What Not to Eat When You're Expecting

Foods to avoid when you’re pregnant


You’ve probably heard plenty of advice about eating well during pregnancy, making sure your diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as good sources of protein and calcium. But did you know that there are certain foods best avoided during pregnancy, because they carry potential risks for your baby? Here are some items you should cross off your menu:


Certain Fish

Fish that have high levels of mercury. Mercury in your diet can harm your baby’s developing brain, so avoid eating shark, swordfish, and albacore tuna. Light tuna and salmon have lower levels, so they are considered safe to eat, but you should still limit your intake to a couple of times a week.


Undercooked Anything

Raw or undercooked fish, beef, pork, chicken or eggs. Any of these may contain bacteria which can cause serious infections, and these can lead to a miscarriage or a baby with birth defects. Not only should you be sure to cook any of these foods thoroughly, be careful of cross-contamination. If you put a raw steak down on the cutting board, and later set a piece of garlic bread on that same board, the bacteria will be transferred to the bread and can make you sick. Set aside any plates, cutting boards or platters which have held raw meat, fish or eggs so that they aren’t accidentally re-used, and wash them in water with a small amount of bleach to kill the bacteria. (Wash your hands well, too.)


Deli meats

Deli meats can be contaminated with the bacteria listeria, which can cause miscarriage or birth defects in the baby, so it’s best to avoid them.


Unpasteurized Cheeses

While most of the soft cheeses available in Canada are safe, there is a risk that these cheeses, like the deli meats, may be contaminated with listeria. Hard, ripened cheeses and those labelled pasteurized are safer choices.


Unwashed Produce

Unwashed raw produce. No, it’s not just meat and dairy products that can cause problems. While most fruits and vegetables are fine (and important in your diet), some can be contaminated with bacteria such as e. coli, another cause of serious infections. Spinach and sprouts are some of the vegetables more commonly contaminated. Another risk is that some pesticides, in large doses, can cause low birth weights and learning problems in babies. So choose organic produce where possible and wash produce carefully before eating it.


Too much coffee

Yes, it’s okay to have a cup or two of coffee during the day. But much more than that puts your baby at risk of miscarriage or of being born early or born with a lower-than-normal birthweight. So keep the coffee to a minimum, or go for the decaffeinated type, since caffeine seems to be the culprit here.



You’ve probably heard about this, but drinking alcohol even in relatively low amounts can potentially harm your baby. Alcohol consumption leads to lower birthweights, developmental and learning difficulties and behaviour problems; babies may also have physical health problems. The safest route is to completely avoid alcohol until after your baby is born.



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