A Guide to Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy: Ensuring a Healthy Journey

By Nikhil Ambatkar | 31st Oct 2023

A Guide to Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy: Ensuring a Healthy Journey

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it comes with much responsibility. Eating a healthy diet is essential during pregnancy to ensure the proper health of both the mother and the baby. However, due to potential health risks, certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy. 

Eating nutritious foods while pregnant can reduce the risk of experiencing health issues like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, which can impact the mother’s and unborn baby’s health. However, some foods may increase the risk of these conditions and can also cause harm to the developing foetus. Certain foods to avoid in pregnancy can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

It’s essential to note that the food to avoid in pregnancy may vary depending on cultural or regional factors. However, some foods are universally recognised as potentially harmful during pregnancy. Following the guidance on foods to avoid during pregnancy can support a safe and successful pregnancy journey. This blog will explain further on the same lines. 

foods not to eat in pregnancy

1) Raw or undercooked meat and seafood

Specific foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw or undercooked meat and seafood due to the risk of bacterial contamination. These foods may contain toxic bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxoplasma, which can lead to severe infections. It can be dangerous for both the mother and the developing baby. Cooking meat and seafood thoroughly ensures that these bacteria are destroyed, reducing the risk of food poisoning.

2) Unpasteurised dairy products

Expectant mothers must be aware of foods to avoid in pregnancy, such as unpasteurised dairy products. These products may contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, which can cross the placenta and cause serious complications, including miscarriage or preterm birth. 

Opting for pasteurised dairy products ensures that they have been heated to a temperature that kills potential pathogens, making them safe for consumption during pregnancy.

3) Certain fish high in mercury

It’s crucial to be informed about foods to avoid during pregnancy, including raw shellfish. Some fish species, like the shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish, contain high mercury. Mercury exposure during pregnancy can harm the baby’s developing nervous system and brain. Avoiding these high-mercury fish and choosing lower-mercury options like salmon, shrimp, and tilapia are safer for pregnant women. 

4) Raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs

Expecting mothers should know about foods to avoid in pregnancy, like undercooked eggs and food containing raw eggs. These foods should be ignored due to the risk of Salmonella contamination. Consuming raw eggs during pregnancy can lead to food poisoning, harming both the mother and the baby. Cooking eggs thoroughly can help eliminate the risk of bacterial infection.

Also read: Egg Benefits

5) Unwashed produce and sprouts

It’s crucial to properly wash and clean fruits, vegetables, and sprouts before consumption to remove potential pathogens like E. coli and Listeria. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses, particularly risky during pregnancy. Washing under running water and using a brush to clean firm-skinned fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of contamination.

6) Caffeine and high-caffeine beverages

While moderate caffeine intake is generally considered safe during pregnancy, excessive caffeine consumption should be avoided. Consuming excessive caffeine have been linked to a greater likelihood of premature delivery and giving birth to low-weight infants.

Pregnant women should limit caffeine intake and opt for decaffeinated beverages when possible. It’s also essential to be cautious of high-caffeine energy drinks, as they may contain other stimulants that could have adverse effects during pregnancy.

7) Certain herbal teas and supplements

Staying away from unpasteurised supplements and certain herbal teas is a part of knowing the foods to avoid in pregnancy. Some herbal teas and supplements may be unsafe during pregnancy and could trigger uterine contractions or interfere with foetal development. Before taking any herbal remedies or supplements during pregnancy, seeking a medical professional’s advice is highly recommended to ensure the product’s safety for you and your baby.

Some herbal teas like chamomile, liquorice, and pennyroyal are best avoided, and certain supplements may contain ingredients that are not suitable for pregnant women. Always seek professional advice from a doctor to make informed decisions about herbal teas and supplements during pregnancy.

8) Fruits to avoid during pregnancy

Here are some fruits not eat during pregnancy:

  • Unripe papaya: Unripe or semi-ripe papaya contains latex, which may stimulate contractions and lead to miscarriage or premature labour. Hence, it is one of the fruits to avoid in pregnancy.
  • Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that could cause uterine contractions, leading to potential miscarriage risk. Hence, pineapple for pregnancy may be harmful.
  • Papaya seeds: Papaya seeds may have contraceptive properties and should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Grapes (in excess): Consuming excess grapes in pregnancy may lead to imbalances in blood sugar levels, so moderation is advised.

9) Vegetables to avoid during pregnancy

List of vegetables 

  • Raw sprouts: Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, and radish may carry harmful bacteria, so it’s best to avoid them during pregnancy.
  • Undercooked or raw beets: Beets should be cooked thoroughly to prevent any risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • Excessive liquorice root: Consuming excessive amounts of liquorice root may increase the risk of preterm birth or affect the baby’s brain development.


Awareness of foods to avoid in pregnancy contributes to a healthy pregnancy diet. While it may be tempting to indulge in some of your favourite treats, it’s important to remember that some foods can pose risks to your and your baby’s health. Specific foods to avoid in pregnancy can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risk of complications. 

Always consult your doctor about developing a personalised nutrition plan that satisfies your needs and preferences. Remember, a healthy diet during pregnancy can help set the foundation for a lifetime of good health for both you and your baby.

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Frequently asked questions

Which food to avoid when pregnant?

During pregnancy, certain foods should be avoided to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby. These foods include raw or undercooked meats and seafood, unpasteurised dairy products, and fish high in mercury, like sharks and swordfish, which should be excluded from the diet due to potential developmental risks.

What should I avoid during early pregnancy?

Specific foods to avoid in pregnancy during early periods, including alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs. Also, limit caffeine intake and avoid certain foods that may carry a risk of foodborne illnesses, such as undercooked meat, eggs, and seafood.

What not to drink during pregnancy?

It is best to avoid alcoholic beverages and unpasteurised juices during pregnancy. High-caffeine drinks, like energy drinks, should also be avoided, as they may impact foetal development.

Is coconut water safe during pregnancy?

Yes, coconut water is generally considered safe during pregnancy. It provides hydration and essential nutrients, but it’s important to consume it in moderation.

Is curd good for pregnancy?

Curd (yoghurt) is an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, making it beneficial during pregnancy. It can support digestive health and boost immunity.

What is the best vegetable when pregnant?

Various vegetables are beneficial during pregnancy, including leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes, which provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Which dry fruits are suitable for pregnancy?

Nutritious dry fruits suitable for pregnancy include almonds, walnuts, and dates, which provide essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and fibre.

Which fruit is good for a baby’s fair skin during pregnancy?

No specific fruit guarantees a baby’s skin tone, as genetics primarily determines it. However, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can support overall health during pregnancy.

Is turmeric safe during pregnancy?

Turmeric is safe to use in small amounts as a spice in cooking during pregnancy. However, excessive turmeric supplements should be avoided.

How can I strengthen my placenta?

To strengthen the placenta, focus on a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Staying active and getting regular prenatal check-ups can also support placental health.

What happens if you ignore pregnancy cravings?

Ignoring pregnancy cravings is generally safe, but it’s vital to maintain a balanced diet and not rely solely on unhealthy or processed foods.

What fruits are safe during the first trimester?

During the first trimester, safe fruits include apples, bananas, oranges, and pears, which provide essential vitamins and minerals.

What not to eat in the third trimester?

In the third trimester, avoiding foods that may cause discomfort or digestive issues, such as spicy or greasy, is best. Additionally, foods like raw seafood and unpasteurised dairy products should still be avoided to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Which fruits should be avoided during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there are certain fruits that are recommended to be avoided due to the potential risks they might pose. Papaya is one such fruit, particularly the unripe or semi-ripe variety, as it contains an enzyme called papain that could potentially trigger contractions and lead to miscarriage. Pineapple is another fruit that pregnant women are advised to limit, as it contains bromelain, an enzyme that might soften the cervix and cause uterine contractions.


The content provided within this article has been thoroughly verified for accuracy. However, it is advised to consult a doctor before utilising any medication or dietary supplements mentioned herein.


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  • Tsegaye D, Tamiru D, Belachew T. Food-related taboos and misconceptions during pregnancy among rural communities of Illu Aba Bor zone, Southwest Ethiopia. A community-based qualitative cross-sectional study. BMC pregnancy and childbirth. 2021 Dec;21(1):1-9. [Cited on: 2023 August 2] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052673/ 
  • Marshall NE, Abrams B, Barbour LA, Catalano P, Christian P, Friedman JE, Hay Jr WW, Hernandez TL, Krebs NF, Oken E, Purnell JQ. The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and lactation: lifelong consequences. American journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. 2022 May 1;226(5):607-32. [Cited on: 2023 August 2] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9182711/ 

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