You’re now pregnant — congratulations! But before you welcome the newest member of your family, you first have to ensure your pregnancy is safe and healthy, so that your child is also born in sound health. One way to do this is by observing a nutritious diet.
7 foods to avoid in pregnancy
Aside from including nourishing foods in your meals every day, make sure you are also aware of the foods to avoid during pregnancy and stay away from them while you are pregnant. Here are seven types of foods that experts advise pregnant women to exclude from their meals for those nine months.
Fish with mercury
It is well-known that one of the foods to be avoided by pregnant women is fish, mainly kinds with high levels of mercury content. Examples of these are swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Too much mercury can be dangerous to an unborn baby’s developing nervous system, says Mayo Clinic.
The good news is you can still eat fish during your pregnancy. Types of fish and shellfish that have low levels of mercury include tilapia, shrimp, light canned tuna, catfish, salmon, and sardines. Mayo Clinic reports that according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pregnant women may have eight to 12 ounces (two to three servings) of seafood a week.
Raw seafood and shellfish
Pregnancy means you’ll have to avoid raw seafood and shellfish, like sushi, sashimi, raw oysters, scallops, and clams. Mayo Clinic also discourages eating refrigerated and uncooked seafood like those that are labeled smoked or jerky, unless they are used as ingredients in a cooked dish like a casserole or come in canned or shelf-stable versions.
To know that your seafood has been cooked properly, watch out for these signs: Fish should look opaque and separate into flakes; shrimp, lobster, and scallops should be milky white; and clams, mussels, and oysters should be cooked until their shells open.
Undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs
Undercooked meat should also be avoided because they pose the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, salmonella, and toxoplasmosis, says the American Pregnancy Association. You may also want to avoid deli meats because of possible listeria contamination. Listeria can cross the placenta and infect the baby, causing infection or blood poisoning. It may also be life-threatening.
Mayo Clinic also says that raw eggs and foods made with raw eggs, like raw batter and Caesar salad dressing, should be avoided since they can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. You can, however, eat cooked eggs.
Vegetables are a vital part of any healthy, balanced, and nutritious pregnancy diet—but make sure you wash them well before eating them! The American Pregnancy Association says that by washing your veggies well, you reduce the risk of potentially exposing yourself to toxoplasmosis, which can contaminate the soil where the veggies are grown.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), toxoplasmosis infection can be passed on by moms to their babies and cause troubling conditions. “Most infected infants do not have symptoms at birth but can develop serious symptoms later in life, such as blindness or mental disability. Occasionally, infected newborns have serious eye or brain damage at birth.”
Are you a fan of cheeses and other dairy products? Among the foods to be avoided in pregnancy are soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, which can have listeria and other pathogens, according to What to Expect. Alternatives you can go for are hard cheeses like Swiss and cheddar. If you’re still craving soft cheeses, however, make sure to heat them first until they are bubbly.
There is no amount of alcohol that is considered okay to drink when you are pregnant, so if you regularly consume alcoholic beverages and find out that you are pregnant, it’s time to switch to other drinks. According to What to Expect, the same concentration of alcohol you ingested can enter your baby’s bloodstream.
Mayo Clinic also says that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage or stillbirth or result in fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that can cause facial deformities and intellectual disabilities in unborn babies.
Last on the list of foods to avoid in pregnancy is caffeine. It might be difficult for soon-to-be-moms to limit their caffeine intake, but this is highly recommended as research has proven that caffeine can increase the likeliness of miscarriage. Large amounts of caffeine have also been linked with premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, as a general rule, caffeine intake during pregnancy should be limited to less than 200mg per day. In place of caffeinated beverages, drink lots of water, juice, and milk.