When you talk about being pregnant, the most often discussed about topic is food cravings. Women will tell you how they used to crave raw mangoes, tamarind and others such things.
Weird cravings are famous too. Some women tend to crave weird combinations of foods like ice creams and pickles. There are certain cravings that can be potentially harmful like when women crave mud, iron and plaster.
But did you know that women can also suffer from food aversions during pregnancy? The case of aversions to food during pregnancy is more common than you may think.
Women are known to develop aversion to foods that they consumed on a daily basis. They might even hate food that they previously loved. Most women experience pregnancy food aversions during the first trimester. But the case may differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy.
The reasons why you hate your favourite food now that you are pregnant are not very clear. There are many theories and speculations that try to explain why women develop aversions to food, but none of these can be considered conclusive.
Today, we shall discuss about some of the theories that try to explain what causes food aversions during pregnancy. We shall also look at some things that you can do to ease this tough period of life.
How does food aversion manifest itself during pregnancy?
Often, food aversions manifest themselves even before the mother to be knows that she is pregnant. Along with morning sickness, it can be one of the first signs of pregnancy.
When you start getting food aversions, the first thing you may notice is that you produce more saliva than usual. This may cause you to have a metallic taste in your mouth. Many moms describe the taste as 'a bitter taste that you can't get rid of'.
As the pregnancy progresses, you may start finding that you do not desire certain foods, even those that you liked or loved. As the morning sickness sets in, you may start feeling nauseous and may vomit on consuming these foods. Even the smell, sight or just the thought of the said food can cause you to vomit.
Food Aversions Through Pregnancy
In most women, aversions to food during pregnancy may happen during the first trimester. These may disappear as the first trimester ends. But in many women, the aversions continue for the whole of the pregnancy. In rare cases, the aversions may continue even after the baby is born.
The Foods That May Face Aversions During Pregnancy
The foods that have very strong smells or flavours are the ones that are hated the most during the pregnancy. It is possible that aversions may change through the pregnancy too. A woman may be averse to a particular food at the beginning of the pregnancy and gorge on the same by the end of the pregnancy.
There is no particular rule to the phenomenon of food aversions during pregnancy but the most common foods that are hated during pregnancy are as follows:
- Milk and milk products
- Spicy food
- Coffee and tea
- Greasy foods
These are the same foods that can be craved by other pregnant women as well.
Reasons Behind Food Aversions During Pregnancy
There is no solid reason to mention as the reason behind food aversions during pregnancy. What the specialists and doctors have is a list of theories. You may have started to hate the food that you once loved due to one of these theories or due to a combination of a few.
Let us take look at the most popular theories that try to explain food aversions when expecting a baby.
HCG - Human chorionic gonadotropin
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that plays a lot of different roles during pregnancy. It is said to be at its highest at 11 weeks. Then its levels start to go down. It is also around the 11th week that most women complain of food aversions. Therefore, it is possible that it is this hormone that is causing food aversions during pregnancy.
It is commonly seen that women suffer from the aversions to food around at the same time when they have morning sickness. It is thought that the aversions to food during pregnancy can be another symptom of morning sickness or they may be related and have a common reason.
Strong sense of smell and taste
Women have a heightened sense of smell and taste when they are pregnant. Any foods that have a strong smell can cause the women to feel nauseated and be grossed out by it. This increase in the sense of taste and smell is often cited as a reason for food aversions during pregnancy.
Certain pregnancy hormones are responsible for the increased salivation witnessed during the pregnancy period. This increased salivation also brings with it a bitter metallic taste. A bitter taste is the reason women are averse to foods during pregnancy. Certain women say that the metallic taste puts them off of eating anything at all.
It is often said that we must listen to our bodies. It is commonly seen that the body often signals us about the things that are good for us and those that are not. It is the same when a woman is pregnant. It is theorized that the body develops these food aversions during pregnancy as a protecting mechanism. It is a way of telling us that the food that the woman is averse to is bad for her growing foetus.
Another point that supports this theory is that the statistics show that women who experience aversions and morning sickness rarely experience still births, miscarriages and pre-mature births.
The aversion to food happens most commonly during the first trimester. The fact that this happens during the time that the baby is at its most vulnerable state, supports this theory.
How To Cope With The Food Aversions?
While it may be very difficult for you to cope with food aversions during pregnancy, it is important to remember that avoiding foods that you are averse to will not cause you any harm.
Listen to your body
It is a good thing to listen to your body. Keep in mind, though, that moderation is the key. Give in into your cravings. Your body needs it. keep away from the foods you are averse to. Your body probably doesn't need it. Save yourself from having to vomit and feel nauseous.
Replace the foods that you are averse
Sometimes, the food that you are averse to contains essential nutrients that you cannot afford to ignore and avoid. In such cases, you may have to replace that particular food item with another food item that contains the similar amounts of the specific nutrients. If you feel averse to spinach, replace it with amaranth leaves, leaves of the drumstick tree or methi leaves.
Hide the food you can’t have
You can try to consume the food item by hiding it in other things. The idea is to mask its looks, suppress its smell and overpower its taste without destroying its nutrition value. If you can't take veggies of a certain kind, add it to a smoothie with fruits. Add flavouring substances like vanilla or cardamom to hide its taste and smell.
Never keep your stomach empty
It is seen that the aversions to food heighten when the stomach is kept empty or when you wait until you feel hungry to eat. Keep your stomach busy with sips of tea, herbal tea and such. You can try nibbling on foods such as nuts, fruits and saltine crackers.
Ask for supplements
If none of the tips above help you, it may just not be possible for you to consume the food items that you are averse to. In such cases, you may need to let your doctor know about it. Your doctor will advise you about the supplements that you may have to take to fulfill your nutritional requirements. You may be already taking pre-natal vitamins, niacin tablets, iron and calcium. In addition to these, your doctor may add cod liver oil and other such essential supplements as well.