Dr. Femi Akinsanya

Medical Director, Healing Spring Hospital Jun 23

Beware! Diets to Avoid When Pregnant: Prioritizing Your Baby's Health


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Pregnancy is a beautiful and transformative time in a woman's life. It is essential to prioritize the health and well-being of both the mother and the growing baby during this period. Proper nutrition is crucial for a healthy pregnancy, but it's equally important to be aware of certain diets that may pose risks to both the mother and the unborn child. In this article, we will discuss some diets that should be avoided during pregnancy to ensure a safe and healthy journey for both mother and baby.

1. Extreme Calorie Restriction Diets:

Diets that severely restrict calorie intake can be dangerous during pregnancy. Although it's normal to gain weight during this time, it's important to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods rather than cutting calories. Extreme calorie restriction can deprive the body and the developing baby of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for healthy growth.

2. High-Mercury Fish:

Fish is generally considered a healthy food choice due to its omega-3 fatty acids and protein content. However, certain types of fish can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to the developing nervous system of the fetus. Avoid fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Instead, opt for low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, catfish, and light tuna.

3. Raw or Undercooked Foods:

Raw or undercooked foods, including sushi, unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs, and undercooked meats, should be avoided during pregnancy. These foods can harbor harmful bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and toxoplasma, which can cause foodborne illnesses and potentially harm the baby. Make sure to cook all meats thoroughly, avoid unpasteurized dairy, and skip raw or undercooked eggs.

4. Excessive Caffeine Intake:

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and certain soft drinks. High levels of caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the baby's heart rate and metabolism. It's advisable to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy, as excessive consumption has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth. It's recommended to consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is roughly equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

5. Unpasteurized Juices and Cider:

Unpasteurized fruit juices and cider should be avoided during pregnancy. These beverages can carry harmful bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. Pasteurization is a process that kills bacteria and parasites, making the juice or cider safe to consume. Always opt for pasteurized versions or freshly squeezed juice made at home using clean and sanitized equipment.


During pregnancy, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is vital for the well-being of both the mother and the growing baby. It's important to avoid diets that may compromise the intake of essential nutrients, as well as foods that carry potential risks of bacterial contamination or high levels of mercury. Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations during pregnancy. By making informed choices, you can nurture a safe and healthy environment for your baby's development, setting the stage for a lifetime of well-being.