Krystal Bernier Writer Profile Photo.png


Through prose I craft eloquent essays, stories, and informational articles that inspire.

The Top 10 Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

The Top 10 Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

Hi and welcome to The Healthy Minimalist blog. Today's topic is foods to avoid during pregnancy. To be honest, these are foods everyone should avoid at all times. In my opinion if it is bad for baby, it's bad for everyone. 

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy diet during your pregnancy, or if you are looking for a boost to help you eat right, consider my Simply Food: The Minimalist Diet 6 Week Program. This inexpensive and simple course will help you get started eating healthy and prepare for baby by cleaning up some clutter. Trust me, this is a great way to kick start any healthy eating plan.

Without further ado, let's get to the top 10 foods to avoid during pregnancy.

1. Soy

This is number one on my list and a food I do not have in my household. I read all labels to ensure there isn't the smallest trace of soy in my food. Soy is packed with phytoestrogens, a substance that mimics our hormones causing hormonal imbalances as well as problems with the thyroid. These disruptions to our hormones can cross the placenta and negatively affect our unborn child. Phytoestrogens have also been shown to block uptake of important nutrients and cause extreme digestive distress. If you are having problems conceiving, the first food to eliminate is soy. Soy has been shown to inhibit fertility, again due to the phytoestrogen content. (1) 

2. Pork

Because pork is has a very similar protein structure to a human's proteins, the viruses that could be harboured in pork are able to adapt to our protein structure and slip by our immune defences without notice. Pigs are an animal who eat their own feces, bacteria and disease from this practice are found in pork meats. (2)

3. Fish Without Scales Or Fins and Tuna

Scaleless finless fish include shark, swordfish, squid, eel, flounder, sole, and catfish. Some of these fish are at the top of the food chain and tend to live a long life accumulating high amounts of mercury over time from the consumption of smaller fish. Some of these fish are bottom feeders helping to clean our oceans, therefore harbouring increased amounts of pollution. I also include Tuna in this list because they are a large predatory fish that lives a long life accumulating more mercury than smaller fish. (2)

*note, raw fish is part of this list as well, so no sushi, for similar reasons above and the fact it may harbour bacteria and viruses.

4. Shellfish & Crustaceans

This list includes lobster, crab, shrimp oysters, mussels, scallops, and clams. These creatures are again bottom feeders and studies have shown than many of the ocean's pollutants are found in the highest concentrations within them. Shellfish may also contain high amounts of bacteria and viruses that can place stress on your immune system. (2)

5. The 3 Main GMO Crops: Corn, Soy, and Canola Oil

GMO's have been shown to cause many health problems within people of all ages, included fetuses and growing children. Studies have found that GMO's could stunt growth; cause sterility; lead to inflammation; cause allergies; lead to serious kidney, liver, and blood abnormalities; cause unusual thickening of the stomach lining; cause small holes in the stomach lining; disrupt the pituitary gland; and be involved in the development of tumours. Because GMO foods are still a new thing, science hasn't really verified if GMO's are healthy or not. I believe the future will paint a very different and ugly picture of how GMO's affect human health and the ability to reproduce. (1)

Please note that GMO foods are not allowed in certified organic foods in Canada and the US, so if you choose to consume corn or canola oil please purchase organic.

6. Deli Meats 

Including hot dogs, bologna, bacon, and salami. Deli meats generally contain nitrites and nitrates as preservatives. These compounds are highly carcinogenic affecting your health and your unborn child's. But this is not the reason doctors recommend removing deli meats. Deli meats have been shown to carry listeria, a bacteria that can cross the placental barrier and in many cases cause miscarriage.

7. Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses like feta, goats cheese, blue cheese, and brie cheese may also harbour listeria. As said above, listeria is a bacteria that goes into your blood stream allowing it to cross the placental barrier and may cause a miscarriage. Chances are your doctor has already warned you about soft cheeses, this is number one on their list.

8. Trans-Fats

These dangerous fats have been shown to contribute to low birth rate in babies; impair growth and learning ability; inhibit neurological development; reduce vision; are a major cause of type 2 diabetes; and cause hormone imbalances affecting an infant's ability to handle stress and affecting sexual development. (1) 

Trans-fats are fats that should be in liquid form but have been chemically modified to stay solid. Margarine is a trans-fat, regardless of what the label says, and is not fit for consumption by anyone, including pregnant women and children. Trans fats will hide on your labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. They are found in most fried foods, chips, cookies, baked goods, pastries, really any processed food. 

9. Artificial Colourings, Sweeteners, and Flavourings

These are linked to a host of cancers; neurological disorders; decreases in red blood cell production; low birth weights; reduced growth rates; and many are hormone disruptors.

10. Coffee/Caffeine

I put this one last, because I love coffee and have only ever allowed myself to have 1 or two cups per week. I have chosen to drink one or two cups a week during my pregnancy as well. I only add this because if you are the gal who drinks a pot a day, you must cut back. Caffeine abuse can cause nutrient depletion, meaning your baby won't be getting what he/she needs to grow. Caffeine abuse also results in adrenal exhaustion. Sally Fallon mentions a theory that a woman may steal adrenal hormones from her fetus to compensate for her lowered adrenal function, setting the child up for metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, and mineral absorption issues. (1)

Final Note

The best way to ensure you are consuming the right foods to grow a healthy baby is to eat predominately whole foods. Avoid anything that comes in a box, can, or package. Stick to organic meats, organic good quality fats/oils, and a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes,and whole grains. Eating this way should help you avoid most of the items on this list.

These foods should also be avoided when breastfeeding. As a matter of fact I wouldn't include them in your family's diet at all if you can help it. With the exception of soft cheeses, but only consume after pregnancy.

If you are needing some help getting started, consider signing up for the Simply Food: The Minimalist Diet 6 Week Program.

The program is a simple and inexpensive way to start eating a healthy diet. As an added benefit the program focuses on a little decluttering as well, which will help you get ready for your new baby. Trust me, when baby comes, you won't have much time for housework for a few months at least.

Finally, if you are looking for some great resources on a healthy pregnancy I highly recommend the Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Childcare. This book has all sorts of great information on diet during pregnancy, as well as some great information on baby's first year, how to care for your breasts while nursing, and other topics you are going to want to learn about. I am raising my children in the traditional way, and it is so rewarding. I think they are strong, healthy, and very clever. In my opinion this is one of the best reads for expecting moms.

Love and happiness,

Krystal Bernier, The Healthy Minimalist



(1) The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Childcare

(2) Healthy Baby Healthy Child


The Minimalist's Guide To Supplementation During Pregnancy

The Minimalist's Guide To Supplementation During Pregnancy

Baby Bump Diary: Week 18

Baby Bump Diary: Week 18