unhealthy food
Baby on Board (Expecting Mothers), Pregnancy

21 foods to avoid during pregnancy – What not to eat

Food is not just a food; it’s a medicine to all the diseases. Foods that we eat decide how healthy we are from internally. When a woman is pregnant, the first question that comes in mind is what food to avoid during this whole journey of pregnancy, so that our baby can get all the nutrients and grow healthy.

When you are pregnant for the first time, you get all sort of advice from your loved once about what should you do and what not. Some advices are realistic and some may feel like strange like you should eat for two now and yes I can also relate with them. Thankfully there are many dos then don’ts and there are many foods that you can eat except few of them.

For a healthy pregnancy, the mother’s diet needs to be balanced and nutritious – this involves the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and consuming a wide variety of plants like vegetables, and fruits. Pregnant women need to ensure that their diet provides enough nutrients and energy for the baby to develop and grow properly. They also need to make sure that her body is healthy enough to deal with the changes that are occurring.

When you’re pregnant, everything that goes into your mouth gets shared with your growing baby. Even though some types of foods and even some types of food poisoning may not hurt you, they may harm your little one.

21 foods to avoid during pregnancy

There are some foods you should not eat or avoid completely when you’re pregnant because they might make you ill or harm your baby. The best foods to eat are freshly cooked or freshly prepared food. Here is a list of foods that you should avoid during pregnancy in order to have a healthy development of baby.

1.    Raw or undercooked meat

Raw and uncooked meat can cause several infections. Theses can cause viral, bacterial or parasitic infections such as ToxoplasmaE. coliListeria, and Salmonella. Theses bacteria may threaten the health of your little one and can lead to stillbirth or severe neurological illness, blindness and epilepsy.

Cut meat, including meat patties, burgers, minced meat, pork, and poultry, should never be consumed raw or undercooked. Pregnant women should not consume processed meat products unless they’ve been reheated until steaming hot.

Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly so it is steaming hot and there is no trace of pink or blood. Take particular care with poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers. You can safely eat Cold cuts, deli meats, hot dogs, and other ready-to-eat meats.

2.    Caffeine

High levels of caffeine are harmful for everyone and when you are pregnant it can increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Caffeine is naturally found in lots of foods, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, and is added to some soft drinks and energy drinks. Some of the medicines also contain caffeine, so be sure about the medicines that you are taking during this time.

You don’t need to cut out caffeine completely but try to limit it. You should limit your intake to 200mg a day. Other drinks to avoid during pregnancy are soft drinks, diet soda, alcohol, and iced tea.

3.    Raw Eggs

A pregnant woman should not eat raw or uncooked eggs as they contain harmful bacteria salmonella bacteria which can cause food poisoning or salmonella infection. Symptoms of salmonella infections include fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. All these symptoms are unlikely to harm your baby, but your immune system will become weaker, which may impact the baby’s development.

You should also avoid the foods containing raw eggs like homemade dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice-creams and sauces etc. Try to avoid these foods and buy pasteurized eggs products. Make sure you always eat cooked or pasteurized eggs.

4.    Unwashed products

The surface of unwashed fruits and vegetables can contain several bacteria. Contamination can occur at any time during production, harvest, processing, storage, transportation, or retail. One dangerous parasite that may linger on fruits and vegetables is called Toxoplasma. Most infants who are infected with the Toxoplasma bacteria while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth. However, symptoms such as blindness or intellectual disabilities may develop later in life.

Washing all the fruits and vegetables before consuming is a good habit and make sure you proper take care of that during pregnancy and even after that also. you should always avoid unwashed food products during pregnancy.

5.    Raw sprouts

Raw sprouts are highly prone to listeria, salmonella, and E.coli bacteria, which can lead to premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infections in newborns. Do not eat raw sprouts; always cook your sprouts to reduce the risk of infections.

fried foods

6.    Alcohol

Alcohol should be completely avoided during pregnancy because it can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even a small amount of alcohol can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. Not even a small amount of alcohol has been proven to be safe during pregnancy so it is best to avoid it completely.

7.    High mercury, undercooked or Raw Fish

Mercury is a highly toxic element. In higher amounts, it can be toxic to your nervous system, immune system, and kidneys. It may also cause serious developmental problems in children, with adverse effects even in lower amounts. Therefore it is best to avoid high mercury fish while pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Raw or undercooked fish is also not a safe option to consume while pregnancy.  Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections. These can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, VibrioSalmonella, and Listeria. so you should avoid foods containing high mercury during pregnancy.

Some of these infections may only affect you, causing dehydration and weakness. Other infections may be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences. Listeria bacteria can be passed to your baby through the placenta, even if you’re not showing any signs of illness. This can lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems.

8.    Unpasteurized milk, cheese and fruit juices

Unpasteurized or Raw milk Cheese and fruit juices are prone to bacterial contamination. This infection can be life threatening for an unborn baby. Pasteurization is the most effective way to kill any harmful bacteria, without changing the nutritional value of the products. It is best to have pasteurized milk, cheese and fruit juice to reduce the risk of bacterial infections.

9.    Unripe papaya

Papaya that is unripe contains a latex substance that may cause contractions of the uterus. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid eating unripe papaya. While the unripe papaya are best to avoid during pregnancy, ripe papayas, on the other hand, are completely safe. In fact, ripe papayas (with fully yellow skin) contain many nutrients that are important for a healthy pregnancy, such as: foliate.

What are the healthy meals for pregnancy (Healthy Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner while pregnancy)

10.    Canned foods

Canned foods, including fruits, vegetables, and sodas are harmful during pregnancy. It is always best to eat fresh fruits and vegetables which are free from toxins and preservatives. Canned pasta, soup, and infant formulas contain high BPA levels. Also, canned tuna and tuna salads contain high mercury levels that are poisonous for the mother and the fetus. Always try to eat BPA free food and avoid canned food containing high BPA during pregnancy.

11.    High sugar

Craving is a part of pregnancy but you should always choose healthy options to eat rather than high sugary deserts or beverages. High sugar consumption during pregnancy can worsen discomfort like nausea, vomiting, constipation or heartburn and it can lead to increase in unnecessary weight which can cause problems like gestational diabetes.  So it is best to avoid these foods or you can have them occasionally in limit.

12.    Herbal Teas

foods to avoid during pregnancy

Herbal Teas are not harmful in general but there are some herbs which are not advisable to consume during pregnancy. Certain herbs such as ephedra, angelica, kava kava, yohimbe, black and blue cohosh, dong quai, borage oil, pennyroyal, and mugwort are uterine stimulants, which should be completely avoided during pregnancy. You should always check with your health care provider before taking any kind of herbs to reduce the risk of miscarriages.

It is best to have a regular cup of tea one or two times a day or you can have green tea also in moderation.

13.    Energy drinks

Energy drinks are not recommended during pregnancy as they may contain high levels of caffeine, and other ingredients not recommended for pregnant women.  Different energy drinks have different ingredients that you should be aware of and limit while pregnant.  Things to look for are amount of Sodium, Caffeine, Sugar, and Calories.

Too much sodium can cause swelling in your hands and feet and too much caffeine can be related to growth restriction. Too much sugar can make you feel bad when it drops suddenly after digestion and increase weight gain and too many calories or carbohydrates can lead to excessive weight gain in pregnancy.

14.    Licorice root

It’s best to avoid licorice in all its forms during pregnancy because one of its components is associated with several fatal development issues. It can also leads to higher blood pressure and preterm labor.

15.    Street foods

You may be craving for street food during this time but they are not safe because of poor food hygiene. They can cause stomach infections and food poisoning. It is best to eat homemade fresh food when you are craving for such things. It is best to avoid these street food as much as possible during pregnancy.

16.    Leftovers

It is always best to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and freshly cooked meal rather than leftovers. Leftover foods can contaminate bacteria which can be harmful for both mother and unborn baby.

17.    Peanuts and other allergic foods

Some women are allergic to peanuts or some other foods like wheat, soy, milk, and other nuts. It is best to avoid them during this time as food allergies can cause severe digestive issues which can be harmful for your baby too.

18.    Nitrate Rich Foods

Nitrate enhances the food’s color and improves shelf life. But on consumption, the nitrates turn to nitrosamines in the bodies, increasing the chances of cancer in mothers and abnormalities in the fetus. Nitrate-rich foods also contain sodium and saturated fats which can be bad during pregnancy.

19.    Excess of supplements

Your doctor may prescribe you some extra dose of supplements for vitamins and mineral but don’t overdose them without checking with your doctor. Excess or vitamins and mineral can also harm you and your unborn baby. Be careful about the recommended dosage and always check with your doctor before taking them. Don’t try to be your own doctor during this time and always take prescribed ones.

20.    Sushi

Generally is sushi is safe to eat during pregnancy but you should be careful about raw or undercooks fish or any high mercury contacting fish. When people say that pregnant women should not eat sushi in pregnancy, they usually refer to sushi that contains raw or high mercury containing fish. As long as fish is cooked properly, you can enjoy your sushi roll, there is no harm in this.

21.    Liver and other foods containing high Vitamin A

Avoid liver and liver products, such as liver pâté and liver sausage. Liver products have lots of vitamin A in them which can be harmful to an unborn baby. Therefore, it is not safe to take multivitamins containing vitamin A or fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil. It is fine to eat low levels of vitamin A found naturally in foods like carrots. But it is important to avoid any foods that have vitamin A added. 

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