Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

by |March 9, 2016

March at Booktopia is For Dummies month! To celebrate, we’ve invited some of our favourite For Dummies authors to write about what they’re most passionate about; what they specialise in. This week we have Jane Palmer, author of Pregnancy For Dummies, sharing her knowledge about what foods to avoid during pregnancy.

To add to the excitement surrounding For Dummies month, we’re giving Booktopians the chance to win a For Dummies prize pack. Just order any title from our For Dummies Collection to enter! (T&Cs apply)

Jane Palmer

(Private Practice Midwife, Director of Pregnancy Birth and Beyond)

jane palmerThrough the ages, women have received all kinds of advice about what and how much to eat while they’re expecting. Cultural traditions, religious beliefs and even scientific thinking have all had their influences. As recently as a generation ago, women were told to limit how much they ate and drank and thus keep their weight gain to a minimum, while at other times, they were encouraged to eat lots of fatty foods — the idea being, the greater the weight gain, the healthier the child. With so much conflicting information around, finding out what to eat and what not to eat can be a challenge.

So what food should you avoid in pregnancy? Some foods carry a higher risk of containing Listeria, a bacterium found in nature that can live in some foods.  Listeria bacteria can cause mild flu-like symptoms or even serious illness, particularly in people whose immune systems don’t function properly. In pregnancy, if a woman becomes infected, the Listeria bacteria can cross the placenta and infect the baby. Listeria during pregnancy has been known to cause miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes, premature labour, stillbirth and serious illness in the baby. Listeria infections are actually quite rare, but, because of the potential seriousness of Listeria infection during pregnancy, information is made available to enable you to make safe choices of what foods to eat and what foods to avoid.

DummiesMonth_CategoryTile-170x485pxCooking food is the best way to destroy Listeria. Make sure the food you eat is cooked right through – no rare meats or runny eggs – and ensure that the food is steaming hot right through to the centre; this is particularly important if you use a microwave to reheat food. Food under warming lights in takeaway stores is not recommended, so only eat takeaway food that is freshly prepared and cooked. If you eat out, be really sure about the freshness and hygiene of the place preparing the food. Avoid smorgasbords if possible, and if you can’t, avoid the salad bar and eat the hot food only.

Listeria is one of the few bacteria that can live in the refrigerator. The key here is to store your leftovers in the fridge for no longer than a day (you can use freezing as an alternative). When storing cooked food in the refrigerator, don’t leave it on the bench to cool, instead, after the food has stopped steaming place it straight in the fridge, away from already chilled foods. Store your cooked food separately from your raw food and cover all stored foods, making sure that one can’t drip onto the other. Finally, ensure your refrigerator operates below 5 degrees Celsius and keep it clean.

Good food hygiene is an important step to help avoid a Listeria infection. Be sure to wash your hands before preparing any food, wash all cooking utensils in hot soapy water and thoroughly wash all raw fruit and vegetables. See Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s website for further information:

The following is a list of foods that are considered to be at a higher risk of Listeria contamination. It is advised you avoid these foods in pregnancy:

  •     Pâté
  •     Unpasteurised dairy products
  •     Soft cheeses such as Camembert, blue vein, fetta and ricotta
  •     Cold meats (home cooked and eaten within a day is fine)
  •     Dried/fermented sausages
  •     Raw seafood such as oysters, sashimi
  •     Smoked seafood (canned is okay)
  •     Purchased, cold, cooked chicken (home-cooked and eaten within a day is fine)
  •     Prepared and packaged salads
  •     Soft-serve ice-creams and yoghurts

Freshly prepared and cooked foods are the safest. The following foods are safe to eat during your pregnancy:

  •     Processed and pasteurised cheeses
  •     Washed fruit and vegetables
  •     Homemade salads
  •     Canned foods
  •     All meats (well cooked)
  •     Pasteurised dairy products

For more up-to-date information on nutrition during pregnancy and many other early pregnancy topics see  Pregnancy For Dummies.


 Pregnancy for Dummiesby Jane Palmer, Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman, Mary Duenwald

Pregnancy for Dummies

3rd Australian and New Zealand Edition

by Jane Palmer, Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman, Mary Duenwald

Your complete guide to having a healthy, happy pregnancy.

This updated and expanded third edition of Pregnancy For Dummies offers mothers-to-be practical advice and expert guidance on every stage of their pregnancy — and beyond!

Understand what's happening with your baby and your body, and be guided through what to expect from labour, birth ...

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