Snacks for Pregnancy Nausea: What to Eat When Nothing Sounds Good
by Brenna Thompson, MS, RD, LDN
Like all things with pregnancy, every woman is different in the foods she craves or is repulsed by. But, one thing many women experience is morning sickness.
Did you know 70-80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness? The nausea and vomiting can last for months, so it's important to find healthy foods and snacks that stay down!
In this guide, we will take a dive into the ins and outs of what foods and snacks to eat for pregnancy nausea.
- What is Pregnancy Nausea?
- What Foods Can Make Morning Sickness Worse?
- 5 Snacks for Pregnancy Nausea
- What to Eat When Nothing Sounds Good
- What If I Can't Stop Throwing Up?
- Conclusion: Foods to Fight Nausea During Pregnancy
Also known as morning sickness, the nausea associated with the first trimester of pregnancy does not always come on just in the morning. Some women don't experience it until the evenings, while others feel it all day long.
Experts aren't sure what the exact cause of morning sickness is, but many speculate it has something to do with:1
- Rising hormone levels
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency
- Unbalanced blood sugar levels
A common theme for many expectant moms is an aversion to meat and other proteins. Simply the sight or smell of cooking meat can send a woman running to the bathroom. I remember being 8-weeks pregnant with our first child when a coworker microwaved leftover taco meat for lunch and brought it into the shared office. I quickly had to pack up my laptop and find a room before I lost my own lunch.
Vegetables, particularly cooked ones, also seem to be a common trigger. On the other hand, most fruits and bland carbs like pasta, seem to be universally okay.
Many women find that eating small amounts throughout the day helps them feel better. Despite not having much of an appetite, I recommend eating something small right away in the morning to combat low blood sugars from overnight fasting that can make nausea worse. For some this means keeping a box of crackers or a granola bar on their nightstand so they can nibble a few bites of something before getting out of bed.
Here are 5 healthy snack ideas to try during the day:
Cereal tends to be a favorite go-to for almost all expectant moms. The problem is most have very little fiber, and thus will spike blood sugars causing a rollercoaster feeling all day. A few favorite brands that are low carb and won't spike blood sugars include: Magic Spoon, Catalina Crunch, and Kashi Keto.
You can find these in stores and online. But if those aren't available to you, good old Cheerios, Chex, or Puffins are just fine too. The first trimester is often just about survival.
#2 Chips and Popcorn
There is something so satisfying about a bland, salty, crunchy potato chip. If you can find brands that fry in olive oil or coconut oil I do recommend those, especially if they have become a staple in your diet. These oils are better for our bodies than vegetable oils and therefore better for the new cells building your new baby.
#3 Lesser Evil Products
These snacks have recently come on the market and are a great alternative for women who follow a gluten or grain free and/or dairy free diet. Their veggie straws, sun poppers, and paleo puffs are crunchy and salty and made with cassava, tapioca, and sunflower seed flours. You can find them at Costco, Target, Whole Foods, and other grocery store snack aisles.
Made with yogurt or added protein powder and nut butter, smoothies are great to blend up and take to work. Add extra water or ice to thin them down and sip through a straw throughout the morning. The protein and fats will help balance the sugar from the fruit and keep your blood sugar more stable.
- My smoothie recipe: Blend together 1/2 cup yogurt + 1 cup frozen fruit + 1/2 cup milk + 1-2 Tablespoons nut butter + protein powder (optional). Add extra ice or liquid to suit your texture preference.
#5 Protein Bars
Depending where you shop, your options will vary. But I found that keeping a protein bar with me in my purse, car, and laptop bag meant that whenever I got hungry or nauseous, I had something to eat — even if it was just few bites.
A few grocery store favorites include: Luna, No Cow, Aloha, and Cliff Whey. Perfect Keto and Keto Bar are other great options, but only found online.
It's important to not just snack, but to intake enough food and calories for a healthy pregnancy. Below are heartier foods to eat that are the least likely to stir up your nausea. They include:
Fried or baked potatoes: Maybe its the concentrated carb and fat combo, but so many women have told me that tater tots, sweet potato fries, or baked potatoes become staples during their first trimester and throughout their pregnancy. While I don't recommend becoming a regular at the local drive-through, which all deep fry in vegetable oil, you can find decent frozen french fry options such as Alexia at the grocery store to make at home.
Sushi: Many women I've talked to over the last several years have mentioned craving sushi, but feeling guilty about it. It used to be taboo to eat sushi when pregnant for fear of food-born illness. However, if the fish used to make your favorite roll is frozen (which most is in the United States) this will kill bacteria and parasites — specifically the anisakis worm.2 If you are still concerned, ask the restaurant if their fish is frozen prior to serving. You can also choose a cooked option such as a shrimp or crab roll.
Canned vegetable soup and grilled cheese: While my meat aversions persisted, I became reliant on canned vegetable soup for many dinners. The lack of any major smell from cooking meant I could finally eat a "real" meal at the end of the day. A grilled cheese sandwich helped round it out and gave me a little extra fat to keep me full overnight.
Protein: My last suggestion is any protein you can stomach. I'll keep beating the drum that protein helps balance blood sugar and will help keep nausea in check. Some of the frozen veggie burgers on the market became my go-to for any meal or snack during the day — as did organic hot dogs. You can top them with cheese for extra protein and fat. Several other moms have mentioned chicken nuggets or tenders.
Fluids: Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially if you are throwing up frequently. To help keep you drinking water, try adding flavor with a splash of lemon or lime juice. Low sugar electrolyte drinks, coconut water, kombucha, and sparkling water are all good options too.
Typically, morning sickness ends around the start of the second trimester. By 14 to 16 weeks, women feel much better with less nausea and vomiting, and more energy.
Some women however experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) or excessive vomiting related to pregnancy. These women may be nauseous and vomiting all day with no reprieve. Throwing up 10, 20, even 30 times a day. If this sounds like you, follow the recommendations listed above but also discuss treatment options with your OB/GYN, midwife, or doula.
Some extreme cases require IV hydration therapy and hospitalization to prevent dehydration and low electrolytes. There are also clinics and some midwives who can do this in the home.
Keeping yourself nourished and your blood sugars balanced can decrease nausea and support improved energy levels throughout the day. Make sure to keep your kitchen and work space stocked with easy access foods while going through pregnancy, but also for after delivery, when the demands of a new baby can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Whatever you do, don't feel pressured to try and eat all the healthy things during your first trimester. This is a survival phase, so eat what you can and don't feel ashamed about it.
Personally, I lived on yogurt with apples and peanut butter for a couple weeks. Attempting to eat a slice of avocado toast with an egg did not end well. But a dinner of two egg rolls was just fine. Go with the flow, and be gentle with yourself.
If you're still struggling with pregnancy nausea and vomiting, or if you have any digestion and nutrition concerns, start working with a CityPT dietitian so you can get answers and a healthy nutrition plan that works for you.
Before you go, please read our disclaimer. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal or medical advice and this blog does not create a provider-patient relationship. Do not rely on our blog (or any blog) for medical information. Always seek the help of a qualified medical professional who has assessed you and understands your condition.
What causes morning sickness? mommypotamus.com. Accessed August 1, 2022. https://mommypotamus.com/what-causes-morning-sickness/ ↩