Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

When you are pregnant, everything that goes into your mouth is shared with your growing baby.
Certain foods and drinks can increase the risk of harm to you and your baby during pregnancy. It may seem overwhelming that there are many things to avoid, but there are still many things to eat if you are pregnant. Certain foods may need to be cooked or prepared in certain ways while others are avoided altogether. Here is some information to help you understand how to eat safely during pregnancy.

 Raw or undercooked meat

 Avoid undercooked meat, especially chicken, pork, sausages and hamburgers. Any meat you eat should smell good and not be pink or bleeding. Be sure to cook the sausage and minced meat thoroughly. This is because there is a risk of toxoplasmosis, a small parasite that can live in meat that can harm you and your baby.
It is good to eat cold, pre packed meat like ham and corned beef. Although the risk is low, you can also choose to avoid unhealthy meats, such as Parma ham, chorizo​​​​​​, pepperoni and salami. Meat is not cooked, so they can contain the bacteria that cause toxoplasmosis. If you want to eat cured meat, you can freeze them for 4 days at home before defrosting and eating them. You can also eat cold cured meat that has been cooked, for example on pizza.

 Avoid game meat such as goose, partridge or pheasant, as they may contain lead shots.


Liver and other foods contain vitamin A
Avoid liver and liver products, such as liver pâté and liver sausage. Liver products contain a lot of vitamin A. This can harm the unborn child. It is not recommended to take a multivitamin with vitamin A or fish liver oil, such as cod liver oil. It is good to eat small amounts of vitamin A which is found in foods like carrots. But it is important to avoid all foods with added vitamin A (you can say "rich in vitamin A"). It is acceptable to use cosmetic products, such as face creams, that contain vitamin A. Pâté (including fish and vegetable pâté)
Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâté. In fact, they may contain listeria. These are bacteria that can cause a disease called listeriosis. Listeriosis can harm the baby during pregnancy or cause serious illness in the newborn.

 Unpasteurized milk and milk products

 Most milk sold in shops, supermarkets and restaurants in the UK is pasteurized and safe to drink. Milk is heat treated to kill harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning due to toxoplasmosis, listeriosis and Campylobacter. 

You should avoid unpasteurised (raw) milk and products made from it, which are sold in some farms and health food stores. These products may include cream, yogurt, goat's and sheep's milk, or dairy products. If you only have unpasteurized milk, boil it before using it.

Certain cheese:It is good to eat:

  •  All hard cheeses such as cheddar, stilton and parmesan 
  •  pasteurized soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta and halloumi
  •  Goat cheese without a white coatingon the outside (rind)
  • processed cheese spread. 

You can eat these cheeses if they are cooked to steaming hot:

  •   unpasteurized soft cheese
  •  soft cheese with a white coating on the outside
  •  Soft blue cheese.

You should avoid certain types of cheese because they can cause a disease called listeriosis, which can harm your baby. It is best to avoid:

  • Soft, blue cheeses with a white coating on the outside, such as brie, camembert, and chevre (unless cooked until very hot) - These cheeses have more moisture, which can make it easier for bacteria to grow.
  •   Blue cheeses such as Danish Blue, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort (unless cooked until warm)
  • soft goat cheese (unless cooked until very hot).

 Undercooked ready meal
It is important to follow the cooking instructions on the packaging of all the foods you eat. Also check that the food is hot before eating it. This is especially important for foods that contain poultry such as chicken or turkey. 

Unwashed, packaged salad

It is good to eat prepared food, which has been washed before if you store it in the refrigerator and eat it before use-by day. Check the ingredients of the packaged salads you buy to make sure they don't contain other foods you should avoid. 

If the salad has been sitting at room temperature for a long time, it is better not to eat it because bacteria can grow quickly.
If you buy pre-made salad that has not been washed, it will say "wash before use" on the package. In this case, like all unwashed vegetables and fruits, you must wash the salad thoroughly.

Raw eggs or undercooked eggs
The safest eggs to eat are British lion eggs (eggs with a lion stamp), which can be eaten raw or runny. This is because they are likely to contain salmonella, which can cause food poisoning.
If you are eating eggs other than British Lion's eggs or hen's eggs, make sure they are cooked thoroughly.

Using egg in cooked recipes is safe. Try to avoid foods with egg yolks, such as mayonnaise or homemade mousse, unless you make them with British egg yolk.


Certain kinds of fish

Fish is a good source of many vitamins and minerals. If fish is part of your diet, you should try to eat at least 2 servings per week. You should also eat one serving of fatty fish each week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel or herring. Oily fish helps your baby's nervous system develop. However, you should not eat more than two servings of oily fish per week because they may contain harmful substances that can harm your baby. 

You should also limit the amount of tuna you eat, as it contains more mercury than other fish. If you eat too much mercury, it can harm your unborn baby. You should eat no more than 2 tuna steaks (about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or 4 small cans of tuna (about 140g when drained) per week.
There are other types of fish to limit. Do not eat more two portion a week:

  •  Rock salmon
  • Sea bass
  • sea ​​bream
  • turbot
  •  halibut
  •  crab.

You should not restrict or avoid other types of white fish that are not oily. Avoid sharks, swordfish and marlins, as they contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your child's nervous system.

Can I eat smoked fish during pregnancy?

 Avoid cold smoke fish such as salmon or smoked trout, and salted fish such as gravlax, which are not cooked enough during the production process to kill any listeria that may be present.
"Smoked fish" is often lablled as "smoked fish" on the package. Ready-to-eat frozen fish often comes in smaller pieces and can be eaten cold. It is also found in sushi. 

Listeriosis during pregnancy can cause miscarriage and severe sepsis or meningitis in newborns.

Can I eat shellfish during pregnancy?

Cooked shellfish is safe to eat, but raw shellfish can cause food poisoning and you should avoid eating them when you are pregnant.
Shellfish include: 

  • Prawns
  • Crab 
  • Lobsters
  • Mussel
  • Cockle
  •  Oysters. 

Can I eat sushi when I'm pregnant?
Yes, as long as the fish is cooked properly. Be sure to avoid any sushi that contains raw fish, such as shellfish, as they may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or toxins.
 Can I eat peanuts when I'm pregnant?
It is safe to eat peanuts during pregnancy unless advised against by a health professional or if you are allergic to nuts.


 It is best to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy. Alcohol can harm you and your baby, and experts can't be sure of how much alcohol you can drink, it's not safe. 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect your baby's development and long-term health. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby to develop foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). 

If you are struggling to stop drinking, it is important to seek help from your midwife or GP.

 Cooking with alcohol is unlikely to affect your baby if the alcohol is added during the cooking process and the food is cooked properly. This will ensure that most of the alcohol has been removed. The longer the cooking time, the more alcohol evaporates. 

However, if you add alcohol to the dish later in the cooking process, the alcohol content can be high. For example, foods that are cooked by adding alcohol to the mixture, such as bread, retain more alcohol. 

It is best not to eat foods that are prepared with spirits or alcohol. In fact, these drinks have a higher alcohol content than wine, cider or beer. If you are concerned, you can try using non-alcoholic wine or beer.

It is best to stop drinking caffeine as much as possible during pregnancy, because high levels have been linked to pregnancy problems. Caffeine is found in foods and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • cola and other energy drinks
  •  chocolate.

 It is recommended to reduce your caffeine intake below 200 mg per day as much as possible during your pregnancy.

Herbal teas and green teas
We don't have much information about the safety of herbal and green teas during pregnancy. So it is best to limit your intake. You should not drink more than 4 cups of herbal tea per day. It is important to remember that green tea contains caffeine, which should be limited as much as possible during pregnancy.
You should ask your doctor or midwife if you are not sure about the safety of herbal products.

 What should I do if I have eaten or drunk something dangerous?
If you have eaten or drunk something that you should avoid, try not to panic. If it doesn't make you sick at the time, it's unlikely to affect you or your baby. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you are worried.

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