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What To Eat With Hyperemesis? – Find Out Here

The word “hyperemesis” is from the Greek “hypere” meaning “above” and “mēsis” meaning “sign or symptom.”

This symptom is a pregnancy complication that starts in the first trimester and can last for weeks or months, where the nausea and vomiting from pregnancy can be so severe that a woman has to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes.

The same symptoms can occur after a surgery, or a new baby. In some cases, hyperemesis can be so severe that the woman has to be hospitalized, and in rare cases, the woman will need to have some of her organs removed.

How to Eat and Stay Healthy When You Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a severe condition that causes pregnant people to vomit and/or feel nauseous throughout the day for 3-4 months or more, and sometimes throughout their entire pregnancy.

Those who have experienced HG will tell you, “It is NOT the same as ‘morning sickness.'” Challenges for those with HG are significant, including not being able to continue working, keeping up with everyday responsibilities, and perhaps most notably (and distressing) is being unable to maintain healthy nutrition or simply eat anything.

Most who have HG will be specially treated for the condition by their doctor and may even visit the hospital several times for IV fluids and nutrition.

While not all “tricks” to stay hydrated and fed during pregnancy with HG will work, it helps to have a full arsenal of ideas ready to use or try when you can.

Through trial and error, you will find your path — though it will be tough — and see the end of HG on the other side of pregnancy. In the meantime, take a look at our tips for staying fed and hydrated during your pregnancy if you have HG.

Give in to cravings as soon as possible. Food aversions are fierce for those with HG, so when a craving comes around, give into it as soon as you can.

Try it cold or frozen. Cold or frozen foods or drinks have less pungent smell and flavor. Consider eating frozen foods and drinking water or liquids when they are ice cold.

Sip your drinks. Continual sipping instead of big gulps can help keep your liquids down better.

Eat on a schedule. An empty stomach is also a trigger for nausea and vomiting. Try to take in food on a frequent, regular basis — set a reminder on your phone if it helps.

Eat high calorie, high protein foods when you can. Determine when during the day you’re most able to eat and then choose foods that are high in energy and protein, as well as essential vitamins and nutrients.

Eat in small amounts. Too much food can quickly overwhelm your system and trigger nausea or vomiting.

Think bland, dry, sugary, fizzy. Bland foods, dry foods, and sugary or fizzy drinks or foods often work well (or are at least more tolerated) for those with HG.

Try shakes and smoothies. Sometimes, drinking your food is less triggering than eating it. Plus, you can pack in extra nutrition.

Learn your nausea/vomiting triggers. And try to avoid them at all costs!

Diet for Hyperemesis

What is it?

Every pregnant woman reacts to food in a different way during her pregnancy. A hyperemesis (hi-per-em-uh-sis) diet is a list of foods and ideas that may help your nausea and vomiting while pregnant.

You should try many healthy foods to make sure you are eating correctly for you and your baby.

You may need high protein and high calorie foods if you are having trouble gaining weight because of nausea and vomiting.

Try to eat foods from the meat, dairy, and fat lists below each day to get extra calories and protein. Talk to your dietitian (di-uh-tih-shun) to be sure you are getting enough calories and other vitamins and minerals.

This diet is not a complete diet to meet all your food needs during pregnancy. But it will give you ideas to try when you are having nausea and vomiting.

Ask your caregiver for the CareNote pregnancy diet. The pregnancy diet will tell you how many servings to eat every day from each food group.

Try the following ideas to help you with nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy:

  • Eat a small meal or snack every 2 hours rather than 3 large meals every day. By doing this you may prevent nausea because you will never be hungry.
  • Eat a small snack before going to sleep at night. This may prevent nausea in the morning when you wake up.
  • Chew and swallow your foods very slowly.
  • Try to eat cold and dry foods, like cereal, crackers, or toast.
  • Drink most of your liquids between meals. You may want, instead, to drink small amounts of liquids with your meals. Try to drink 8 (soda pop can size) glasses of liquids every day.
  • Pure (100%) fruit juice or lemonade may help your nausea.
  • Do not drink alcohol or drinks that contain caffeine, such as soda, coffee, or black tea.
  • If you are nauseated in the morning, eat 2 to3 saltine crackers or a slice of dry toast before getting out of bed.
  • Avoid foods that have a strong smell. Or you may want to ask someone to cook your meals if smells bother you.
  • Do not eat high fat foods, like fried foods, gravies, heavy sauces, or rich desserts.
  • Lie down after eating with your head raised on 1 or 2 pillows.
  • Spend time outside to get fresh air. You may feel better if you do not get too hot either inside or outside your house.

Serving Sizes:

  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) of liquid is the size of a soda-pop can.
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of food is the size of a large handful.
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of food is about half of a large handful.
  • 2 tablespoons (Tbsp) is about the size of a large walnut.
  • 1 tablespoon is about the size of the tip of your thumb (from the last crease).
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) is about the size of the tip of your little finger (from the last crease).
  • A serving means the size of food after it is cooked. Three ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards.

BREADS / STARCHES:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Bagel
      • Baked potato
      • Cold cereal without milk
      • Corn
      • Dry toast
      • Graham crackers
      • Hard dinner rolls
      • Melba toast
      • Mashed potatoes
      • Pasta
      • Peas
  • Pretzels (without salt)
  • Rice or rice cakes
  • Rye crackers
  • Saltine crackers
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Croissants
      • Donuts
      • French toast
      • Pancakes

MILK / DAIRY:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Lowfat custard
      • Lowfat fruit yogurt
      • Lowfat pudding
      • Skim milk, in small amounts
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • 2% or whole milk
      • Eggnog
      • Milkshakes and malts
  • MEAT / MEAT SUBSTITUTES /MAIN DISHES:
  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Blue, Swiss, Brie, or other strong cheeses
      • Boiled and scrambled eggs
      • Cooked dried beans and legumes
      • Cream soups
      • Fish and seafood
      • Fried meats
      • Gravies
      • Peanut butter
      • Sauces
      • Spicy or highly spiced foods

VEGETABLES:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Fresh vegetables, such as carrots, cucumbers, or celery
      • Starchy vegetables listed above in the Breads/Starches food group.
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Broccoli
      • Cabbage
      • Cauliflower
      • Garlic
      • Onions

FRUITS:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Applesauce
      • Canned fruit
      • Dried fruit
      • Fresh apples
      • Jam or jelly on breads (for extra calories)
      • Pears
      • Plums
      • Raisins
      • Sips of juices
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Bananas
      • Melons

FATS:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Lowfat cream cheese
      • Lowfat salad dressing
      • Small amounts of butter or margarine
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Deep fried foods, such as french fries
      • Mayonnaise
      • Regular salad dressings

DESSERTS:

  • You may want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Gelatin, plain, or with canned fruit
      • Ginger snaps or other lowfat cookies
      • Plain cake or cookies
      • Vanilla wafers
  • You may NOT want to eat the following foods.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Chocolate and other rich cakes
      • Cream pies
      • Ice cream
      • Pastries
      • Rich pudding or custard

LIQUIDS:

  • You may want to eat or drink the following things.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Frozen fruit juices
      • Ginger ale
      • Italian ice
      • Lemon lime soda pop
      • Popsicles™
      • Sherbet
      • Sips of broth or bouillon
  • You may NOT want to drink the following liquids.
    • Food Group Choices:
      • Coffee or tea
      • Cola
      • Root beer

CALL YOUR CARE GIVER IF:

  • You have questions about the serving sizes on this diet.
  • You have questions about how to prepare or cook foods on this diet.
  • You have questions about how or where to buy foods on this diet.
  • You have questions or concerns about your pregnancy, medicine, or this diet.

Foods that can aid with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

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:

What To Eat?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

What Not To Eat?

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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Other “Safe Foods” To Eat If You Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Most pregnant women have to endure a few jokes about morning sickness, but hyperemesis is no laughing matter. It is morning sickness taken to the Nth degree.

When you’re in the throes of this condition, your entire life can revolve around the availability of the bathroom. But it’s important to know what to eat if you have hyperemesis, because the constant nausea and vomiting can leave you seriously depleted.

As the American Pregnancy Association (APA) explained, hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition that includes severe nausea and vomiting.

It may result in weight loss and electrolyte disturbance. The APA further said that it may be caused by the rise in hormone levels that occurs during early pregnancy, although the specific cause is still unknown.

In some cases, women get so depleted that they require hospitalization to receive intravenous (IV) fluids and medicine, as the Mayo Clinic notes. This serious condition can be disruptive to your overall health and well-being.

So to keep yourself out of harm’s way, it’s important to keep eating during this time, even when all food feels revolting.

Fortunately, there are some foods that are pretty easy to stomach no matter how crummy you feel. By snacking on these foods, you can keep your system tanked up without risking further stomach upset.

The ‘Baby Shake’

Liquids are often easier to keep down, so when your stomach is rebelling, the blender may be your best friend. The HER Foundation’s recipe for a “Baby Shake,” which calls for healthy ingredients such as frozen bananas, nutritional yeast, and yogurt , can help you get the calories you need to keep going.

It’s a customizable recipe, too, as you can leave out any ingredients that make you queasy, and add in anything you like.

Ginger

Ginger is one of the most old-school remedies for an upset stomach. WebMD recommends women who suffer from hyperemesis may benefit from ginger in the form of tea, candies, or even supplements. The pleasant flavor may make it a little more easy to take.

Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes bland is best. In the Daily Mail, television presenter and hyperemesis sufferer Kirstie Allsopp recommended mashed potatoes as one food she could manage.

If you don’t feel like cooking while struggling with extreme morning sickness (and who would?), then ready-made mashed potatoes are fine.

Dry Toast

Again, this is the time to embrace the blandest foods imaginable. The National Health Services recommends eating some dry toast first thing in the morning if you’re most nauseous when you wake up. It may help settle your stomach.

Bananas

If you want something a little sweet, fruit may be a good call. As the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said, bland foods such as bananas are pretty easy to digest. And if chewing is too hard, you can throw them in a smoothie.

Rice

Few meals are less inspiring than plain rice, but hey: at least it probably won’t make you sicker. And as Annemarie Aburrow RD said in Diet in Pregnancy, brown rice also contains B6, which helps your body store energy from food. Because if there’s one thing you need now, it’s more energy.

Applesauce

Rounding out the list of bland foods: applesauce. The American Osteopathic Association said that women dealing with hyperemesis may benefit from eating applesauce because it’s healthy and easy to digest.

Overall, opting for simple, stomach-friendly foods may make this time more manageable.

Others

  • Bagels
  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Dry cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Lean meats
  • Almonds
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Broiled Fish
  • Tofu
  • Fruit
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt

Hyperemesis and Vitamin B6

There are studies that suggest Vitamin B6 may help. Although there is a lack evidence that it stops or reduces the vomiting, vitamin B6 supplementation can help alleviate morning sickness or get rid of nausea so it’s still worth a try.

Typical dosage for vitamin B6 is 10-25mg, 3 times a day. Please take note that it is very important that you seek medical advice first prior to taking supplements and medications not prescribed to avoid pregnancy complications and drug interaction issues.

Just remember that although HG may be a serious pregnancy issue, there are treatments and medications available that can help you get through it.

However, it is very important that you inform your doctor as soon as you notice you are unable to keep your food down and most especially if you notice weight loss.

The immediate health risk in HG is dehydration as this can be very critical for both you and the baby so it is best that intervention and treatment are started immediately.

Some vitamin studies have linked a vitamin B6 deficiency to severe nausea and morning sickness. Make sure your multivitamin (prenatal vitamin) contains vitamin B6 in order to get your daily dosage.

Do not take single dose vitamin B6 supplements if you are experiencing HG. Taking high levels of a certain vitamin in one dose during pregnancy has been proven to be unsafe.

6 Foods to eat that contain vitamin B6:

1. Brown rice

2. Whole meal bread

3. Fish and poultry

4. Fortified breakfast cereals

5. Nuts

6. Green leafy vegetables

Should I be taking vitamin supplements then?

Yes – consider buying a multivitamin and mineral supplement made for pregnant women such as Pregnacare or supermarket/pharmacy own brand like Boots Pregnancy. These supplements, whilst containing folic acid, also contain other vitamins, including B6, in safe doses.

Taking a supplement will help you to meet your requirements, especially when nausea and vomiting prevent you from eating well.

Avoid vitamin B6 supplements, or any other single vitamin preparations. This is because the safety of supplements containing high levels of vitamins is not known in pregnancy.

When you’re having trouble eating, don’t be afraid to load up on calories.

If you are finding it hard to eat, you may need some nutritional support. First, establish the time of day you feel most able to eat, then maximise your nutritional intake at this time.

Try to eat foods high in energy and protein, to enable you to get the maximum nutrition from a smaller portion. Fortify the foods you eat to make them more nutritious. Examples include:

  • Add yoghurt, cream or evaporated milk to fruits;
  • Melt butter over vegetables;
  • Don’t be afraid to add extra cream and cheese to mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, soups and stews;
  • Use plenty of butter and jam/marmalade on toast;
  • Use whole milk and avoid diet yoghurts;
  • Include sugary and fatty foods and drinks, e.g. chocolate, biscuits, cakes and sugary drinks. These are useful to increase energy intake when your food intake is low.

Take care not to eat too many of these in place of other foods, as they often contain empty calories.

Eat little and often – eat something every 1-2 hours if you can. Nourishing foods that are often well tolerated include cereal with milk, tuna/chicken sandwiches, peanut butter on toast, soups, crackers, breadsticks and other dry starchy foods.

If you can’t keep foods down, try not to worry. Keeping fluids down is the most important thing during severe bouts of sickness. Try drinking fluids high in energy and protein, to maximise the nutritional content of drinks.

Milky drinks, like milkshakes and hot chocolate are great options as they contain energy and protein. You could even add a dash or cream and grated chocolate to pack in extra calories.

Soups make a great drink too, as you can add extra cream and cheese to increase the calories.

If you are losing weight, your doctor or dietitian may recommend a short course of sip supplements. These supplements are available on prescription, and come in milkshake, fruit juice, soup or yoghurt styles, according to your preference.

They are high in energy and protein, and contain added vitamins and minerals to help you to regain your energy and strength.

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