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Foods That Fight Nausea During Pregnancy

Mar 01, 23 7 min
Ceramic plate with toast, bananas, and tea. Bland foods good for fighting nausea during pregnancy.

Morning sickness is an unpleasant, but common symptom of pregnancy. While there’s no perfect cure for preventing morning sickness, there are some foods that may help fight pregnancy nausea. Keep reading to learn more. 

By OBGYN and fertility expert Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

When you start to experience pregnancy nausea, it can feel like there’s nothing safe for you to eat without feeling sick. While everyone is different when it comes to their pregnancy cravings and aversions, there are some foods that have been shown to alleviate gastrointestinal complaints and are easier to digest. 

Morning sickness 101

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), also called morning sickness, is a very common symptom of early pregnancy. It’s estimated that around 70-80% of pregnant people experience NVP, and for the majority of people, NVP is limited to the first trimester or three months of pregnancy [1,6]. Some do experience more extreme sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or may have morning sickness throughout their entire pregnancy. While the term “morning sickness” is often used, nausea and vomiting are not limited to specific times of the day and may occur at any time. 

What causes pregnancy nausea and vomiting?

The exact cause of morning sickness and HG are unknown, but it is widely accepted that metabolic and endocrine factors play a large role. Studies have shown associations between pregnancy hormone levels and NVP, specifically because of the peak period for both NVP and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) production occurring from 12 to 14 weeks gestation [1]. Nausea and vomiting are often worse in women with molar pregnancies, multiple gestations, or in those carrying a fetus with Down syndrome, all of which are associated with elevated hCG levels [1]. Even with all of this data, other studies have found no associations between hCG and NVP. Some researchers believe the rise in other hormones such as estrogen, follicle stimulating hormone, etc. are related to morning sickness, but evidence is lacking [1]. Bottom line is that we aren’t exactly sure  what causes pregnancy nausea and vomiting, but it is likely related to hormonal changes occurring during early pregnancy. 

What foods fight nausea?

So what can you do to lessen or prevent nausea and vomiting? Research shows that some foods are easier to digest and may result in decreased gastrointestinal discomfort [2]. Frequently suggested for those fighting morning sickness or recovering from sickness is the BRATT diet, a diet consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, tea, and toast. These foods are low in fat and easily digested, hopefully making it easier for you to keep them down. A more extreme version of the BRATT diet is a bland diet, often suggested for some post-surgical patients, or those suffering from various gastrointestinal conditions. The bland diet consists of foods that are soft, low-fiber, cooked, and non-spicy [2]. A few examples include:

  • Lean meat 

  • Low-fat dairy products

  • Broth

  • Eggs

  • Tofu

  • Beets

  • Fruit juices

  • Spinach

  • Carrots

  • Tea

Research also supports the use of ginger as an effective and safe treatment for nausea and vomiting [3]. You can consume ginger in tea, vitamins, juice, or other forms. 

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This isn’t an exhaustive list, and many of these foods may not work for you based on your individual aversions and preferences. Getting in calories every day is the most important thing, so any foods you can eat and keep down are helpful when dealing with morning sickness. Don’t forget to take a prenatal vitamin every day as well to get in all of your key vitamins and minerals. In fact, some data suggests that taking a prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy may reduce the risk of experiencing severe NVP [6]. If swallowing pills is hard for you or makes your nausea worse, opt for a tasty gummy vitamin

What foods worsen pregnancy nausea?

You should eat whatever you can manage (as long as it’s pregnancy safe, of course) if it means you’ll be getting in calories and nutrients. That being said, there are some foods that you may be advised against consuming when experiencing NVP. The bland diet specifically lists a few items that may make nausea worse, or could contribute to worsening gastrointestinal discomfort [2]:

  • Fried foods

  • Acidic foods (citrus, berries, vinegar)

  • Spices

  • Seeds and nuts

  • Full fat foods (whole milk, ice cream, cheese)

  • Cruciferous vegetables

In addition to these foods, an analysis of dietary components found that diets lacking cereal and high in sugars, oils, alcohol, and meat were more likely to contribute to nausea and vomiting [4]. Foods with strong odors may also trigger nausea, even if you enjoyed the taste or smell prior to pregnancy.

When should I be concerned about NVP?

Usually morning sickness will begin to resolve after the first trimester, but there are some dangers associated with severe vomiting during pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in anywhere from 0.3-3% of pregnancies, and is the most common cause of hospitalization during the first half of pregnancy [5]. HG is severe morning sickness and is often accompanied with weight loss and dehydration. It’s important to seek out medical care immediately if you can’t stop vomiting or are noticing signs of dehydration, such as dark and smelly urine, dizziness, or an abnormal heart rate. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any NVP so they can recommend potential treatments. 

What else can I do when experiencing morning sickness?

If you’re experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, it’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Be sure to take some kind of prenatal vitamin to get in necessary nutrients, and drink plenty of water. An electrolyte drink mix may be helpful for supporting hydration levels and if necessary, your doctor may prescribe you an antiemetic or other medication to limit morning sickness [1].  Some find it helpful to eat multiple small meals a day rather than attempting to eat big meals; it may also be beneficial to snack on crackers, nuts, fruit, and toast before moving around. 

Key Takeaways

  • Up to 80% of pregnant people will experience pregnancy nausea and vomiting.

  • While it’s often called morning sickness, NVP can occur at any time of the day.

  • The exact cause of NVP is unknown, but it’s widely accepted that hormonal changes may have to do with its onset. 

  • The BRATT diet is often recommended for anyone experiencing nausea or gastrointestinal distress, and consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, tea, and toast. 

  • A bland diet may also be helpful for those fighting NVP, and includes soft, low-fiber, cooked foods such as lean meat, broth, low-fat dairy, eggs, tofu, etc.

  • Ginger has also been proven effective for NVP and can be eaten raw, in supplement form, tea, etc.

  • Extreme NVP is classified as hyperemesis gravidarum, which occurs in up to 3% of pregnant people. This is a dangerous condition that should be treated by a healthcare professional. 

  • Other ways you can support your body when fighting morning sickness include taking a prenatal vitamin, eating small snacks throughout the day, and trying electrolyte drinks to stay hydrated. 



  1. Lee NM, Saha S. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011;40(2):309-vii. doi:10.1016/j.gtc.2011.03.009
  2. Weir SBS, Akhondi H. Bland Diet. [Updated 2022 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Lete I, Allué J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integr Med Insights. 2016;11:11-17. Published 2016 Mar 31. doi:10.4137/IMI.S36273
  4. Pepper GV, Craig Roberts S. Rates of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and dietary characteristics across populations. Proc Biol Sci. 2006;273(1601):2675-2679. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3633
  5. London V, Grube S, Sherer DM, Abulafia O. Hyperemesis Gravidarum: A Review of Recent Literature. Pharmacology. 2017;100(3-4):161-171. doi:10.1159/000477853
  6. Morning sickness: Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. ACOG. Published May 2020. Accessed February 15, 2023. 

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