10 Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting periods for a woman. The joy of nurturing another life with in oneself, and the subsequent birth of the child brings abundant joy to the parents. However, this time can also be sensitive and overwhelming at times. The expectant mother has the responsibility of maintaining her health and also that of the unborn.

Whether you are pregnant at the moment or you plan to go the family way, you should make sure to avoid some of these harmful foods and beverages. Others can be taken in moderation.


Avoid alcohol completely, since there is no established safe levels recommended for pregnant women. Alcohol causes brain development disorders in the unborn child. It also increases the risk of miscarriage and still birth. Alcohol causes dryness of mouth. Dental cavities are higher in dry mouth. Alcohol is an absolute No-No.

Processed junk food

Highly processed and junk food contain high levels of salt, sugars and added fat. They are high in calories and low in nutritional value. The high calorie count makes you gain some unhealthy weight. The high sugars can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. It can also cause birth complications and a risk of having an overweight child.


Caffeine is a common ingredient in many foods including coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and cocoa. High caffeine intake during pregnancy restricts fetal growth and causes low birth weight in the child. Coffee and tea causes staining of teeth. The softdrinks weaken the enamel and make the teeth decay prone. You should limit caffeine intake to 200 gms per day.coffee. High caffeine intake during pregnancy can limit fetal growth and cause low birth weight.

High mercury fish

Mercury is highly toxic and affects the nervous system, immune system and kidneys. It causes serious development defects in children. As mercury is high in contaminated sea waters, large marine fish can accumulate high amounts of mercury. This includes shark, swordfish, tuna and mackerel.

Undercooked or raw fish

Raw fish can cause viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. Listeria infections are  common in pregnant women. Listeria can cause premature birth, still births, miscarriage and other health problems.

Undercooked, raw and processed meat

Eating uncooked or raw meat increases the risk of several bacterial and parasitic infections like Toxoplasma, E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella. These infections cause stillbirth or severe neurological illness including intellectual disability, blindness and epilepsy.

Unpasteurized Milk and Cheese

Raw milk and unpasteurized cheese can contain many harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter. Pasteurization is the most effective way to kill any harmful bacteria, without changing the nutritional value of the products. To minimize the risk of infections, pregnant women are advised to consume only pasteurized milk and cheese.

Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts are contaminated with Salmonella. The humid environment required for the beans to sprout is also ideal for the growth of these bacteria. You can however have cooked sprouts.

Organ Meat

Organ meat is a great source of several nutrients. These include iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper. High level of vitamin A and copper can cause liver toxicity. You can take plant based foods for the nutrient supply and limit the animal source to not more than  once a week.

Raw Eggs

Raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. Foods like cake icing, homemade icecream, salad dressings, poached eggs  contain raw eggs. You can take cooked eggs or pasteurised eggs.
Avoiding some foods is best. Taking some in moderation is good. You have to be mindful in the food preparation procedures as well
  • Wash the fruits, vegetables and salads thoroughly to remove all traces of soil.
  • Wash all surfaces, utensils and your hands well after preparing raw meat.
  • Store raw foods separately from processed food to prevent contamination.
  • Use separate chopping boards for raw meat.
  • Cook all meat and poultry well before eating.


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