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What Foods Should I Avoid When I'm Pregnant?

Hurrah you finally have an excuse to eat exactly what you like!

Er, except you need a healthy balanced diet and there are some foods it’s best to steer clear of. 

Why do I need a healthy, balanced diet when I’m pregnant? 

You know a healthy, balanced diet is the best thing for your body normally. We all know what we should eat and it’s fine to demolish the odd pack of Jaffa Cakes, as long as it’s not every day. But once you’re pregnant there’s another little human to think about, and they rely on you for all their nutrition. 

You don’t need to massively change what you eat overnight (unless you literally live on McDonald’s) but what you eat helps your baby grow and develop. 

You’ve probably heard about eating for two, but it’s a load of outdated nonsense. Just think about getting a good balance of protein (things like lentils and chicken), carbohydrates (pasta and rice), fruit and veg and dairy (milk and cheese). You need some good fats too but try to give the processed stuff a swerve. Your body is about to go through some massive changes and you’ll have more energy and feel generally better if you’re fuelling yourself in the right way, 

What foods do I need to cut out? 

We hate to be party poopers but there are some foods best left until after you’ve had your baby. Imagine that buffet though! 

What to avoid? *


Raw or undercooked eggs and anything that might have it in like homemade mayo.  Unless they’re British Lion stamped. 

You could get salmonella and a nasty dose of food poisoning. Eggs with a British Lion stamp are ok raw and partially cooked. 

Raw or undercooked meat and fish (no pink bits).  

Pâté, including the veggie kind.

You could get toxoplasmosis which has a small risk of miscarriage

Raw shellfish 

You could get food poisoning from the toxins and bacteria. 

Liver and liver pâté

You need to avoid liver so you don’t get too much Vitamin A, it’s not good for your baby. 

Game meats like goose and cured meats like chorizo (unless cooked).

You could crunch down on a piece of lead shot in game. And uncooked cured meats can cause toxoplasmosis

Fish - no swordfish, marlin and shark. And you need to limit tuna. 

You probably won’t be munching down on Jaws but all these fish can have too much mercury, which isn’t good for your baby. 

You can have tuna, but only 4 medium-size cans (140g drained weight in a can) or two fresh steaks (no more than 170g raw weight each steak) in a week.

Unpasteurised milk, including goat and sheep milk, cheese or yoghurt. 

Mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white rind, think brie and camembert (unless cooked). 

Soft, blue-veined cheeses like gorgonzola (unless cooked)

You could get listeriosis that can lead to a small risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Caffeine - including fizzy drinks like coke, coffee, tea (and it’s in chocolate too). 

Limit to 200mg a day (that’s 2 mugs of instant coffee or tea). If you drink too much caffeine it can mean your baby is underweight and there’s a small risk of miscarriage. 


Alcohol can cause long term health problems for your baby. It’s not clear exactly what the risk is so it’s best to leave it alone.

*UK guidelines - you can find out more on the NHS website here.

You also need to make sure you wash all dirt off fruit, salads and veg before you eat. And leave the high-dose multivitamins, fish oil and Vitamin A supplements to one side. Instead buy a good all-round pregnancy vitamin.

Is there anything I can eat? 

If you feel like you’ve just ruled out all your favourite foods then don’t worry, there are still plenty of yummy treats. And there are foods which have a bit of a bad pregnancy reputation which are actually fine to eat. You can tuck into: 

  • Pasteurised milk, yoghurt and soft cheese like feta, mozzarella, halloumi, cream and cottage cheese. Plus Stilton and hard cheeses like Parmesan are fine. As is hard goats cheese (or cooked soft goats cheese). 
  • Peanuts - unless you’re allergic.
  • Smoked salmon - breakfast bagel heaven.
  • Prawns, mussels, scallops and crabs - as long as they’re cooked.
  • Sushi but the fish must be frozen first (or farmed salmon), if you don’t know, don’t risk it.
  • Pre-packed meats like ham and corned beef are no problem. And if you want something cured like salami, chorizo and parma ham then look for a pack that says ready to eat and freeze it for at least 4 days before you eat it. 
  • Ice cream - eat all the sundaes you like as long as it’s made with pasteurised milk and eggs (most you buy from the supermarket are). 
  • Liquorice is fine if you love a good chew. 
  • Ready meals and reheated foods - as long as they’re super hot all the way through.

Read: Weirdest Pregnancy Cravings

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