Pregnant? Here Is A List Of 23 Indian Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

Worry not as we've compiled a list of all the suggested Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy so that you and your baby are taken care of!

Pregnancy is one of the most memorable events in a woman’s life. There is excitement, delight, loads of nervousness, fear, and much more because of the tiny life growing inside.

It is also a moment when you’ll be showered with blessings and a plethora of advice. Especially, in India, pregnancy is a family affair where everyone will be concerned about the mother-to-be and keep on giving advice.

While some are about how you should live and what workouts you should do, the majority are about what foods you should or should not eat.

When it comes to our kitchens, with the variety of foods we consume in India, one can get overwhelmed thinking about what to eat and what not to eat. 

All these pieces of advice, plus the roller coaster of emotions you might be going through(all thanks to the hormones), can be a lot and leave you confused and nervous since the don’ts are more than the dos during pregnancy.

Worry not as we’ve compiled a list of all the suggested Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy so that you and your baby are both protected during this wonderful period.

We say Indian foods because these foods are a part of our everyday menu!

Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy

The Indian diet is known to be rich in nutrients and diverse in flavour, but there are certain foods that need to be avoided during pregnancy. These foods might not only cause discomfort but also pose a potential risk for the growing baby.

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Here are some Indian foods that should be avoided during pregnancy:

1. Unripe Papaya

Fruits are beneficial to your health throughout pregnancy. They make a great light snack and are high in nutrients, but there are some fruits you should avoid at all costs, such as papaya.

Papaya is one of the major fruits that should be avoided during pregnancy because it is said to cause miscarriage. It includes a molecule called papain, which is responsible for a variety of pregnancy complications. As a result, eating papaya especially raw, is a strict no-no during pregnancy.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple includes enzymes that may produce uterine contractions, as well as Bromelain, an enzyme that softens the cervix and stimulates labor. This can result in a miscarriage during the first trimester. Therefore, it is advised to consume pineapple in moderation during pregnancy. You can, however, consume fully ripe pineapples in small quantities.

Free Pineapple Slices photo and picture

3. Grapes

Grapes, on the other hand, can cause hormone imbalance in pregnant women. They can also cause a variety of stomach disorders, which can be harmful to both you and your baby.

4. Baigan/Eggplant

Eggplant, also known as brinjal or baigan, is a popular vegetable in Indian households. However, if you ask your gynaecologist, they will tell you that eating brinjal during pregnancy is not a good idea. Consuming eggplants daily has been found to cause menstruation, which is not a good indicator during pregnancy. 

Free Eggplant Vegetables photo and picture

5. Mooli/Radish

Another vegetable that you should avoid is Radish or Mooli, as it might be harmful to you and your baby if not cooked properly. Soil foods contain bacteria that are nearly impossible to wash off, and if eaten unwashed, they can carry bacterial and parasite infections that can harm the foetus.

To avoid infections, avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits during pregnancy. Fruits should also be well-washed before eating.

6. Raw or Undercooked Meat and Fish

I talk about this food group here, because the consumption of this food is fairly high in India today- chicken biryani, Mughlai chicken, butter chicken, mutton lababdaar, and the list goes on!

Meats like chicken are good for pregnant women because they are high in protein, which is one of the most essential nutrients during pregnancy. However, undercooked meat can be hazardous to not only your health but also the health of your baby.

Consuming raw or undercooked meat can result in salmonella and toxoplasmosis infections, which can be extremely harmful to the fetus. Therefore, it is advised to avoid these dishes during pregnancy.

Free Flesh Raw photo and picture

7. High Mercury Fish

Fish is another great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, certain types of fish have a high level of mercury, which can be harmful to the baby’s nervous system.

Some commonly consumed high-mercury fish in India are tuna, king mackerel, and shark. Instead, pregnant women can opt for low-mercury fishes like salmon and sardines, which are equally nutritious and safe for consumption during pregnancy.

8. Raw or Undercooked Eggs

Eggs are a staple in Indian households and can be consumed in various forms- boiled, fried, or as an ingredient in other dishes. However, during pregnancy, it is important to avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs due to the risk of salmonella infection.

Salmonella infection can lead to food poisoning and harm the health of both the mother and the baby. Therefore, it is crucial to cook eggs thoroughly before consuming them during pregnancy.

9. Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Milk is essential during pregnancy because it supplies a sufficient amount of calcium to both the mother and the growing baby. However, you should avoid drinking unpasteurized milk because it may contain a variety of bacteria. Before drinking, the milk should be properly boiled.

Any unpasteurized dairy product can cause listeriosis, a type of food poisoning. Listeriosis is a foodborne illness that can give you flu-like symptoms or harm your newborn.

If you’re getting milk or dairy products directly from the source, you can boil them or expose them to high temperatures and then consume them and if you’re getting pre-packaged, make sure to check the labels and only consume pasteurized dairy products during pregnancy.

10. Raw Sprouts

Sprouts are another popular health food in India. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, raw sprouts should be avoided during pregnancy due to the risk of bacterial contamination.

Raw sprouts can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. It is advised to cook or lightly steam them before consuming them to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Free Bean Sprouts Sprout photo and picture

11. Hing/Asafoetida

Hing, also known as asafoetida, is a ubiquitous spice in Indian cooking, notably for tadka. It is also used to treat menstruation problems such as irregular periods. It is advised to avoid or minimize its use when pregnant, especially during the first trimester, because it stimulates menstruation.

12. Tulsi Leaves

Tulsi leaves are another spice that should be avoided during pregnancy. In India, Tulsi leaves have sacred significance. It offers a wide range of medicinal qualities.

However, because it contains high levels of mercury and is thought to trigger uterine contractions, it should be avoided during pregnancy. It can also induce excessive bleeding because of its blood-thinning characteristics. 

To avoid potential mid-term complications, many experts advise pregnant women to avoid Tulsi totally for the first nine months of their pregnancy.

Free Tulsi Spice photo and picture

13. Garlic

Other spices to avoid include garlic, which has a blood-thinning effect and can cause bleeding or miscarriage if consumed in large quantities. 

14. Fenugreek/Methi Seeds

Methi seeds also known as Fenugreek is also a spice you should try to stay away from as it stimulates the uterus and causes preterm contractions. As a result, it should not be consumed when pregnant.

You can eat it as methi ke laddoo after pregnancy!

15. Street Food

Street food is a major part of Indian cuisine, and it’s hard to resist the temptation. However, during pregnancy, it is important to be cautious about consuming street food as it may lead to various infections.

Most street foods are prepared in unhygienic conditions and may not be fresh. This increases the risk of foodborne illnesses like cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea. It is best to avoid street food during pregnancy to prevent any potential harm to the baby.

Why India's street food vendors are the essence of the country's food  Industry
Source: Times of India

16. Processed Meats

Processed meats, such as sausages, pepperoni, and salami, are popular in Indian cuisine. However, they should be avoided during pregnancy due to the high levels of preservatives and additives used in their preparation.

These chemicals can harm the baby’s development and increase the risk of certain health issues. Instead of processed meats, pregnant women can opt for freshly cooked meats that are free from added preservatives and additives.

17. Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy as they can significantly harm the developing baby. It’s consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, while excessive caffeine intake can increase the risk of miscarriage.

It is best to avoid these substances completely or limit their intake to a moderate level during pregnancy. As an alternative, pregnant women can opt for healthy and refreshing drinks like fresh juices, coconut water, or herbal teas.

Free Masala Tea Cookies photo and picture

18. Ajinomoto (Monosodium Glutamate)

Ajinomoto, also known as monosodium glutamate or MSG is a common ingredient used in many Indian dishes. However, it is one of the Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy because studies have shown that excessive consumption of MSG may harm the developing baby.

MSG is known to cause developmental issues and hyperactivity in children, so it is best to avoid it during pregnancy. As a substitute, pregnant women can use natural seasonings like herbs and spices that are safe for consumption during pregnancy.

19. Saffron

Saffron, known as Kesar in Hindi, is considered a valuable spice due to its medicinal properties. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming saffron during the first trimester as it may lead to uterine contractions and cause miscarriage.

During the second and third trimesters, it can be consumed in moderation under medical supervision. As an alternative, pregnant women can use milder spices like turmeric or safflower to add colour and flavour to their dishes.

20. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds, known as til in Hindi, are a popular ingredient used in Indian cuisine. However, they are among the Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy due to their heating properties.

The high levels of heat produced by sesame seeds can lead to miscarriage or premature labour. Pregnant women should opt for other healthy alternatives like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds to fulfil their nutritional needs.

21. Peanuts

Peanuts are a staple ingredient in many Indian dishes. However, pregnant women should be cautious about consuming peanuts during pregnancy. Peanuts have a high risk of contamination with aflatoxins, which can harm the developing baby.

It is best to avoid peanuts or opt for organic and fresh peanuts that are free from any harmful chemicals. As an alternative, pregnant women can consume other protein-rich foods like lentils, beans, or tofu to maintain a healthy diet.

Free Nuts Peanuts photo and picture

22. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in Indian sweets and desserts, especially during pregnancy to satisfy cravings for sweets. However, pregnant women should limit their intake of artificial sweeteners as they may have adverse effects on the baby’s health.

Studies have linked artificial sweeteners to developmental issues, gestational diabetes, and even preterm labour. As an alternative, pregnant women can opt for natural sweeteners like jaggery, honey, or dates to fulfil their cravings.

23. Fast Food

The fast-food culture has become a part of our daily lives, and it’s hard to resist the temptation of indulging in burgers, pizzas, or fried snacks. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming fast food as it is high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar content.

Free Snack Hamburger photo and picture

These can lead to an increased risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and other pregnancy complications. High blood pressure during pregnancy (known as gestational hypertension), in turn, may increase your risk of a condition called preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia can also be caused by too much sugar intake along with gestational diabetes. Free sugars that are found in sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, and some fizzy drinks and juice drinks should be avoided during pregnancy.

So, all the soon-to-be mummies, don’t let these restrictions and dietary limits overwhelm or stress you. They might seem too difficult but these restrictions help to protect the health of both you and your baby.

As your body goes through several changes during this time, you need to take care of what you eat and what you don’t eat to have an easy and safe pregnancy. So, these are some Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy, there might be some more.

Though this food list is very general, mostly what we all know about, it increases according to various beliefs, regions and states. Do share in the comments if you know of more!

It is best if you can find a suitable diet plan that helps you by working with your doctor or dietitian.

Disclaimer: The information, Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy, provided in this post should not be treated as medical advice. Do consult a specialist for detailed advice to suit your condition.

Image credit: Pixabay/Canva

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