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Why Do Food Aversions Occur During Pregnancy & How to Manage it?

If there are three things that every movie depicts while portraying a pregnancy, it’s unquestionably the waddling walk, the happy glow and the cravings. But nobody tells you the secret that cravings also have a flip side to them and it is unexplained aversions to certain foods during pregnancy.

Food aversions have always been associated with pregnancies though they are not as well-known as cravings. Up to 85% of the women suffer from food aversion at least for a brief period during their pregnancy. The scientific reason behind these aversions caused by pregnancy is not known as of yet.

Why Do Food Aversions Occur During Pregnancy & How to Manage it?

Why Do Food Aversions Occur During Pregnancy?

Even though the exact reason for food aversions has not been discovered as of yet, most scientists and doctors believe that it occurs due to the change in the hormones of woman during pregnancy. The most probable culprit, according to most doctors, is HCG or the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone.

HCG is actually the hormone which is responsible for the positive testing of pregnancy in woman. After every few days the production rate of the hormone is increased two times causing the quantity of this hormone to get double in pregnant women during first trimester. This process keeps on going till the 11th weeks of pregnancy after which the production slows and levels off.

The rapid increase of this hormone in the pregnant woman causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, food cravings and food aversions. Morning sickness and food aversions occur in woman almost at the same time which may mean that they are inter-related and may even be caused by the same hormone.

Which Foods Cause Aversions During Pregnancy?

Pregnant woman can become averse to any type and kind of food. These aversions can and almost always do include foods that you actually liked before your pregnancy. Some of these foods can actually be your favorites.

Food aversions that occur during pregnancy usually involve foods that have high protein content or foods with strong smells. High protein content food aversions can actually be quite beneficial as a lot of protein can be harmful during pregnancy for the growing baby.

Some say that it is an evolutionary process that protects the baby from harmful effects caused by a high protein content diet in a pregnant woman. This view is actually supported by the fact that the pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness and food aversions during their pregnancies tend to have fewer miscarriages, stillbirths and premature babies. It is also supported by the timing of the food aversions which usually happen during the first three months of the pregnancy which is the important time for the growth of the baby and it is also the time when the baby is most fragile and vulnerable.

But these food aversions are certainly not limited to protein rich foods only but can include any type of foods such as vegetables, certain fruits and even your tea and coffee intake can also become affected by food aversions while you are pregnant.

It is quite common to have aversion to a certain food during one time in your pregnancy and then to crave the same food a few weeks or a few months later. Most common pregnancy related aversions are towards foods such as meat, eggs, milk, onions, garlic, tea, coffee and spicy foods.

When Do Food Aversions Occur During Pregnancy?

Food aversion usually shows up sometimes during the first trimester of pregnancy and usually lasts for the duration of the first trimester though it may even last for the whole period of pregnancy. It is inconsistent and may even disappear in the first trimester to show up some other time during the pregnancy. It usually ends after the birth of the baby but sometimes the aversion to a certain type of food may remain with you for the rest of your life.

It is also quite possible to have an aversion to a certain food during one time in a day and not be quite so intolerable during other. For example, some women have an aversion to eggs or coffee early in the morning but can tolerate to eat it during the day or sometimes in the night too.

How to Manage Food Aversions During Pregnancy?

Food aversion is almost never harmful for pregnant woman even though it sometimes causes woman to not eat certain nutrients and vitamins in sufficient quantity. Like every other thing about pregnancy, food aversion is also different for different woman.

Some experience only mild aversion to a particular food and will eat it if they absolutely have to, which can actually be easily manageable. But for some woman it is not food aversion but more like food hating or food loathing which can be a bit more problematic but both can be managed with a bit of planning. The trick is to know how to manage these food aversions so that you will get all the nutrients and vitamins that you need because if you can do that, you don’t have to worry about anything.

Here are some suggestions to manage your food aversions during pregnancy-

Variety in the Pantry

Keep your pantry fully and well stocked. Anticipate your needs and when you go grocery shopping, make sure you get a little of everything especially during the first trimester of your pregnancy. This way, you will have everything for your late night cravings as well as an alternative food for when you experience food aversion towards a particular kind of food.

It is especially helpful for those women whose aversions and cravings both tend to change from day to day or week to week when they are pregnant. This way you will not have to make a run to your grocery store in the middle of the night or every other day.

Don’t Fix a Time for Any Food

Do not fix a time for any type of food especially if you are suffering from food aversions such as eggs for breakfast or warm milk at night. You will find that there are some foods that you are averse to only at a certain time of day. If that is the case, you should be flexible and eat it whenever it is more palatable such as instead of eating eggs in the morning you can eat them in lunch or dinner because during pregnancy you cannot afford to be rigid as you need your nutrients.

Try To Fix Your Food Differently

If you are unable to stomach your food and are suffering from pretty intense food aversion during your pregnancy, try to fix your food differently. For example, if warm milk grosses you out, try to drink cold milk or make a smoothie. This way you will not only benefit from the goodness of milk but also of different fruits. Similarly if you cannot eat boiled eggs or omelet during breakfast, you can try out egg curry at lunch.

Substitute Food You Are Averse To With Something Else

Sometimes during their pregnancy, woman experience food aversion that is so strong that they cannot eat certain foods in any form, no matter how they fix it or when they try to eat it. If such is the case, do not make yourself eat it forcefully. Instead give in to your body’s whims and substitute its nutrients by something else. For example if you absolutely cannot eat meat, you should eat lots of nuts, beans and milk products to compensate your body’s protein demands.

Give In To Yourself

Try to be flexible and give in to yourself up to a certain extent regarding your craving and aversions when you are pregnant. That is not to say that you are allowed to eat only carbs and no other nutrients but if you are eating sufficient nutrients and vitamins, you can give into your ice-cream cravings or avoid foods you are averse to.

Take Supplements

You can also try to take supplements of various vitamins etc. to make up the difference which is occurring due to your inability to eat certain food. Food aversions can result into a loss of vitamins and nutrients in certain woman during their pregnancy. To deal with this problem you can ask your doctor to prescribe you some supplements. Just remember that supplements are not a healthy substitute for nutritious food. So try to take as much of a healthy diet as you can.

Don’t Try To Be Perfect

Pregnancy is a time when your whole body goes haywire. Everything inside your body is in a state of chaos. So the best advice anyone can give you is to revel in it and not try to keep it perfect. Your aim should be to eat all the nutrients, vitamins, proteins and carbs that you need during pregnancy. So try to eat whenever you can and not the three perfect meals with perfect portions that you were eating before. That kind of thing doesn’t work during pregnancy and tends to backfire.

Food aversions do make life a little difficult but you should hang in there as it will get better after a few months. That being said, do not compromise with your health and stay fit.


  1. March of Dimes. (2021). Pregnancy Cravings and Aversions. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/cravings-and-aversions.aspx
  2. American Pregnancy Association. (2021). Pregnancy Food Cravings and Aversions. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-food-cravings-and-aversions-10740/
  3. Healthline. (2021). Food Aversions During Pregnancy: Causes and Management. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/food-aversions-during-pregnancy
  4. BabyCenter. (2021). Pregnancy Food Cravings and Aversions. https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/health-and-safety/pregnancy-food-cravings-and-aversions_1429623
  5. WebMD. (2021). Pregnancy and Food Aversions. https://www.webmd.com/baby/food-cravings-and-food-aversions#1

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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