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    Home ›› Pregnancy: What not to eat when pregnant 

    Home ›› Pregnancy: What not to eat when pregnant 

    What Foods to Avoid While Pregnant


    6 min. read


    Your body is beautifully equipped to support your baby, but eating a healthy diet (and avoiding some foods) will help Mother Nature do her best work. So how does this differ from regular advice on eating well? And what exactly should you be eating? Many pregnant women also wonder what foods are best avoided, as well as what not to eat during pregnancy. Here you’ll find the answers, plus key tips on nutrition during pregnancy.


    We’re right by your side, but remember, all pregnancies are different and our advice doesn’t replace seeing a doctor. Get in touch with your healthcare provider to discuss any specific diet changes.

    What not to eat during pregnancy


    The good news is that eating well while you’re pregnant is pretty similar to a healthy diet for non-pregnant women. You should aim to eat regular meals and focus on eating whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Try to keep food that is high in sugar or processed to a minimum.


    For food safety reasons, raw or rare meats, liver, sushi, raw eggs, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized milk or juices should be eliminated from your diet. Below you will find further details on some of the things to not to eat when pregnant1,2,3:

    Fish with mercury, raw fish and shellfish
    Do not eat high-mercury fish such as marlin, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, and tilefish. Only consume canned, chunk light tuna in moderation.

    To the disappointment of all sushi lovers, raw fish and shellfish are also among the foods not to eat when pregnant as they may contain bacteria or parasites. Smoked seafood should also be excluded from your menu.


    Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk 
    Soft cheeses such as feta, brie or camembert also make the list of what pregnant women should not eat. Since they are made with raw milk, they can be contaminated with listeria bacteria4. Rule of thumb: Look for the label that says it’s pasteurized!


    Unpasteurized milk and juice

    The same rule applies for juice and milk. Freshly squeezed juice or any type of unpasteurized juice may contain harmful bacteria (E.coli, listeria, salmonella)5  and shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy.


    Raw eggs

    Also on your list of what not to eat when pregnant should be raw eggs or foods containing raw or undercooked eggs, such as cake batter, cookie dough, soft boiled or scrambled eggs. Watch out for foods that might contain undercooked or lightly cooked eggs such as salads, dressings, eggnog, and ice cream. During your pregnancy, you should only eat fully cooked pasteurized egg.


    Undercooked or raw meat and poultry
    Undercooked or raw meat may harbor listeria. Play it safe and avoid deli meats during pregnancy or reheat the meat until it’s steaming. Refrigerated patés or meat spreads are also off-limits. As for whole cuts of meat, make sure they are cooked all the way through before consuming.


    Raw or undercooked sprouts
    Raw sprouts such as alfalfa, radish, clover, beans or any other sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness, so they should be cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of bacterial growth6. The same goes for unwashed fruits and vegetables and store-bought salads.

    Foods to avoid when pregnant


    Although not a complete ban, some foods are better reduced or avoided during pregnancy to keep you both happy and healthy:


    Fresh pre-stuffed meat

    Be careful with pre-stuffed meat. If you choose to buy whole poultry with stuffing, make sure you buy it and cook it from its frozen state. Fresh meat and stuffing can lead to bacterial growth.7


    Sweets, carbohydrates and fast food

    While there is no conclusive scientific evidence, sweets, fast foods and high-fat foods usually make the list of mums-to-be cravings. If you belong to the group of mums that do have cravings, explore healthier options. Craving French fries in every meal? Fry your food with little or no oil with an Airfryer – a healthy alternative that allows you to enjoy delicious fried food with up to 90% less fat*. But remember: a balanced, healthy diet is important to keep you and your baby safe.


    Excess caffeine

    During pregnancy, what not to eat also extends to what not to drink and caffeine falls under this category.

    The World Health Organization recommends ‘pregnant women with high daily caffeine intake (more than 300 mg per day), lowering their daily caffeine intake during pregnancy to reduce the risk of pregnancy loss and low birth weight neonates.8

    Healthy nutrition tips for mums-to-be


    Pregnancy is a time of intense growth and development of your infant and lots of physiologic changes in mum and your nutrition should help you in that journey. It is always helpful to speak to a health care professional, to ensure you are taking in the right nutrients, in the right amount. Here are some key tips for a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy:


    • Eat whole-grains such as whole wheat bread and pasta, prefer lean meat or poultry and try and eat 8 to 12 ounces of cooked fish per week (remember to choose fish that is low on mercury).

    • Choose foods from the five food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein foods and dairy products.9 Make one half of your plate vegetables and fruit. The other half whole-grains.

    • Speak to your healthcare professional about your nutrition plan and prenatal vitamins like folic acid and iron. During pregnancy you have a higher need for some vitamins and minerals and it’s hard to get everything you need from food.

    • Choose monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados, and limit saturated fats and ‘empty calories’ food, such as candy or sugary drinks.


    Stay on top of your health during pregnancy with the Pregnancy+ mobile app. This app is designed to support your full-term pregnancy and delivery while providing you with a comprehensive guide throughout all stages of pregnancy. Always consult a doctor before embarking on any specific diet.

    Philips Pregnancy+ App

    Meet the Pregnancy+ App

    All designed to support your healthy full-term pregnancy plus a safe delivery and gives expecting parents a comprehensive guide through all stages of pregnancy.

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    * Compared to fresh fries prepared in a conventional deep fryer

    1 Foodsafety.gov - People at Risk: Pregnant Women

    FDA - Safe Eats from Food Safety for Moms to Be

    FDA - Food Safety - Download the pdf

    FSIS - Protect Your Baby and Yourself From Listeriosis

    5 Foodsafety.gov - People at Risk: Pregnant Women

    Foodsafety.gov - Food Safety by Type of Food

    7 FDA - Meat, Poultry & Seafood from Food Safety for Moms to Be

    WHO - Restricting caffeine intake during pregnancy

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