Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy
You’re pregnant – Yay. You’re morning sickness has finally subsided and your appetite is returning. But what can you eat? Don't worry Mama, we have done the google search for you, and summarised the main foods to avoid in pregnancy below.
This article is not medical or dietary advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your diet, please contact a healthcare professional.
Raw and Uncooked Products
Lion Code eggs are those with a red lion logo on their shell, they’re considered safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked (i.e. poached). If you’re eating out and aren’t able to check, best to avoid and treat yourself to something else instead!
If they’re not Lion Code eggs, make sure they’re are cooked thoroughly. This means cooking until the whites and yolks are solid to prevent the risk of salmonella.
Liver and pâté
Do not eat liver or products containing liver: liver pâté, liver sausage or haggis.
The NHS advises not to eat products high in vitamin A, as it can harm your baby.
Avoid any pâté, including the vegetarian kind, as it can contain the bacteria listeria, which can cause serious issues to pregnant women, new-borns and those with weakened immune systems*. Some vegetarian pâté contains raw eggs, which might carry a risk of salmonella.
Stay away from raw or undercooked meat because of the potential risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite.
Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly (well done), making sure it's steaming hot and has no trace of pink or blood. Be especially careful with poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers.
Cold or Cured meats
Unfortunately may of the deli favourites, like salami, prosciutto, chorizo and pepperoni are not cooked, they're just cured and fermented. This means there's a risk they contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites too.
Avoid eating game meat that has been shot with lead pellets while you're pregnant. It might contain high levels of lead.
Fish and Seafood
You should avoid any fish that is high in mercury, like shark, swordfish or marlin. Limit the amount of fresh tuna you eat to two steaks a week. These fish contain more mercury than other fish, which could affect your baby's nervous system.
As well as that, avoid having more than two portions of oily fish a week, which includes fresh tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring. These fish can contain pollutants.
On the whole, it is safter to avoid any types of shellfishes. If you do choose to eat them, always eat thoroughly cooked shellfish - not raw, that includes oysters, mussels, lobster, crab, prawns, scallops and clams. Shellfish can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning.
Again, like shellfish, it’s better to avoid. However, if you’re really wanting to eat sushi while pregnant, make sure it is not raw wild fish and that is has been frozen after capture. Wild fish can contain small parasitic worms that could make you ill but freezing (and cooking) kills the worms.
Unpasteurised milk and soft cheese
Do not consume any unpasteurised milk, including goats' or sheep's milk. Avoid eating foods made from unpasteurised milks (e.g. soft goats' cheese), mould-ripened soft cheese (e.g. brie or camembert) or soft blue-veined cheese (e.g. Roquefort or Danish blue).
Unpasteurised milk and cheese could contain listeria, which can cause a rare infection called listeriosis. That might lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or serious illness in newborn babies.
Things to limit or consume in small amounts
Coffee and Caffeine
High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can cause health problems in later life, even miscarriage. You don't need to cut out caffeine completely, but avoid having more than 200mg a day.
The approximate amount of caffeine found in food and drinks is a:
- mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- mug of tea: 75mg
- mug of green tea: 50mg
- can of cola: 40mg
- 250ml can of energy drink: 80mg
- 50g portion of dark chocolate: less than 25mg
- 50g portion of milk chocolate bar: less than 10mg.
Caffeine can also hinder the absorption of vitamins, so make sure to not have any caffeine alongside your prenatal vitamins or with your Vitimum - unless it is decaf.
Herbal and green teas
There's little information on their safety so aim for no more than four cups a day. Ask your GP or midwife about specific herbal products. Keep in mind, that tea is a diuretic, so may make you need to go to the toilet more often… something you may already suffer with during pregnancy!
The NHS suggests you can have moderate amounts of liquorice sweets and teas but should avoid liquorice root herbal remedies.
Finally some good news, unless you're allergic to them or a health professional advises you not to, Peanuts and other nuts are safe to eat in pregnancy.
Sources: NHS and NCT.