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Strategies for Coping

The primary goal when you are feeling nauseous and/or vomiting is to eat and drink anything possible. That means eating foods that may not be especially healthy. Don't worry about that, just do the best you can and try to follow the strategies we suggest to maximize your intake. Cravings and aversions may be very stung and change often, so keep trying. Women have reported drinking mostly soda throughout pregnancy instead of water, or eating from fast foods places often. It is all they could tolerate. If this is you, do your best and know this will end. As you can, eat healthy foods but don't make yourself feel guilty if you rarely eat foods like vegetables.

  • Think simple foods is often helpful - foods in their most natural and unprocessed state are most healthy, too. For example, apples dipped in peanut butter, whole milk (v. low-fat) cheese sticks, toast with 100% fruit jelly, juice, carrot sticks, baked potatoes, etc. Complex foods like lasagna are often too difficult to digest and may have aversive ingredients.
  • Think about the characteristics of the foods that appeal, such as crunchy and sweet, soft and tart, etc. Ask someone to help you think of food that meet that criteria. If all that sounds good is cinnamon bread, eat it rather than nothing.
  • Try foods that may not appeal but do not disgust you. For example, carrots may not appeal, but try a sweet baby carrot and just see if you can eat a few of them. That will help you get much needed vitamins and other nutrients.
  • Try taking vitamins at night with a snack and see if you can tolerate them. Don't take prenatal vitamins or vitamins containing iron if they make you more nauseous.
  • Don't eat and drink at the same time if it nauseates you. Your digestive system is slower than normal and large amounts of fluids make digestion more difficult.
  • Identify what foods trigger your nausea and vomiting and ask those around you to avoid them. Common culprits are those that are pungent, such as garlic and onions. You may be able to smell them on other's skin or breath.
  • Try to eat foods in the healthiest form tolerated. If cereal sounds good, try purchasing a sweetened whole grain cereal over a highly processed one to increase the vitamin and fiber content. Try whole grain bread over white. This may take a little experimentation and resourcefulness, but it is well worth it.
  • Avoid fatty or fried foods as they tax the liver and gall bladder. Your body stores toxins in fat tissue and rapid fat loss means rapid elimination of toxins which have to be processed by the liver. Organic foods are ideal.
  • Drink any fluid that appeals, avoiding caffeine. Try carbonated drinks, too, such as sparkling cider. Sports drinks, juice (100% fruit juice v. those with corn sugar, water, etc.), and filtered water are best. This will keep you hydrated, decrease constipation, and improve mental function. Freezing water then sipping it as it melts may be more appealing. Filtering water eliminates much of the aversive taste.
  • Try cold foods. They have less odor. Ask those around you to avoid highly seasoned food, especially those that are heated.
  • Keep food close by or in a cooler for quick snacks. Motion worsens nausea and getting up to fix your food may decrease your ability to eat. Try making a plate of snacks that appeal like diced fruit, cheese, crackers, carrot sticks, etc. and nibble on them over an hour or so.
  • Eat and drink in small amounts. Distending the stomach triggers nausea and vomiting. Large bites also may stimulate gag reflex.
  • Try to eat some protein. Research shows protein decreases nausea better than carbohydrates.
  • Liquid meals if tolerated can be easier to digest and may decrease nausea. Try protein powders in a milk shake or smoothie. To make a smoothie, blend frozen fruit, milk, yogurt, nuts or whatever appeals as thick as you prefer. You can also freeze juice or smoothies in popsicle molds to make nutritious snacks. (Get the Baby Shake Recipe)
  • As much as possible, avoid hydrogenated oils, pesticides, nitrates (in smoked meats, lunch meat, hot dogs), growth hormones (dairy & poultry), sugar substitutes, and food dyes or additives.
  • Consider taking digestive enzymes when you eat to get the most from your food and speed digestion. This is especially helpful if you are on acid blocking drugs. Be careful of the enzyme Protease if you have gastric ulcerations or a very irritated stomach.
  • Collect menus from local take-out and delivery restaurants. If you have a craving, see what sounds good and call it in. Sometimes a craving only lasts a short time.

Updated on: Apr. 18, 2013

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