Food aversions are common during pregnancy. Some women have intense food aversions during the first trimester that then settle down, while other women experience food aversions throughout the nine months. For some other women, food aversions can come and go during pregnancy.
While there can be a variety of types of food aversions, the most common ones are to meat, coffee and eggs.
Food aversions are different from foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as:
- deli meats
- unpasteurized cheese
- raw proteins
- raw veggie sprouts
- foods that may contain BPA, lead and mercury
While food aversions are difficult to deal with, they will not harm your baby. The issue to consider is if you are not getting proper nutrition, which can happen if you stop eating, or if you frequently throw up much or all of your food.
That is why it is so important to find ways to navigate your food aversions.
The reason for food aversions during pregnancy
There are a number of hypotheses about why food aversions develop:
1. They are hormone related
Hormonal fluctuations in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increases rapidly through the first trimester, then peaks and levels off. The theory is that these hormone fluctuations are tied to food aversions during pregnancy.
2. Taste aversion learning
It can be tough to eat when you feel nauseated all day, every day. You may begin to associate foods with nausea and vomiting, causing you to no longer enjoy them.
3. Maternal and embryonic protection
Food aversions may exist to protect your baby from foods that can contain harmful toxins or micro-organisms.
How to deal with food aversions during pregnancy
Regardless of the cause of food aversions during pregnancy, it is important to accept and accommodate them. The most important thing to do is make sure you are getting enough nutrition. How do you do that?
1. Have a variety of foods available
It can be hard to predict when a food aversion might strike. Given this, it’s important to have lots of food options available. When one isn’t working for you, move on to something else. And I recommend that my clients always restock what is working well before you run out!
2. Be flexible
If you are dealing with food aversions, it is important to eat when the desire strikes and only have as much as you want. When you want a meal, have one. Don’t worry if the combination of foods seems odd or if the sizes are unusual. The critical thing is that you eat!
3. Experiment with different textures and temperatures
You may find that you can stomach liquids over solids, or cold and crunchy over hot and creamy. Again, don’t judge what works for you in any given moment. Then, if your tastes change, experiment again until you find something else that works.
4. When all else fails, try bland foods
The less flavour a food has, the less likely it is to cause a serious reaction. When no other food is working for you, opt for bland foods like rice, apple sauce and baked potatoes.
When it’s time to call the doctor about your food aversions
You can navigate most food aversions, but there are times when it is important to reach out to your medical professional. What are those times?
1. When nothing is working
If you have tried all the ways of navigating food aversions and you still aren’t able to keep anything down, it’s time to call your care provider. They will need to make sure that the issue is really food aversions, not something more serious. That may mean that you will need some testing done.
Depending on the results of those tests, your doctor may want to pursue treatment for another condition or discuss medical interventions to ensure you and your baby are getting proper nutrition.
2. If you start experiencing odd cravings
If you get to the point where you are craving ashes, dirt, or any other non-food item, that could be a sign of a larger issue. These cravings can sometimes signal vitamin or mineral deficiencies. They can generally be remedied, but they need to be identified and addressed by a medical professional.
3. If there is blood
Your food aversions may lead to vomiting. That is not a huge worry. If, however, you see blood in your vomit, that’s a different story. Should you see this, you need to see a medical professional as soon as possible as this could be a sign of a serious issue.
Still having issues with food aversions during pregnancy? Let me create a personalized food plan that works for you and changes as your aversions change!