When you’re pregnant and craving all sorts of different foods, the last thing you want to hear is someone saying “don’t eat that, it’s not good for the baby!” While your baby will probably be fine if you do happen to ingest, say, an entire strawberry shortcake dessert originally meant to be shared by the whole family, some foods really can cause major problems. When it comes to these foods to avoid during pregnancy, it’s best to listen to the advice and find something else to satisfy your cravings.
Types of foods to avoid during pregnancy
- Raw food. Raw meat, raw fish, raw eggs, and unpasteurized milk are on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Save yourself some hassle and just assume that if it’s something that is considered a delicacy when eaten raw, it’s something to avoid. Obviously, raw vegetables and fruits don’t fall into this category, as long as you wash them first. Why should you avoid most raw foods? It’s all about the bacteria. Cooking kills most types of bacteria, including salmonella and toxoplasmosis. Do yourself-and your baby- a favor and skip the rare steaks for nine months.
- Deli meat. Sorry, but you’re going to have to put down that fresh Italian hoagie until after your baby is born. Deli meat can contain listeria, which can cross the placenta and poison your baby’s blood supply. If you really must have that sandwich, heat up the meat until you can see the steam coming off of it. Even then, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
- Imported soft cheese. No cheese and crackers for you, unless it’s the type of cheese you have to slice, or you know it was processed with pasteurized milk. If you can spread it with a knife and it comes from exotic regions, it carries the risk of transmitting listeria to your baby.
- Your morning coffee. There is much debate over whether caffeine should appear on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy completely, or whether moderation is okay. While most doctors will tell you that a cup of coffee a day isn’t going to cause harm, others feel that caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage. If you’re in a high-risk group, avoid it entirely. Otherwise, talk to your doctor to see if you can have that morning cup to get you going.
- Alcohol. This is a difficult one, because many cultures do feel it is okay to drink an occasional glass of wine while pregnant. However, alcohol can cause so much damage to your baby, from developmental issues to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s best to just avoid it entirely. There are so many other ways to celebrate good news than by raising a glass of wine in a toast.
- Mercury-laden fish. Eating fish filled with mercury can cause brain damage and developmental delays. Fish foods to avoid during pregnancy include swordfish, mackerel, shark, and certain types of tuna. The canned, chunked version of tuna has lower levels, but it’s still best to eat it sparingly. Also, it should go without saying, but avoid fish from heavily polluted regions.
- Dirt, clay, and other non-food items. While these aren’t exactly edible items, they still deserve a mention on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy because some women develop a strong craving for them. This is a condition called pica. If you find yourself craving a handful of dirt and dryer lint, call your doctor. It can indicate low levels of iron, zinc, or other vital nutrients.
When it comes to figuring out which foods to avoid during pregnancy, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Skip exotic foods that contain mystery meats or unknown ingredients. Take a break from the fancy imported cheeses, and stick with foods that you know are healthy. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the other stuff later.