Eat to Beat: Pregnancy Nausea
If you’re pregnant and nauseated, chances are you’re feeling a mixture of emotions. You’re happy and excited but also really, really sick to your stomach. Food that once brought joy now seems beyond unappealing. These tips, and the recipe below from the Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook, can help reduce the severity of your nausea during pregnancy. And while there’s no “cure” for nausea during pregnancy, even reducing the amount or intensity can mean the difference between making it to that meeting or not…and getting enough protein and nutrition or not.
- Include protein at every meal: While protein-rich foods are usually the last thing on your mind (hello, CARBS!) when you’re nauseated, the protein can actually help reduce the nausea. This doesn’t mean having a steak for breakfast. You can fit protein in via yogurt, protein powder, or silken tofu in a smoothie; roasted chickpeas; and nuts and seeds.
- Don’t go too long without eating. That stomach rumbling hunger? It can trigger nausea so it’s best not to let it happen. This could mean having something before you even get out of bed in the morning. Try keeping a few whole grain crackers on your nightstand and eating one or two before you get out of bed. Carry non-perishable snacks in your purse (nuts/seeds/protein bars) so you’re not tempted to go too long without eating when you’re running errands. Keep snacks at your desk, too.
- Get sneaky with veggies: We aren’t usually fans of “hiding” or “sneaking” veggies in, but we’re all for it when you’re nauseated. Add pureed steamed cauliflower to soups, toss fresh greens and carrots into smoothies, etc. And if you typically like salads but raw veggies are sounding gag-worthy, try roasted veggies instead!
- Add ginger to meals and snacks: Not only does ginger taste bright and fresh, there’s quite a bit of research related to ginger and nausea reduction. The Lemon-Ginger Zing Cubes in the recipe below, from our cookbook are loaded with spicy fresh ginger and sour lemon to create an ice cold flavor combo that is soothing to a nauseated stomach. Toss a couple in club soda to create a less sugary version of ginger ale.
- Sniff test: Reduce the smell-factor of foods. Cook fish in foil packets to minimize the amount of smell released into your kitchen. Or, eat foods cold — they emit less scent that way. You might also opt for buying pre-cooked versions of foods that create more kitchen smells. Or have your sig-o cook a large batch of these foods and freeze them in individual portions for easy heating (but less smell) when needed. Pre-grilled and frozen chicken strips, rotisserie chicken, pre-roasted and frozen salmon, and hard-cooked eggs store in the fridge are all great protein choices that are a lot less aromatic.
- Get your Bs: Vitamins B6 and B12 might help to reduce nausea. And it’s worth a shot, since the foods these nutrients are found in are super good for you anyway. Chickpeas, salmon/tuna, turkey, potatoes, banana, and marinara sauce all deliver B6. B12 is found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Add pureed chickpeas to soups, use chickpea flour, freeze banana slices to snack on, or roasted chickpeas tossed with olive oil and salt to create a crunchy snack.
Lemon-Ginger Zing Cubes
These cubes are not for the faint of heart . . . but they are for the nauseated. A strong (emphasis on strong) ginger flavor dominates and helps soothe an upset stomach, while the tart lemon delivers a bright flavor. Pop one first thing in the morning or whenever nausea strikes. Or plop one or two into a glass of seltzer water for a sort of homemade lemon-ginger ale.
Makes 16 servings (1 cube per serving)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes + overnight freezing
3⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
(about 5 large lemons)
3⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup honey
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Puree the lemon juice, water, honey, and ginger in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into an ice-cube tray and freeze until solid, 4 hours or overnight.
Per serving: 20 calories, 0 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 5 g total sugar, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 20 mg potassium (.6% DV), 1 mg calcium (0% DV), 1 mg magnesium (0% DV), 0 mcg B12 (0% DV), 0.008 mg B6 (0% DV), 0 mg iron (0% DV)
Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD and Willow Jarosh, MS, RD are the co-founders of C&J Nutrition, a health communications and nutrition consulting firm, and the co-authors of Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook. Stephanie and Willow are both registered dietitian nutritionists, authors, and experts for the media. They’ve write a monthly recipe column for SELF magazine, appear regularly on television, develope recipes and diet plans for best-selling books, blog for the Huffington Post, and are often speakers at regional and national conferences.
C&J’s Instagram provides a glimpse into what they eat each day. Stephanie and Willow both love to cook, travel, and get outdoors. When they’re not planning their next business adventure, Stephanie enjoys showing her 2 year old daughter the DC sights (especially the farmers markets!) and Willow will likely be meandering around the Central Park reservoir or searching Manhattan for the least crowded tennis courts.