Everyone talks about "eating healthy" now that you're pregnant, but eating healthy is as much about which foods to add to your daily diet as it is about which foods to avoid for the sake of both you and your baby's health. The reason behind this is that during pregnancy, your body's metabolism and circulation undergo some basic changes that leave you more susceptible than usual to food poisoning and food-borne illness, which in extreme cases can be life-threatening to your fetus. Below is a basic outline of some of the common foods that you should avoid, however it would be a good idea to consult with your doctor on which foods and ingredients might be best avoided based on your own medical history and profile.
Raw and Undercooked Foods
This includes raw and undercooked seafood, meat and poultry, which put you at risk of contracting coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.
Hot Dogs and Cold Cuts
Cook or reheat hot dogs and cold cuts like bologna until they are steaming hot, as they can be sources of rare but dangerous bacteria such as listeriosis, which can cause miscarriage.
Salmonella is often found in raw eggs and uncooked foods containing raw eggs, such as mayonnaise and Caesar dressings. Try to look for products that use pasteurized eggs instead, which reduce the risk of salmonella.
Try to avoid unpasteurized milk and foods that contain it, as it is another potential source of the bacteria called listeria. These include soft cheeses like feta, brie, camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses like Panela. Products using pasteurized milk however should be safe for you to consume.
Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are both good for you and highly recommended, but make sure you wash them properly before eating them if you're going to have them raw or in a salad, as unwashed fruits and veggies can carry toxoplasmosis. You should also avoid raw sprouts such as alfalfa, green bean, clover, and radish, which tend to contain disease-causing bacteria.
Large Portions of Liver
While liver is generally a safe food to eat, having too much of it could potentially lead to birth defects as it contains high levels of vitamin A.
Fish with High Levels of Mercury
Seafood and fish are generally recommended diet ingredients, but fish with high levels of mercury, like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish are to be avoided. Consuming mercury while pregnant has been linked to fetal brain damage and developmental delays.
Most specialists recommend avoiding or limiting caffeine while pregnant, as studies have shown that drinking too much caffeine can affect the fetus's heart rate, and may be associated with decreased birth weight, increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, stinted fetal development and withdrawal symptoms in infants.
Always consult your doctor about which types of herbal tea are safe for you to drink, as some types – particularly when ingested in large amounts – may cause contractions.
Alcohol is to be avoided at all costs, as no amount is safe during pregnancy. Not only can alcohol interfere with healthy fetal development, it may also lead to developmental disorders.