Please take our quick survey!

Bookmark and Share  

Pregnancy | Your Wellbeing

What Foods to Avoid when Pregnant

When you’re pregnant being concerned about what could be bad for you and your growing baby is natural. There are certain precautions you should take when it comes to foods to avoid during pregnancy. Let’s take a look at those who could pose a risk to you or your baby’s health while you are pregnant.


  • When it comes to seafood, you’ll need to avoid those high in mercury. It’s perfectly safe and even advisable to eat seafood which is full of protein, and fish which provides you with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Some seafood contains high levels of mercury, however, and should be avoided during pregnancy because it could damage your baby’s developing nervous system. The bigger and older the fish is, the higher levels of mercury it has. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. And limit your intake of canned tuna fish.
  • According to the US Food and Drug Administration you can safely eat up to 170g albacore (white) tuna fish as part of your weekly total limit of 340g seafood low in mercury. This weekly allowance can include salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, cod, pollock and catfish.
  • Avoid fish caught in rivers, lakes and streams as recreational anglers may hook fish contaminated with bacteria or chemicals. Also remember to cook seafood properly – avoid raw seafood completely.
  • Certain types of cheeses should be avoided as they are more prone to allow bacteria growth which can be harmful to your unborn baby. Avoid Roquefort, Brie, Blue Wensleydale, Danish Blue, Pont L’Eveque , Chaumes, Pyramide, Cambozola, Torta del Cesar, Camembert, Chèvre, Taleggio, Vacherin-Fribourgeois, Bergader, Bleu d’Auvergne, , Shropshire Blue, Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola,  Stilton and Chabichou.
  • Other foods to avoid during pregnancy are undercooked meats, poultry and eggs. Your metabolism and circulation changes when you are pregnant and your reaction to bacterial food poisoning might be more severe. Be aware of hot dogs and deli meat; rather avoid them completely if you haven’t cooked them yourself. Also avoid refrigerated pates and meat spreads – but canned versions are ok. Also, don’t buy raw poultry that’s been pre-stuffed, and always cook eggs until yolks and whites are firm.
  • Avoid unpasteurised foods when pregnant; try sticking to low-fat products such as skim milk, mozzarella and cottage cheese. Unless brie, feta, camembert, blue cheese and Mexican-style cheeses are clearly labelled as being made with pasteurised milk, don’t eat them. Unpasteurised juices – such as cider purchased from roadside stands, at farms or in stores are prone to germs – should also be avoided.
  • Be careful with unwashed fruit and vegetables during pregnancy – always wash them thoroughly and cut away damaged portions. Avoid raw sprouts as well as large quantities of liver – which is very high in vitamin A.
  • Too much caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. Because of the potential effects on your developing baby, it is recommended limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet to less than 200mg a day during pregnancy.
  • Some gynaes recommend that you avoid herbal tea, while others don’t. It’s entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with, but if you do decide to drink herbal tea remember to stick to small amounts and to those herbs considered safe for pregnant women.
  • We all know that alcohol shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts when you are pregnant; beer, wine, and spirits rob developing cells of oxygen – making normal development impossible. But a glass of wine every now and then is not going to hurt you or your baby. However those who drink too much alcohol have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Too much alcohol during pregnancy may also result in foetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart problems, low birth weight and mental retardation.
  • Depending on your family history, your child may be at risk for developing food allergies. Avoiding foods including peanuts and peanut products during pregnancy may reduce allergy risk in susceptible children.


25 Responses to “What Foods to Avoid when Pregnant”

  1. [...] Click here for more in-depth info on what foods to avoid during pregnancy. AKPC_IDS += “3000,”; You may also be interested in these articles: [...]

  2. jackie says:

    is smoke salmon safe to have?

  3. Editor says:

    Jackie > It’s usually advisable to stay away from all smoked seafood. If you really need to have salmon, make sure it’s fresh (check the date) and pre-packaged and have a small piece only.

  4. carol says:

    i was a regular smoker(5 a day) before i got pregnant, so i’d like to know if smoking 1 a day harms my baby?

  5. Editor says:

    Smoking while you are pregnant decreases the amount of oxygen that your baby receives. Although one cigarette a day is not a life-and-death situation, it should be quite easy to give up – why not quit altogether? While a few cigarettes (even a few alcoholic drinks) may not harm one woman’s unborn baby, it might have a very different effect on someone else’s baby. It is advisable to live as healthy as possible while pregnant.

  6. Tanya von Mollendorf says:

    Hi there, in the intro you mention one should avoid Peanut products, how come? And does this include Peanutbutter?
    Regards Tanya

  7. RJ says:

    My gynae advised that peanuts should be avoided. I can however have peanut butter and all other nuts but they should be roasted nuts as far as possible.
    The author mentions that your child may be at risk for developing food allergies. So maybe it has something to do with developing a peanut allergy.

  8. NH says:

    Is biltong completely out of the question?

  9. Melanie says:

    Hi there, nothing was mentioned about calamari – this is cooked seafood, so I would imagine it is OK to eat?

  10. Elzet says:

    Calamari is low in mercury which means it’s safe to eat but should be enjoyed in moderation.

  11. Elzet says:

    There are different views on the safety of having biltong while pregnant. At the end of the day it is raw meat and might contain listeria. While we believe that most food types are okay when taken in moderation, you should perhaps try to safe the biltong for after pregnancy.

  12. Geraldine says:

    Hi. I ate fully cooked prawns last week and found out that I’m pregnant this week. Is it ok to eat prawns that are fully cooked?

  13. Melissa says:

    Is it ok to eat raw nuts (not peanuts) i.e. that have not been roasted, salted or flavoured like raw almonds, brazil nuts, pine nuts?

  14. Sarah says:

    Morning, can one have tinned smoked muscles?

  15. Tshego says:

    Hi I’m in my first trimester and I do not have any allergies to any food. Am I likely to develop an allergy now? This is my first pregnancy

  16. Esme says:

    Hi, what about spicy food, e.g. Indian food?

  17. Editor says:

    Hi Esme, we believe most food types are okay, only if enjoyed in moderation. The best answer if you are concerned about spicy foods would be to consult your gynaecologist or dietician.

  18. Sego says:

    we went out on a closing party at work and drank whisky that day, it was before I found out I was pregnant, will it harm my baby? since then I havent drank any alcohol. I am so scared!

  19. Cherese says:

    Hi Ladies,

    My Gynea said live your life as you always have, swim, dance, cycle, colour your hair, eat sushi if you want to, eat biltong if you want to everything in moderation – he has been delivering babies for 40 years and says that things are over analysed in todays world!!

  20. Khanyisa says:

    are potatoes and oranges ok to eat when pregnant, if so. how much should one eat each day?

  21. Kate says:

    Hi Khanyisa, potatoes and oranges are okay to eat, as long as they are eaten in moderation. Remember that potatoes can cause constipation, and most pregnant woman suffer from this. So try to eat in moderation, and avoid when/ if you feel they are causing constipation.

  22. Natalie says:

    I am currently pregnant with my 2nd and of course am concerned about what not to eat but as far as i can remember, with my 1st i ate and drank whatever i felt for and tried to rid my craving before it got so bad i binged, so from my personal experience…eat what you crave as long as its in moderation. my little girl is 100% healthy, no allergies, above average intelligence and a real little character, i also had a completely natural waterbirth with no complications at all nor did i have problems throughout the pregnancy. Do what you feel is right for you!

  23. Leila says:

    Can I eat dried sour figs? Do I need to wash them before eating? I never use too because it softens the skin…

  24. gugulethu says:

    I’m a regular drinker of every weekend and I drink Savana since iv been pregnant i drink wine which is made up of grape and the doctor says i should not eat grapes.Which is what I hear,and is it normal to find everything around you having a wired smell?

  25. Kate says:

    HI Gugulethu,
    Alcohol shouldn’t be consumed when you are pregnant. A glass of wine every now and then is not going to hurt you or your baby. However those who drink too much alcohol have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Too much alcohol during pregnancy may also result in foetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart problems, low birth weight and mental retardation.

Leave a Reply