Food Aversions in Pregnancy

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Food aversions during pregnancy are more common than you might think. Although many of us are familiar with pregnancy cravings, going off your favorite meal while pregnant might surprise you.

A food aversion is a sudden dislike of food, snack, or meal you previously enjoyed. This might be manageable if you only have one or two phobias, but it can be more problematic if you have multiple severe aversions.

When Do Food Aversions Occur?

Food aversions can occur at any time during pregnancy but are most common during the first trimester (until the end of week 12). A pregnant woman can also develop other new aversions throughout pregnancy.

For many women, the aversion will resolve once the baby is born. However, some phobias will continue after this.

The Cause of Food Aversions

In the first trimester, food aversions are caused by the rising level of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). hCG continues to rise during the first trimester and is also responsible for any morning sickness you may be experiencing. Sometimes food aversions are directly linked to unpleasant nausea and disease of pregnancy.

The rising level of hCG may influence how you feel about foods you previously enjoyed, and there may be complex psychological reasons for food aversions.

Some scientists have suggested that food aversions could offer protection against foods that have the potential to cause harm during pregnancy.

By the end of the first trimester, the placenta is more developed and begins to take over, making the female hormones associated with pregnancy. For some women, this may signal the end of food aversions. However, others will continue to have dislikes despite hCG plateauing.

Common Food Aversions

Some foods are particularly likely to become off-putting during pregnancy. You are not alone if you have suddenly gone off:

  • Dairy products, including milk and yogurt

  • Meat

  • Eggs

  • Garlic or onion

  • Tea or coffee

  • Spicy foods

  • Hot food

  • Fried food

  • Fish or shellfish

  • Vegetables.

How to Manage Food Aversions

If you have one or two aversions, avoiding these foods is sensible but continuing to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy. You may find that later in pregnancy, your aversions resolve, and you can eat the foods you previously enjoyed.

It can become challenging to maintain a balanced diet if you have multiple severe food aversions. It is natural to worry about your baby getting enough nutrients, but the female body is designed to ensure your baby gets what they require. However, there are some simple ways to give your body a helping hand.

If you have gone off certain fruits or vegetables, you may find you can get away with hiding carrots, kale, or cucumber in a fruit smoothie. If you can no longer stand the taste of meat, ensure you get enough protein from beans, pulses, or fish. Dairy alternatives are more widely available nowadays, so if you no longer enjoy cow's milk, you could try a plant-based product such as soya or oat milk.

Many bowls of cereal and bread are fortified with vitamins and minerals, so you may be getting more nutrition than you realize just by eating a healthy breakfast.

Eating some foods in the morning or afternoon might be more accessible, so don't be afraid to try a new routine regarding eating during pregnancy.

Severe Aversions

Although it's common to have one or two aversions, if your aversions make it difficult for you to eat, you should discuss this with your midwife or doctor. They may wish to monitor the growth of your baby more closely.

Final Thoughts

Food aversions are common in pregnancy, and in most cases, the hatred can be avoided until it appeals to you again. However, you should speak to a healthcare professional if you experience phobias that severely limit what you can eat.

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