What to avoid eating while pregnant

What to avoid eating while pregnantDuring both my pregnancies I was quite careful about my diet and what foods I did or did not eat. In hindsight, I probably should have been more concerned about my chocolate and ice-cream cravings, although a lot of my energy was focused on what I shouldn’t be eating due to Listeriosis.

There are some real watchouts with what foods you should avoid in a pregnancy diet and today I wanted to share with you the reasons behind why we should avoid them.

Some of the common foods in a pregnancy diet which should be avoided include soft or semi soft cheeses; deli meats; soft or undercooked eggs, meats and fish; pate; prepared salads (mixed like coleslaw or plain lettuce); cooked and chilled chicken; soft serve ice cream and raw fish.

These recommendations for pregnant women are due to the risk that these items could be loaded with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or Listeria. The scary one here for pregnant women is Listeria.


Listeria is most commonly found in deli meats, soft and semi soft cheeses and other deli style products. This is because Listeria thrives in a moist, high salt, low temperature environment which is typical of deli display cabinets. In a non-pregnant person, Listeria poisoning results in mild flu like symptoms, cramping, headaches etc but in a pregnant lady it can result in miscarriage. In Australia the statistic of overall Listeria food poisoning in pregnant women is about 1 in 25 000 pregnancies.


Salmonella is commonly found in eggs, chicken and even soft serve ice-cream.With Salmonella poisoning, although it would be incredibly uncomfortable and could result in dehydration, there is no known harmful effects on your baby. During pregnancy, your immune system is suppressed so you are more susceptible to the effects of food poisoning, but the effects should not be of detriment to the baby (unless very severe)

Today’s food environment and supply is different

People often said to me, “Well my mother ate everything when she was pregnant with me”.  Or you might even hear your pesky mother in law say this. The problem with this statement is if your mother in law or mother is anywhere near my mother’s age (mid 60s), she would have rarely eaten out in comparison to the frequency today. And foods like salami, fetta, raw salmon sashimi, were not staple menu items in every Australian restaurant or home even.

The fact is, these days we have such a great access to varied foods from many cultures and from many different sources. Unfortunately you cannot always trust the person you are buying from, and no matter how strict they are with their hygiene, if their supply is infected, it is difficult for them to provide a safe meal.

The supply chain and logistics of food mileage is also a new arena to deal with in food safety. Working in international companies, the highest risk of food movement was temperature abuse. Temperature abuse is a key indicator for potential food spoilage and microbiological growth.

Key tips

The most important thing to do is practice basic food safety and hygiene, like you should really be doing day to day. My golden rules are:

1)     Wash your hands

2)     Wash your produce (even items prewashed in the bag)

3)     Avoid cross contamination of cooked and raw products

4)     Cook until steaming

5)     Use leftovers the next day but only reheat once

6)     Never keep cooked or chilled food out of the fridge for more than 1 hour and store below 4 degrees celcius (check your fridge)

If you follow these rules you can eat your fetta, your eggs and your salami. Just cook it!!! Those precooked chickens from the supermarket, so easy!! Just reheat it. Most bacteria are killed at about 10 seconds at 75 degrees celcius (that is not the temperature of the oven, but the temperature at the core of the food item). So cook cook cook.

I absolutely adore fetta and it was very hard for me to avoid it completely so it was a little bit of a staple on a low fat pizza. Cooked. Delicious and safe.

Written by Nutritionist Mandy Dos Santos

Healthy Pregnancy

Disclaimer: Always speak to your doctor before changing your diet,taking any supplements or undertaking any exercise program in pregnancy. The information on this site is for reference only and is not medical advice and should not be treated as such, and is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice..

Our plans promote a health weight gain in pregnancy to benefit the mother & baby and you can read more on this here 

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written by:

Amanda Dos Santos

Mandy is an experienced Nutritionist, food scientist and writer with over 10 years experience in the Heath industry. She has been part of the Healthy Mummy team of experts since 2012, writing informative and current blog posts and contributing to our recipe books. She has played an integral part in creating the recipes on our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges since they first started in July 2014.Mandy is a mum of three and loves working for The Healthy Mummy, ”Especially on the challenges as I can create recipes which empower women to create nourishing food for themselves and their families’."