Food cravings are so common for pregnant women. But what about food aversion in pregnancy? If you expected to want to eat everything in sight when pregnant, your sudden dislike for what used to be your favourite snack may surprise you.
What is Food Aversion?
A food aversion occurs when you are unable to eat (or even smell) specific foods. Food aversions are the polar opposite of cravings and, like cravings, are quite common during pregnancy. It is estimated that over 60 per cent of pregnant women develop food aversions.
Food aversions, like desires, may be induced by pregnancy’s hormonal changes. During your first trimester, the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone that prompted your positive pregnancy test, doubles every several days.
Causes of Food Cravings and Aversions During Pregnancy
When it comes to those appetite turn-ons and turn-offs, several things may be at play, including the following:
Pregnancy hormones may play a role, particularly early on in the pregnancy when your body is positively saturated with them. If you had intense desires for chocolate before pregnancy, especially before your period, you’re likely to have them again now.
Around week 11 of pregnancy, HCG levels peak and then level out. Until then, symptoms like as nausea, cravings, and dietary aversions may have been caused by rapidly rising levels. Your hormones, on the other hand, will continue to influence your appetite throughout your pregnancy.
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Your food aversion may also be linked to your morning sickness. This could be due to the fact that both are triggered by hCG. It’s also possible that you correlate morning sickness with the items you’re eating at the time.
Heightened sense of smell during pregnancy
During pregnancy, your taste receptors and sense of smell may be too sensitive, bland, or otherwise out of balance. The senses of smell and taste can be extremely acute, and this enhanced sensitivity might render certain foods unappealing.
Some academics believe that food aversions evolved as a form of defence against things that could be hazardous to a developing newborn. This hypothesis may explain why you no longer like your morning coffee or crave a steak for dinner.
Excessive saliva during pregnancy
One of the common symptoms that pregnant women report especially during the first trimester is the saliva build-up in their mouths. Excessive saliva or ptyalism gravidarum is one of those strange and unwanted pregnancy symptoms some mums-to-be experience.
What’s the cause? Just like other first trimester symptoms, the culprit is your hormones.
Despite the unpleasant feeling of too much drool, experts believe that excessive saliva is the body’s way of protecting your mouth, teeth and throat from the corrosive effects of stomach acid.
However, the pool of saliva in your mouth can add to your queasiness and increase the chances that you’ll be turned off by your next meal, leading to food aversion.
Crossed nutrition signals
There may also be some validity to the idea that you crave what your body requires and dislike what is bad for you. This idea holds true for pre-pregnancy favourites like coffee and alcohol, both of which might suddenly turn off frequent drinkers.
But it doesn’t explain why you could dislike healthy things you used to enjoy, such as salad or oatmeal. According to one idea, humans have deviated so far from the original food chain that the body can no longer interpret its own internal signals consistently.
Yes, your body understands it requires vitamin C and calcium, but these days it may translate into a desire for Oreo ice cream instead of a slice of cantaloupe and a glass of milk.
A desire for comfort (food)
You could crave foods and recipes associated with your culture and heritage. It’s fine to indulge as long as what you’re seeking is part of a balanced diet. So go ahead and eat the mac and cheese you ate as a kid now and then.
When is it Most Common for Food Aversions to Occur?
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Food cravings are most likely to occur during the first trimester. Food aversions, on the other hand, can occur at any time throughout pregnancy. New aversions can arise at any point throughout your pregnancy.
Food aversions will usually subside after your kid is born. It’s also possible that aversions will last eternally.
Common Food Aversions During Pregnancy
Any food might cause an aversion or craving during pregnancy. It’s also possible to have an aversion to a certain dish during your pregnancy and then crave it later. The most prevalent aversions, however, are to meals with strong odours.
Common pregnancy aversions include:
- dairy goods
- coffee and tea
- fatty foods
- spicy foods
Some pregnant women crave the foods listed above as well. Which meals you dislike — or crave — during pregnancy aren’t always tied to your pre-pregnancy eating habits.
Pregnant ladies suffering from morning sickness prefer bland and sweet foods to flavorful and heavily spiced dishes.
Because pregnancy disrupts your hormones, it’s usual to crave things you used to despise and despise foods you used to adore.
How to Overcome Food Aversion During Pregnancy?
Here are some suggestions for overcoming pregnancy food aversions while you’re pregnant.
Continue taking your vitamins
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Doing so will ensure that you are getting your required nutrient intake, even if you are avoiding certain foods. If your prenatal vitamin supplement is also making you feel nauseous, ask your doctor for a liquid or chewable alternative.
Choose vegetables with a mild flavour
Puree cooked legumes, mash white or sweet potatoes and avoid stronger-smelling veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.
Serve cold appetizers
Instead of a hot entrée, have a sandwich or a pasta salad for dinner. Warm meals have a stronger scent and might trigger nausea and aversion. Some women like cold foods since they do not smell as strongly.
Use beans as a replacement
If meat makes you gag, replace it with eggs, beans, nuts, nut butter, low-fat cheese, Greek yoghurt, and soy foods like tofu. Incorporate textured vegetable protein crumbles into pasta sauce, pureed cooked beans into soups and stews, and whey protein powder, dry milk powder, or peanut powder into smoothies.
Eat foods that are bland
Similarly, foods having a moderate flavour may be easier to digest. Rice, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and simple noodles are all good options.
Look for alternatives
If food aversions are limiting your food intake, look for substitutes for the healthful foods you can’t eat right now. Make sure you receive those nutrients elsewhere if you have aversions to foods that are essential during pregnancy. If you dislike meat, for example, consume plenty of high-protein foods like nuts and beans.
Aversions can also be overcome by “hiding” the offending item in other foods. If salads make you queasy, consider incorporating leafy greens into a fruit smoothie. You won’t notice the taste or texture there.
7. Proper oral hygiene
There is no surefire way to get rid of the excess saliva in your mouth, but you can manage it by chewing on ice, using a minty mouthwash and brushing your teeth often to remove the icky taste and feel.
Food aversions and cravings are common throughout pregnancy, so you shouldn’t be alarmed. However, if you are unable to eat most foods, your baby’s growth may suffer. If this is the case, consult your doctor.
- WebMD. (December 20, 2016). Pregnancy: Why Your Favorite Foods Gross You Out. www.webmd.com/baby/features/pregnancy-food-cravings-aversions
- Healthline. (December 18, 2018). Everything You Need to Know About Food Aversions During Pregnancy. www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/food-aversions
This article was republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore.
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