • If a pregnant woman had consumed any alcohol before she knew that she was pregnant, she should consult her healthcare provider regarding the same.
  10. Organ meat:
    • Organ meat is a great source of several nutrients, which include iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper, all of which are good for a pregnant woman.
    • However, eating too much animal-based vitamin A is not recommended during pregnancy. It may cause vitamin A toxicity and abnormally high copper levels, resulting in congenital disabilities and liver toxicity. Therefore, pregnant women should not eat organ meat more often than one time a week.
  11. Processed junk food:
    • Pregnant women need proper nutrition for themselves and their babies. In addition, nutrients such as folate, proteins, and iron are needed for the proper growth of the baby.
    • Pregnant women usually require just 350 to 500 extra calories daily, even during the second and third trimesters.
    • Just because they are carrying a baby does not mean they need to consume two times the calories. A proper diet should contain whole foods to fulfill the nutrient requirement of the mother and child.
    • To meet these requirements, pregnant women should not have processed junk food.
    • These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories, with sugars and added fats. Because the sugar content is high, there is a risk of heart disease or type II diabetes.
    • Excessive weight gain from junk food can increase the risk of gestational diabetes or birth complications. It can also increase the risk of an overweight child, which may cause long-term health issues.


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Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2022
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