You’re finally pregnant and oh so happy! Right?! It’s all smiles and butterflies until one day you wake up and something doesn’t feel right and *BARF*… oh no… it’s come for you. It’s the morning sickness.
I will always remember my first pregnancy. I wasn’t really that sick, but I just didn’t know how to deal with it. At first I just wouldn’t eat when I was nauseous but it would get so bad I could barely handle it. I finally decided to just go on a saltines diet which worked alright, but I gained a LOT of weight and was still nauseous. I don’t even want to know how many boxes of saltines I ate those first few months.
With this pregnancy I researched morning sickness hacks right away. I didn’t want to get stuck being miserable for two months again and gaining a bunch of weight from all the carbs. So I looked into it. Here are some of the things I found, and I can tell you from a successfully completed 1st trimester that these hacks really do work!
1. Eat protein. I wish I would have known this my 1st pregnancy! I thought that simple carbs would settle my stomach the most so I was downing the saltines like there was no tomorrow. It turns out that carbs settle your tummy right away, but because they are digested so quickly your body turns right around and freaks out with nausea not long after. One of the main things that aggravates morning sickness is an empty stomach. Protein takes much longer to digest than just carbs alone so your body will feel full longer, therefore making you feel better longer.
2. Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated will make your morning sickness much worse. If plain water isn’t doing it, drink anything you can. Try infusing some fruit in your water, or even drinking some juice. If you find yourself throwing up everything you try, get some gatorade for electrolytes. It’s also worth a try to drink something hot instead and see if that stays down, opposed to cold drinks. Hot teas and broth are great for upset bellies and will keep you hydrated. If you can’t keep down any liquids, get to the hospital ASAP
3. Get enough Vitamin C + B6. Both are extremely helpful in fighting nausea. Great foods with one or both of these nutrients (that are also easy to eat in the 1st trimester):
- Spinach (mix it in a smoothie with berries and bananas if you can’t stomach it on it’s own!)
- Fruit Juice
- Sweet potatoes
- Chicken (Chicken noodle soup, anyone?)
- Sunflower Seeds
4. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is know for making morning sickness worse, plus it’s just not good for that little baby. Most experts suggest limiting caffeine in the 1st trimester just to be safe, but if you’re struggling with sickness it’s highly likely that your body will start to dislike coffee all on its own. It’s suggested to stick to 200mg of coffee each day at the most. I personally loved soda in the first trimester because the cold and bubbles felt so good on my sick belly, but a caffeine free soda would be your best bet if that’s what you’re looking for.
5. Eat small meals often. There are two big mistakes women make when they have morning sickness that make things 10x worse. One mistakes is not eating because they don’t feel like it. Yes, that is our natural reaction to nausea because usually our body is trying to get rid of toxins or bad food. But in pregnancy we get nauseous because we need food! One of the best ways to combat the sick feeling is to keep some crackers by your bed and eat one right before you get out of bed in the morning. Then get your belly full with some nice protein and fiber.
Another mistake that some women make is going crazy with the few things that do sound good. I get it… I toooootally do! When you have a craving you want to indulge all the way! But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: we get cravings because our body is missing something. That actual need usually culminates in a not so healthy cravings. If you are making sure you’re getting the nutrients and calories you need in a steady pace throughout the day, you are far less likely to have strong cravings. When you fill up far too much you’re likely to feel pretty sick and miserable after you indulge too much.
So, in order to combat these issues, the best thing you can do for your unsettled belly is to eat small amounts of food regularly. I’m talking about every 1-2 hours. If you really need to fill your belly constantly but don’t want to gain a bunch of weight, hot tea is a great option. Not only does it fill you up with no calories, it also helps to calm your belly so you don’t feel as nauseous.
6. Peppermint is your best friend. I also have heard that ginger works fabulously for nausea, but I personally don’t like it. For me, hot peppermint tea was EVERYTHING. I started drinking a cup first thing in the morning in place of coffee. Then, since I felt like puking if my belly wasn’t full 24/7, I just kept sipping it throughout the day instead of snacking. It made such a huge difference for me this time around. Peppermint candies and gums are also great for taking on-the-go and they take effect as soon as you put them in your mouth!
So, how do you eat healthy when you’re always nauseous?
Ideally, you would be eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats and meat, right? But if you’ve been pregnant for very long at all you know that your body has other plans.
I had been eating healthy smoothies every day for months and was so proud of myself. I knew that those smoothies were giving me SO much of my daily nutrition that I needed and I was happy I was getting in my greens in a way that I enjoyed. I assumed that because all the ingredients were gentle on the stomach that I would still like them in the 1st trimester.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. My body made all these random decisions for me that made no sense. All vegetables made me want to vomit… even the smell. My smoothie became a cup of vomit, and even my lifelong breakfast favorite went in the trash: bagels with cream cheese. So many gentle and even good for you foods and my body doesn’t want them?! I have no explanation.
The 1st trimester makes demands of us that we may not understand, but we must respect. It’s either that or vomiting it right back up. I’m going to include some snack ideas that could definitely be good for a sick tummy, but it may be that your body tells you no way on some of these! Some of these didn’t work for me at all, but I have heard others swear by them.
Try some things out (cautiously!) and see what works best for you. All experts agree that it’s much better to have a diet of carbs and sugar than to not eat anything, or to be constantly puking up the vegetables you’re shoving down your throat.
Morning Sickness Snack Ideas:
Low sugar/high fiber cereals – While boxed cereals are not necessarily an idea addition to your diet, and most healthy individuals shouldn’t make a habit of eating them for breakfast, they may be exactly what you need when morning sickness hits. They are high carb and generally have a little more sugar than you really need, but they have almost as many nutrients as your prenatal vitamin! If milk makes you queasy, just eat it dry (though the protein and fat in the milk will help you feel full longer). You might be surprised how well cereal will settle on your stomach and you can feel good knowing that your baby is getting the nutrients he needs, even if it’s not through ideal healthy food. Some good options include:
- Shredded Wheat
- Cheerios (any flavor)
- Chex (any flavor)
- Oatmeal Squares (any flavor)
- Honey Bunches of Oats (especially the one with almonds for extra protein!)
Granola Bars – This has become my go-to snack for my mid-morning hunger pangs. I wanted something gentle and small that I could have with me no matter where I was. I really liked the “sweet n’ salty” bars (you can find them at Walmart and Aldi in different brands) that are different nuts with a coating on the bottom. They are very filling and very high in protein. But whatever granola bars appeal to you are great options.
Oatmeal – I do not like oatmeal. It’s not something I really keep around and I don’t ever crave it. The first day the morning sickness hit me hard I suddenly was like “I need oatmeal. I need it right now.” It’s crazy how when you’re pregnant your body tells you exactly what it needs and you feel like you have to comply! I made myself a bowl with an old canister of oatmeal in the back of my pantry. I had the urge to slice a banana on top of it and BAM – it hit the spot. It was amazing. It became a morning staple for me during my worst days of sickness. Oatmeal also offers some great nutritional benefits. Spice it up with some brown sugar, cinnamon, fruit, chocolate, peanut butter, or whatever sounds good!
Fruit – Absolutely any fruit is great during pregnancy. But for morning sickness, fruits high in B6 and/or very high in water content are the best. Citrus fruits and juice can be really great, but they can also aggravate acid reflux. It’s worth a try but doesn’t work for everyone. Add some peanut butter or yogurt to your fruit to stay full longer. Fruit dip is a good option (here are my peanut butter and vanilla fruit dip recipes). Some good fruit options for morning sickness:
- Melons of all kinds
Popcorn – Popcorn is high in fiber and is a whole grain, so it digests more slowly than refined carbs. The saltiness can also be helpful when you’re feeling sick. It makes a great snack, or if you add some apples, cheese, and nut butter it will make a full meal with lots of fiber and protein!
Yogurt – While all yogurts will probably be gentle enough for your tummy to handle and have great probiotics (good for that 1st trimester bloating and constipation!), greek yogurt is a great, high protein choice. Try sprinkling it with granola or fruit, or making a smoothie….
Smoothies – My favorite smoothie in the world is an award winning 1st trimester nutrition mix. It’s everything you could want for pregnancy! Unfortunately, my body refused it. It doesn’t meant that yours will though! Give it a try. It has so many of the nutrients you need to grow that little baby, as well as foods that are gentle on the belly and help fight nausea. This is my favorite berry smoothie. If you want to make it peanut butter, switch the last two ingredients (*) with 1/4 cup peanut butter and a little extra milk.
1 frozen banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 TBS flax meal
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
1 cup fresh spinach
*1/4 cup greek yogurt vanilla
*1/2 cup frozen berries
Peanut Butter Crackers – I loved making little sandwiches with ritz crackers and peanut butter, but you could be creative with whatever kind of crackers you have around. The combo of bland and easy to digest carbs and protein works great to combat sickness as well as keep you full longer.
Bagel w/ cream cheese – This was one of the things that my body didn’t want when I was pregnant, but theoretically it should be a great option. The refined carbs will settle well and the protein will keep you full and combat nausea. Eat it with some fruit or a glass of orange juice.
Scrambled eggs w/ spinach – Eggs are fantastic for morning sickness, but they don’t settle well when they’re covered in grease. If you want eggs, scramble them with a splash of milk instead of butter and cook some spinach, or even some cheese, into them. Enjoy with a piece of toast and some orange juice.
Morning Sickness Meal Ideas:
Baked Chicken & Veggies
Meat & Veggie Crockpot Roast
Spaghetti & Salad
Ham & Sweet Potatoes
Salad & Baked Potatoes
What are some of your best morning sickness hacks?