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11 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Bologna 1 of 22
Because it is a processed meat, bologna may contain a bacteria called Listeria. Anyone can be affected by bacteria, but pregnant women have reduced immune systems and are more susceptible to the effects of bacteria. Pregnant women are more likely to develop a serious illness called listeriosis, which can be fatal or lead to miscarriage or stillbirth in the second and third trimesters. Bologna also contains sodium nitrite as a preservative, which has been identified as a carcinogen and may be linked to an increased risk of fetal brain tumors.
Instead of Bologna 2 of 22
Christina Pirello, host of the television series Christina Cooks, and the author of Cooking the Whole Foods Way and This Crazy Vegan Life, suggests substituting soy bologna to avoid the additives that are in lunchmeats or to be even more pure, baked tofu for protein and a smoky taste. Try our delicious recipe for Tofu Patties.
Blue Cheese 3 of 22
Did you know that a source of bacteria is what gives blue cheese its color and flavor? Soft cheeses, like blue cheese, cause approximately a majority of the cases of listeriosis. While pregnant, only consume pasteurized cheeses and other dairy products.
Instead of Blue Cheese 4 of 22
Pirello says to try soy-based, non-dairy feta cheese. You will get the flavor you crave without saturated fats and mold.
Try our recipe for Edamame and Penne Salad with Feta.
Swordfish 5 of 22
Swordfish is one of several fish (shark, king mackerel, and tilefish) that can be high in mercury and should not be eaten during pregnancy. The mercury is in the form of methylmercury, which can cause neurological damage in a fetus or young child. For more information, read Is Seafood Safe During Pregnancy?
Instead of Swordfish 6 of 22
Skip this entirely and go for a white meat fish like haddock to get that "meaty" texture you may crave, but to remain safe, says Pirello. Try our Fish with Brown Butter Sauce for dinner tonight.
Homemade Caesar Dressing 7 of 22
If you prefer to make homemade Caesar dressing the old-fashioned way with raw eggs, you may want to consider switching to bottled until Baby arrives. Most experts agree that moms-to-be should never consume raw eggs because they can contain Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness (vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains) and may also lead to stillbirth.
Instead of Homemade Caesar Dressing 8 of 22
Go vegan, says Pirello. A vegan version made with tofu is just as creamy and yummy and you are not risking Salmonella. Try our recipe for the Best Buttermilk Dressing.
Sushi 9 of 22
Although sushi-grade fish has been frozen to kill any potential parasites, there is still concern that the uncooked fish may contain harmful bacteria and viruses. Also, fish like Ahi tuna, typically used in sushi are higher in mercury content.
Instead of Sushi 10 of 22
Go with vegetarian sushi and skip the raw fish, suggests Pirello. Avocado rolls and cucumber rolls are fresh, delicious, and safe. Try Cat Cora's Thai Chicken Salad Cabbage Spring Rolls.
Sprouts 11 of 22
While sprouts look innocent enough and are a great source of vitamin C and other vitamins, it's best to avoid them while expecting because they are another potential source of bacteria. Even after you wash sprouts, they can still be contaminated with several bacteria and viruses, such as E.coli.
Instead of Sprouts 12 of 22
Sprouts do have a distinct texture and are hard to replace, but Pirello suggests shredding zucchini or carrot on your salad for a safe—and healthy—alternative.
Pates 13 of 22
Pates are spreadable pastes generally made from finely ground or chunky mixtures of meat, such as liver, and added fat. Throw in spices, herbs, and sometimes wine, and many think this is a wonderful spread on crackers or toast points. Maybe so, but homemade versions are best skipped for now, as they can contain harmful bacteria. If you must have pate, choose canned.
Instead of Pate 14 of 22
There are tons of prepared vegetable pates on the market to satisfy this craving and avoid the saturated fats and additives in pate, says Pirello. Or another creamy alternative is hummus.
Raw Oysters 15 of 22
Oysters can contain a bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, which can cause illness in some. With no way of knowing if the bacteria are present and your immune system low due to your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to cross raw oysters off your menu.
Instead of Oysters 16 of 22
While oysters can cause foodborne illness when raw, Elizabeth Ward, dietitian and author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy, says thoroughly cooked oysters are considered safe to eat during pregnancy. "That's because the right amount of heat destroys the germs in food that can make you sick," she says.
Alcohol 17 of 22
Alcohol can have a negative effect on your developing baby. Alcohol can cause mental and physical birth defects, including fetal alcohol syndrome.
Instead of Alcohol 18 of 22
Choose a refreshing glass of water or your favorite 100-percent fruit juice. Or jazz it up! Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean your drinks have to be boring. Here are 8 great non-alcoholic cocktails sure to please.
Diet Soda 19 of 22
While the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda have been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration—with the exception of saccharin—a study found that drinking diet soda during pregnancy may increase your risk of preterm delivery.
Instead of Diet Cola 20 of 22
Doctors recommend that during pregnancy you drink eight 8- to 12-ounce glasses of water a day, so it's best to skip the soda anyway and opt for good ol' H2O. Missing the fizzy? Try sparkling water, or for something different all together, make a Cucumber Melon Agua Fresca, a pitcher of blueberry lemonade, or some refreshing cucumber–lemon water.
Licorice 21 of 22
OK, we may be nit-picky here, but a small study out of London found that pregnant moms who ate licorice had elementary-aged children with high levels of cortisol compared to moms who didn't eat the sticky sweet. Cortisol helps the body deal with stress, but too much of the hormone in the body has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity in adulthood.
Instead of Licorice 22 of 22
Missing the smell and taste of licorice? Try a dish with fennel. Orange-Scented White Fish with Caramelized Fennel and Fennel-Crusted Salmon on White Beans have a licorice flavor and are also a healthy part of your pregnancy diet. If you're looking for sweet, chewy texure similar to licorice, homemade fruit rolls could do the trick—and are 100-percent fruit without anything artificial added.
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