First off, congratulations, you’re pregnant! While this often gives women a free pass to indulge in an extra dessert or larger portion at dinnertime (you are eating for two, after all!) it also means there are some restrictions on what you should and should not eat.
Obviously, you want to continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and eat well for the sake of both you and the baby. But there are typically healthy foods you might normally love that you should steer clear of while pregnant, for a variety of reasons.
Here are 10 foods that should be on the “don’t eat” list for those 9 months.
10 High-Mercury Fish
Mercury can be toxic in general, so while you might opt for shark, swordfish, or king mackerel on the menu at the fancy new local restaurant on a regular day out, shift your eyes to something else while pregnant. Because high mercury fish is commonly found in polluted water, it could potentially cause developmental problems for a growing baby. While you might be OK eating it in moderation (e.g. once a month), to be safe, switch to low-mercury fish instead, which can be great for you and your baby, providing plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
9 Undercooked Fish
Sorry, but that sushi date will have to become a salad or chicken (if you can stomach poultry) date instead. It is not advisable to eat undercooked or raw fish while pregnant. While you’ll likely be OK with high quality fish, the risk of potential bacterial, parasitic, or viral elements being present isn’t worth it. They could not only affect mom, but also be passed to the baby. Pregnant women are reportedly more susceptible to Listeria than the average person. So skip the sushi and order a nice, delicious noodle dish instead.
8 Raw, Undercooked, or Processed Meat
Again, this one is advisable to steer clear of given the risk of potential bacteria or parasites being present. Go ahead and treat yourself to that porterhouse steak, but as much as you might grimace having to order it this way, ask for well done.
You can go back to savouring medium rare once your baby is safely born. And when it comes to sandwiches, switch out the processed deli meats for meat you can heat all the way through, like bacon, or make yourself a fresh chicken breast club.
7 Raw Eggs
If you’re a super-fit mom who likes to throw a raw egg in her morning smoothies, sorry, but that ingredient will have to wait. There’s a risk of Salmonella contamination, which can lead to severe symptoms in pregnant women, like fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. This goes beyond just cracking a raw egg into your drink, by the way. If you have cooked eggs in the morning, make sure they aren’t runny but rather cooked to a hard consistency (over-hard eggs, it is!) This means no poached eggs or eggs benedict (hollandaise sauce is out). It also means you need to hold the mayo on that aforementioned club sandwich. Opt for mustard instead, and for oil and vinegar dressing for your salad versus something cream-based that could contain raw eggs.
This doesn’t pertain to a particular food, but rather something that can be found in many foods. The most obvious culprit is coffee and tea, which most pregnant women still drink (if they usually do), but cut down to about 2-3 cups per day. Because caffeine is easily absorbed, it can quickly pass on to your fetus. And let’s not forget that caffeine is a psychoactive substance, and a diuretic, which means it can deplete your body of essential fluids necessary for your baby’s development. Aside from coffee, caffeine is also found in soft drinks and cocoa. So for the next nine months, be safe and just stick to water and juice.
5 Raw Sprouts
You might think you’re doing a great job by opting for a salad with bean sprouts or radish, but be careful, as these foods can be contaminated with Salmonella, too. Because raw sprouts like these must grow in a humid environment, it’s a perfect scenario for bacteria to grow.
You’ll probably be fine under normal circumstances, but while pregnant, snack on cucumbers and carrots, or only eat raw sprouts once they are fully cooked.
4 Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese
This is a tough one for any lover of dairy and especially cheese, but keep in mind that you don’t need to cut out cheese altogether. Still feel free to dig into that block of cheddar. It’s the soft cheeses you need to worry about, like feta, Gorgonzola, or brie, that are unpasteurized because they could contain bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. This goes, by the way, for unpasteurized juices and milk as well. So check the labels when you buy a carton of milk to make sure it’s pasteurized, which will have killed off all the bacteria, making it safe for a mom-to-be to consume.
If you’re at a party, steer clear of the canapes that are made with some type of pate. These can be dangerous for pregnant moms given the possibility of the bacteria Listeria. Particularly stay away if it’s liver pate, as it's advisable for pregnant women to stay away from any liver products, period, as too much vitamin A, which is contained in liver, can harm your baby. Canned pate is safe to eat, but if you want to err on the side of caution, and you don’t know where the pate came from, opt for the crudites or bruschetta (no cheese) instead.
2 Cookie Dough
It might be tempting to lick that spoon, as you often do, while making cookies or cake with your little one. But if you have another baby baking in your oven, stick to eating the dessert once it’s hot and fully baked out of the oven in your kitchen. Raw cookie dough can contain Salmonella, and likely also has raw eggs as well, which, as we noted above, is another no-no.
1 Hot Dogs
Attending a summer barbecue cook-out where those hot dogs on the grill look mighty tempting? Ask for a burger or steak (well done) instead. Hot dogs, like many other food items on this list, could contain Listeria, so you’re best to stay away from them for now, for both your sake and the sake of the baby. Whatever you have, don’t forget to stick to freshly washed vegetables as a topping, and ketchup instead of mayo for the condiment.