Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

April 18, 2019

If you’re currently pregnant, you’re likely spending a good amount of time doing online research about what you can do to make these nine months go by as smoothly as possible. And as a new mom, you’re probably also wondering which nutrients will best nourish your developing baby.

What you eat will have a significant influence on your unborn baby’s health. Therefore, it’s crucial to be well-informed on which foods to avoid while you’re expecting.

10 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

1. Raw or Undercooked Meat

While pregnant, raw or undercooked meat can make you feel sick, causing potential harm to the unborn baby. Raw, pink, or bloody meat can contain salmonella, as well as the toxoplasma gondii parasite. This parasite can turn into toxoplasmosis, which in turn causes flu-like symptoms.

While this condition is a pretty mild illness for the expecting mother, it can seriously harm an unborn child, and in extreme cases, lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. A woman’s immune system changes while pregnant in order to protect the developing baby, which makes expectant mothers more susceptible to food poisoning.

2. Deli Meat

Deli meats can carry listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria can enter the placenta, therefore infecting the baby. While adults are able to fend off listeria, unborn children can suffer a life-threatening infection or blood poisoning. Pregnant women should reheat deli meats until steaming prior to eating.

3. Fish With Mercury

Pregnant women should not consume fish with high levels of mercury. These include shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. Doing so may result in brain damage and developmental delays in the baby. While fish such as light-chunk canned tuna typically contains lower levels of mercury than other types of tuna, if you choose to eat it, do so in moderation.

4. Raw Seafood

If you love sushi or oysters, now’s the time to take a break. This is due to the possibility of harmful bacteria.

5. Raw Eggs

There is a potential for exposure to salmonella in raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs, such as homemade cookie dough, Caesar dressing, ice cream, hollandaise sauce, and mayonnaise. However, commercially made ice cream and salad dressings are made with pasteurized eggs, and are therefore safe to eat.

6. Raw Brussel Sprouts

If bacteria gets into the seeds before they sprout, there is no way to remove it other than to fully cook the sprouts. If you like the crunch in sandwiches, opt for organic, washed raw cucumber or shredded carrots instead.

7. Soft Cheese

While they are delicious, they also can contain listeria, which is a foodborne bacteria that can cause infections. Though it rarely causes harm in adults, it can be fatal to unborn babies. These include Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and queso served at Mexican and fondue restaurants. Also avoid salad dressings that have soft cheese as an ingredient, including those with feta or blue cheese.

8. Paté

It may make you feel fancy, but it may also contain listeria.

9. Unwashed Produce

Toxoplasma can also live in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, it’s imperative to wash them well before eating. Don’t just rinse them. You can scrub the surface with a vegetable brush, or purchase veggie wash from most any health food or grocery store. Never use soap for this purpose.

10. Unpasteurized Fruit Juices

Unless you made it yourself, you don’t know how well the fruit was washed before making the juice. If it’s not pasteurized, it could lead to food poisoning due to listeria or toxoplasmosis.

What About Eating at Buffet-Style Restaurants?

In addition to the foods mentioned above, if you love buffets or potlucks, it’s best to wait until after you deliver your baby to indulge. This is because when there’s a large spread of food, dishes tend to sit on a table, unrefrigerated, for hours. This increases the risk of bacteria that is harmful to your developing baby. This also applies to taking a “To Go” bag from a restaurant: If you know you won’t be able to place the leftovers in your refrigerator within two hours, leave the food behind.

Can You Eat Ranch Dressing While Pregnant?

This is a very common question, since ranch dressing has become such a staple in the United States. The confusion seems to come from the belief that one of the ingredients is raw eggs. It isn’t. Therefore, yes, you can eat ranch dressing while pregnant. However, always look for pasteurized dressing and keep it refrigerated at all times when not in use. Do not leave it out on the countertop, even for a few hours.

Also, keep in mind that ranch dressing contains a lot of fat, and not the healthy kind. So go easy on the serving size to keep your baby healthy.

Contact OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch for More Information on Food and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy

Visit an experienced OB-GYN to learn more about what can and cannot be consumed during pregnancy. The experienced team at the OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch can help you establish a meal plan for your pregnancy to ensure the safe and healthy growth of your baby. Learn more about us here or schedule an appointment.