Hyperemesis gravidarum and morning sickness: what to eat and which foods to avoid

Hyperemesis gravidarum is different from pregnancy sickness or morning sickness: 7 of 10 pregnant women experience pregnancy sickness or morning sickness (which doesn’t just happen in the morning), while the NHS reports that about 1 in every 100 pregnant women suffer from HG.

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KENSINGTON Palace has announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her third child, in an announcement that may have happened sooner than planned after the Duchess was forced to cancel a public engagement due to a severe morning sickness that has afflicted her in her previous pregnancies.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is different from pregnancy sickness or morning sickness: 7 of 10 pregnant women experience pregnancy sickness or morning sickness (which doesn’t just happen in the morning), while the NHS reports that about 1 in every 100 pregnant women suffer 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. Louise Jenner-Clarke, a Surrey-based clinical nutritional therapist who is listed with Nutritionist Resource, says that foods high in starch help reduce morning sickness symptoms, especially nausea, and make them tolerable.

Ms Jenner-Clarke recommends the following five foods to reduce symptoms of morning sickness:

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 experience. 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, making it perfect for a growing and developing foetus as it provides all the protein building blocks for baby.

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.

Although the food above will help with pregnancy sickness, ensuring the hygiene of foods you eat is also important to minimise the chance of throwing up – the stomach will reject anything with higher levels of bacteria that could potentially harm the foetus.

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.

Ms Jenner-Clarke recommends avoiding the following five foods, which can make morning sickness symptoms feel worse:

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 which 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.

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 which 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 8-9 weeks into pregnancy and generally tails off towards the start of the second trimester.

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Amie Sparrow

Written by Amie Sparrow

Amie is a PR Manager for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
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