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Everything You Need to Know About Food Aversions During Pregnancy

food aversion pregnancy

Sending your partner out on a midnight ice cream run? Grabbing a jar of pickles for breakfast? Food cravings are so expected during pregnancy, they’re a familiar cliché.

But what about food aversions? If you were expecting that you’d want to eat everything in sight while pregnant, then your sudden hatred of what used to be your favorite snack might take you by surprise.

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Here’s why you can’t eat some things you used to love, and how you can cope with pregnancy food aversions.

What causes food aversions during pregnancy?

Food aversions, like cravings, are possibly caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy. The hormone that triggered your positive pregnancy test, human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG), doubles every few days during your first trimester. It peaks and levels off around week 11 of pregnancy. Up to that point, the rapidly rising levels may be behind symptoms like nausea, cravings, and food aversions. But your hormones will continue to affect your appetite throughout pregnancy.

Your food aversions could also be associated with morning sickness. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, nausea and food aversions begin at the same time in pregnancy for the majority of women. This could be because both are caused by the same hormone. But it could also be because you associate morning sickness with foods you’re eating at the time.

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How do food aversions change in each trimester of pregnancy?

You’re most likely to experience food aversions during the first trimester. But you can experience food aversions at any point during pregnancy. New aversions can also develop at any time during your pregnancy.

Most of the time, food aversions will disappear after your baby arrives. But it’s also possible for aversions to continue indefinitely.

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What are common food aversions during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you can experience an aversion or a craving for any food. It’s even possible to have an aversion toward a specific food at one point during your pregnancy, and to crave the same food later. But the most common aversions are toward foods with strong smells.

Common pregnancy aversions include:

  • meat
  • eggs
  • milk
  • onions
  • garlic
  • tea and coffee
  • spicy foods

Some pregnant women also crave the foods listed above. Which foods you hate (or crave) during pregnancy aren’t necessarily related to your prepregnancy diet. As pregnancy is wreaking havoc on your hormones, it’s common to want to eat something you used to dislike, and to hate foods you used to love.

How can you cope with food aversions during pregnancy?

In most cases, it’s healthy to listen to your body during pregnancy. This means that (in moderation) it’s fine to eat your cravings and avoid your aversions. But if your aversions include foods that are important during pregnancy, make sure you’re getting those nutrients in other ways. For example, if you have an aversion to meat, eat plenty of other high-protein foods like nuts and beans.

You can also get around aversions by hiding the food you don’t want in other foods. For example, if salads make you feel sick, try putting your leafy greens in a fruit smoothie, where you won’t notice the taste or texture.

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Next steps

Both food aversions and cravings are normal during pregnancy, so you usually don’t need to be concerned. But if you’re unable to eat most foods, it could affect your baby’s growth. Discuss weight gain with your doctor.

Food aversions are sometimes accompanied by cravings for ice or other nonfoods during pregnancy. It’s possible for pregnant women to crave things that aren’t food, like dirt or chalk. This condition, called pica, can be a sign of an underlying medical problem. If you experience this, call your doctor. 

  • What are some remedies for nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy?
  • Morning sickness is a common problem, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s often made worse by certain foods or odors, so try to avoid those triggers. Other things you can do include avoiding rich or spicy foods, eating smaller frequent meals, eating plain crackers so that your stomach isn’t completely empty (keep them bedside if you get nauseous in the morning), drinking ginger tea or ginger ale, and taking your prenatal vitamin after eating something.

    - University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
Lisa Baker
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