10 Foods You Crave, but Should Avoid During Pregnancy

You’ve heard the joke before, pickles and ice cream to announce a pregnancy. Of course it’s a gag, but the weird cravings that you get when you’re pregnant are very real. Sometimes you just want to eat peanut butter (is that really so strange, though?), but for some women it takes a turn into the unusual.

Women who have been vegetarians for 15 years suddenly want a burger, or something you hated suddenly becomes all you want. Usually, you're free to eat what you want, but there are some foods and beverages that you should definitely avoid if you’re expecting.

The reasons for avoiding different foods vary. In some cases they can harm your unborn child, but in other cases, they can make you very, very ill which indirectly harms your child. Here's a list of 10 food items that you crave, but you should avoid while you’re pregnant.

10 Raw Cookie Dough/Cake Batter (Uncooked Eggs)

There is nothing better than licking the mixers and spoons after you whipped up a batch of homemade baked goods. It reminds us of being a kid again, a simple and special treat before the main sweet event. There’s a good a chance if you’re a baker, during this time you’ll be inspired to go full Susie Homemaker in the kitchen, but you should think twice about indulging in the uncooked goods.

Your finished products are fine (mostly, more on that later), but in their uncooked form, those raw eggs make them dangerous. According to the FDA,  some eggs contain harmful bacteria and although cold temperatures tends to kill most of them off, you can never be too careful.

To be safe, you should avoid foods that are prepared with raw egg, such as homemade eggnog or mayonnaise. That being said, store bought versions of the same products are usually fine.

9 Junk Food

Right from the start we should say that we’re not suggesting you swear off all your special treats, but eating too many may actually do more than just expand your (already expanding) waistline. According to one study, you could be setting your baby up to have a predisposition for reaching for the snacks as well.

The study found that moms who had a diet high in junk foods rather than a more varied diet had children who were less sensitive to the feel good reactions that eating indulgent food brings, which means that they'll have to eat more of it to get the same good feeling.

Of course, pregnancy can make you crave sweet and salty quick eats like chips and snack cakes, and having them a few times a week or in smaller servings is probably not going to harm your baby, but it’s important not to subsist on them alone. Your growing baby needs a lot of nutrients in order to develop correctly. Nutrients that they can only get from you. So even if you can’t give up the chip bag for good, remember to eat some veggies from time to time.

8 Store Bought Salads

This one may seem a little bit on the weird side. After all, what can be unhealthy about a salad? Usually, nothing. Make all the salads you want at home! Enjoy those crisp greens, veggies, and whatever else you put on it. But if you’re thinking about grabbing a quick Caesar from your local grocer, think twice, it may be crawling with listeria.

The key to enjoying fresh foods is making sure that they are washed correctly and stored at appropriate temperatures. Which is why making your own at home is fine. You can’t really be sure that your local salad spot is really doing its job in that department however. This warning extends to the fruit bar as well, I’m afraid.

Listeria causes Listeriosis which, in pregnant women can cause a host of problems from miscarriage to serious illness and death in newborns. This, unfortunately, is not an issue that is unlikely, there was just an outbreak in early 2016 reminding us all that, even though some yummy fruit and greens can really hit the spot, it might best to skip the convenience and make yourself a salad at home.

7 Your Morning Coffee (Caffeine)

For many women, the day doesn’t start before they’ve had a cup (or three) of coffee. In our busy lives, it’s pretty common to find yourself in need of cup of joe to kick start your day. When you’re pregnant though, that cup of joe may be more like a “no.”

Caffeine is the major culprit that puts coffee on the avoid list. The caffeine is a stimulate, which is why we drink it, but that rise in blood pressure isn’t so great for your pregnant body. Also not great is the increased urination that it causes. Pregnant women are susceptible to dehydration and peeing more isn’t going to help that.

Caffeine also crosses the placenta wall which means your baby also gets a dose of that same stimulant which their developing body may not be able to handle correctly. It has even been suspected to cause miscarriages, but the studies are split, some say it does, others dispute this. Still, better safe than sorry.

It’s not all bad, generally a daily small cup of caffeinated beverage is fine so you won’t have to suffer through a caffeine headache or try to slog through your day totally without your fix.

6 Raw Milk/Yogurt (Unpasteurized Dairy)

Dairy products in general are good for you during your pregnancy, your body needs the vitamins, minerals and fats they provide to support a healthy pregnancy. If you like that creamy goodness of raw dairy, you’re going to have to pass. Unpasteurized dairy is a breeding ground for bacteria, particularly brucellosis.

Many people have jumped onto the “raw” food bandwagon and consume milk and yogurt that haven't been pasteurized without issue. Still, because it hasn’t gone through that purification process, there’s a chance that it could be harboring some icky side effects.

The bacteria generally causes food poisoning, but stomach cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea can lead to dehydration for an expectant mother which can be very serious. In more extreme cases, it can lead to kidney failure and even death. While you’re pregnant, you should probably stick to the pasteurized versions of your favorite diary products, just to be safe.

5 Steak Tartar (Raw Meat)

We’ve all seen the first season of American Horror Story: Murder House, where Vivien (Connie Britton) eats the raw pig brain because it’s “good for the baby.” In reality, you should refrain from eating that or any other raw meat dish.

We hear a lot about avoiding sushi, but not so much about avoiding things like steak tartar or various types of sashimi that are also made from raw red meat which may cause problems during pregnancy. Raw and undercooked meat from pigs, cows, and chickens play host to a variety of bacteria and worms that will likely leave you sick for days at the very least.

Which means even if you’re just dying for a big juicy rare steak, it’s a better idea to get it well done, just to ensure that the cooking process has killed all the harmful things that may be lurking there.

4 Fish

If you love seafood, there’s a good chance you’ll get a hankering for it while you’re knocked up. As stated before, we’re warned against sushi for being raw, but the truth is, fish is a bit of a danger in and of itself--not all fish, but there are certainly ones you want to avoid.

According to the CDC, you want to watch out for tilefish, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and limit your white tuna intake. These fish have the highest level of mercury in them. Ingesting high concentrations of mercury can have harmful effects on the nervous system.

Eating certain types of seafood (provided they are from a reliable source) is actually very healthy and recommended, but eating the fish we have mentioned here is a different story and can lead to birth defects.

3 Liver

Most people see liver and would avoid that at ANY time, pregnant or not, but some women just love the taste of it and it's definitely one of those weird cravings you may get (liver with fava beans, hold the chianti). Still, this one makes the list for an odd reason: It’s too much of a good thing.

Liver and liver products are chock full of Vitamin A according to the National Health Services. This may seem like something that would be wonderful for pregnant women, and it is, in small amounts. There’s so much in liver however, that it may end up actually harming your baby.

A few servings (if you must) a month will be fine, but if you’re dying for some liver pate or liver sausage, you’ll have to consume in moderation.

2 Alcohol

The reason that we’re putting this on the list is because it has recently become a matter of some debate. How much alcohol is too much? Is a glass of red wine daily ok as some articles state or should it be avoided at all costs? The CDC has taken a stand and stated that no alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

The consumption of alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) which are lifelong complications and disabilities in children. Science isn’t really sure at what level the danger kicks in and recommends speaking with your doctor before consuming any alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, especially because every drink is different when it comes to the alcoholic content.

Alcohol is firmly on the avoid list, but if you feel like you can’t go nine months without a drink or you just have questions, it’s best to consult your doctor directly about your specific case.

1 Deli Meat

Have you ever just wanted a sub? Fresh bread, crisp lettuce, some sort of flavored spread, a few slices of rich cheese, a couple of slabs of fresh cut deli meat. Sounds heavenly, but if you’re expecting, no matter how badly your mouth waters at the thought of a hoagie, lunch meat is something you may want to skip out on.

The reason you want to avoid lunchmeat is one we’ve already covered. Our old friend listeria, that tricky bacteria is what makes lunch meat a poor choice for a quick eat while you’re pregnant. As simple as it would be to throw together a nice cold sandwich, the CDC recommends just giving it a pass.

It also tends to be high in sodium which is also not a great idea for pregnant women. If you must partake in a sub, then it’s better to fully cook the lunch meat before eating it. Just throwing the sandwich on the grill will make it much safer to consume.

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