Do you know which foods to restrict in pregnancy? There are certain foods that are not particularly good for you or your baby during pregnancy, and should be consumed in small amounts.


There is evidence to suggest that relatively small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of miscarriage. The Department of Health recommends that you don’t drink any alcohol for the first trimester of your pregnancy.

You are advised to avoid alcohol for the whole of your pregnancy, but if you do chose to drink, there is no evidence to suggest that 1-2 units per week will do your baby any harm.

What does 1 unit of alcohol look like?

  • 76 ml of standard 13% wine (a small glass is 125 ml)
  • 250 ml of standard 4.5% beer (half a pint is 284 ml and a pint is 568 ml)
  • 250 ml of standard 4% alcopop (a standard sized bottle is 275 ml)
  • 25 ml of standard 40% spirits (this is a single shot of spirits)
  • 218 ml of standard 4.5% cider (half a pint is 284 ml and a pint is 568 ml)

Source: Drink Aware

See: Alcohol and pregnancy


It is considered safe to consume a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine daily. High levels of caffeine in your diet when pregnant put you at a greater risk of miscarriage. It can also lead to your baby being born underweight, which can increase the risk of health problems as they grow up.

What does 200 mg look like?

  • Mug of instant coffee: 100 mg (2 mugs)
  • Mug of filter coffee: 140 mg (1 mug)
  • Mug of tea: 75 mg (1 mug)
  • Can of cola: 40 mg (5 cans)
  • Can of energy drink: 80 mg (2 cans)
  • 50 g bar of dark chocolate (most UK brands): 25 mg or less (4 chocolate bars)
  • 50 g bar of milk chocolate (most UK brands): 10 mg or less (20 chocolate bars – not that we advise you to eat this many, as that much sugar brings its own problems!)

Remember caffeine can also be found in cold and flu remedies too – so check with your GP which over-the-counter-medecine is ok to take.

In addition to the adverse effects caused by caffeine, the tannins found in most caffeinated drinks inhibit the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron. It is therefore a good idea to replace all or most of your caffeinated drinks with caffeine free alternatives, for example decaf tea or coffee, red-bush (rooibos) tea, herbal teas (see more about herbal teas below) or fresh vegetable juices.

Fish to restrict

Tuna, because it contains more mercury than other fish which can affect the development of your baby’s nervous system, if you don’t restrict your intake. Also, oily fish can contain more pollutants such as dioxins and polychlorinated diphenyl (PCB).

  • No more than two fresh tuna steaks per week (140 g cooked or 170 g raw)
  • Maximum of four tins of tuna per week (140 g per tin)
  • No more than two portions of oily fish per week (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and fresh tuna – tinned tuna doesn’t count as an oily fish)
  • No more than two portions a week of:
    • Dogfish (rock salmon)
    • Crab
    • Halibut
    • Sea bass
    • Sea bream
    • Turbot

Read more about which fish to avoid and which fish is safe to eat during pregnancy.

Herbal and green teas

The Food Standards Agency recommends that pregnant women drink no more than four cups of herbal or green tea during pregnancy.


Rice and rice products have been shown to have high levels of inorganic arsenic which is able to pass the placenta and could cause babies neurological and kidney damage. Currently there is no UK guideline on how much rice is safe to eat but it is a good idea to replace some of your rice intake with other grains. Eg: quinoa, millet, barley, rye, oats.

Read your food labels!

Each of these artificial food additives are associated with DNA damage and linked to birth abnormalities when consumed in high amounts:

  • Sodium benzoate (E211)
  • Sulphur dioxide (E220)
  • Quinoline yellow and sunset yellow (E104)
  • Saccharine (E954)

Also look out for Aspartame (E951) which is a very common artificial sweetener, particularly in diet drinks which associated with birth defects and damage to unborn babies brain when consumed in high amounts

Bump and Beyond Nutrition Logo
Information provided by Bump and Beyond Nutrition