Feeling Queasy? Poll Reveals Most Common Food Aversions Among Pregnant Women

A new poll found the common dishes preggos can't stomach—literally. Are your triggers on the list?

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Everyone has heard of pregnancy cravings—the husband running out at three in the morning for pickles and ice cream, right? But when you're pregnant you may find out you have just as many gag-inducing food aversions as food cravings. Mine was onions—I just couldn't stand them for some reason. Food aversions can be very individual, but a new poll by the health and fitness app Lifesum revealed the top eats that turn many preggos' stomachs. The good news? Thankfully, in this list collected by Lifesum there aren't any detrimental foods," says Lifesum's lifestyle and fitness expert, Joselynne Boschen. "Every pregnant woman can still have a healthy and happy pregnancy without consuming any of these things."

But why do pregnant women have aversions in the first place? "The hormones secreted by the placenta, the same ones causing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, are likely to blame for food aversions as well," says Clara Ward, MD, an OB/GYN with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. "A particular food may be eaten or encountered at the same times as the nausea and vomiting, triggering the aversion, but the aversion may also be spontaneous."

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Most Common Food Aversions for Pregnant Women

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Chicken and red meat

Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Chicken and red meat

Meat came in at the top of the list of aversions, with 26 percent of women opting to avoid them. Chicken and poultry most specifically turned mamas-to-be off, followed by red meat. "Meat products are common aversions," Dr. Ward says.

But why protein, which seems like it's a benefit for your growing baby? "As too much protein can be harmful to the growing embryo, it has been suggested that this aversion could be an evolutionary defense," says Lifesum's in-house nutritionist, Frida Harju. "Most users noted that the aversion went away after birth, suggesting that there could be some weight to this claim

But too little protein is not recommended either, so Dr. Ward says if meat makes you sick, you need to start consuming other sources of protein instead. "It is fine to avoid any foods to which you have an aversion—just make sure that you are getting the nutrients another way, such as with dairy, nuts, beans or other legumes," she says. If you're avoiding red meat, you also might need an iron supplement, or you'll need to boost your intake of dark, leafy greens.

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Fish and eggs

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Fish and eggs

Not surprisingly, the next foods on the list are quite pungent. "Foods with strong smells are often at the top of the list for food aversions, such as fish and eggs," Dr. Ward says. "The sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy, and hormones are the easiest to blame for this as well. It is conceivable that the increased blood volume in pregnancy brings more scent molecules to the receptors faster, leading to a more intense reaction to the smells."

But if fish and eggs are on your "no way" list, don't fret. "These are great sources of protein and healthy fats, but you can it get from other places," Boschen says.  "Walnuts and avocados are my personal favorites."

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Fried foods


Fried foods

The poll found another common aversion was to anything fried. "Greasy and high-fat foods are more difficult to digest and tend to sit in your stomach longer, which can provoke nausea, and consequently more aversions," Dr. Ward says.

"Indigestion is common in pregnancy, as the growing fetus puts pressure on the stomach and, as fried foods can contribute to indigestion, they can often be unpleasant for pregnant women to eat," Harju says. They also can give you heartburn. Luckily, fried foods aren't healthy anyway, so it's actually better for you to avoid them altogether!

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Starchy foods


Starchy foods

Generally, white rice and other starchy foods are recommended for people with nausea, but in rare cases, women have reported developing aversions to popcorn and white rice. Which just goes to show that it could be just about anything that can make you feel icky.

Long story short: Whatever your food aversion, make sure that you make up for the nutrients you won't get with another source—and be ready to enjoy it again after your baby arrives!

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