7 Tips for Dealing With Food Aversions During Pregnancy

How can you deal with food aversions during pregnancy? When will they likely start & stop? Here are 7 tips to tame food aversions.

Early in my current pregnancy, I walked down the steps to the kitchen. Immediately, I smelled a strong scent of oranges, realizing that one of the kids must have eaten one.

The orange smelled SO strong, overpowering, and even a little gross. Thus started the first physical symptom of my third pregnancy, (which I confirmed with a pregnancy test,) and my food aversions.

I speak from experience when I share the following tips. I’ve found these to be helpful for myself and/or other pregnant women suffering from food aversions.

These suggestions can help you feel less overwhelmed during pregnancy.

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1.) Prepare food in a way that is less likely to bother you.

 
a pregnant woman preps food she can eat that she won't have aversions to
 

There is often a connection between smell aversions and food aversions. Most women experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy.

For myself personally, strong-smelling foods are less appealing to me. Essentially, the smell of the food contributes to whether or not I can eat it.

For example, during my first trimester of my current pregnancy, I made a flavorful basil alfredo sauce. The kids liked it, my husband liked it, and not-pregnant me would have loved it. But…the basil smelled SO strong that I couldn’t eat it. (This was sad because I’m Italian and love using basil. It’s okay though, because I’ll like it again in a few months.)

On the other hand, I recently made a spaghetti squash recipe that has a creamy sauce similar to an alfredo sauce and I could eat it because it didn’t have basil.

So if you find there are certain foods or ingredients that are too strong or turn your stomach, try to avoid using them for now, at least until you can handle eating or smelling them again.

I’ve also found that I do best with fresh foods that aren’t cooked, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

For cooked foods, I do better with dishes cooked on the stove than those that are cooked in the oven. For some reason, baked foods smell stronger and as a result are less appetizing to me.

Opening a window can help to air out the kitchen while food is cooking/baking, so smells aren’t as intense.

When you prepare or cook foods, try to work with the smells and tastes your body accepts and the methods of cooking that you tolerate better. Please note, though, that this can change throughout pregnancy.

There were some foods that I initially could eat in early pregnancy, (although I had other aversions.) But I developed an aversion to the same foods later that were originally okay.

Alternating the foods you eat may help as well. During pregnancy, I’m more likely to get sick of foods and develop an aversion if I eat them too often. So if that is the case for you as well, try to alternate the foods you eat.

2.) Talk to your doctor or midwife and research & ask about natural remedies that help.

 
a black woman discusses pregnancy aversion remedies with her midwife as she holds her belly
 

If you have morning sickness/nausea or food or smell aversions, mention this at your next OB/GYN appointment.

You may even want to give their office a call before your next appointment, especially if the nausea/aversions are making it difficult for you to eat or to do other day-to-day activities.

Related: How to Stay Sane Between Prenatal Appointments

There are definitely things your doctor can recommend that will help, whether youre looking for medicine, natural remedies, or both.

A study was done that showed Vitamin B6 can help with nausea in pregnancy. It may also help with your food aversions or at least help you feel better. So this is one thing you can ask your OB/GYN about taking.

✅ These are the vitamin B6 melts I got from Amazon to take during pregnancy.

Many women say that lemon helps with nausea. Early on in my current pregnancy, I found that I could tolerate lemon, and I could even drink lemonade. (I make homemade lemonade with real lemon juice and cane sugar. While I try to avoid too much sugar in pregnancy, I’ve found I can tolerate homemade lemonade, and it seems to help.)

In addition to natural remedies, there are other medications your doctor or midwife may recommend that are considered safe in pregnancy that you may want to take if you continue to experience extreme food aversions or nausea.

Related: How to Change Your OB/GYN During Pregnancy- 9 Steps to Take

3.) Take a high-quality prenatal vitamin.

 
a pregnant woman takes her prenatal vitamins
 

This will help to balance out your body’s nutrition as you share nutrients with the little one growing in you. It may be difficult for you to get all your nutrients from food when you’re struggling to eat certain things.

This is the prenatal vitamin I’m currently taking this pregnancy.

I like this one because it has folate in it which is the natural version of folic acid, (and folate is easier for the body to process.)

When choosing a prenatal your doctor didn’t prescribe, check with them that it’s okay. In some cases they may recommend you choose a different one or supplement it with something else.

4.) Choose healthier & safe versions of the foods your body can handle.

 
pregnant woman eats croissant she made for breakfast
 

If you’re craving fast food, make/choose healthier versions that fill your cravings and are better for you. Try to avoid greasy, fried foods, which are harder for your body to digest.

Pretty much any food that is unhealthy has a healthier alternative. You can do a simple online search for “healthy version of {insert unhealthy food you’re craving}.”

Even if a food sounds good, it can still bother you and make you feel sick, especially if it’s unhealthy and your body rejects it. So if you’re already struggling with food aversions or nausea, choose healthier versions of any unhealthy/greasy food you’re craving. Your body will be less likely to respond negatively to what you consume.

I also recommend periodically checking if any foods have been recalled in your area. Then you’ll be less likely to consume something that will make you sick.

5.) Eat what you can, when you can.

 
a pregnant woman eats yogurt
 

Early on in my current pregnancy, I noticed that my nausea was worse at certain times of the day.

The term ‘morning sickness’ is not entirely accurate. While it is worse it the morning for some women, you can suffer from nausea at any time of day.

In this pregnancy, I actually felt more nauseous at night, (and I even vomited at night multiple times.)

So I would try to eat earlier when I felt hungrier or less nauseous. Sometimes I would feel sicker if I didn’t eat when I was hungry- the hunger actually made it worse. So I try to eat as soon as I feel hungry.

Even if you constantly feel nauseous or suffer from food aversions, certain times of the day may be less intense.

Eating in small amounts can be beneficial. I would get full pretty fast, and then stop eating until I started to feel hungry again later.

While most foods didn’t sound appealing early in my pregnancy, I would still make myself eat when I could. And I would eat small amounts of any healthy food that didn’t make me gag.

Milder foods have been easier for me to tolerate, such as porridge, cereal, and fresh fruits & vegetables.

For a while, I was eating fresh berries and homemade whipped cream because that’s what my body could handle. Now I make homemade parfaits with yogurt, fresh berries, and granola.

When my husband took us out to eat once, all I could eat was a few bites of steamed broccoli. When my stomach started to reject it, I stopped eating, and was able to keep it down.

Eating in small amounts during times when your body is able to accept food, choosing foods your body is not physically rejecting (even if you aren’t thrilled eating them,) and stopping when you start to feel full will help you to eat better and at least get some nutrition into your body.

6.) If you do better with drinking than eating, try to opt for things like juices, smoothies, and/or pureed/blended soups.

 
a pregnant woman holds her belly as she drinks a smoothie she made
 

During this pregnancy I have done better with drinking. It seems to be easier on my stomach.

Note: Be careful if you buy things that are pre-made, and check the ingredients. Some store-bought smoothies may contain ingredients that carry risks during pregnancy.

For instance, some smoothies I bought contain chicory root fiber, and having too much chicory in pregnancy can be risky. (I ended up giving them to my husband.) Some brands only have it in certain smoothie flavors, but not all of them.

It is also recommended to drink juices that are pasteurized during pregnancy.

Or if you are using a juicer to make your own juice, or blending your own smoothies, it is recommended that you thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables you’re using. I always wash them even if I’m peeling the skin or cutting them open, just to be safe.

This Ninja blender we have is great for making personal portions of smoothies.

I have also found soups to be comforting and more palatable than regular foods. When we go out to eat, I can usually get soup at restaurants that offer mainly fried foods.

7.) Don’t let food aversions stress you out.

 
a pregnant woman lays back on her bed listening to music and relaxes despite having food aversions
 

In most cases, even if you struggle to eat as well as you should (or think you should) due to pregnancy food aversions or not wanting to eat, your baby will still get the nutrients they need from what your body already has stored.

Of course, you do want to eat as well as you can and replenish nutrients your baby is using.

But if you’ve done what you can, talked to your doctor or midwife, and followed the advice they’ve shared, please don’t stress.

Added stress won’t help your health or your baby’s health. And all you can do is what you can do.

The truth is, most women with severe food aversions only struggle with them for part of their pregnancy. Even if there are certain foods you don’t like now, you may find that there are more things you can tolerate as you progress through your pregnancy.

When Do Food Aversions Start in Pregnancy?

According to Copperstate OB/GYN, food aversions often start “during the early stages of pregnancy, in the first trimester.” It is believed by many physicians that there is a connection to food aversions and nausea with the high hCG levels that are experienced in the first trimester.

Food and smell aversions are some of the earliest pregnancy symptoms that can be experienced. In my own case, this was actually what prompted me to take a pregnancy test (before I had missed my period.)

When Do Pregnancy Food Aversions Stop?

 
an expecting mom holds her mouth and stomach feeling sick from food aversions during pregnancy
 

Generally, the worst of a woman’s food aversions will at least start to lessen during her second trimester. Of course, each woman and every pregnancy is unique.

In my own experience, I have always felt less nausea and aversions after a couple weeks into my second trimester. My midwife said this is typical of most pregnancies. That said, in my first pregnancy there was a food I continued to dislike throughout my pregnancy, (salad,) until I gave birth.

And in my current pregnancy, I still have an aversion to some foods. For example, I dislike the smell of fried foods and have no desire to eat fried foods, cupcakes, and some other things I used to like, even though I’m in my second trimester now.

However, even though I still have a few food aversions, my level of nausea has calmed down. My appetite has also increased, and I no longer need to worry about throwing up in a restaurant parking lot before I can get in the car. (True story- that was not fun.)

Overall, my food aversions are manageable now. And I feel confident I will be back to normal after the baby is born. In the meantime, if I don’t have fried foods or cupcakes, that’s not a bad thing, since those things aren’t exactly healthy to begin with.

Even in the worst case scenario- if an expecting mom experiences severe food aversions throughout the entire pregnancy, she will feel better again after the baby is born. It’s only temporary.

And if this is the case for you, just know that soon you’ll be looking back at this experience and no longer be in it.

You will feel better and enjoy eating again.

So those are 7 tips to help if you are dealing with food aversions.

Remember that the way food is prepared & how it smells can affect your desire to eat it, speak with your doctor or midwife about remedies that may help, take a high-quality prenatal vitamin, choose healthy, safe versions of foods you can eat, work with your body’s natural instincts & eat when you feel hungry, try drinking juices, smoothies or soups/broths, and don’t stress yourself out.

You will get through these aversions and your sense of taste and smell will return to normal soon. You’ve got this!

P.S. If you aren’t fully prepared for your baby yet, grab our free Newborn Essentials Checklist here.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a medical professional or expert. Articles on this website are for informational purposes only, and we are not responsible for any decisions you make acting on or failing to act on info from our site. Expecting parents are responsible for consulting medical professionals for their care & their baby’s care, for doing their own research, and for making their own decisions. See our full disclaimer policies here on our Terms of Use page.

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