When I was pregnant I couldn’t go anywhere near a cooked onion. Just the smell sent me running to the bathroom to vomit so spectacularly that all onions were temporarily removed from our home. I had the same reaction to coffee during the first trimester and strangely a non-food-related aversion was the smell of my husband’s deodorant which I normally love. He had to leave it in the car and put it on there for nine months, during each of my three pregnancies.
I didn’t experience many food cravings during pregnancy but food aversions were crippling. Just the smell of offending foods sent me into a desperate search for fresh air. My husband may as well have farted. I’d walk into a room and say, someone was heating some chicken soup. The smell would fill my nostrils, I’d clamp my hand over my mouth, back out of the room and turn and run, and hurl. Sometimes I’d just burst though the nearest exit and take desperate gulps of air. Other times I’d just yell. “I TOLD you I can’t stand the smell of onions/chicken soup/your deodorant. I’m growing YOUR CHILD. How could you DO THIS TO ME!”
Studies show that up to 85 per cent of pregnant women experience some kind of food aversion. You can blame your hormones. Apparently our pregnancy hormones send out signals reminding us of risky foods, dating back to the time before fridges. My best friend is a dietician and she couldn’t stand salad while pregnant. She was horrified while I just patted her on the hand and put more toast in the toaster for her. And can I just say, thank God for Vegemite?
Protein and other ‘flesh’ foods are one of the biggest aversions for pregnant women. I couldn’t even cook chicken let alone eat it during all three of my pregnancies. Dairy products, especially milk is another big one, followed by salad, coffee, eggs and sadly the smell of your favourite perfume, your partner’s deodorant and many other random smells.
Thankfully aversions ease during the second trimester, for some. If my brother wants to make coffee his girlfriend goes for a walk but she can tolerate a little salad now.
Food aversions can be concerning during pregnancy because if you’ve ever needed protein and calcium it’s now. If you suffer from severe aversions there’s always an alternative. Keep your protein up with legumes and nuts, calcium is found in vegetables like broccoli and vitamin B-6 has been show to ease the symptoms of morning (all day) sickness and food aversions and is also found in Vegemite! Just saying.
There are a stack of vegetarian and vegan recipes that will see you through. Even if you just aim to eat one ‘healthful’ meal per day while pregnant you’ll be getting the necessary hit of the vitamins and minerals you need. I’ll never forget my obstetrician saying, “Babies are parasites. If you eat an apple and a donut the baby with get the apple and you’ll get the donut.” I actually thought, “I’m okay with that” and made sure that if I was going to each something like a Kit Kat or iced finger bun I’d try to have something healthy first. Or, if toast is all you can stand, choose the highest quality bread possible.
Unfortunately coffee is everywhere and so is the smell. Scarves come in handy because you can bury your nose in them as you walk past, as long as your laundry detergent doesn’t make you sick either.
The advice is that if you’re in the midst of pregnancy food aversions and formerly pleasant smells send you running, hang in there. They will fade and maybe, just maybe one day you’ll be able to face a chicken salad again.