With pregnancy comes cravings and understanding the foods to avoid during this crucial period plays an essential role in the health of your unborn baby. A balanced diet should always be a priority in every meal and although most foods are safe, you need to know the foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy.
Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
1. Raw Eggs
Raw or partially cooked eggs, while being perfectly healthy under normal circumstances, are not safe during pregnancy and you risk suffering from salmonella food poisoning. This could cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever among other infections. In extreme cases, raw eggs could cause premature birth or stillbirth. If you must have raw eggs, only go for pasteurized eggs since they are safe for consumption. Some of the common foods that contain raw eggs include homemade mayonnaise, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, and homemade ice cream. That said, if you’re pregnant, make sure you thoroughly cook your eggs.
2. Raw Meat, Deli Meat, and Poultry
Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or poultry as the risk of salmonella food poisoning is also high. Additionally, raw meat that is bloody contains parasites such as Toxoplasma, Listeria, and E. Colli. Consuming raw meat or processed meat could lead to miscarriage or severe neurological conditions for your unborn child such as epilepsy and mental retardation. To be safe, always have fresh and well-cooked meat or poultry while it’s still hot. Choose meat that’s whole or uncut like lamb, ribeye and sirloins. On the other hand, avoid hot dogs, burgers, minced meat, pork, and poultry or any other processed meat.
3. Raw or Undercooked Seafood
Seafood including clams, oysters, and fish from contaminated lake such as salmon and trout should be completely off-limits when you’re pregnant. There’s a high risk of ingesting bacteria, viruses or parasites such as Salmonella, Listeria, Vibrio, and norovirus. These infections may affect your unborn baby causing fatal side effects. Likewise, the consequences from these infections might leave you weak and dehydrated which could affect your baby. Listeria is especially risky since it can pass to your unborn baby through the placenta causing serious problems such as premature birth, miscarriage or stillbirth. There are also other fish such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish which contain mercury and should be avoided at all costs.
4. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
This may seem like a no-brainer but the consequences of consuming unwashed produce can be fatal. Toxoplasma is a harmful parasite that contaminates the soil and the likelihood of ingesting the parasite is high if you don’t thoroughly wash fruits and veggies. This parasite causes Toxoplasmosis which manifests itself with flu-like symptoms which could lead to intellectual disabilities or blindness later in your baby’s life. For the safety of your health, make sure you thoroughly clean any fruits or veggies in running water before consuming them.
5. Junk Food, Canned Foods, and Sugar Rich Foods
Cut down your junk food intake. They are filled with unhealthy fats and excess sugar that is linked to developing serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart conditions. On the other hand, canned foods (like canned soup and canned infant formula) contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic substance that could potentially cause fertility issues, cancer, heart diseases, and liver ailments. Canned seafood also contains high mercury that is poisonous to both you and your child. Your best option is to choose fresh, unprocessed food every time to avoid any complications.
Beverages to Avoid
6. Too Much Caffeine
Drinks containing caffeine like energy drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate should be taken in moderation. Studies show that excess caffeine is linked to premature births and withdrawal symptoms in infants. Similarly, avoid soft drinks, diet soda, as well as iced tea.
7. Alcoholic Drinks
You share the same bloodstream with your unborn child and when you take alcohol, it directly affects your child. This could cause heart defects, facial deformities, mental retardation among other fetal alcohol syndromes. Avoiding alcohol completely is the only option you have during pregnancy. No level of alcohol is safe while pregnant and for your child’s health, keep alcohol out of your bloodstream.
8. Unpasteurized Milk or Juice
Fresh milk and juice are normal breakfast meals for most people and even more crucial for pregnant women. But, milk and juice come in many forms, the most harmful being the unpasteurized ones. Drinking milk that’s not pasteurized exposes your unborn child to various bacteria and microbes that could cause irreversible effects. Only take Ultra-Heat Treated (UHT) milk and juice that has undergone the pasteurization process. In addition to that, only use pasteurized dairy products such as cheeses.
9. Herbal Tea
This might come as a surprise considering the health benefits tied to herbal tea. However, your unborn baby cannot tolerate some of these herbs including St. John’s wort, motherwort, wormwood and shepherd’s purse. These herbs can lead to a miscarriage. Taking green tea during pregnancy is still a controversial topic and if you must, only take it in moderation.
Food for Thought
A balanced diet, proper food hygiene, and healthy food alternatives are of extreme importance during pregnancy. Your baby’s development depends on what you eat and we hope this list helps you and your baby to stay as healthy as possible.