Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

By Maria T. Pepin

It’s important to eat well-balanced meals and take prenatal vitamins during your pregnancy so that your developing baby can get all the essential nutrients it needs to grow strong. You should consume about 300 additional calories a day during this time. Many women wonder which foods are safe and which foods could potentially be harmful to their baby. Here is a helpful list of some common foods to avoid while pregnant:

Raw Meat: Uncooked seafood (say goodbye to sushi) or undercooked beef and chicken should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with bacteria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella.

Deli Meat: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with harmful bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. If you are craving a turkey sandwich, turkey off the bird is perfectly safe or you can thoroughly reheat deli meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Fish with Mercury: Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Steer clear from shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury. Canned, chunk light tuna has a low amount of mercury, but still should only be eaten in moderation.

Soft Cheeses: Avoid soft cheeses such as blue cheese, feta, brie, camembert and Mexican-style cheese. These cheeses are usually unpasteurized and may harbor Listeria as well. Hard cheese, processed cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt are ok to eat.

Raw Eggs: Raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream and Hollandaise sauces may be made with raw eggs, so take caution.

Alcohol: You should stop consuming alcohol as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Prenatal exposure to alcohol has been linked to premature delivery, mental retardation, birth defects and low birth weight babies.

Caffeine: Caffeine intake in moderation is ok, but you should avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the chance of a miscarriage. Caffeine should be limited to fewer than 300 mg per day during pregnancy. Make sure to drink plenty of water, juice and milk instead.