Here’s What You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

London-based nutritionist Angelique Panagos offers advice on what not to eat and do during pregnancy.

What you eat (and don’t) can have a profound effect on your baby’s health from womb, to child, and right the way through to adulthood. It is clearly vital that your diet is given some thought. Here’s what to avoid during pregnancy, from foods to supplements and lifestyle choices.

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s cells are rapidly multiplying and all the major organs are formed. Throughout the remainder of the pregnancy, these organs are in key development while the baby grows and matures. It’s all about laying the right foundations for your baby

What to Avoid During Pregnancy: Foods


Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses, unpasteurised cheeses and blue-veined cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Taleggio, Roquefort and Stilton, as they can contain listeria (a bacteria found in animals and soil which can affect pregnant women).

Vitamin A

Liver and cod-liver oil contain high levels of vitamin A (the animal based form of retinol), which can be harmful to the foetus in large quantities.


Meat-based pates which may contain bacteria and are usually made with liver (see above).

Raw Meat, Fish and Dairy

Raw or partially cooked eggs which may be found in foods such as mayonnaise, ice-cream and mousse, and may contain salmonella. Raw fish and meat, as they may contain bacteria that would usually be killed off by the cooking process.

‘Ready-to-eat’ food products.

Steering clear of some ready-to-eat poultry and ready-to-eat bags of salad is often advised, as there is also a risk of listeria.


Peanuts, especially if allergies are common within the family (in excess, peanuts can cause allergies in your baby).

Alcohol during pregnancy

While opinions differ on how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy, zero alcohol is always the safest level. Your baby’s organs, although formed in the first 12 weeks, are still in development throughout pregnancy and are therefore vulnerable to damage, with the brain in particular at risk. Alcohol is a toxin to the body and is a substance that a growing baby just does not need.


Tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks such as Coca-Cola should be reduced, or better still completely eliminated. Caffeine crosses the placenta and enters your baby’s bloodstream, having the same stimulating effect in the baby as in adults. As your baby is not fully developed, these stimulatory effects are likely to be more profound. Caffeine also depletes the body of essential minerals.

The ‘bad’ fats

Keep saturated fats (dairy and meat products) to a minimum and avoid hydrogenated fats completely. These fats can block the absorption of essential fats. Hydrogenated fats are highly artificial products; these fats are found in many processed foods such as margarine, cakes and biscuits. Fresh is best!

Genetically modified produce

Always avoid genetically modified foods.

Angelique Panagos
Angelique Panagos, more info at Image credit: Ian Sidey Clark Photography.

Other Things to Avoid During Pregnancy


Avoid mercury tooth fillings, as there is a risk of toxic mercury being passed to your baby.


Any form of painkiller should be avoided.


Adopting this healthy eating plan should help naturally manage your weight, but avoid any fad or crash diets. Your body needs energy and nutrients to see you through a healthy pregnancy.


Do not smoke and avoid smoky environments. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals which pass directly into your baby’s blood supply. These have a vast range of detrimental and toxic effects.

Exposure to chemicals

Avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, especially those found in in cleaning products and skincare. Consider switching to a natural deodorant and using organic skin, hair and body products.

Finally, remember to enjoy being pregnant – it really won’t be long before your bundle of joy is here.

Read More:

Want more information and inspiration on everything parenting and lifestyle? Hit ‘Like’ on our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and join the conversation on Twitter