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Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

Baby Bump: I'm Pregnant – What Can I Eat?

One of my first cravings as a mama–to–be was brie cheese. Little did I know it was on the list of foods to avoid when you're expecting. I didn't find that out until I was two months pregnant at my first prenatal appointment.

That's when I got the list of foods and beverages to avoid for the remainder of my pregnancy. I knew alcohol and caffeinated sodas were off the menu but wished someone had told me earlier to be wary of unpasteurized cheeses and deli meats. I panicked that my unborn babe might contract listeria from a sandwich I had eaten. Luckily, she was fine. To check out the foods to avoid,


WebMD has a great article on steering clear of certain foods while expecting. Here's the list:

  • Certain types of fish: Swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, limit canned albacore tuna fish. These large fish harbor higher levels of methylymercury, a metal detrimental to a growing child's brain and nervous system. Pregnant and nursing women may safely eat up to 6 ounces of albacore ("white') tuna fish as part of their weekly total limit of 12 ounces of seafood low in mercury, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This also includes salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, and catfish.
  • Fish caught in rivers, lakes, streams, or any other body of water. Recreational anglers may hook fish contaminated with bacteria or chemicals. Check the safety of fish from your favorite fishing grounds with your local health department.
  • Raw or undercooked meats: Red meat, poultry, seafood (like raw oysters, clams, sushi), and eggs (including eggs in cookie dough and cake batter). Undercooked animal foods may contain a variety of bacteria and viruses. Use a meat thermometer to determine how well done the meat and poultry are, and cook eggs until they are no longer runny.
  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats: This includes deli ham, turkey, bologna, and salami. They are fine to eat if they have been reheated until steaming hot. These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems.
  • Unpasteurized dairy foods: These can include some milk and certain cheeses, such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, "queso blanco," "queso fresco," and Panela; refrigerated pates or meat spreads; and refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel (most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky"). These foods may contain harmful levels of listeria bacteria. Refrigerated smoked seafood is safe when it's part of a cooked dish, like casseroles.
    [Lil note: Many cheeses in the US are pasteurized though, in which case they are fine. But if you are traveling abroad, you might want to play it safe and avoid it all together.]
  • Unpasteurized juices: Juices such as cider purchased from roadside stands, at farms, or in stores can be prone to germs, including E. coli. Check the label to be sure juice is pasteurized.
  • Raw vegetable sprouts: The FDA says sprouts are not a good idea for anyone, especially pregnant women who are more susceptible to the health effects of the germs sprouts possess. Examples of raw vegetable sprouts are alfalfa sprouts, clover, radish, and mung bean.
  • Herbal supplements and teas: Herbs are natural, but herbal products have not been studied enough to recommend them during pregnancy.
  • Alcohol: Beer, wine, and spirits rob developing cells of oxygen, making normal development impossible. The effects of alcohol on intellectual prowess are irreparable. According to the March of Dimes, there is no known safe level for alcohol consumption in pregnancy.
  • Tap water in undeveloped countries: Drink bottled water to avoid bacteria and viruses.
  • Certain foods that cause food allergy. Depending on your family history, your child may be at risk for developing food allergies. Avoiding foods including peanuts and peanut products during pregnancy (and nursing) may reduce allergy risk in susceptible children. Before you make any changes to your diet, speak with a licensed health care professional about your child's risk for allergy and consult with a registered dietitian knowledgeable about food allergy.


KartofflMuter KartofflMuter 5 years
I never saw any list like this when I was pregnant. Why not? I had my first child 34 years ago and the first thing we did was toast with champagne. No one said anything about alcohol or coffee back then. Luckily,when I was pregnant,even the smell of coffee or tea with milk made me vomit. I always knew I was pregnant early. I got pregnant in the morning with my second child and threw up in the afternoon-and for nine months thereafter. Maybe being short on funds was a good thing. We couldn't afford lunch meat or fancy cheese. I could only stand peanut butter and jelly for breakfast and chinese food. But I did eat a few hot dogs and salami. I'm German. I have heard,repeatedly that papaya was very dangerous to eat when pregnant and caused miscarriage. However,if I'd known runny eggs or medium rae burgers were dangerous,I would have avoided them. Who knew? Not me. I ate a lot of vegetable curries and chicken curry but listeria was never mentioned as a danger so I'm grateful we had no money.
sheabyshea sheabyshea 5 years
Those of you that think this list is "too restrictive" or "paranoid" wouldn't feel that way if you had to bury your newborn. Believe me, I know....On June 23, 2007 I gave birth to a beautiful, perfect little girl we named Olivia. Olivia died 30 minutes after she came into the world. The doctors had no idea why, this perfect baby wouldn't/couldn't breathe until we got the autopsy report back and discovered that Olivia and I were infected with illness I had never even heard of before that day. Could I go back in time, I would so be a food nazi about what I ate and maybe I would have my precious little girl here with me today. You can never bee too careful. If something unexpected happens you are left with only "should'ves, would'ves, could'ves. Picking out a tiny casket for your newborn baby is something *NO ONE* should ever have to go through.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 7 years
I definitely believe in the whole moderation thing, this is my first pregnancy and couldn't imagine if I had to completely give up everything I ate before. It's not a big deal to heat deli meat until hot since I normally like my sandwiches warm with melted cheese anyways but since I've been preggo I have not wanted deli meat at all. As for the caffeine thing, I still drink green tea and I'll have iced tea if we go out to eat, I'll just make sure not to overdo it. I think it's smart to be well informed so everyone can make their own decisions on what they are putting in their bodies.
CurleyQ CurleyQ 7 years
I initially asked the question because I was having a craving. A Turkey Subway sandwich was on my mind and I wanted to make sure that what my doctor told me was to be warry of all deli meats. I called my sister who has FIVE kids and she never heard of staying away from deli meats. Just to be on the safe side I had the Subway helper microwave the turkey for 20 seconds. This is my first pregnancy and I wanted to make sure I didnt harm my baby in any way.
amandachalynn amandachalynn 7 years
I avoid sushi and rare meat. I also cut down on my caffeine(not eliminated) and alcohol. That's about it. My first was a very healthy baby, and is still a healthy kid, and I plan on doing the same for this next one.
Aphrosette Aphrosette 8 years
So this list is crazy and looks way too overwhelming....(I didn't even read the whole thing!!) When I had my first doctor's appointment he was very specific in saying that EVERYTHING, yes EVERYTHING is ok in moderation, even caffeine and the occasional drink. The only thing to stay away from was ocean going fish which I didn't eat anyways. Personally, I think if you tried to follow this you'd stress out so much about what you are or are not allowed to eat, that the stress would be worse on the baby then the actual food!!
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
BTW, Greggie and babysugar, I saw my OB for the first time at 6 weeks, and every 3 weeks since then. When you're an old lady like me (just turned 35) they keep a very close eye on you during the first trimester. It gets annoying.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
Everything in moderation. Including moderation.
Sara-Rose Sara-Rose 8 years
I'm on my second pregnancy. I was allowed a glass of wine a week with my first pregnancy, a cup of coffee everyday, and sushi in moderation by my doctor. Eva turned out fine. I still have a glass of wine a week, coffee everyday and sushi maybe weekly as I don't get any fish high in mercury levels and the place I eat is award winning. Babies are more durable than you'd think. I also ate a lot of "stinky cheese" last time and this time too when my tummy isn't upset. Follow your cravings in moderation and with sensibility- even that craving for fries and ice cream is telling you something! it is amazing that our grandmothers smoked and drank and popped pills with no abandon and our parents ended up fine.
rdlittle rdlittle 8 years
I've had two different doctors for my 2 pregnancies and when asked if I should restrict myself on anything they both said only raw fish and meats. I was even told that my body needs caffeine, just not to overdo it. Everything in moderation...regardless of being pregnant or not. It just bothers me that apparently you can't do or eat anything while not true.
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
My mother actually miscarried due to listeria a year or two before she conceived me, so shes fairly firm on heating up deli meats. it wasnt an issue for me becuase i basically craved every vegetable on the planet, perferrably stir fried and covered in a light sweet sauce. id eat entire bags of vegetables that way every day.
asleelee asleelee 9 years
I'm 4 1/2 going on 5 months pregnant and I would have never thought that everything that I ate before becoming pregnant would do so much harm. I has amazed me. I was a huge sushi lover and it did hurt to stop. But I welcomed changing all of my eating habits becuse I know that it is for a great cause. My doctor gave the basic restrictions: no types of meat should be eaten raw and go very eay with hot dogs and lunch meat. But I must admit there are times when I just crave it. I believe that a woman is supposed to enjoy pregnancy and try to make it as stress-free as possible. Everything in moderation and use the resources available to you. This is your pregnancy and your baby, be good to the both of you.
babysugar babysugar 9 years
I am with you on the seeing the doctor as soon as possible Greggie. It's amazing that they want to see you every week at the end but hardly at all when things are in the precautionary stages. But I still like mine and am sticking with her.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
It can be both informative and restrictive. The problem isn't so much the diet, it's the general practice of OB/GYNs not seeing patients until they're in their second trimester, or close to it. They need that info ASAP, and not just on foods. How to handle morning sickness, what's ok to take during that time, etc. By the time most OBs see the patient for the first consultation, the patient's on their way out of the morning sickness phase. It's one reason I'm very picky about OBs. I want one who'll see me the same week I get a positive pregnancy test.
hottdana hottdana 9 years
I think that this is an okay guideline but a little too restrictive. When you look at this list you have to wonder how are parents and grandparents survived! According to this list it's amazing that we are still here! Common sense is your best guideline! I am pregnant with my second child and this time I am much more relaxed and have more faith that babies are much stronger than they we give them credit for.
babysugar babysugar 9 years
I just wanted to provide newly pregnant women with more information than less. Yes, of course you should use your own judgement but I wished someone had given me a list like this BEFORE my first prenatal visit. I would have been beyond devastated if something had happened to my developing baby and it was because I ate something that caused her harm. So this list is just to be informative - not restrictive. And it's from WebMD – a valid source in my opinion.
rgrl rgrl 9 years
There is nothing wrong with eating cheese, including Brie and Feta when you're pregnant as long as it's pasteurized. Most cheeses at the market (if not all) are pasteurized because of the US laws. Si I realized I really don't need to take that list so seriously, just be cautious. During my first pregnancy I was so worried and the restrictions are over the top. It's almost like they make a list for dummies and treat all pregnant women as if we have no common sense.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Shanlee Aspartame is a man-made chemical. Why on earth would someone ingest that with a fetus? One diet coke isn't going to give your unborn child brain tumors, but it is a very dangerous chemical linked to serious problems. If you google what a massive failure the FDA is, there's some really fun stuff there. And the American Dietetic Association is obviously doing a fabulous job, with all the obesity in this country. There's a "cure" for obesity.... it's called unprocessed foods and no dangerous chemicals and additives. I don't need an Association to tell me that!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
The list is informative, but entirely overly paranoid, in my experience. Moderation is key. And things like sushi, go reputable. Don't buy it out of a vending machine (although if you're doing that to begin with... ewwww). Lunch meats, just heat if you think they're at risk. The allergic foods contradicts the lilsugar post from a few weeks ago where the updated information claimed that avoiding allergic foods don't seem to make a difference. Personally, I still avoid them. But it still contradicts the most updated info. And I'm surprised that with this much overdone info, it doesn't include soft serve ice cream and yogurt on the "listeria" list.
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