Food Aversions During Pregnancy Can Really Change a Diet

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One of the most common associations with pregnancy is food-related cravings. While this phase can increase a woman’s appetite, there is also a flipside to silly desires like pickles and peanut butter.

Some women experience food aversions.

Food aversions are a woman’s negative reaction to certain foods and beverages. This condition impacts more than half of pregnant women around the world. First-time mothers often get worried when the foods they craved just a few weeks ago suddenly repulse them. Sometimes it only takes the scent to cause nausea and discomfort.

For instance, a woman may walk past her favorite cafe and be overwhelmed by the smell of ground coffee beans. For pregnant mothers that are experiencing food aversions, here’s why this condition occurs and how to overcome it.

Why Food Aversions Occur

Health experts aren’t fully aware of the root cause of food aversions, but it may have a direct correlation to hormone fluctuation. During the first trimester, a woman’s hCG levels double every day.

hCG is the hormones that show up on a positive pregnancy test. As these hormones rapidly increase, pregnant women experience elevated side effects until the hormone levels peak.

In most cases, morning sickness and food aversions go away within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, foods that once were delicious and integral in a woman’s diet become hard to keep down or even smell. It’s also common for previously undesired foods to become even more likely to create sickness.

Certain aversions are believed to be a defense mechanism for the baby. For example, coffee in large doses can harm mom and the unborn child. The elevated negative response to certain foods subsequently causes nausea and even vomiting, which is the basis of morning sickness.

Some women have trouble digesting textured items. For example, they may have a hard time eating salads. Instead, they’d blend them into smoothies and consume them with ease. Typically, this condition isn’t a major cause for concern, even if there is vomiting. As long as the baby is growing at a healthy rate, mothers should not be alarmed. However, rapid weight loss or the inability to gain weight throughout pregnancy should immediately be addressed by a medical professional.

Common Foods That Cause Aversion During Pregnancy

Although the foods that cause aversions vary by case, there are some common culprits that most women deal with. These foods include:

  • Meat - Pregnant women that would consider themselves carnivores may find themselves straying away from meat during the first trimester. For some women, the smell of the meat is unappetizing. Others can’t properly digest the meat and end up vomiting. In some cases, the preparation of the meat is the culprit. An example is if a woman who eats red meat enjoys it on the rare side. The bacterias they could once eat without getting sick are now a threat, so her body tries to get rid of it so it doesn’t harm the baby. If it’s hard to eat meat, consider changing the cooking and seasoning techniques to make them more palatable. If the problem doesn’t go away, it’s wise to temporarily eliminate meat.
  • Coffee - Coffee can wreak havoc on a pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Coffee makes it difficult to sleep and function at times. Coffee also directly impacts the growing fetus, which can increase the probabilty of a miscarriage. Additionally, coffee and tea have a strong scent that can be especially off putting.
  • Strong Scented Foods - Since every sense is elevated, strong smells can be too much to handle during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid or only enjoy foods like garlic or eggs in moderation, especially if the mother is regularly getting sick. If avoiding these foods leads to malnutrition, consider taking a multivitamin.

The increased hormones during the first trimester can be tough, especially on an expectant mother’s appetite. As long as the mother maintains a healthy weight, having to cut out aversion-causing foods isn’t a big deal, especially since it’s only temporary.