Healthy Pregnancy: Foods to Avoid

What can't I eat now? That's one of the first questions that pops into your mind when you find out you're pregnant. Sure, you cut out the alcohol and avoid caffeine, but what about those foods that might have lurking bacteria? Here are some of the foods I skip to cut back the risks.
Related To:

What can't I eat now? That's one of the first questions that pops into your mind when you find out you're pregnant. Sure, you cut out the alcohol and avoid caffeine, but what about those foods that might have lurking bacteria? Here are some I skip to cut back the risks.

“Preggers” Beware

The list of risky foods for pregnant women varies depending on who you ask, but most agree that when you're pregnant, your immune system is more susceptible. Because of this, you need to be extra cautious about food-borne illnesses. Here are some of my main no-no foods because they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Cold Cuts and Cured Meats

Yep, that means no turkey sandwiches or hot dogs for the time being. Cold cuts and other processed meats can be tainted with listeria monocytogenes. Experts say that pregnant women are three times more likely to become infected (which can cause a miscarriage in the third trimester). Another concern is nitrates, a common preservative found in deli and cured meats like bacon; the Center for Science in the Public Interest warns pregnant women away from them as well.

Unpasteurized Eggs and Dairy Products

Because they're not pasteurized (which kills off bacteria), steer clear of raw milk, raw cheeses and unpasteurized eggs. Soft cheese like Brie, Camembert and blue are some of the ones to especially watch out for. The good news is there are many safe varieties -- just check labels to make sure the ingredients are pasteurized.

Raw and High-Mercury Seafood

Cooked seafood should be fine, but raw seafood (from sushi to clams on the half shell) can contain dangerous bacteria and parasites. But even if you're eating cooked seafood, skip swordfish, large species of tuna and king mackerel, which have high amounts of mercury that may harm your growing baby. If you're a fish lover, Gotmercury.org has a good list of safer sources and cool calculator that can help you add up your intake.

What About Ice Cream?

This one was new to me. Some soft serve ice creams and frozen yogurts might have listeria in them if machines aren't cleaned properly (ick!). I'm addicted to the scoopable, old-fashioned stuff (which is safe), but it’s something to keep in mind if you're trying to beat this end-of-summer heat with a cup of fro yo.

Don’t Be Shy!

When in doubt, do some digging. Check the ingredient lists on food labels to make sure things are pasteurized. Ask questions when you're at restaurants and markets. I'm a cheese fan, but had to say a temporary good bye to many of my top picks from the local cheese shop. I never realized how many of my favorites were unpasteurized -- glad I asked!

Some More Quick Tips
Here are a few more friendly reminders:

- Wash your fruits and vegetables completely whether before cooking or eating them raw.

- Cook your meats thoroughly to kill off any possible salmonella or other bad bacteria.

- Skip the raw cookie dough, Hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing or any other food that contains raw eggs.

Keep Reading

Next Up

10 Foods for Healthy Hair

What you eat affects every part of your body -- even your hair. When it comes to keeping your locks lovely, some nutrients play an extra important role. Here are 10 foods to keep on your plate.

5 Ingredients or Less: Eggs In A Basket

Also called “eggs-in-a-hole”, “birds nest,” “eggs-in-a-blanket” or “frog-in-a-hole”, this fun breakfast fave was served up to my kids on their first day of school. With less than 5 ingredients, it’s an easy and stress-free dish to cook up on a school day.

News Feed: Wood Pulp in Cheese, Starbucks Sugar Shocker, Cage-Free Trader Joe’s

Is there wood pulp in your grated Parmesan? How much sugar is in your Starbucks drink? Plus: Trader Joe’s goes 100 percent cage-free.

10 Healthy Foods Under $3

It’s a common misconception that healthy foods have to carry a high price tag. Here are 10 foods teeming with nutrients that won’t bust your budget.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Upgrading Fridge Staples

Our intern, Karen, shared a photo of what's inside her refrigerator. Hoping to help her and her roommate eat healthier despite their budget and busy schedules, I gave her some suggestions for upgrades.

Cheese: Is It Healthy?

Does this dairy delight have a place in your healthy eating plan? Although cheese has gotten bad press for being high in artery-clogging fat, choosing the right ones can provide important nutrients to your diet.

How to Love Cheese the Healthy Way

Here are some creative ways for you to enjoy a little bit of cheese in your everyday healthy diet.

It's National Cheese Lover's Day! You Can Eat Cheese as Part of a Healthy Diet

It’s true: You can have your cheese and eat it, too, especially on this national food holiday.

Nutrient to Know: Lutein

Every wondered what makes spinach green? Or egg yolks yellow? The answer: Lutein. This antioxidant doesn’t just add color to your groceries -- lutein has numerous health benefits for your body, inside and out.