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Wait! Here’s a List of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

I know, I know, you don’t want to hear it. With your heightened sense of smell, crazy cravings, hormones, and perhaps even heightened appetite, the LAST thing you want to hear is a list of what you cannot eat. But trust me, when it comes to the little bean a-growin’ in your belly who has already stolen your heart, you’d want to know if there’s anything that could potentially harm him. Here’s a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy and some crave-worthy alternatives to eat instead.

1.)   Raw meat

Although I’m sure a bloody rare steak wasn’t on the menu even before you got pregnant, this includes undercooked meat as well. Make sure your meats are fully cooked and avoid raw meat and seafood altogether to avoid contamination of coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. While those illnesses will certainly have you under the weather for at least a few days, they’re even more dangerous for your baby: toxoplasmosis can potentially cause birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth. And while your immune system is busy protecting baby, your own ability to fight off salmonella or other foodborne pathogens is more limited.

While food poisoning will have you under the weather for a few days, it’s even more dangerous for your baby.

As a rule of thumb, a steak cooked “well done” should have an internal temperature of 160°F, chicken fully cooked should have an internal temperature of 165-175°F, and ground meat should also hit an internal temperature of 160°F before being considered done. If you don’t already have one, grab a thermometer at the store (or order one online) to use when preparing meat dishes at home. Opting for a more plant-based diet? Try making some nutrient-rich veggie patties to satisfy your burger craving, and double the recipe to have some extras to freeze and use later. Heartbroken to learn you’ll need to abstain from eating sushi for a while? Try the veggie or cooked fish rolls at your favorite sushi joint, or try rolling some at home. It may not be quite the same, but you’ll be surprised by how the similar taste will curb your sushi cravings.

2.)   High-mercury fish

Fully cooked or not, fish high in mercury should be avoided during pregnancy (and monitored if you are trying to become pregnant) because it has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Note: Not ALL fish should be avoided during pregnancy; the omega fatty acids found in low-mercury fish can be extremely beneficial to the proper development of your little one. The Harvard School of Public health breaks down the “good” and “bad” fish during pregnancy and in your overall diet. Hint: Avoid fish high up the food chain like shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and tuna and instead eat salmon, pollock, and shrimp. A fish oil supplement can also be taken so you ensure you’re getting your omegas: we like Nordic Naturals.

foods to avoid during pregnancy, foods to avoid during early pregnancy

3.)   Caffeine

Don’t stop reading! Let me explain! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting your caffeine consumption to fewer than 200 milligrams (mg) per day. This equals about one 10-ounce cup of coffee. If you’re a self-proclaimed coffee addict like myself, with a severely stained coffee mug and espresso machine to prove it, time to cut back! Slowly and gently cut back to avoid caffeine withdrawal headaches. Work your way down to one cup a day while trying to become pregnant and try out some alternatives. Recently on the market, mushroom coffee can be a good alternative. It still offers an earthy, deeper taste which tea doesn’t quite have, and is safe to consume while pregnant. Try out a mushroom coffee or mix a scoop of powdered chaga and lion’s mane mushrooms in hot water, add your milk and sweetener of choice, and see how you like it!


Start weaning yourself off the caffeine NOW so you don’t suffer from withdrawals (it’s a real thing!) later. You’ll have to limit your caffeine intake while you nurse, too, so might as well store your coffee maker in the back kitchen cupboard today! For some people, a cup of coffee a day is a tease, so they prefer quitting altogether while pregnant and nursing. If this is you, talk your family or significant other into quitting, too. Drink lots of water, and soon you’ll notice you don’t need coffee to start your day energized and ready to go.

4.)   Raw sprouts

Ditch the raw sprouts while you are pregnant and opt for cooked ones instead. Why? Raw sprouts are prone to carrying listeria, salmonella, and E.coli bacteria due to miniature cracks in the seeds, making proper washing nearly impossible. Premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infections in newborns are potential effects of listeriosis, while salmonella and E.Coli can cause severe illness and weaken your immune system, which is already compromised slightly when you are pregnant.

foods to avoid during pregnancy, foods to avoid during early pregnancy

5.)   Unwashed raw vegetables

Unwashed raw vegetables can also carry food-borne illnesses and bacteria. Make sure to thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies, especially the leafy greens. Does your restaurant salad look questionable? Opt for cooked foods when going out to eat or specifically ask for the salad to be well-washed.

There are many other foods worth avoiding during pregnancy like raw eggs, deli meats, certain herbs and supplements, and canned food (because of BPA toxicity). Do your research to make sure your favorite snacks aren’t harming your baby, and visit our nutritionist Dr. Kaitlyn Clarke at Urban Wellness Clinic to determine if you should add or eliminate anything from your diet based upon your allergies or deficiencies. Stock your kitchen with all your pregnancy-friendly foods so come the next midnight craving you aren’t tempted to munch on any foods listed on the pregnancy naughty list.


Best in health,


Dr. Emily Kiberd