Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

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Variety is the key to maintaining a healthy diet while pregnant. You are more likely to incorporate most of the key nutrients you need to have a healthy pregnancy. I am not too much keen on dieting during pregnancy. In fact, I tried to go gluten-free during my first pregnancy and I failed miserably.

In my second pregnancy, however, I ate a variety of foods in proportions, so that I could ensure my child was getting all the right nutrients he may need and I didn’t have to worry about what I eat or if I ate enough to provide the nutrients that he needed.

Even though I stress the variety part of healthy eating during pregnancy (check out my blog post on What To Eat In The 1st Trimester Of Pregnancy), I also have to let you be aware of the not-so-happy part. The foods that you may need to stay away from during pregnancy.

It’s a bummer I completely understand. When I found out I was pregnant, I went out to celebrate at a Sushi restaurant, which was at the time my husband’s and I favorite food of choice when it came to eating out.

Boy oh boy, here I was ordering everything I could think of because, for some strange reason, I was just hungry (Yes I did not know then what I knew now about hunger being so normal in pregnancy, especially the first trimester).

So we decide to announce to our lovely waiter that I was pregnant, as I was so excited at the time (first-time momma!). She however pulled the rug from underneath my feet when she said, “I don’t think you should be eating all this Sushi when you’re pregnant!”. What! I wanted to cry.

You are therefore not alone in your struggles. I will give you the details of what to avoid to make it easier for you. Hey, it’s only 9 months! We will get through this together.

Have you also found any ideas that you could share? Please feel free to add to my list, or ask your questions or concerns below. I would be happy to help you!

“Stay away from raw, under-cooked or contaminated foods especially in the seafood category.”

1. Seafood high in mercury and pregnancy

Seafood high in mercury can damage a baby’s developing nervous system. The FDA and EPA recommend only 12 ounces of seafood a week. Even though fish is considered to be a healthy source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients, there are certain kinds of fish that are not recommended at all because of the presence of mercury, and is therefore, one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. These include:



King mackerel


Albacore (canned)

Foods that are ok and are lower in mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Caution: Be sure to check local advisories about any pollution warnings if, in fact, you do eat fish caught locally. Go to the FDA website for more information about fish advisories and the EPA for advisories in your area.

2. raw and undercooked or contaminated seafood and Pregnancy

It is recommended to avoid any form of raw fish or shellfish while pregnant and is therefore one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. These include:



Refrigerated smoked seafood such as lox.

Caution: Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F.

3. Undercooked meat, poultry, eggs and pregnancy

Undercooked foods can expose you to food poisoning, therefore it is crucial that you cook all meat and poultry before eating them. Yes, I know that for some of us, we “like our steak and we like to eat it too…” but when you’re pregnant just make sure that the temperature reaches at least 145 F. These include:

Meats: beef, pork, steak

Poultry: Chicken


Caution: For raw eggs, ensure that it is cooked thoroughly (firm) to avoid salmonella bacteria that is often found in eggs.

4. processed meats and pregnancy

Processed meats can become contaminated during production, especially in highly processed food groups. It is therefore important to fully cook these foods to ensure safety and prevent any foodborne illness.

Listeria is a bacteria that grows in a cold environment but not in heat. Hence, make sure to cook these foods properly to ensure safety for you and your growing baby. This is therefore why it’s one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy.



Hot Dog (most important)

Caution: Also be aware that many of these foods are shelf-stable and do not need a lot of refrigeration as a result of containing a lot of sodium. Sodium can lead to excessive swelling during pregnancy.

5. Unpasteurized foods and pregnancy

Unpasteurized foods are a NO-NO when it comes to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Unpasteurized milk, for example, can lead to food-borne illness. It is recommended that pregnant women stay away from certain cheeses such as Brie, feta, Camembert, and blue cheese and is therefore one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Milk (unpasteurized)

Cheese (unpasteurized)

Caution: Check to see if the dairy products are labeled as being made with pasteurized milk.

6. Unwashed produce and pregnancy

Produce purchased from any store especially, from gardens or farmers’ markets or orchards should be washed thoroughly before consumption because of the risk of harmful pesticides being present and is therefore, one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Fruits (unwashed)

Vegetables (vegetables)

Caution: Most of these fruits and vegetables have not been thoroughly cleaned and therefore can have harmful pesticides.

7. large quantities of liver and pregnancy

A small amount of liver is OK to consume during pregnancy, however, large amounts have been shown to increase vitamin A toxicity, which can cause birth defects, and is therefore one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Liver (large quantity)

Caution: Do not overdo it.

Be aware and Cautious of what you eat while pregnant

Being aware, and at the same time being extra cautious of what you consume during pregnancy is important, for your health and also your baby’s health. When going shopping always make a habit to check product labels for more information on what you are consuming.

It doesn’t mean that you are going to starve in the process. You can still enjoy a variety of meals regardless. So relax and enjoy the process. You will be OK!

Now that you have a general idea of the nutrients needed in the first trimester, the fun part begins with planning your meals to ensure that you maximize the nutrients you need for your growing baby.

Remember to consult with your health care provider at all times when starting any new regimens.

I have available on my website different planners that you can use to help plan for meals, along with budgeting for the cost as well.

For meal preparation, you can get my Mommy Inspired Meal Planner, to start planning out your daily or monthly meals as you see fit.

Another great idea is to also get Post-It Notes, in different colors so that you can personalize them to specific activities, for instance, blue for work/business related, red for grocery/shopping, etc. Have a few stacks around as well so that you can have reminders readily available to get your day going.

Overall, having balanced nutrition is key to ensuring a good start in your pregnancy journey. DO enjoy the time it takes to plan the meals and DO NOT get overwhelmed in the process.

Remember that the key is VARIETY. The more variety you eat, the greater the chance of meeting all your nutritional needs for your growing baby.

Source: MAYO CLINIC (Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy)

Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.

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I am Donae! A wife and a mom of 2 kids, ALL boys! I would love to share with you my experience with motherhood. Let my life Inspire, Encourage and Motivate you on your journey through motherhood.

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