15 Foods and Drinks to Avoid During Pregnancy


Pregnancy is a time of great bliss and excitement, but it also comes with a heightened awareness of what your body absorbs. What you eat and drink during pregnancy can have a big impact on your health and your baby’s development. Even though many food items are safe to consume, there are some that should be abstained from due to potential risks. Let’s explore 15 foods and drinks to steer clear of during pregnancy.



This one’s a no-brainer. Alcohol consumption can cause a range of birth defects and neurological issues, commonly known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). It’s best to abstain from alcohol entirely during pregnancy.

High-Mercury Fish


Certain types of fish, such as sharks, barramundi, gemfish, swordfish, and rays, are high in mercury, which can harm your baby’s developing nervous system. Opt for low-mercury alternatives like salmon, shrimp, and cod instead.

Raw or Undercooked Seafood

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It is possible to develop food poisoning from raw seafood, such as sushi, oysters, and shellfish, due to the presence of infectious bacteria and parasites. Stick to fully cooked options to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

Raw Eggs


Raw eggs usually contain a bacteria called Salmonella, posing a risk to both you and your baby. Avoid foods like homemade Caesar dressing, hollandaise sauce, and raw cookie dough that contains raw eggs.

Unpasteurized Dairy Products


Pasteurization, a process of boiling milk to kill pathogens, helps ensure the safety of dairy products by eliminating harmful bacteria. Consuming unpasteurized dairy products during pregnancy increases the risk of gastrointestinal illness, which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe illness in newborns.

Deli Meats and Pâté


Deli meats are often stored at refrigerated temperatures where Listeria can thrive. Similarly, pâté, a spreadable paste typically made from liver, may also harbor Listeria if not properly handled or cooked. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage or premature delivery.


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Moderate caffeine consumption is generally safe, but excessive consumption has been linked to miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, and low birth weight. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, equivalent to about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Unwashed Produce


In order to avoid contamination with dirt, bacteria, or pesticide residue, fruits and vegetables should be carefully washed before consumption. Wash them under running water and scrub them with a brush when necessary.

Raw Sprouts


Raw sprouts like clover, alfalfa, and radish sprouts because they can be a hotbed for bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. These little guys might seem harmless, but they hit hard if they’re not cooked thoroughly. Raw sprouts are grown in warm, moist conditions—perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to thrive.

Excessive Salt


Consuming too much salt during pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure and fluid retention, which may increase the risk of complications such as preeclampsia. Limit your intake of salty packaged foods and opt for fresh, whole foods instead.

Artificial Sweeteners

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Some studies suggest that certain artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, may cross the placenta and accumulate in fetal tissues, potentially affecting fetal development. Additionally, excessive intake of artificial sweeteners may disrupt metabolic processes and alter gut microbiota composition, which could have implications on the fetus’ health.

Highly Processed Foods


Highly processed foods, including sugary snacks, fried foods, and pre-packaged meals, often contain unhealthy additives and preservatives. You should nourish your body with whole, nutrient-dense foods to support the growth and development of your child.


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Excessive consumption of licorice during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of preeclampsia, a condition defined by high blood pressure and organ damage. To minimize potential risks, pregnant women are encouraged to limit their intake of licorice-flavored products and opt for alternative treats that pose no known risks to maternal or fetal health.

Herbal Tea

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While some herbal teas are deemed safe during the gestation period, others contain herbs that may stimulate uterine contractions or have unknown effects on pregnancy outcomes. Additionally, the lack of regulation in the herbal supplement industry means that the safety and efficacy of many herbal teas have not been adequately studied or established.

Excessively Spicy Foods


Excessive consumption of spicy foods during pregnancy exacerbates gastrointestinal discomfort, manifesting as heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux. These symptoms are already prevalent due to hormonal shifts and the physical pressure exerted by the growing fetus on the digestive tract. Spicy foods, particularly those high in capsaicin, may further irritate the gastric mucosa, intensifying discomfort.


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