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15 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

You might be craving them, but some foods to avoid during pregnancy are best saved for when that baby's in your arms—and not your belly.

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pregnant woman holding a plate with fruit saladg-stockstudio/Shutterstock

Food—the way you eat it, think about it, smell it and even taste it—changes during pregnancy. Pregnant mamas can crave anything, from wacky food combinations like pickles and ice cream to a downright spicy Tex-Mex dish. But there are definitely some rules when it comes to what an expectant mom should not eat. Don’t worry—here are some of the healthiest foods for moms-to-be.

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Green dragon sushi roll with eel, avocado, cucumber, wasabi and ginger.GreenArt/Shutterstock

Can You Eat Sushi While Pregnant?

No. Even if you’ve mastered the art of rolling your own sushi at home, it’s better for expectant mothers to keep this raw fish dish out of their diet during pregnancy. Even though cooked seafood gets the OK from doctors, the seafood in raw sushi can easily contain unwanted bacteria.

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Wine Pourlenetstan/Shutterstock

Can You Drink Alcohol While Pregnant?

No. Alcohol is never safe to consume at any stage of a pregnancy. Drinking it can cause a handful of health problems, delays and complications for an unborn baby during their time in the womb and later on in life. You can still celebrate with fun party drinks, though.

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cold cuts with breadValerio Pardi/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Deli Meat?

No. Don’t go for that mouth-watering deli meat sandwich platter just yet. Even though the chances of a pregnant woman and her baby being put at risk by eating deli meat are slim, the meats can still contain listeria—a kind of bacteria that affects us through contaminated food, and can even cause a miscarriage.

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Pregnant woman preparing meal at table in the kitchen,healthy nutrition during pregnancyPraisaeng/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw Eggs?

No. Because raw eggs can contain salmonella, pregnant women shouldn’t consider them during their pregnancy. Even lightly scrambled and poached eggs are a no-go in the morning. Skip runny yolks—and resist the temptation to sample that raw cookie dough.

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Glass of milk on wooden backgroundshowcake/Shutterstock

Can You Drink Raw Milk While Pregnant?

No. As amazing as a cup of farm-fresh milk sounds, moms-to-be shouldn’t drink raw milk just yet. Milk that hasn’t been pasteurized (the simple process that partially sterilizes milk and gives it a longer shelf life) could contain bacteria that can possibly harm an unborn baby. Check the label to make sure yours is pasteurized.

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Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

Can You Eat Soft Cheese While Pregnant?

No. Hard cheeses like asiago and Parmesan are fine to eat, but stay away from soft cheese (especially imported feta, Gorgonzola and the like) to eliminate the chances of contracting listeria. (It’s that same bacteria deli meat can carry.) If you’re feeling bummed, whipping up some cheesy Waffle Fry Nachos might cheer you up.

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Raw Organic Swordfish Steak Filets Ready to CookBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Fish?

Maybe. Don’t worry just yet, seafood lovers! Not all seafood is off-limits. Fish that contain higher levels of mercury, however, such as bigeye tuna, swordfish, shark and king mackerel shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy. Make salmon for dinner instead.

Psst: It’s also best to steer clear of these fish while breastfeeding, along with these foods.

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Beef tartare with egg yolk on a grey wooden table5 second Studio/Shutterstock

Can You Eat Undercooked or Raw Meat?

No. It might come with obvious risks since it’s not fully cooked, but eating raw meat is most definitely a thing, and it’s considered a delicacy by some. When you’re expecting, though, undercooked and raw meat aren’t great options—even if steak tartare and rare steak offer flavors like no other—since the meat can contain harmful bacteria.

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Beef Jerky on wooden backgroundFabio Balbi/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Processed Meat?

Maybe. Processed meat can contain added chemicals that some experts consider unhealthy. It’s important to not drive yourself nuts, but reading labels is helpful when it comes to picking out meat at the store. If a meat boasts a label with ‘cured,’ ‘salted’ or ‘smoked,’ it could very well be processed. So, avoid cured bacon, beef jerky and smoked meat.

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Pleasant pregnant woman holding a cup of coffeeDmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

Can You Drink Caffeine While Pregnant?

Maybe. It wouldn’t seem fair to tell a busy mom-to-be that she can’t enjoy a cup of coffee, but moderation is key. There’s still speculation when it comes to caffeine and pregnancy, but to be safe, experts recommend limiting caffeine to about 200mg a day. (That’s a 12 oz cup of coffee.) Keep an eye out for other sources of caffeine such as dark chocolate and soda, too.

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close up of pregnant woman with croissant buns and cookies sitting in bed at homeSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Junk Food and Sweets?

Maybe. Indulging a junk food craving during a pregnancy here and there isn’t a big deal, but sugary, processed snacks should be just that—an occasional treat. Some researchers suggest that pregnant women who snack on these types of food throughout their pregnancy might have children who prefer them later in life.

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Alfalfa seed sproutsleonori/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Eat Sprouts?

No. As yummy and flavorful as raw sprouts can be (like clover and alfalfa), bacteria finds a way into the seeds during the time period before a sprout fully grows. Because of this, it’s not really possible to get rid of the pesky germs—so avoid any products that contain raw sprouts.

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Close up portrait of pregnant woman holding glass filled with orange juice.YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/Shutterstock

Can Pregnant Women Drink Fresh Juice?

Isn’t fresh juice (with no added sugar) healthier? It can be, but not for expectant mothers. Juice in its fresh-squeezed, raw form hasn’t been put through the pasteurization process, which cleanses it from unwanted bacteria and contaminants.

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Roasted chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms, green onion, pepper and sheep cheese, garnished with steamed vegetable and riceNoirChocolate/Shutterstock

Can You Eat Pre-Stuffed Chicken While Pregnant?

Stuffed chicken is a healthy, simple go-to for most—but the pre-stuffed versions found in stores aren’t the best for pregnant women. The juices that come from raw poultry can actually seep into the stuffing, which is a prime spot for bacteria to grow and multiply.

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Happy pregnant woman cooking at home, doing fresh green salad, eating many different vegetables during pregnancyAnna Om/Shutterstock

Can You Eat Unwashed Produce?

If you’ve never been a big fan of fruits and veggies, pregnancy is a great time to become one. Just always remember to thoroughly wash all produce, since bacteria, bugs and a parasite known as toxoplasma can live on them. You can rinse in cold running water, scrub ’em with a brush or wash in a white vinegar solution.

Taylor Murphy
Taylor is a food, parenting and health writer. When she's not writing about the newest Oreo flavor or her favorite kitchen appliance, she can be found searching for her next coffee fix or taste-testing recipes with her daughter.

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