Foods to Avoid and Limit During Pregnancy

Most people think that a pregnant woman should eat twice as much as she normally eats because she has a baby to feed inside her, while others think that pregnant women should eat only fruits and vegetables to fully nourished her body and the baby’s health.

We will discuss in this two-part article series about the foods that pregnant women should definitely avoid and the essential nutrition that they need to have in order for them and their babies to become healthy and strong.

Importance of Eating Smart and Healthy in Your Pregnancy

Do you know that what you eat shapes your baby’s health for life? Based on some studies, there is an increasing proportion of women in the UK that are obese or overweight while pregnant, which may result in adverse consequences for the immediate and longer-term health of the mother and child.

During pregnancy, the composition of a woman’s diet is of particular importance, as it may considerably influence the pregnancy, delivery, and the health of the mother and the infant later on. Then, after the quality of the diet, a balanced energy intake is of interest as an excessive of gestational weight gain (GWG) is not recommended.

On the other hand, women whose weight is below normal for their height or are underweight are at a greater risk for premature delivery and having a smaller-than-average baby. This explains that both of these extremes can lead to stunted growth and development of the baby in the womb. Babies who experience growth restriction in the womb have higher risks of developing chronic disease as adults.

So, an unhealthy weight is not just a threat to your pregnancy but it appears to be a significant factor that can influence your child’s health into adulthood. Therefore, re-evaluate your eating habits. Do you skip breakfast? Eat fast food for lunch? Binge eat on junk food for dinner? You need to strictly follow a well-balanced diet to meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy. Be knowledgeable about the foods that are good for you and try your best effort to incorporate them in your diet.

Foods to Stay Away From and Limit While You’re Pregnant

In this section, we provide you some useful information about foods that you must stay away from and limit in your diet while you are pregnant:

  • Avoid all raw, rare, and undercooked meat, poultry, and seafood. You can eat well-cooked fish and seafood which are low in mercury and rich in DHA and EPA omega-3s such as wild salmon, and trout.
  • Be aware of certain dangerous food-borne illnesses and take precautions to avoid them which include salmonella from eggs and many more.
  • Limit your consumption of certain large fish that could potentially contain high levels of methylmercury, such as swordfish and shark.
  • Avoid all alcohol which includes over-the-counter medications that have alcohol, such as cough and cold remedies. Alcohol in a mother’s bloodstream quickly crosses the placenta to her fetus. This can cause miscarriage, mental and physical deficiencies, learning disabilities, and numerous other behavioural problems.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar and calories without nutrients such as candy bars, sodas, and soft drinks.
  • Avoid foods that are rich in saturated fats. It’s best to choose unsaturated fats as they play a central role in skin health, cell formation, and fetal development.
  • Limit your intake of organ meat – no more than once a week as it may cause vitamin A toxicity.
  • Limit your caffeine intake to about 2-3 cups of coffee. High caffeine during pregnancy can limit fetal growth and cause low birth weight.
  • Avoid eating raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts that may be contaminated with bacteria.
  • Avoid unwashed produce. It is important to rinse all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk, cheese, or fruit juice as these foods can increase the risk of bacterial infections.
  • Avoid processed foods that can increase your risk of excess weight gain, gestational diabetes, and complications.
  • Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâté as they may contain listeria that can cause severe illness to the newborn.
  • Avoid undercooked ready meals as they may contain listeria as well.
  • Avoid cold cured meats such as salami, parma ham, chorizo, and pepperoni from delicatessen counters and sandwich bars or ready-to-eat meats as they may contain listeria or toxoplasma parasite.
  • Avoid drinking energy drinks as these contain high levels of caffeine and some ingredients inside of them are harmful to pregnant woman and the baby.
  • Avoid pre-packaged salads in the stores and markets, including those in salad bars as these have a higher risk of listeria contamination.
  • Avoid sushi and other raw Asian chilled seafood.
  • Avoid raw cookie dough batter or cake batter.
  • Avoid smoked seafood which are not safe unless they have been cooked well.


It is best to eat healthy during pregnancy and avoid foods that may potentially harm your baby’s development and health. Following the aforementioned tips and ways in smart eating will help you and your baby to stay healthy. In the next article, we will know more about the essential nutrition that pregnant women should have.

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