Pregnancy and Food Aversions

by Melissa Hartwig, who in her sixth month STILL isn’t down with the smell of bacon cooking

When we say, “pregnancy and food,” most people think of the crazy cravings pregnant women report having—pickles and ice cream, salsa and M&Ms, anything and everything doused in lemon and vinegar. (That last one is mine.) But a pregnant woman’s relationship with food isn’t just about what she wants — it’s also about the foods she can’t stand to eat. Or smell. Or even see, sometimes.

“Aversion” Isn’t Strong Enough

Studies show that up to 85 percent of expectant mothers experience some kind of food aversion, most often in the first trimester. And for those of you who haven’t been there before (many women, and all you guys), let me break it down for you.

It’s not that you don’t want this food. It’s not that you’d prefer not to eat this food. It’s that the smell, taste, or idea of putting this food in your mouth provokes a reaction so violent, you’d think someone asked you to eat fermented salmon heads covered in poo and rolled in dryer lint.

You’re thinking, really, Melissa? It’s that bad? Yes. It’s really that bad. This is why I’ll never take pregnancy food advice from someone who hasn’t been pregnant herself—because you have to be there to understand that the word “aversion” is a gross understatement. They should call it Food Loathing. Or maybe Food Repugnance. Or Food Aw-Hell-No.  Yeah, that’s probably more accurate.

Sidebar for the Dudes

This is for all you guys out there supporting your pregnant women, but secretly thinking things like, “Why won’t you just try to eat the eggs?” or “Do you have to be so picky?” Imagine this: you’ve just done three rounds of an all-out 500 meter row. (Or three blocks of all-out 400 meter sprints. Or, god help you, a 300FY on the Airdyne.) You literally went all out—gave it all you had, each of the three attempts. You fall off the rower/Airdyne/track gasping for air, nauseous, tunnel vision, the whole works… and your honey brings you a big plate of smoked salmon, creamed spinach, and guacamole. And says, “Eat this right now.”

You know how you feel in that moment? That’s kind of how we pregnant women feel in the face of a food aversion. Now you know.

Common Aversions

During pregnancy, women can become grossed out by any and all foods, but protein is a common trigger. (Some suggest this has an evolutionary purpose, as too much protein may prove harmful to your baby’s health.) Eggs, chicken, and red meat commonly go from “yes, please” to “no way,” but aversions aren’t limited to meat, seafood, and eggs. Women report being turned off from everything from leafy greens to the vitamins and supplements to the smell of coffee brewing in the morning—even spices like garlic or cinnamon.

So what’s a health-conscious Good Food consumer to do when her beloved pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, Whole30® Approved bacon, or SFH fish oil start making her gag? Here are some healthy-eating strategies that worked for me during the worst of my aversions.

Strategies for Working Around Food Aversions

Employ any and all of these strategies during your worst food aversion time period. (And keep your chin up, because most women find these improve tremendously after the first trimester.)

Bring the whole darn grocery store home

Having a huge variety of foods on hand was tremendously helpful during this time. My aversions varied from week to week, but if I could go “shopping” in my own fridge or cabinet, I’d eventually settle on something I wanted to eat. This is hard if you’re used to Groundhog Day (eating the same foods every day), but if those foods are what are giving you trouble, you’ll quickly learn to branch out.

Start by downloading our shopping list and pinning it to your fridge, flipping through your favorite Paleo cookbook, or trolling through the grocery store. Go through your options one at a time, and when something strikes you, eat it! I ended up eating things I don’t normally eat (canned salmon like crazy), and I never would have thought of it unless I saw it in a recipe and thought, “I would totally eat that.”

This does require more frequent trips to the grocery store—but it’s only three months, and this is what husbands/boyfriends/partners are for.

Be flexible

I found that some foods weren’t okay one time of day, but were fine during others. I couldn’t do eggs when I first woke up, but sometime around 11 a.m. they became palatable again, so I’d whip up a quick scramble and sneak ‘em in. Be flexible and methodical about your food evaluations—just because you passed on the chicken sausage at noon doesn’t mean you won’t want to eat it at 3 p.m.

Also, get used to planning meals at the last minute (and warn your family, too). There’s a good chance you won’t know what you want to eat for dinner until 10 minutes before you start making it, so planning too far in advance could be problematic. (Sure, steak sounded great this morning, but now it’s just not happening—and those grass-fed rib-eyes have been thawing all day.)

We ate a lot of Pre-Made Paleo meals during this time period—they go from frozen to hot on the plate in 10 minutes, and because they are packaged with such a variety, you and your family can eat totally different meals with the same amount of prep.

Relax on perfect portions

At this stage in the game, especially if you’re also suffering from morning sickness, it’s not about creating balanced meals three times a day—it’s about getting calories into mom so she doesn’t get run down and even more exhausted. If every meal doesn’t have a palm-sized serving of protein, don’t worry. If you eat nothing but carrots for three days in a row, that’s fine. If you need food-in-a-blender just to get something into you, fire it up.

Do the best you can with what you have, and if some meals consist of two avocado, a pile of romaine doused in lemon juice, and a can of cold sweet potato (guilty), consider it a success.

Relax on perfect eating

This is the last point I’ll make, and I’m going to make it carefully. While pregnancy is not carte blanche to give into every junk food whim and desire, you also have to be kind to yourself, and not expect perfection. Your everyday diet may be pretty close to Whole30, but pregnancy is a different ballgame.

My first trimester, the only thing I could eat first thing in the morning was yogurt. No meat, no eggs, no veggies (especially warm ones – ew)… just yogurt. Now, I’ve done many Whole30s, and know I tolerate yogurt well. And I have access to a full-fat, grass-finished, organic sheep’s milk yogurt—the plain flavor, not sweetened. It’s not something I normally eat (in fact, I haven’t had one in months), but for a few weeks, this stuff was a lifesaver. And that was A-OK with me.

If you are going off your normal eating habits during this time, at least try to find things that won’t mess you up. You may be craving toast with peanut butter, but if you’re sensitive to gluten, those calories are going to do more harm than good. Always try to find a healthy option first… and branch out only if and when you need to.

It Gets Better…

So if you’re in the middle of some serious food aversions, hang in there for just a few more weeks—and follow our strategies for dealing with this difficult period of adjustment. Want to share your crazy food aversions with us? We bet you’re not alone. Drop your thoughts in comments.

Header photo credit to DylanRat on Flicker

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  1. says

    I’m so happy for all you mommies-to-be out there that have this wonderful information while you are growing your little miracles! Your kiddos are starting off so far ahead of the game just by the choices you are making now. I wish I knew what I know now 25 years ago when I had my first pregnancy! With my first baby my only real food repungence was to raw chicken…I was pretty ok when it was cooked but I did have several weeks ironically towards the end when all I could eat were Braum’s Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshakes (I know, OMG!!!). My second baby was a very different story, I had extreme heartburn (due to a hiatal hernia) for the entire pregnancy and could barely eat or drink anything except peppermint tea…but I craved grilled cheese sandwiches dunked in ketchup and chocolate milk with peanut butter cookies…gross.

  2. Carrie says

    I don’t have to worry about these types of things anymore, but I can feel you! Reading this I was right back in those days of pregnancy. In addition to food, I became disgusted with my husband…his breath, his lips, his sweat. I remember one time being pissy about his smell on our bed. He asked, “What do you want me to do, stop sweating?!” My reply: “YES! Stop.” (As I ripped sheets off to be washed.) It was totally irrational and we can laugh about it now, but at the time there was no laughing. He is so patient. One other time I sent him to the store for potato salad…my favorite potato salad at the time. They did not have it. He did not call me to check. I was sitting there so expectant, almost ecstatic at the thought of eating it. He comes in with ‘the look’. It was at that point that he was informed with tears and anger that, “NO! Not all potato salad is created equally.” Good times.

    Hang in there! Thanks for posting this for all the expectant moms. I remember being so young and lonely, and generally feeling like a freak of nature. I wish I had had more access to this kind of story.

  3. Samantha A says

    I can totally relate – with my first pregnancy I was sick for the first 6 months. I would go outside on the deck if there were eggs or chicken cooking in the kitchen. I remember my husband asking me what I wanted for dinner and having no idea until the absolute last minute. One thing I did love and couldn’t eat enough was grass-fed ground beef; I hated the smell of if cooking but loved the taste. It’s such a strange thing – food aversions/loathing. Do you know if there is any scientific/ancestral reason for it?

  4. says

    Great post! I am currently pregnant with baby girl #3 and am due in April also. :) During this pregnancy and my last pregnancy my first trimester landed during “zucchini season”… We grew zucchini in our garden and I got to the point where I just couldn’t even bring myself to go out and pick it anymore… Made me want to curl up and die! I also had an aversion to coffee and coconut oil and coconut milk (NO!!!) Thankfully my appetite goes back to normal(ish) during my second trimester.

    The main things I craved in my first two pregnancies were dairy… mostly cottage cheese (had to be one specific brand! No exceptions!) Now that I am finally doing a Whole30 and have completely cut dairy out of my diet I’m learning how much dairy is NOT my friend. Since I’ve been without it for about 3 weeks I am having almost NO cravings and no desire to overeat (a lifetime struggle for me). Planning on whole30-ing it through the end of my pregnancy and staying as close as possible beyond into breastfeeding… Excited with how great I’m feeling!

  5. Dani says

    Love this post! This was me for the entire 9 months. I would tell my husband to go out, get food, and eat it out. I couldn’t stand the smell of so many things and most of the time I had no idea what those things were going to be until it was too late. One day our neighborhood was having a BBQ. The smell was so bad I actually had to leave the house. I am happy to have a better plan for next time. I have been making bone broth. I’m hoping that helps but of course you never know. Thanks for the great info.

  6. Amy says

    Oh I am so this person right now! I am 3 months and have been having so many food aversions that I was stuck eating Bagels (OMG I would never eat a bagel normally) and cream cheese for TWO weeks. I was getting so upset with myself for not cooking paleo meals on sundays like I normally do, for not eating chicken, or any meat really. BUT then I took it upon myself to stop taking prenatal vitamins with iron in them. My Dr had told me that I was by no means anemic (in fact she said I had one of the best iron readings she had ever seen) Once I did that I have been able to eat meats and veggies again! It was like a new beginning!

    I am wondering if the high level of iron I have in my blood from being Paleo for so long and the iron in the supplements told my body to stop eating anything with iron in it? Wondering what you all thought?
    Thanks for the post Melissa! and Congrats to you and Dallas!

  7. Bill says

    Great stuff again – perfect timing as my wife just passed the 13 week mark. Bacon is ok, but she can’t even think of greens like kale! Congrats again too!

  8. Kristin says

    24 weeks pregnant here! First trimester was brutal! This veggie lover got nauseous even walking through the produce section at whole foods! And anything sweet made me feel sick. My midwife assured me that as long as I was eating something, it was fine. Now I have random aversions. I still manage to get my fermented cod liver oil down (it was so easy pre-pregnancy!). Green apples with almond butter and salt (!) is an almost daily occurrence. I ordered fancy schmancy gelatin to help my aching joints, and that just tastes like cows (not beef, but like how cows smell) and makes me nauseous. I have really had to be flexible with my diet (not so strict Paleo) and also to not freak out about it, because freaking out just adds another layer of junk that my baby and I don’t need. Great article!

  9. says

    The tone of this article is hands-down exactly what I’ve been missing when reading your more recent posts! Welcome back! And the advice is stellar as always.
    Keep going strong on making your baby!

  10. says

    Thanks for this! You are so right about relaxing and just doing the best you can. I found that whenever I could stand the sight of veggies, I would eat as much as possible, but not stress out when the sight or smell of them made me nauseous.
    One thing that helped me get some greens in my diet during that first trimester when I couldn’t stand them was putting them in smoothies. Even if my husband had to do it for me, I could usually stomach a smoothie with berries and greens and some kind of no sugar added fruit juice!

  11. says

    Totally what I’m going through and I’m 32 weeks! I’m doing a whole 30 now to clean the grains out of my diet as that’s all I could tolerate for the first 4.5 months. It much better now! I can cook bacon now, but still can’t really stomach it. Garlic, onions and cinnamon are still off the menu. :( I hope it goes back to normal once the baby is born!

  12. says

    First, I love to see a guy posting on this article. Yay, Bill!

    I’m happy the information is helpful for those of you knocked up like me. Had I written this article a year ago, the info and tone would have been VERY different. I’m glad I’m smart enough not to write about things I have no business writing about.

    @Carrie: Thank goodness, I have never had to tell Dallas to stop sweating. Although a girlfriend who recently gave birth told me in those first few sleep-deprived weeks, even the way your husband breathes will annoy you. Lucky Dallas.

    @Amy: I can’t answer that for you – I don’t think anyone can. It’s tempting to want to find a clear biological reason for things like this, but no one can say for sure why aversions happen, where they come from, or what they mean. I’m just glad you’re feeling better!


  13. says

    Great tips, thanks Melissa! And I love the side note blurb addressed to the dudes on what it’s like; totally nailed it!

  14. says

    You hit the nail on the head with this one – my first trimester I could not even think about or say the word chicken, and the smell of coffee brewing in the office was enough to make me have to take numerous trips outside for fresh air. Funnily enough, I was (formerly) a 5-6 cup a day person. Coffee & diet coke (an addiction which I also kicked, thank you pregnancy) were my main “fluid” consumption pre-pregnancy. One of the ways I realized that I was expecting was when I became averse to them! Thankfully, this aversion stayed (though not as strong) through my entire pregnancy & I’m happy to now say that I haven’t had a diet soda in a year & a half, and only drink 1 cup a day. Amazing how your body tells you what is good for it. :)
    Congratulations on your pregnancy & enjoy all of the excitement in your last trimester!

  15. Katherine says

    I deal with Crohn’s and I know all about food aversions. Most of the time I feel great, no symptoms, but if stress has gotten to me or I’ve been accidentally glutened and I get sick, this becomes my life until I can get my gut heading down a healing path again. There are some foods, however, I can never smell without hurling. Obviously, we don’t have those in our house, but if we are out and about it can be a pain. Sugary sweet things top the list for me, which makes avoiding sugar easier for me than others. :)

  16. says

    Great article. I am 22 weeks pregnant and in my first 10 weeks I reverted back to eating bread and any carbs and sugary things (eek) besides the morning sickness I felt terrible and had no energy. In those 10 weeks I put on 10kg and was so tired I could hardly move and had bad acne across my forehead. My body hurt! Some might say this is “normal” pregnancy issues but I knew my body could feel better. I cleaned up my act and ate what I could when I could added some full fat dairy back into my diet which I knew I could tolerate and this worked for me. When the morning sickness left I realised I had never felt so fantastic. People are always commenting how well I look. I constantly tell them its because of my fantastic diet!

  17. says

    I love love loved this article! I would love to meet Melissa – she is tough as nails it seems! Such discipline! I absolutely agree 100% that pregnant chicks should buy a variety of things at the grocery store just on the off chance that you’ll be able to eat them. My mistake was largely not buying anything at the store and then coming home to an empty fridge and eating bad food as a result.

    I have a small fry blog where I wrote about my paleo/primal efforts I am not even close to as hard core as Whole9 is, but I did complete a Whole30 after baby and it sure helped me to get my butt back in gear.

  18. Bek says

    Oh poor you – no bacon I’m grateful that hasn’t been my experience so many paleo meals taste better with bacon!!! 17weeks and we’ve started our 2nd Whole30 – we both want to feel great before a holiday to Thailand, we’re expecting some paleo challenges in Asia so it will probably be Whole30 #3 when we get back. Thanks for the post, blog and Facebook updates and good luck for the rest of your pregnancy.

  19. Amy says

    Oh my. :) Having three kids, I’m no stranger to aversions and cravings — ice, pears, crisp apples (NOT mushy, no spots – apple perfection), and egregious gallons of milk. (13! Years ago with my first, I could drink a gallon a day).

    During the first pg, we passed a billboard for Burger King. I immediately projectile vomited out of the moving car window. During my last pg, my husband went out of his way to avoid visual triggers and always served me teensy portions of whatever sounded best. Towards the end it was like tapas, all day long. :)

  20. Madeline says

    Thank you for this, Melissa!

    I love your explanation of food aversion, which I actually attempted to convey to my husband over dinner tonight: salmon, which I devoured and normally LOATHE. I am still in my first trimester, although I noticed my shift from a fairly normal paleo diet happen immediately. My first tip off was the day I ate a whole bag of Hershey kisses in one sitting (that’s a new one). Then came the wretched protein aversion: eggs, chicken, pork, bacon(!) and red meat sent me backpedaling from the kitchen. I can’t be in the house if eggs are frying on the stove, or if someone opens dry or wet pet food. My husband graciously stuffs towels under doors to dampen food smells.

    I haven’t eaten a salad in weeks. I’ve been drinking ginger brews like there’s no tomorrow; and I haven’t had a soda in years. I subsist on a lot of whole milk yogurt smoothies, salmon (what the hell?!) and grapefruits, like they’re going out of style. Oh, and then there’s toast. I haven’t eaten a sandwich in ages, yet for weeks I’ve craved a hearty turkey deli-meat sandwich on crusty French bread. My pre-pregnant “I’m going to have such a wonderfully paleo pregnancy” self would have turned up her nose at my current way of eating, but whatever. It looks like I’m not alone in the major diet shift, no matter how much I try to desire Whole30-like foods. I’m glad to know I’m not alone! One step at a time. Even if it involves not eating my beloved eggs friend in grassfed butter for months.

  21. says

    I have been so lucky in that I have a had a very easy pregnancy from the health side of things. Other than major sleep issues (thanks hormones!), I was never really nauseous and I actually haven’t had too many food aversions or cravings. However, in my first trimester, I could NOT eat chicken. GAG. I could possibly stomach chicken thighs, but no way, no how could I eat chicken breast (I discovered this after ordering a side Greek salad with grilled chicken from Zoe’s… usually a favorite). Salmon was another thing that wasn’t going to go down, and I also really didn’t have a whole lot of interest in bacon or eggs. My food aversions generally disappeared after the first trimester, though sometimes they sneak up every now and again (30 weeks today). On the craving side of things, I often crave red meat, salads (especially Greek, just leave off that grilled chicken), cold fruit, cereal, and root beer (or any carbonated beverage, really… beer especially… yum). Like so many others, I thought I would eat so super healthy in my pregnancy and despite the fact that it’s not an issue of being able to only stomach certain foods (to an extent anyway), I just have not. I think a huge part of it is exhaustion and just going for what is easy. The good news is we at least know the error in our ways and how to fix it! :) I may not eat all of the right things, but I am trying to make sure that the “crap” is balanced with lots of nutritious food for the baby too. I think my saving grace is that I’ve stayed active and am still able to do CrossFit workouts, so I haven’t gained that much weight (on the low end of what is recommended), but I sure hope to get back into the Paleo swing of things once we’re settled in post baby.

  22. Heather says

    My only real food aversion was hummus! Now that I’m Paleo, who cares, right? My big problem was other smells. The inside of a dishwasher was enough to send me heaving! And I knew I was pregnant the second I smelled my husband’s raisin bran from across the room! Hang in there, Melissa. Home stretch!

  23. says

    @Emily: Thanks so much!

    @Erin: Using pregnancy to kick unhealthy food habits rocks. I haven’t missed alcohol at all – and when I’m done BF’ing, I may not go back to it at all. Why bother if it makes you less healthy and you don’t miss it?

    @Katherine: I’ve been so lucky not to have tons of sugar/carb cravings – I’m really all about the sour stuff. Pickled anything! But it does make it easy to stay away if the smell of freshly baked donuts makes you want to gag. Silver lining?

    @Leah: I agree – good, clean living can make for an easier pregnancy! (Not always, I know, but it never hurts.) Glad you’re feeling great!

    @Lola: Thanks for the note, and for sharing your experience! I’m not tough as nails – I just have good perspective on this particular matter, and I’ve been lucky that my cravings and aversions haven’t been anywhere near as bad as they could have been.

    @Bek: To be honest, we didn’t really eat bacon before this pregnancy, so I’m not missing anything. But I’ll tell you, just imagining the smell of bacon cooking makes me feel ill right now – so chances are bacon may not come back into my diet at all after Baby 9. Thanks for the well wishes!

    @Amy: OMG, projectile vomiting? That’s some serious stuff. But I will say I’m super into fruit during this pregnancy, and I’ve never been a fruit person. And it HAS to be super crisp – nothing mushy at all. And oranges… I’ve always hated oranges, and this pregnancy I’m eating them like crazy. Isn’t it weird?

    @Madeline: That’s why I waited to write the article until I had some real experience with the matter – because you can’t possibly understand the power of these aversions and cravings until you experience them. Suck it up, buttercup is the least helpful advice ever in this case! Keep on with your salmon – I’m eating it (canned, mixed with a little mayo and a TON of apple cider vinegar) non-stop too. Yay, omega-3’s.

    @Kristin: I’m super into mineral water (carbonated) and cold fruit too (and right around 30 weeks as well). In fact, I’m preferring to eat all my food cold these days – hot food isn’t as appealing. Who knows how this stuff works, but I’ve been feeling awesome, staying active, and am still able to eat pretty much my normal diet (just somewhat limited in actual food choices) – so I am not complaining! Glad you’re feeling good too.

    @Heather: We walked by the fish market when we were in Istanbul (I was about 16 weeks then), and I literally had to wrap my scarf around my entire head and hold my breath so I didn’t hurl right then and there. The sense of smell thing is insane – and not very convenient when you’re stuck on a trolley packed with Turkish men who have been hard at work all day. So glad that part is over.


  24. says

    I’m seven weeks in and can’t stand most foods. I’ve eaten only oranges or grapes for meals. . . thankfully, by dinner time I’m usually able to get a pretty decent quantity of meat and veggies into me. Eggs – gag! I was feeling really guilty about this (and in fact I had a gluten free cheese topped bagel the other day), but this post makes me feel a little less downtrodden. I have significant morning sickness coupled with these amazing food aversions. I’m praying it ends soon! My previous pregnancies, I was seriously sick for 20 weeks and this time I’m expecting triplets!

  25. DeAnne says

    For me it was garlic – the smell of even the most bland Ragu out of a jar in another room was like standing in the middle of a landfill. I also remember in my sickest phase, when I could hardly eat anything, my husband giving me some white rice with a little butter (this was 10 years ago, pre-Paleo). To this day it stands as one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.

    Just hang in there pg people! You have a wonderful adventure coming up and it’ll be here before you know it!

  26. Madeleine says

    Oh, I am so jealous of anyone who can stomach the Whole30 diet. I want so badly to stick with a Paleo diet while I’m pregnant (currently 7 weeks), but the idea of eating raw vegetables, chicken, or cooked greens is just… ugh. Luckily, beef, fish, and eggs are still my friends — for now.

    The real problem for me though isn’t food aversions, it’s food cravings. All I want to do is guzzle a gallon of milk and eat toast. The worst thing about this is that I have no idea if I’m craving these because I’m pregnant, or because I ate things like cereal when I was out of town (and therefore triggered more cravings). I’m cool with enjoying the dairy for now, but the bread is a vicious cycle. Some days, all I can get myself to eat is toast and broth — but I also know the bread contributes to feeling sick later on.

    I just want a normal appetite again! Before I got pregnant, I was awesome at staying Paleo. I never missed milk or bread (despite being married to a baker), I ate salads like there was no tomorrow. I want to feel good about how I’m eating, and be okay with not being paleo while pregnant, but instead I feel guilty and, well, grossed out.

    Just a few more weeks until this first trimester grossness is over….

  27. says


    I’m lucky – I never had any cravings, per se,, unless you count green salads with loads of vinegar and lemon. If the cravings are as strong as my aversions, however, just do the best you can. If there are alternate choices that fit your “want” (like a sweet potato drenched in butter and cinnamon) choose that over the bread, especially as you say yourself it messes you up. White rice with broth and butter is another of my go-to foods when I’m sick and craving bread – it’s nutrient-poor, but I know it won’t do a number on my system like the gluten will. I hope this ends for you soon!


  28. says

    Yes, yes and YES! I’m 41 weeks today and STILL can’t stand scrambled eggs. There is ONE place I can get them, but whenever my husband makes them at home I gag so badly! And oven roasted broccoli – gross. Steamed is fine, even stir fried is okay. But oven roasted – ICK. Thanks for sharing! I LOL’d at the beginning!

  29. Katie says

    Thanks so much Melissa! This was really helpful :-)

    For you for later, I did a whole30 and jumped into Paleo when my second was 3 1/2 months old. I went back to work, and started a whole30, so I was trying to pump enough to feed her breastmilk exclusively and also changed the way I ate. I found that home made bone broth really helped my milk production. Dark beer too, but that didn’t come in until after the whole30, and I went back to bone broth because it worked better.

  30. says

    I couldn’t handle ground beef, and I usually love hamburgers (now with no bun and sauteed mushrooms, but unknowingly wasn’t eating clean 8 years ago). Also couldn’t stand the smell of onions cooking. One night, my husband made sloppy joes, and I had to leave the house. Nauseating! Also had ground beef aversion with #2, and drank a lot of milkshakes with him due to cranky attitude – I hated pregnancy and felt sorry for myself, I suppose. Gained an extra 5 lbs of fat that didn’t want to go away after my son (now 5) was born, but my attempts to shed that milkshake blubber led me to CrossFit, kettle bells, and eventually paleo and RKC, so it turned out well in the end…and now I love beef and onions again! You’re right about how hard it is to describe the food aversions; even trying to eat after an all-out sprint doesn’t quite catch it. BTW strap in and hang on, Melissa – months 8 and 9 can get pretty miserable…all I have to say is “GO TO THE POOL” and “it WILL end.” (Also something about putting towels under the sheets at chest level, but that may be TMI with non-dad guys in the area)

  31. MaryAnn says

    Thanks so much for this. I have been feeling really guilty but I’m 10 weeks along and in the thick of the sickness I think. Just today I threw up just TALKING about my aversion to chicken and eggs. In the middle of a phone conversation and with no warning! :( this is my first pregnancy and before I was gluten and grain free and about 90 percent paleo. Now all my body seems to want is carbs and dairy. I have to eat Greek yogurt in the morning for protein but that’s almost all I’m getting right now, not near enough. Grass fed beef is hit or miss. Sometimes I can handle it but sometimes the thought of it makes me nauseous. Going to try canned salmon, as for some reason the thought of that doesn’t gross me out, but I can’t afford to eat it fresh every day. We will see. Thanks again.

  32. Rachael says

    It is so great to hear all of your responses. The weekend I graduated from the Nutritional Therapy’s Assocoiation Nutritional Therapy Practiioner program I found out I was pregnant with my first baby now at 22 weeks. I thought this is so great I have just learned al about food how to eat right for baby and me. Well the first 3 months I was so tired all the time and all I craved was carbs carbs and more carbs. I felt so much guilt that here I was a new NTP supposed to be practicing what I preach right…..well while I had no major food aversions except maybe chicken for a little bit, I craved all kinds of sweets and breads. I thought maybe this was because I was so tired my body was just looking for extra energy but who knows. So while I have gotten better about at least balancing out the junkier choices with some nutritionally dense ones i am still no even close to how I was prior to pregnancy or in line with what I know are better choices. I have decided to go for the whole 30 to clean things up and get back on track but more importantly I have decided to give up the guilt I was carrying around all the time about my less than perfect choices and give myself a break. The guilt feelings are just as bad if not worse for the baby and so it’s just not worth it. I am going to give the whole 30 my all but should I slip here and there I’m going to be easier on myself. I’m not trying to give myself an easy out or not fully commit its just that I have come to realize pregnancy more than anything humbles you to bow to the intelligence of the body. Where I once thrived on pushing myself in workouts I now have to truley listen to my body and abolish the no pain no gain attitude. There are many adjustments and changes that we sometimes will not always understand. The bottom line is I will never experience this pregnancy again in my life. So far my baby and I are healthy and I want to enjoy this exciting magical time and that takes some surrendering. Why Sababtoge it with negative thoughts about myself and just be the best I can, not perfect. Good luck to all the ladies and make the best choices you can when you can but most of all enjoy your blessing

  33. Michelle says

    Eating vinegar and sour stuff, nothing sweet? Hmm… I’d be willing to put money on you having a boy! ;) I know it’s an old wives tale, but for almost everyone I know personally, it’s been pretty accurate.

    With my daughter, just the thought of an egg sent me running for the bathroom. Zucchini and spinach, also. All I wanted to eat was CARBS, fruit, sweet potatoes, chocolate, anything with sugar, and I craved cold breakfast cereal (which I normally can’t stand!) And I agree, cold food was much more tolerable than hot. Maybe because hot food smells more strongly? There is something to the temperature thing.

    I’m 6 weeks into my second pregnancy and had to stop eating my collards halfway through lunch, or else risk puking on my keyboard. Ah, the joys. :) Keep up the good work growing that baby!

  34. Kira says

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one who has absolutely no clue what I’ll make for dinner until last minute. Like I have any idea what I’ll want! My husband doesn’t understand in the least. Pre-pregnancy I absolutely hated all things sweet. Candy, cake, pie, have never been part of my diet. I had to force myself to eat fruit everyday because I knew it was necessary for my health. Now that I’m pregnant, fruit, yogurt, and waffles sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar are about all I eat. I used to eat a kale salad every day but now I can’t even stand the sight of kale! I have been incorporating it by putting it into smoothies, though (which I used to hate). Hot sauce and salty foods were always my favorites, but no longer are. I bought a new bottle of sriracha sauce right before I found out I was pregnant then had to have my husband hide it in the back of the fridge because the sight disgusted me!

    Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night or when I get up in the morning I eat applesauce or some type of fruit cup and drink water before I even think of getting out of bed. It really helps a lot with morning sickness. A couple weeks ago my husband I took a trip and stayed in a hotel and you would not believe the arsenal of food variety that I brought. I knew I wouldn’t eat a third of it but I couldn’t take the risk of being disgusted with what I did bring!

  35. says

    Pregnancy is so strange! Good tips.
    I did not have any food aversions my first pregnancy, but craved BUTTER in the last several weeks. I did develop scent aversions that did not go away after I gave birth (my used-to-be-my-fave body wash and my husband’s breath). My second, I had no cravings but could not stand the thought of eating broccoli. I would constantly test myself thinking of different ways I could prepare it, and nope, no matter what, just the thought of putting it in my mouth made my stomach turn. But it unlike the scent aversions, the broccoli aversion did go away postpartum.
    Both times though I had plenty of “nothing sounds appetizing” moments trying to meal plan.

  36. carolyn says

    We did the whole30 a month before I got pregnant and felt amazing. Now I’m nearing 7 weeks and nothing looks good to me. Any strong smells make me reel, I can’t stand to open our refrigerator, I was convinced I could taste freezer on a stir fry veggie blend last week. On good days, when the thought of food doesn’t make me turn green, I’m trying to eat healthy, but on those other days, sometimes a cracker is the only thing I can manage to get down. I’m trying to be kind to myself and thinking I can hopefully shift back to clean eating when the nausea goes away.

  37. Ashley says

    I was Paleo before I got pregnant and found it literally impossible to stay that way. I’ve slowly been getting back on track and hope to be full Paleo again before whelping = ) (I’m a vet tech). I constantly craved comfort foods like pastas and breads and while they don’t hold as much want for me as they did, I’m still there. I try to eat Gluten Free when possible because otherwise it just wrecks me. Thanks for posting this and the shopping list. It does get a little overwhelming in the produce section.

  38. says

    I just found out about Whole 30 through a blogger I follow. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and am thinking about trying this when I am done being pregnant. With my first pregnancies I had food aversions so strong that I still can’t eat some things that sounded bad then (some of those aversions started over 2 years ago). I am afraid that if I tried to do the whole 30 now I might trigger some food aversions that would make it impossible to ever do the whole 30/paleo plan. I am also somewhat wondering how this plan would affect nursing. I really struggled with milk production and i wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that or make it even harder this time.

  39. v says

    I found out I’m pregnant with baby #4 at the end of week 1 on my very first whole30. I’m now on day 18 and honestly not wanting to eat anything. The thought of food is even making me gag, so I want to say thank you for writing this to help us other mama’s. I’ve been trying to stick strictly to the whole30 guidlines but am finding it extremely difficult – and I’m becoming cranky. I now feel okay with eating something that might get me the calories I need that might not be whole30, like your yogurt.

    Although I will admit to eating a 2 oz can of black olives for a snack because they were the only thing that sounded remotely good.

  40. says

    I have 3 girls and i couldnt stand the smell and taste of meat nd chicken and i didnt gain any weight wit any of my girls i dropped weight wit dem nw im pregg wit my 4 child bt i hate da smell of chicken bt i like chicken nd mushroom pies nd i like red meat nd i also gained alot of weight nd im only nw 18wks wit my girls u could only c im pregg wen i was like 28wks or hardly c im preg wit dis 1 u can c and i had no morning sickness wit my girls wit dis 1 in my 1st trimester i was day nd nite sick da whole 1st trimester nw 2nd trimester me beta jus nausea and throwing up

  41. Heather says

    Just reread this now that I’m preggo and having terrible aversions. I have felt so guilty about giving in to bagels and toast! I’m awfully bloated from the gluten but can’t get much else in my system. :( I manage veggies when possible and hope that the aversions will taper off soon. I want to feed my baby good food!

  42. Andrea says

    Just 7 weeks here. Thanks for the article. I was starting to feel alone in the aversions. I am actually totally grossed out by all leafy greens and salad (formerly my favorite!). I used to eat steamed greens and veggies in the am with an egg on it, and now the only thing (I mean, the absolutely ONLY thing that is not making me puke 1st thing) i can eat is a smoothie. I get it down and all is ok…for a few hours. Only soft carbs (like macaroni and rice) feel good later and very occasionally, some chicken. So, I am staring at my beautiful CSA box of veggies full of kale, chard, kholarabi, radishes and beets (gag gag gag) and don’t know what to do. I usually crave healthy, now I would rather either not eat, or have everything blended and sweet. Sigh.

  43. Melanie says

    Melissa, curious as to what supplements you were taking while pregnant. I plan on taking the Pure Encapsulations vitamin that you guys recommended in a previous post and continue with my Omega, Vitamin D, probiotic and digestive enzyme supplementation. Not sure if I should continue with my BCAA or CLA supplementation. Thoughts?

  44. Breanna says

    I am so glad I found this article to show to my hubby! I’m almost done with my first trimester THANKFULLY! But I’ve been having a serious aversion to most meat and he always says, ‘why don’t you just try it,’ and it seriously makes me feel like I might die. Ahhh. Very well put article! Thank you.

  45. Kathy says

    Thanks for this article, Melissa. It is so bizarre to be nauseated by the foods I usually eat – and was so positive I’d be eating throughout my pregnancy, before the morning sickness hit! It’s so reassuring to read something that makes me feel like I’m not alone in being a “picky eater”….Until a person has gone through it it’s difficult to understand. Thank heavens for dairy, and hopefully I’ll find ways to get eggs and some meat back into my diet soon.

  46. tendai says

    I feel much MUCH better reading this article (thanks Melissa!! ) and the follow up comments (phew)
    the 1st trimester is just :( :'( Now idk what to eat n I dont wanna upset my partner by going back and forth, most of all I HATE feeling guilty about what to eat or not eat…. im just glad to know these feelings are shared.
    bless u ladies

  47. Carissa says

    Oh my GOSH! YES! Red meat, eggs over easy, fish, some chicken, raw vegetables taste like DIRT (Coming from a total health nut it makes me cry when I gag at the site of a nice salad), chocolate, anything milky makes me want to die…including ice cream, cream cheese, any cheese really…like WHYYYY BABY WHYYYYY. If I was my boyfriend I’d totally want to murder me, but he has been good at coping with my gagging and bi-polar feelings towards my once favorite foods thus far. It was nice to read a blog describing how i feel to the T.

    Prime example, walking into the grocery store smelling fish and running out of the store at mach 5 because I thought I was going to puke from smelling the deli and seafood counter that was 100m away. come on second trimester. my tastebuds are beckoning you.

  48. Betty says

    I love your idea of calling it “Food Loathing,” I hate food so much right now. I read this to my husband and he loved it.

    I’ve been getting worried because I usually eat a very healthy diet with a lot of veggies, but I can’t stand most nutritious food right now. It began with onions and now I have very little I can stand. The idea of eating lettuce makes me want to hurl, but all I want is a doughnut or french fries or something bad for me that, while I’ve enjoyed, I’ve never craved before. Though I know it’s more important to eat healthy now than ever before, I figure some form of calories is better than none.

    To top it off, my list of foods is narrowing severely. Anything I eat I can only eat once because the next day it will disgust me terribly. :P I’m hoping it ends soon before I’m unable to keep anything down!

  49. Dela says

    I need help, can’t seem to find the right food to eat and this is my first baby in my first trimester. The morning sickness is driving me nuts.

  50. says

    Dela, you’re going to have to do the best you can! I know it’s hard, but it should pass quickly, so until then, follow the tips above and try to eat as healthy as possible around your aversions. (Try tons of different foods until you find some that are good to go.)


  51. Kels says

    Have a question for you, I am in between ovulating and my next period which is in 6 days from now. I am having a food adversion to ice cream which I usually can eat all the time. Last Saturday I went to cold stone had the new fudge truffle ice cream they have well sampled it and I was fine. Then I took a few bites it was over from there, today I tried frozen yogurt from sweet frog again I took a few bites and my body said no to me. Just wondering if anyone can help me out, plus been having headaches too. Thank you for your help

  52. says

    Kels, I really can’t help you figure out why Cold Stone isn’t doing it for you right now, as you’re not pregnant and it really could be anything. Absolutely. Anything. Sorry about that. Maybe just stop trying to eat ice cream for a while?


  53. Dawn Herrera says

    I was already on my 3rd month and that’s when I started craving for tne weird stuff. I ate sliced pickles in peanut butter, french fries in my mcflurry, and mcflurry in my spaghetti. To me it was amazing. Although I didn’t have any food aversions? I only had weird cravings… I had smell aversions to flowery smelling things. I threw away $80 worth of Yankee Candles because of it and replaced it with fruity ones. I also threw away $50 worth of hair-care products, $90 worth of perfume, and $90 worth of lotions. I was cranky and moody and all I wanted was my Baby Daddy beside me.

  54. Liora says


    Its been wonderful to read these posts as i just recently discovered my pregnancy. I also recently got married so this is a honeymoon baby i suspect hahaha. I discovered that i am pregnant when i had these food aversions. For me almost everything smells. I cant stand my husband’s perfume. he tries to hug me and i could just throw up, If he comes close it triggers some sense of nausea and i can see he is not happy about this. I am always tired, always sleepy and have no appetite for food at all unless perhaps around lunch hour and then that would be just a slice of toast.
    I am huge breakfast fan, high fibre, but now can’t stand yorghurt, cant stand muesli, somehow like weet-beex but I don’t want milk (sooo frustrating). I can’t stand the sight and smell of bacon, meat, chicken, eggs, sausage. If you are going to add some dab of oil, any kind, not the smell but the sight of it makes me lose my appetite. I used to drink water but since these past weeks, water nauseates me. Now juice and fizzy drinks are better. Which is something i do not prefer. I prefer not eating than to eat at all because at the moment, everything is a NO-GO for me.

    I love taking morning walks at the beach but now the sea smells awful. :-( . i have not noticed any specific cravings yet, as almost everything smells horrible. So i could say, i am having a pretty rough trimester. I do however pick up that i prefer dry food, like apples and peach and crakers not cooked food. i think smoothies as well will do me some good.

    Thanks for sharing, i was feeling frustrated as this is my first pregnancy and also just got married so it’s overwhelming change for us. Please advise of any other material i could read on to help me get through this. It gets scary. Before reading your posts, i was wondering if these symptoms will end as i seem to have inherited all of them.


  55. Fifi Fiasco says

    Thank you for the tips. I’m on my 9th week of my 1st trimester with my first. This is the most awful experience one can ever go through. I’ve also go the worst aversions….the thought of chicken, red meat, eggs, avo, banana, almost everything makes me sick. The thing if I find myself constantly hungry and I just don’t know what to eat. But these tips will be super helpful. My partner thinks that I’m just being picky, he doesn’t understand what women go through….I will certainly share this with him.

  56. Kayla says

    I’m about 8 weeks and I’m having a serious aversion to pizza right now. I can’t even think about it without it making me sick. My husband bought a pizza today for both of us and that was the first time I noticed my aversion. I couldn’t even take a single bite.

    The sad part is that I haven’t had any cravings, so I have to form my diet around what I don’t want, which is slightly more difficult because I don’t always know what I don’t want until it’s right in front of me.

  57. says

    this post is actually bringing tears to my eyes! perhaps the pregnancy hormones :) but seriously, i’ve been feeling so much guilt lately because i can’t stand the thought of eating almost everything. i’ve been paleo for 2 years, and i really want to feed my unborn baby the absolute best, esp since their prenatal environment can set the tone for the rest of their lives. but now that i’m actually pregnant, i can’t stomach most things. the best i can do right now is smoothies (i try to make them healthier by adding egg yolks and whey protein isolate) but i have to pinch my nose and drink it down without tasting it. i also figured out that a chunk of cheese wrapped in deli meat doused with mustard sounds good some days. but my husband is wary of deli meats, for good reason. i definitely need to be easier on myself. i’ll pass this onto my hubby so he can know i’m not just being dramatic!!!

    • Lucy says

      I feel your pain…I had a very strict diet before getting pregnant and only wanted to eat healthy foods for the baby and now I really can’t. The healthiest thing I can stomach is beans and tomatoes….no greens whatsoever.

  58. says

    During pregnancy as they are rich in nutrients, and contain high amounts of vitamin K2, D, E, and A, as well as abundant amounts of proteins. All these vitamins are fat soluble and necessary for the bone density and formation of the unborn baby.

  59. Rose says

    I have cravings for spring onions, avacado sushi (I normally hate avacado), spaghetti cabonara and all I can currently eat for breakfast is a plate of air-cooked hash browns! Lol

    I have MASSIVE aversion to meat (I normally love meat) KFC smells strongly and if I walk past it I wanna hurl (Im nauseus 24/7 and thats it so far and Im week 13) but any meat sets it off. Just the sight or smell is enough.

    Ginger beer WITH GINGER EXTRACT has been my saving grace cause one little bottle gets all the air out of your stomach and stops the nausea for up to 6 hours – and I even wake up nauseus – so this has really helped me.

    Congrads to all you other pregnant Mums :)
    Luv Rosie

  60. Roads says

    So glad I stumbled upon this article. Hubby and I have been paleo for the past 2 years and I feel very guilty about “cheating” on our healthy lifestyle. Water makes me the most nauseous. What’s up with that?
    I broke down and bought some gluten-free bread, pretzels and some cheese last week just to get some food down. Ironic how hunger makes nausea worse but most food is unappetizing. I can’t wait till this passes so I can better regulate my nutrition. Also, it’s too bad listeria is a concern because lunch meat is one of the only protein snacks that actually sound good.

    • says

      @Roads – Protein helped me if I ate it within the first 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. I noticed a lot less aversions when I did! Good luck!

  61. Kels Clark says

    To the last post I put on here that was right before I got pregnant. Well now I am happy to say I am 13 weeks pregnant due night after thanksgiving.

  62. shuree says

    I’ve had four pregnancies, and with all of them, I was endowed with Canine Sniffing Powers.
    First pregnancy, it was intolerable, as i could smell other peoples’ personal scent – directly from their skin.
    I could even smell a fruit go bad a few days before it actually did.
    I normally dislike Grape Juice, and have since childhood. But boy, I could not get enough of it throughout the entire pregnancy.
    I had those funky food aversions too, but it began to involve aversions to colors.
    Same dynamics at work: the thought of a certain color would be so revolting (a full-body/mind revolting) that I had to shut my eyes and not look.
    I wonder if others have experienced that too.
    Oooh, i think I’m gonna google it.

  63. Lucy says

    I used to drink Kale smoothies and eat about 4 cups of spinach every day before I got pregnant, but now I LOATHE spinach, kale, brocoli, and pretty much any leafy green. Even as I type out the words I feel myself getting nauseous. lol. I can’t even make my dad lunch and chops these veggies into his food because I start wanting to vomit.