Juliana Shalek reveals the foods you should avoid while pregnant

Soft cheeses, raw eggs, sashimi and alcohol are some of the obvious foods most expectant mothers already know to avoid.

But it seems there are many more foods pregnant women should be cautious of, including raw sprouts, canned vegetables and even a glass of wine.

Speaking to Australia’s MyDomaine, nutritionist Juliana Shalek revealed the surprising foods you should think twice about if you’re pregnant.

Here, the New York founder of The Nutrition Suite breaks down the foods to ban from your pregnancy diet – and offers healthy swap alternatives so you don’t miss out for nine months.

Most expectant mothers know they have to avoid certain foods – but there are many more they should be cautious of, including raw sprouts, caffeine and even a glass of wine (stock image)

Foods to avoid if you’re pregnant 

  • Raw sprouts
  • Hot dogs
  • Caffeine
  • Canned foods
  • Soft cheeses
  • Raw eggs
  • Alcohol
  • Unpasteurised food

Raw sprouts

While you may think you are eating healthily for two, raw sprouts can do more harm than good.

Avoid sprinkling raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish to your meals. 

The seeds are a great host for bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and e. coli, as they like to fester in these sprouts.

To kill off the festering bacteria, Ms Shalek suggested baking the spouts in the oven or sautéeing them in a frypan over the stove.

Canned foods

‘Canned foods are typically high in sodium, which can cause swelling and elevated blood pressure during pregnancy,’ Ms Shalek said.

She explained the best option was to incorporate fresh produce to your diet, including fresh beans, fruits and vegetables.

Hot dogs

Hot dogs are an easy, go-to snack at family barbecues or picnics.

But not cooking the sausages correctly can lead to food poisoning – so it’s best to avoid eating them.

Ms Shalek suggested eating a well-done hamburger, steak or grilled chicken.

The nutritionist breaks down the foods to ban from your pregnancy diet - and the healthy alternatives to swap for so you don't miss out for nine months (stock image)

The nutritionist breaks down the foods to ban from your pregnancy diet – and the healthy alternatives to swap for so you don’t miss out for nine months (stock image)


Caffeine can be consumed during pregnancy – but just not too much. Ideally, Ms Shalek said no more than eight ounce (228g) of caffeine a day.

One shot off espresso contains one fluid ounce. 

‘Consuming caffeine in excess can cause a low birth weight for your baby and can cause you heartburn,’ she warned.

She suggested drinking sparkling water or hot water with lemon.

Unpasteurised food

Ms Shalek said unpasteurised foods contain bacteria that can make pregnant women sick so always look out for ‘pasteurised’ products.

She urged to avoid eating imported soft cheeses like brie, feta and gorgonzola, as well as unpasteurised milk.

For a safer alternative, drink pasteurised milk, fruit and vegetable juices and eat local soft cheeses.


Most pregnant women are told to avoid alcohol – while some medical experts have suggested it’s okay for expectant mothers to enjoy a glass of wine.

But Ms Shalek said she advises women against even touching a drop of alcohol.

For those who consumed alcohol before knowing about their pregnancy, she said there’s likely to be nothing to worry about – but seek a doctor if you have any concerns.

If you’re at a social event, she suggested drinking sparkling water with lemon.

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