If you’re a first time mom who just found out you’re pregnant (congrats mama!), it’s time to figure out what foods to avoid during early pregnancy.
It’s a good idea to question the foods you eat because while some foods seem harmless they might not be good for your growing fetus during early pregnancy.
I remember being so confused about what foods to avoid during early pregnancy or any time in my pregnancy for that matter.
What do I really have to avoid?
What foods should I eat in moderation?
The confusion that surrounds foods to avoid during pregnancy inspired me to help new moms out – to clear the air so to speak and set you on the right path for a healthy pregnancy.
Now, I’m not a doctor – I can do the research and tell you about my own experience but if you have any concerns about the foods to avoid during early pregnancy then talk to your doctor.
That might just give you peace of mind.
So, let’s take a look at what foods to avoid during early pregnancy…(and the rest of your pregnancy for that matter).
20 FOODS TO AVOID DURING PREGNANCY
Yup, you can kiss sushi goodbye because it’s definitely one of the top foods to avoid during early pregnancy (actually your whole pregnancy too – sigh)
Eating raw fish runs the risk of exposing your growing fetus to contamination that might lead to pregnancy complications.
So, even if you’re an absolute sushi lover it’s time to put that love aside for the next 9 months.
(Don’t worry 9 months may seem like a long time but it really isn’t )
HIGH MERCURY FISH
Fish high in mercury isn’t good to eat when you’re not pregnant so you definitely shouldn’t consume any while you’re pregnant.
Mercury is harmful to your baby, period.
Here’s a list of high mercury fish:
Those are the kinds of fish to avoid during pregnancy but that doesn’t mean you should eliminate fish from your diet completely – fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and other nutrients. (source)
Here’s a list of low mercury fish:
- Shrimp (wahoo! haha! )
The key to eating fish during pregnancy is to be careful and, of course, eat it in moderation.
It’s time to make sure any meat you consume has been handled properly and is fully cooked.
(So, if you like your steak rare it’s time to lay off eating it that way until your baby is born)
Raw meat can contain salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and other harmful bacterias (source) – so please mama make sure any meat you consume while you’re pregnant is well cooked!
Deli meat and other cured meats aren’t good for you when you aren’t pregnant let alone during pregnancy.
These kinds of meats are highly processed and can carry all sorts of bad bacteria that you wouldn’t want to consume while you’re pregnant.
One example is listeria which can be linked to miscarriages, stillbirth and other problems with unborn fetuses.
Now that doesn’t mean that all deli meat naturally carries these harmful bacterias, it’s that they have a higher chance of having them.
The point here is to avoid them when you can, so no eating at Subway for the next few months.
If you absolutely want to have these kinds of meats then proceed with caution and make sure to cook them well first.
This means, well, a raw egg or any dish that has a soft form of an egg.
Things like eggs benedict, some homemade salad dressings, and eggnog.
Basically, you should only have eggs if both the white and yolk is fully cooked.
Because if you don’t you run the risk of harmful bacteria and no mama wants to do that!
Caffeine intake during pregnancy is one of those controversial topics – should you or shouldn’t you?
How much is too much?
The good news is you don’t have to eliminate all caffeine from your diet.
According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women should limit their caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day. (source)
So, that’s basically having one cup of coffee a day.
When I was pregnant I craved a lot of chocolate which also has caffeine in it so I was extra careful about how much I ate.
The point here?
Be sensible about how much caffeine you’re consuming.
This usually means soft cheeses (think brie, goat cheese, ricotta) that have a higher risk of containing the listeria bacteria.
By now you’re likely noticing a common theme here – avoid foods with listeria and other bad bacterias during pregnancy.
So why is that?
Because pregnant women are experiencing a lot of changes (um, ya you’re just growing a human, haha!) and it can lead to a weakened immune system.
That means when you’re not pregnant you might be able to fight these bacterias off and any issues go unknown to you. (this is my speculation – talk to your doctor if you want
Don’t take that risk while you’re pregnant.
Not only are canned foods highly processed and full of salt, they likely contain BPA – a chemical that is added to the lining of the can and therefore the food that is in said can.
BPA may cause birth defects and that reason right there is a good reason for pregnant women (and people in general, honestly) to avoid these kinds of foods. (source)
Pregnancy is the perfect time to start cooking from scratch – you can control the ingredients and make sure to eat fresh, healthy foods.
Need help with healthy meal planning?
Check out TheDailyDinner.com for dirt cheap meal plans and healthy shopping lists to make your life easier.
RAW COOKIE DOUGH
If you’re one of those people who love to scoop raw cookie dough and eat it, you might want to lay off until you’re done being pregnant.
Cookie dough contains raw egg which we know is on the foods to avoid during pregnancy list.
So, while you’re pregnant (and if you have to) grab cookie dough ice cream instead (but please eat it in moderation!).
Eating a lot of refined sugars during pregnancy can lead to extra weight gain that you won’t want to deal with postpartum.
Trust me – I know first hand.
I had an insatiable appetite for ice cream during my pregnancy and what that means is I gained way too much weight.
While eating ice cream (and cookies) was fun, I was also positioning myself for gestational diabetes which thankfully didn’t actually happen.
Why was I positioning myself for GD?
✿ Unhealthy weight gain.
✿ Not eating a healthy diet.
✿ Eating too much sugar when my body was having a tough time breaking it down and using it.
(Gestational diabetes happens when your pancreas can’t keep up with the demand for insulin and blood sugar levels rise. (source) While eating cookies and ice cream didn’t cause GD for me it caused my OB to be concerned at my blood sugar levels and, ultimately, he advised cutting down on my sugary habit).
So steer away from sugary junk food in the first place and find a healthy alternative to curb those cravings.
Another reason to avoid sugars?
The extra weight gain!
Part of my postpartum recovery planwas to lose all that baby weight in a healthy way and it took much longer!
FOODS HIGH IN FAT
Don’t race out to the closest fast food restaurant while you’re pregnant.
Those places are filled with high-fat foods to avoid during early pregnancy (and the rest of your pregnancy for that matter!).
But that doesn’t mean you should avoid fats altogether (fats have a bad rep, but not all are created equal).
There are healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, dark chocolate (yum!), and nuts.
These are foods that should be apart of your pregnancy diet.
AVOID FOODS LEFT OUT
If you’re at a party and those food trays and dishes are out for more than two hours then skip eating any of the leftovers.
Food that isn’t properly refrigerated can attract unwanted bacteria and as we’ve seen from other foods to avoid while pregnant, they aren’t good for growing babies in the womb.
This one should be self-explanatory but after talking to different mom friends, the advice of a glass of wine here or there while pregnant seems to live on.
And, while one glass of wine may not do any harm, why risk it?
Because maybe it will have an effect on the baby and no mama wants that, am I right?
Pregnancy is 9 months, not a lifetime – so skip the alcohol.
Want to know the effects of alcohol on your baby? Click here.
HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS
Those highly processed foods might taste really good (and they might be the junk food you crave – sigh) but they’re full of trans fats, hydrogenated oils, white flour sugar, fillers, and artificial flavors.
Those aren’t good for you or your baby at any time during your pregnancy.
So skip the junk food aisle and try to find a healthy alternative to satisfy your craving.
If you aren’t entirely sure what a raw sprout is, here are some examples:
- Bean sprouts
- Mung beans
Because sprouts are grown in a humid climate they invite bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and since you’re pregnant your immune system may not be able to fight off food poisoning, therefore, endangering your baby.
That’s why you shouldn’t eat sprouts raw.
If you do have sprouts, buy fresh and make sure to cook them well.
Canned vegetables should be avoided during pregnancy because of the high sodium content and the risk of BPA being present in the lining of the can.
The most ideal way to eat your veggies is from the produce section or frozen aisle (where they are flash frozen at picking).
Our fresh produce goes through a lot before it makes it to the store for you to buy.
Make sure you wash all produce thoroughly to reduce the risk of contamination.
When I was pregnant I was surprised to see papaya as one of the foods to avoid during early pregnancy.
It’s truly amazing to learn about what foods are safe during pregnancy – food is a powerful thing!
Papaya has something called papain which can stimulate the right hormones that prompt uterine contractions.
That might lead to miscarriage.
Papaya is high on the list of fruits to avoid during early pregnancy – don’t eat it at all when you’re in your first trimester and talk to your doctor about consuming it later in pregnancy.
If you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy then perhaps papaya would be a good natural way to prompt labor
(Again not a doctor or midwife, so check with them first!)
Want to read more about avoiding papaya in early pregnancy? Click here.
I wasn’t far into my pregnancy before I had some mom friends tell me to avoid eating pineapple during early pregnancy.
And I LOVE me some pineapple so I was sad to learn that.
The big concern surrounding pineapple is the fact it contains bromelain which is said to bring on premature labor – something you would want to avoid in early pregnancy.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there so I wanted to include pineapple on my list of foods to avoid during pregnancy so that you are at least aware of a potential risk.
I did read one article from a reputable site that said the amount of bromelain consumed in a moderate helping of pineapple is minimal.
My best advice is to speak to your midwife or doctor about any concerns you might have about avoiding this fruit during early pregnancy.
After speaking with my doctor and doing my own research it turns out you’ll be just fine if you eat pineapple.
In fact, it’s a great source of vitamins and nutrients you need!
I know what you’re thinking – you thought eggplant was a vegetable, right?
I know me too, so consider my mind blown to learn it’s actually a fruit! (source)
Eggplant is another controversial food for pregnant women.
Because they contain phytohormones that may signal premature labor. (source)
So it is often recommended as one of the foods to avoid during early pregnancy.
Do your research and talk to your health care provider before adding eggplant to your pregnancy diet.
There you have it, mama – a list of foods to avoid during early pregnancy.
If you are concerned about what foods to should avoid during early pregnancy, make sure to speak to your doctor.
Most of the foods to avoid shouldn’t be consumed later in your pregnancy either.
The key is to avoid foods that carry the potential of contamination and therefore an increased risk to your unborn baby.
I’m sure you noticed the common theme – avoid foods that have a high potential for containing harmful bacteria.
Your immune system is weakened because, well, you’re growing a tiny human.
Remember pregnancy is for 9 months which isn’t as long as you think, so if some of your favorite foods are on this list, you’ll be able to indulge after your pregnancy.
You might try going to a nutritionist to help you with your pregnancy diet.
They’ll be able to offer you a food plan tailored to your pregnancy and healthy alternatives to some of your favorite foods that might need to be avoided now that you’re pregnant.
I hope you feel better knowing what foods to avoid during early pregnancy and that you have a healthy pregnancy without worrying about what foods you can and cannot eat!
What foods are you already avoiding now that you’re pregnant?
What foods are you sad about not being able to eat?
Let me know in the comments!