Foods that help manage hyperemesis gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HD) is different from pregnancy sickness or morning sickness. Seven of 10 pregnant women experience pregnancy sickness or morning sickness (which doesn’t just happen in the morning), while the NHS reports that about one in every 100 pregnant women suffers from HG.

You have heard of HD as in 2017, Kensington Palace announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting her third child. The Duchess was then forced to cancel a public engagement due to severe morning sickness, which has afflicted her in her previous pregnancies.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is different from pregnancy sickness or morning sickness – seven of 10 pregnant women experience pregnancy sickness or morning sickness (which doesn’t just happen in the morning), while the NHS reports that about one in every 100 pregnant women suffers from HG.

HG is much worse than the common nausea and vomiting of pregnancy – some women report being sick up to 50 times a day and, unlike regular pregnancy sickness, HG may not get better by 14 weeks, according to the NHS.

Although pregnancy sickness can have varying levels of intensity, many pregnant women are significantly affected by its adverse effects.

5 foods to help manage hyperemesis gravidarum

Clinical nutritional therapist Louise Jenner-Clarke says that foods high in starch help reduce morning sickness symptoms, especially nausea, and make them tolerable. Louise recommends the following:

1. Baked sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a healthy source of starch and can significantly reduce nausea. They are also rich in beta carotene (vitamin A), which supports a healthy immune system while pregnant.

2. Lemon and ginger tea

Ginger is an anecdotal remedy for morning sickness. It works well for some people but not everyone, so it is worth trying to see if it helps

3. Quinoa

This grain is rich in carbohydrates for nausea, but also is a complete protein, which has all the amino acids the body requires for health. Quinoa is perfect for a growing and developing foetus as it provides all the protein building blocks for the baby.

Dish of quinoa and greens

4. Peppermint tea

A great herb for nausea but also one that aids digestion making the body’s job easier during pregnancy. Peppermint relaxes the digestive tract and can support the flow of bile from the gallbladder making it easier to digest fats in the diet.

5. Dry plain brown toast

Rich in whole grains and carbohydrates, sometimes when appetite fluctuates during pregnancy, a plain dry piece of toast can be the only thing you can stomach if nausea and morning sickness is particularly bad.

Ensuring the hygiene of foods you eat is also important to minimise the chance of vomiting – the stomach will reject anything with higher levels of bacteria that could potentially harm the foetus.

5 foods to avoid with hyperemesis gravidarum

Unfortunately, pregnancy sickness may not be able to be completely avoided, but knowing which foods to avoid will help prevent symptoms from becoming worse. For example, foods high in fat and sugar should be avoided, as they can burden the liver. Louise recommends avoiding the following:

1. Duck spring rolls

Duck is high in saturated fat and spring rolls are deep-fried, making it a very high-fat dish which the liver struggles to process. The liver is already coping with a flood of pregnancy hormones and this places an additional burden that can make morning sickness feel worse.

2. Deep-fried mozzarella cheese sticks

Mozzarella is high in saturated fat and deep-frying them makes it a very high-fat dish which the liver struggles to process.

Cup of peppermint tea on bed with book

3. Liver and onions

Liver is not advised in pregnancy because of its high retinol levels (vitamin A) but also because it is too high in nutrients for the body to cope with, which could aggravate morning sickness.

4. Coconut and ghee-based curries

Coconut, although a healthy fat and source of omega 6, is still a fat that can impact the liver. Curries cooked with coconut and ghee are too rich for the liver, especially in the first trimester. Coconut is better tolerated from the second trimester, when morning sickness starts to dissipate.

5. Tiramisu and high-fat desserts

Tiramisu contains cream, sugar and fats which place a burden on the liver. The alcohol in tiramisu also increases the chance and intensity of nausea.

Sick of being sick? Remember, morning sickness peaks around eight or nine weeks into pregnancy and generally tails off towards the start of the second trimester. If you are struggling with severe morning sickness, always consult your midwife or nutrition professional.


The article was originally produced as a press release. It is available for reprint in whole or in part with credit to Nutritionist Resource and link to www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk. Please advise us of its use by emailing press@nutritionist-resource.org.uk. Interview with professional nutritionist available upon request.

Share this article with a friend

Written by Katie Hoare

Katie is Content Creator & Strategist at Nutritionist Resource.

Written by Katie Hoare

Show comments

Find a nutritionist dealing with women's nutrition

All therapists are verified professionals.

Related Articles

More articles