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9 Food No-No's While Pregnant

on Thursday, 28 March 2013. Posted in The Next 9 Months, Health & Nutrition

Foods to avoid during pregnancy that can be dangerous for both you and baby.

9 Food No-No's While Pregnant

Telling a pregnant woman that she can’t eat what she is craving is almost as dangerous as taking a large fish from the hands of a grizzly bear. When I was told that I couldn’t eat sushi when I got pregnant, I threw a temper tantrum like a two year old. Pregnancy can bring on intense food cravings, and while many foods are perfectly safe to eat, there are some that you should avoid like the plague for the sake of your unborn baby. Listeria, mercury, salmonella, and toxoplasmosis aren’t words that we use in our everyday language when we are considering what foods to choose, but these are all poisons that are found in food we consume every day that can be potentially life-threatening when pregnant. To keep you and baby safe, here are a few foods that you should steer clear from while you are pregnant. 


Raw Eggs

If you’re like me, you wouldn’t feel the same about Sunday brunch if you weren’t slurping down delicious eggs benedict. Unfortunately, eggs benedict would seem bland without hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise is one of the many sauces made with raw eggs. Other sauces and dressings include Caesar dressing and mayonnaise (the made from scratch types). Eating dishes that have raw egg can increase your risk of being exposed to salmonella poisoning which can be dangerous for you and your baby.


Raw Meat and Fish

Drop the salmon sashimi and reach for a cucumber roll instead. Raw beef, poultry, and fish can be contaminated with salmonella and toxoplasmosis. When hubby takes you out to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on a surprise date, be sure to ask for your prime rib to be cooked well-done.


Deli meat

It might surprise you to know that deli meat, while usually fully cooked, can be contaminated with listeria that causes miscarriage or gives your baby blood poisoning. Just in case that thinly sliced turkey breast is calling your name, toss it in a skillet and heat it until it is steaming, then you may eat it.


Raw Shellfish

One of the perks of living in Hong Kong is the readily available fresh seafood. The majority of seafood-borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels. While cooking may prevent some types of infections, it does not prevent infections caused from red tides. Be sure to avoid shellfish all together during your pregnancy.


Fish with Mercury

You no longer have to feel rude when saying “no thanks” to the shark fin soup served at Chinese banquets. You now have a legitimate reason to not eat it. Shark, swordfish, and mackerel are known to have high levels of mercury. Consuming mercury during pregnancy has been linked to brain damage and developmental delays in unborn children. This is another good reason to avoid fish used in sushi. 


Unwashed Vegetables

This is not a way to get out of eating your vegetables! After all, we should set a good example to future generations that vegetables are wonderful. Be sure to eat plenty of veggies, just make sure that you wash them thoroughly. Toxoplasmosis may have contaminated that soil that the vegetables were grown in, so be sure your tomatoes and choi sum are nice and clean before chowing down.


Unpasteurized Dairy

It’s not as if you will be visiting too many wine bars during your nine months of pregnancy, but if you do, make sure that you stay away from not only the wine, but the unpasteurized cheese as well because they can lead to a food-borne illness. Cheeses to avoid include:




Blue cheese

Mexican-style cheeses, such as queso blanco, queso fresco and queso panela

Check the labels at the supermarket, and reach for the mozzarella or cottage cheese instead as they are healthy and great snacks while you’re pregnant.



Need a pick-me-up first thing in the morning? Reach for an apple instead of the coffee. Both apples and coffee provide energy, but coffee might be your own worst enemy during pregnancy. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. Caffeine should be completely avoided in the first trimester, and no more than 200mg in the second and third trimester.



There always seems to be a debate on whether a glass of wine every now and then during pregnancy is really going to harm your baby. While I would like to be the first person to stand up and toast a happy, healthy pregnancy with a big glass of Pinot Grigio, it’s best to stay away from wine and any other type of alcohol while you’re pregnant because there hasn’t been enough research to prove or disprove the effects that small amounts may have on your unborn child. 

While it may seem like you’re being told “no” a lot while you’re pregnant, it’s encouraging to know that there are still many yummy foods that you can still eat. Your number one concern is the little person that is growing inside of you, so be sure to take care and watch what you put in your body. For more advice and tips, check out the Hong Kong Pregnancy Forums and get connected with other Hong Kong mom’s-to-be. 

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