It is always important to eat nutritious and balanced meals, and it is even more essential to eat the right food when you are trying to conceive (TTC) or already pregnant. You and your baby require essential nutrients, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to ensure a healthier pregnancy.

Most foods are safe, however, there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy which may potentially be infectious, and food that contains too much mercury or other harmful agents.

Can I Eat This?

What Can I Drink?

Food Safety

Knowing which foods to avoid can make a difference in staying healthy during pregnancy, but you must also learn how to correctly prepare the food you do eat. When cooking at home, follow the 4 simple steps of food preparation: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Check out our Pregnancy Nutrition and Food Guide!

In general, there are 3 major foodborne risks to pregnant women: listeria, toxoplasmosis, and methylmercury. 

To prevent listeria infection:

  • Do not eat soft cheese, such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, "blue-veined cheeses," "queso blanco," "queso fresco," and Panela — unless it's labeled as made with pasteurized milk. 
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood — unless it's in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. (Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel, is most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." These types of fish are found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delis.)
  • Do not eat homemade salami or sausages that are not cooked well enough.
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk. Even ice cream has been implicated as being responsible for Listeria infections.
  • Do not eat without first washing your hands after you have gardened or worked with soil.

To prevent toxoplasmosis infection:

  • Wear gloves when gardening or handling sand in a sandbox.
  • Do not eat undercooked meat, especially lamb.
  • Do not get a new cat while pregnant and let someone else clean the cat litter.

To decrease methylmercury exposure:

  • Do not eat shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. These fish can contain high levels of methylmercury.
  • It's okay to eat other cooked seafood as long as a variety of other kinds are selected during pregnancy or while trying to become pregnant.
  • You can eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
  • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you can eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

Read More Foods to Avoid:
Soft Cheeses
Unpasteurized Milk Products And Fresh Juices
Artificial Sweeteners
Fast Food
Raw Sprouts
Caesar Salad