Understanding Morning Sickness and Food Cravings

Understanding Morning Sickness and Food Cravings

Mental Health Gut Article

Two of the most commonly reported pregnancy symptoms are “morning sickness” (nausea and vomiting) and food cravings. Below, we offer some tips to support you through your pregnancy and reduce these symptoms!

Morning Sickness

Approximately 50-90 percent of women experience nausea and vomiting in their pregnancy, and 5 percent of women have the same symptoms throughout the entire pregnancy, per The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Unfortunately, science hasn’t proven the exact cause of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. However, the elevated pregnancy hormone, BHCG, and estrogen may be a contributing factor, in addition to unbalanced blood sugars. (Mayo clinic)

We have some tips for you in surviving nausea and vomiting in pregnancy:

  • Eat several small meals a day, and don’t skip breakfast. Many women need to have a few rice crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Avoid triggers. If the smell of chicken makes you nauseous, avoid the smell when possible.
  • Don’t lie down after eating.
  • An empty stomach can contribute to nausea so try to eat regularly. Plan small snacks throughout your day to avoid long periods of time without eating.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods such as pizza, french fries and burgers.
  • Consider using anti-nausea wristbands. These bands are placed on your wrist to trigger pressure points that may alleviate nausea.
  • Use ginger, nature’s anti-nausea remedy. There are many options including ginger , ginger candies or ginger tea. Use ginger candies sparingly as the do contain sugar.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin B6, which can be found in foods such as spinach, bell peppers, garlic, tuna and cauliflower has been shown to help decrease nausea.
  • Change the time of day you take your prenatal vitamins. Take your prenatal vitamins in the morning, afternoon or night.
  • Try to get plenty of rest.
  • To combat nausea, try reaching for cold foods—hot bites are more likely to have an aroma that triggers your gag reflex.
  • Keep lemons on hand. Sniff them, squeeze them in drinking water or even lick slices—the refreshing smell and taste can calm your stomach when morning sickness hits. Lemon and other citrus essential oils can have a similar effect.


No one really knows why pregnancy cravings occur, though there are theories that it may be related to nutrient needs in the mother or baby and the craving is the body’s way of asking for what it needs. For example, craving fries can actually mean the person might be needing sodium, craving ice cream could be the need for increased calcium or fat, and craving chocolate might indicate a need for magnesium.

Our taste buds do actually play a role in how we interpret our body’s needs. Studies show that the high hormone levels present during pregnancy can alter both a woman’s sense of taste and smell. So, certain foods and odours can, not only be more enticing, but in some cases more offensive; a problem that often plays out as a pregnancy food aversion.

While some pregnancy cravings can certainly seem a bit odd, in most instances, they don’t represent any real threat to mother or the baby. This, however, can change dramatically, when the craving is for a non-food item. The condition, known as pica, can lead to an overwhelming desire to consume any number of substances, some of which can be extremely harmful to both mother and baby. During pregnancy a woman can crave – and eat – things like dirt, laundry starch, crayons, ground-up clay pots, or ice scraped from the freezer. While pica (eating non-nutritive substances) is not well understood, sometimes these cravings represent a nutritional deficiency, particularly a need for iron, there are no studies to prove this is always the case. Among the most dangerous aspects of pica is the consumption of lead, particularly when women eat dirt or clay. This can lead to infant and child developmental problems with low verbal IQ scores, impaired hearing, and delayed motor skill development. Other research has shown an increased risk of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders in infant exposure to lead before birth (Webmed).

It is important if you do have cravings to think about the food that you are craving and what nutrients it may have that you could be needing. With this information, you can make a plan to switch out what typically might be an unhealthy craving to something that is more nutritious, and feed your body with the nutrients it requires. For example, if you are craving ice cream you might be needing calcium and fat, so you could switch out your sugar-loaded ice cream with organic full-fat Greek yoghurt with frozen berries. The latter is much better for you and your baby as it offers more nutrients, less sugar, and can help maintaining balanced blood sugar levels and a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

In Summary

We don’t have all the answers as to why nausea, vomiting and food cravings are so common during pregnancy. But, we there are many available strategies to help manage and resolve these symptoms.

If you need help navigating these, or any other pregnancy symptoms, or just want to optimize your nutrition during pregnancy – book an appointment with Koru Nutrition today!


1. Wilson RD, et al. (2015). Pre-conception folic acid and multivitamin supplementation for the primary and secondary prevention of neural tube defects and other folic acid-sensitive congenital anomalies. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 324. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada37(6): 534–549. http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/gui324CPG1505E.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2015.

Nutrition for Pregnancy 101

Nutrition for Pregnancy 101

Mental Health Gut Article

It can be an amazing experience to get pregnant and know that you are growing a life. But it can also be overwhelming as you begin considering what you can and can’t do, and what you can and can’t eat to ensure the health of both you and the new person growing inside of you.

To maintain a healthy pregnancy, you must be consuming approximately 300 extra calories each day. Ideally, these calories will come from a balanced diet of protein-rich foods, quality fats and oils, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Sweets and processed fats should be kept to a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet can also help to reduce some pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, nausea and constipation.

So what is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

In general, weight gain occurs as approximately 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months you’re pregnant and 1 pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy. If you are expecting twins you should gain 35 to 45 pounds during your pregnancy. This would be an average of 1 ½ pounds per week after the usual weight gain in the first three months.

But where does all this extra weight gain go? Here is the break down:

What To Eat To Support Pregnancy

As mentioned above,  eating a balanced diet with a variety of whole foods helps ensure that you are getting the full spectrum of nutrients to support you and your baby’s development. Consuming whole grains, clean and lean cuts of meat, good quality fish high in omega 3, raw nuts and seeds and lots of fruits and vegetables, are all really important. Some key nutrients and foods that are needed are highlighted below.

Eat Your Fruits And Vegetables

No surprise here! We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy for us! Set yourself the goal of “eating the rainbow”. Consume bright coloured fruits and vegetables of all different colours to get a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Pregnant women should focus on fruits and vegetables, , and consume between five and 10 tennis ball-size servings of produce every day.


Folate is a naturally-occurring B-vitamin that taken or consumed before and during early pregnancy reduces the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect or other birth defects.

Foods high in folate include:

Romaine lettuce 2 cups = 152mcg
1 cup of spinach = 262 mcg
1 cup of asparagus = 262mcg
broccoli 1 cup = 93 mcg
lentils 1 cup = 358 mcg.

Taking folate or folic acid (the man-made version of folate) daily in a dose of at least 400 mcg for at least 2 to 3 months before trying to get pregnant and while you are pregnant is generally recommended for reducing birth defects and risk of anemia (2). Folic acid and/or folate are found in prenatal supplements. Some women need higher doses, and some women don’t synthesize folic acid into folate efficiently. Talk with your health professional about how much and what type of supplementation may be right for you.


You will need more iron during your pregnancy than you did before becoming pregnant. This extra iron supports the creation of additional blood in your system and supports the growth of the placenta and fetus.

Pregnant women are recommended to consume 27mg of iron a day, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting, according to ACOG. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections. Most prenatal vitamins include iron.

There are two main types of iron, heme from meat sources and non-heme from vegetable sources. Meat sources are more easily absorbed into the body than vegetarian sources. But that doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from the vegetable sources!

Foods high in Iron include:

spinach 1 cup = 6.4mg,
swiss chard 1 cup = 35mg
lentils 1 cup = 6.6 mg

heme sources:
3 ounces of cooked beef = 2.1mg or more
3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil = 2.1mg

Often iron supplementation is recommended in addition to consuming iron-rich foods. However, some iron supplements can cause an upset stomach and constipation, depending on the form of iron present. Taking iron at bedtime may decrease the chance of stomach upset, as can using a more gentle formula. The body absorbs iron best in small amounts when eaten with vitamin C, so you may want to take your iron throughout the day in lower doses. Unfortunately, taking iron supplements in the first trimester may aggravate morning sickness. If morning sickness, constipation or upset stomach are a concern for you, talk to your health care provider, as there are many forms of available that may be better tolerated.


Calcium is needed for the development of your baby’s bones. You can get enough calcium in your diet by eating or drinking a variety of foods. Pregnant women age 19 and over need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.

Sources of calcium include:
Swiss chard 1 cup = 101.5mg
spinach 1c up = 245mg
= 447mg
Broccoli 1 cup = 74 mg
basil 2 tsp = 63mg

Calcium-fortified soy and rice beverages, canned fish with bones (such as salmon and sardines) and cooked beans, legumes, and lentils, are all good sources of calcium as well.

The Takeaways

To help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby ensure you’re consuming approximately 300 extra calories per day from whole food sources including “eating the rainbow” of fruits and vegetables every day. Focus on consuming or supplementing with enough folate, iron and calcium.

For more information to guide you through your pregnancy journey, please schedule an appointment with Koru nutrition today.

Asian-Inspired Beef & Broccoli

Asian-Inspired Beef & Broccoli

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

Whether you are pregnant and looking for an iron-rich meal that won’t turn your stomach, or just really busy and need a quick and easy to prepare (but healthy!) meal – this Beef & Broccoli recipe has got you covered!

Some of the most important nutrients during pregnancy are:

  • iron
  • calcium, and
  • folate.

This recipe contains 3mg of iron, which equates to approximately 11% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for pregnant women and approximately 16% RDA for most adults; 115mg of calcium, which is approximately 10% RDA for pregnant women and 12% RDA for other adults; plus 103mcg of folate, which is approximately 17% RDA for pregnant women and about 26% RDA for all other adults.

This Beef and Broccoli dish also contains ginger, which not only tastes great, but can help with indigestion and nausea (from pregnancy or otherwise).

Also highlighted in this recipe is tons of broccoli which is a superfood and high in fibre and many other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Because it is quick to prepare, taking only 15 minutes, it is a great option if you are feeling tired and fatigued.

This recipe is for 2 servings sizes, but you could easily double the recipe to have leftovers the next day or to serve your whole family. You can store leftovers sealed in the fridge for up to 3 days.

This Beef and Broccoli dish can also be served on a bed of brown rice or cauliflower rice.


Chinese Beef & Broccoli

Whether you are pregnant and looking for an iron-rich meal that won’t turn your stomach, or just really busy and need a quick and easy to prepare (but healthy!) meal – this Beef & Broccoli recipe has got you covered!
Prep Time 6 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings


  • 2⅔ fl ozs Bone Broth
  • 2 tbsps Coconut Aminos
  • 1 tsp Ginger fresh, minced
  • 1 Clove Garlic fresh, minced
  • 1 tsp Sambal optional
  • 1 tbsp Tapicoa Starch
  • ½ tsp Avocado Oil
  • ½ tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 10 ozs Flank Steak sliced against the grain
  • 3 cups Broccoli florets, chopped
  • Sesame Seeds to Garnish


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, coconut aminos, garlic, ginger tapioca starch and sambal, if using, until no clumps remain.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the avocado oil. Once it is hot, add the steak slices and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sauce to the pan and cook for an additional minute. Add the broccoli, stir in sesame oil, then cover and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds, serve and enjoy!


Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 425
Carbs: 17g
Fibre: 4g
Sugar: 6g
Protein: 52g
Fat: 17g