There is much information out there about what to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy—it can seem so confusing at first! But look at it this way—it’s amazing that in this day and age, there is so much research done for the benefit of pregnant women so that they can choose the foods that will be the most beneficial for themselves and their babies.
There was not always so much accurate info out there, so moms today are definitely lucky in this regard. Sure, some of it can seem difficult to comprehend and stick to all of the time, but thankfully, women only have to abide by these rules for a few months. It’s not such a long time in the grand scheme of things; these sacrifices and dietary changes are only temporary.
So, what should pregnant women eat? And what should they avoid? These are both important questions to ask. After all, every pregnant woman wants to have a healthy baby, and choosing the right foods is definitely crucial. Sure, it can be tough with those weird cravings, but it’s worth it! Here are 20 food restrictions that can have an effect on the baby.
20 Don’t Restrict: Beans
According to Healthline, beans and other legumes are just packed with healthy nutrients that pregnant women really need—so unless they trigger nausea during the first trimester, there is simply no reason to restrict beans. In fact, load up on them for extra iron and protein! Iron is such an important nutrient for pregnancy, and getting some extra plant protein into your diet when pregnant can help you sustain your energy throughout the day. Pregnant women can find themselves feeling more tried and fatigued than usual, and eating beans can help give you a healthy boost on those long days.
19 Restrict: Organ Meats
Nowadays, it’s not very common for people to chow down on cuts of meat like liver—but if you do happen to enjoy things like liver pate, you may want to hold off during pregnancy. According to WebMD, liver and other, similar organ meats contain very high amounts of certain vitamins like vitamin A. While vitamin A is an essential, important vitamin, it can be toxic in high doses, so pregnant women actually need to be especially careful about consuming too much. It’s wise to avoid organ meats like liver during pregnancy just to eliminate that risk of high vitamin A.
18 Don’t Restrict: Dairy
It’s worth mentioning that many women are lactose intolerant, so if that’s the case, feel free to leave dairy off the menu during pregnancy—but if not, feel free to enjoy it. According to Live Science, pregnant women can benefit from eating full fat dairy foods because they need lots of calcium and healthy fats in their diets. So skip over those diet low-fat yogurts and go for the real thing. After all, pregnant women can eat some extra calories anyway, so as long as those dairy products are pasteurized, they can be a healthy addition to your diet.
17 Restrict: Anything With Raw Eggs
Okay, we know that you’re probably not sitting at the table and snacking on raw eggs—but raw eggs can be found in many products, and pregnant women would be better off avoiding them. According to What to Expect, eating raw eggs raises the risk of salmonella, which is an unpleasant illness even if you’re not pregnant—and if a woman contracts it while pregnant, it can negatively affect the baby, too. Therefore, things like mayo should be put on the shelf until after the baby is born. Unfortunately, desserts like tiramisu also include raw eggs, so that’s a no-go.
16 Don’t Restrict: Cooked Eggs
So, we’ve established that eating anything containing raw egg is not a smart choice during pregnancy—but what about cooked eggs? Is it still okay to have them for breakfast? Thankfully, the answer is yes. According to Mama Natural, cooked eggs do not carry a risk of salmonella or other food borne illnesses, and they are also high in healthy amino acids like choline, which is great for the growing baby. They also contain healthy fats and plenty of protein, which will give pregnant mamas a boost of energy. Cooked eggs definitely have a spot on the menu for pregnant women.
15 Restrict: Tuna
Unfortunately, the popular piece of advice that pregnant women should skip the sushi is 100% accurate. No one likes to say goodbye to those tasty rolls, but here’s why it’s risky. Tuna and other fish that are commonly used in sushi contain higher levels of mercury than other fish, and according to Healthline, this can be toxic for the baby. However, there are some tasty substitutes—perhaps some vegetarian or even vegan sushi with fresh veggies and avocados could be a good choice instead. And if no substitutes will do, just remember that it can be back on your plate in nine months.
14 Don’t Restrict: Salmon
So, tuna is off limits, but what about other fish? Is all of it just too risky because of the mercury in the ocean? Thankfully, the answer is no. According to Mama Natural, fish like salmon are much lower in mercury content and they are totally safe to eat. In fact, doctors recommend that pregnant women eat salmon because it is full of healthy fats, protein, and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are crucial for brain health for both mom and baby, so wild caught or even farmed salmon is a good choice for a tasty, nutritious dinner.
13 Restrict: Sprouts
Wait, greens are supposed to be super healthy, right? Aren’t sprouts good for you, just like other green vegetables? Unfortunately, this is not the case for pregnant women. According to What to Expect, sprouts can carry food borne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli, and even listeria. And yes, this applies whether they are raw or even lightly cooked. Why is this? Well, washing before eating does not get rid of these bacteria on sprouts. Therefore, it is just best to avoid them if you are pregnant. While the risk is small, it is easy to prevent it from happening at all.
12 Don’t Restrict: Leafy Greens
If pregnant women can’t have sprouts, can they still enjoy healthy salads and other leafy greens on sandwiches or in stir frys? Yup, those are all safe to eat! According to Livestrong, eating leafy greens during pregnancy is always a good idea. They are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, and they are one of the healthiest sources of fiber and carbohydrates. Sometimes, fibrous veggies can be a little tough for some people to digest, so if leafy greens are rough on your system and make you feel queasy when pregnant, don’t just force them on to your plate.
11 Restrict: Any Processed Meats
Yes, it’s clear that a pregnant woman needs a good amount of protein in her diet—after all, she needs to grow a tiny human, and protein makes the building blocks of muscle—but skipping processed meats, especially deli meats, is a smart idea. According to The Bump, processed meats are especially high in unhealthy compounds like nitrates, and deli meats can carry listeria. While there are ways to reduce the risks that come from eating these foods (for example, heating up deli meats until they’re steaming), it is really best to simply restrict them until the pregnancy is over.
10 Don’t Restrict: Lean Meats
While processed meats shouldn’t have a place on a pregnant woman’s plate, lean meats are totally fine. According to Live Science, some pregnant women do develop food aversions along with cravings, and they may find themselves no longer wanting to eat meat. But this does not happen to every pregnant woman, and if you have no problem with consuming lean meats, go ahead and load up your plate. Lean cuts of meat like chicken breasts are full of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, and thankfully, they are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than cuts of red meat like steak.
9 Restrict: Caffeine
It’s quite sad that caffeine needs to be restricted during pregnancy, because naturally, pregnant women can find themselves getting tired pretty easily—it’s all the work that goes into growing a little human being! But according to Healthline, restricting caffeine during pregnancy is simply the safest way to go. Researchers have not been able to confirm how much caffeine is totally safe for a growing fetus to be ingesting via mom. However, there is a little silver lining to this one—pregnant women can safely have one caffeinated beverage per day. That morning cup of coffee doesn’t have to be cut out.
8 Don’t Restrict: Berries
Pregnant women may not want to indulge in a lot of refined sugar, but that doesn’t mean that everything sweet and delicious is off the table! According to Livestrong, pregnant women should feel free to eat lots of berries for themselves and the baby. This is because pregnancy can lower the body’s immune response, making pregnant women more susceptible to colds and minor illnesses—but the good news is that berries are absolutely packed with powerful antioxidants that help the body fight off those germs. Keep them in the fridge for when those cravings for something sweet just happen to strike!
7 Restrict: Fruit Juice
Yes, we’ve established that fruits like berries are okay—so why would fruit juice be bad for pregnant women? According to Livestrong, drinking pasteurized fruit juice is okay (aside from all the extra refined sugar, that is) but unless you can definitely confirm that the juice has been pasteurized, it is not safe. For example, a small bottle of cranberry juice from a well known company should be just fine, but picking up some fresh apple cider from the farmer’s market down the road is a bad idea because unpasteurized juices have the potential to harbor bacteria that causes illness.
6 Don’t Restrict: Whole Grains
Yes, there is a lot of buzz going on lately about whether or not grains—even whole grains like wheat bread—are bad for us. But the general consensus is that whole grains (not refined grains like white bread) are perfectly healthy, and according to The Bump, there is no reason to restrict them during pregnancy. Wheat bread is also typically enriched with important B vitamins that pregnant women need, and grains like quinoa are a fantastic source of protein and lots of amino acids. Unless you do have an allergy to gluten, feel free to load up on the bread.
5 Restrict: Herbal Teas
What’s so bad about herbal teas? Aren’t they supposed to be super good for you and have all kinds of health benefits? While many varieties of herbal tea are quite healthy, here’s the problem—according to Healthline, many of them simply have not been tested to see whether or not they are truly safe for pregnant women. Sure, we could find out in a few years that plenty of them are perfectly safe for pregnant women to have, but if you don’t have all the facts yet, it’s best to just put those teas back in the pantry for now.
4 Don’t Restrict: Avocados
Avocados really do seem to be the magical food. According to Mama Natural, avocados are a great food for pregnant women to stock up on for a number of reasons. First of all, they are one of the best sources of healthy fats that you can buy, but they are very low in saturated fats. They have a mild, neutral flavor, so depending on what you’re craving (or what you’re feeling averse to), you can prepare them in different ways or include them in a wide variety of dishes. They are a great way to get extra calories and nutrients in.
3 Restrict: Peanuts
So, beans are a healthy choice for pregnant women, but other legumes like peanuts aren’t such a good idea? What’s the deal with that? Well, it actually has to do with the rising rate of food allergies. According to Healthline, some medical researchers are now theorizing that babies who are exposed to compounds from peanuts in the womb are more likely to develop peanut allergies later in life. Since food allergies can be daunting for both the parent and the child, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious during pregnancy and simply avoid peanuts since they are such a common allergen.
2 Don’t Restrict: Bananas
What’s so great about bananas? Well, this simply fruit is fantastic source of complex carbohydrates. According to The Bump, bananas are a great choice for pregnant women because they also provide a good amount of much needed potassium, which is totally essential for the baby’s growth. Plus, there are a few other benefits to bananas: they are one of the cheapest fruits in the grocery store, they are easily portable, and they can be used to bulk up smoothies, smoothie bowls, oatmeal—you can even use them to make healthy banana ice cream! There is no need to skimp on bananas.
1 Restrict: Shellfish
When it comes to eating seafood during pregnancy, it can feel like there are so many little rules to keep track of that it just becomes too much. But after some time, learning the guidelines will be easy. According to Livestrong, shellfish may be tasty and nutritious, but it is smart to avoid them during pregnancy. This is because shellfish are not only a common allergen like peanuts, but they also carry a higher risk of food borne illnesses than most foods. If you want to eat seafood while pregnant, salmon is really going to be the best choice for you.
Sources: healthline.com, webmd.com, livescience.com, whattoexpect.com, mamanatural.com, livestrong.com, thebump.com