Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Why you should avoid certain foods in pregnancy

“We could eat whatever we wanted when I was pregnant!” This is one of the most annoying things I hear older women say to my pregnant friends (I’m not sure if my friends find it annoying, but I certainly do!).


What could have happened to change things from being able to eat and drink whatever you like during pregnancy, to now being given a long list of things you should avoid?

It’s called experience, learning, research and knowledge.

Yep, we’ve learnt a lot in the last 30 years!

But because our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, neighbours and well-meaning strangers like to contribute their two cents, a lot of women are now confused and overwhelmed when it comes to eating right during pregnancy.

The main thing to remember is that most of these dietary recommendations are given to protect you and your baby.  Avoiding certain foods during your pregnancy reduces your risk of harming or losing your baby.

Soft cheeses, for example, are known to be breeding grounds for the bacteria Listeria which causes symptoms such as fever headache and diarrhoea. In pregnant women it can cause miscarriage, still birth or premature labour. Pretty good reason to avoid soft cheese for nine months I reckon!

Deli meats, BBQ chooks,  pre-made salads (and pretty much cold, pre-made anything), raw eggs and poultry are other common culprits for listeria and food poisoning. These bugs are destroyed by heat so if food is properly cooked it does not pose a risk.

Alcohol is known to cause foetal alcohol syndrome which results in children having growth and learning difficulties. It is not known how much alcohol it takes to produce this syndrome, so alcohol, whether it’s one glass or one bottle is best avoided.

So you see, these recommendations have been put together with a prevention mindset and really, when you’re presented with a glass of champagne, piece of soft brie, or ham sandwich during your pregnancy all you need to do is think “OK I know the risks, is it worth the few moments of deliciousness?”

And when well-meaning women say “ohh they didn't stop you eating cheese in my day, it's ridiculous!” you can suggest that perhaps the reduction in stillbirth since then can be attributed to these recommendations. Or you can just ignore them and save yourself the debate!

Here’s the list of the foods that I give to my
clients to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Soft cheese e.g. brie, camembert, feta, ricotta
  • Precooked (cold) food e.g. BBQ chicken, deli meat, pate, smoked salmon
  • Raw meat and seafood e.g. sushi Shellfish
  • Raw egg including mousse, homemade mayo and ice cream
  • Fish likely to contain high levels of mercury e.g. shark, swordfish and tuna
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine e.g. coffee, energy drinks, soft drink
  • Junk food e.g. lollies, chips, fast food

Not quite at the pregnancy part yet?

If you're wondering what you need to do to start preparing for pregnancy, pick up a copy of the Holistic Fertility ebook written by acupuncturist Kim Gatenby.

Kim will step you through how to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. Get It