Pregnancy triggers ravenous hunger but not for everyone.
Having a bun in the oven usually leads to cravings and an increased appetite. Yet, some women feel turned off of food completely. Why? And what can you do about it?
In this article, we’re discussing why you might be pregnant, not eating, and experiencing a decreased appetite.
Is Appetite Loss Normal? Pregnant Not Eating Food
Most people know that pregnancy can make you furiously hungry, have weird cravings, and develop taste aversions. However, it can also impact your appetite in the opposite way. While many women experience a bigger appetite, some don’t change their eating patterns at all. Others feel their appetite has come to a sudden halt.
If you’re pregnant and not eating food, it may be concerning. When you should be eating more for the baby, why are you eating less?
Fortunately, losing your appetite can be normal during pregnancy. Although you need more nutrients for the baby, your body may go through changes while it adapts.
Your appetite will likely return. If it doesn’t or if you’re unable to eat, contact your doctor. Since your baby needs specific nutrients to develop, eating right during pregnancy is important.
Pregnant Not Eating Food: 7 Causes
If you’re pregnant, not eating food and have a reduced appetite, you’re probably wondering why. There’s a variety of reasons you may want to eat less—instead of more—during pregnancy. Scroll the list of possible causes below and see if you can relate to any.
Whether triggered by taste or smell, an aversion is a food that completely turns you off. They’re one of the biggest reasons for decreased appetite. Between 50% and 90% of pregnant women experience cravings and aversions.
The most common aversions include:
- Caffeinated drinks
Research shows that changes to food cravings and aversions usually happen in the first and third trimesters.
You might wonder why you’ve developed an aversion to a specific food. However, the answer isn’t clear. Some women believe their aversions or cravings are nature’s way of altering their diet, making it healthier for pregnancy. There is no evidence that’s true. You shouldn’t assume your diet is healthy just because you’ve listened to your aversions or cravings.
In fact, it’s possible your aversions could weaken your diet and affect your baby. For example, meats and eggs are a common aversion that can lower your protein intake. Low maternal protein can cause embryo loss, restriction of intrauterine growth, and reduced postnatal growth.
Experts say that a combination of factors likely causes your appetite and preferences to change. That could include biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
#2 Morning Sickness
A second major reason why you might be pregnant not eating food is because of morning sickness. Up to 80% of women experience nausea and vomiting in the first trimester.
There’s a variety of reasons morning sickness may happen. Some experts believe hormones play a large role. For other women, food aversions can trigger vomiting.
In any case, if you feel sick when you eat, eating can become less appealing. If you’re afraid of vomiting, you might only eat when necessary.
#3 Decreased Food = Adjusted Feelings of Fullness
Food aversions and morning sickness are normal. However, if eating less becomes a pattern, it can change your appetite in the long term.
When you eat less food, your body will begin to adjust. Over time, it will take less food to make you feel full. Instead of feeling full after a meal, eating only half may leave you stuffed.
Many people attribute this change in appetite to their “stomach shrinking.” However, your stomach doesn’t actually shrink—it just gets more sensitive to small amounts of food. If this happens, you’ll probably notice a reduced appetite as your body learns to feel full from less food.
It’s important to recognize that even though you feel full, you might not be getting enough nutrients for the baby.
Constipation is another common pregnancy symptom that can affect your appetite. If you’re unable to pass stools normally, you might avoid eating in fear that the problem will worsen. You might also be afraid of the gas pains constipation can cause.
Another reason could be that constipation reduces your appetite. If food stays in your system longer, you might feel fuller longer. When there’s not much room for new food, your body won’t send hunger cues.
#5 Extra Stomach Acid
While you’re expecting, the extra acid in your stomach can create numerous problems. Most commonly, women experience heartburn, AKA acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It can also worsen nausea and vomiting. One lesser-known impact is that it can also decrease your appetite. The excess stomach acid could be making you feel full too quickly.
#6 Mental Health
We’ve covered the physical reasons why you might lose your appetite while expecting. Next, we need to consider that mental health changes could be why you’re pregnant and not eating.
Research has shown that anxiety and depression can lead to appetite changes. Pregnancy can bring about a slew of new emotions. You might experience anxiety about your health, the baby, or upcoming life changes. Pregnancy depression can also reduce your appetite.
#7 Body Image Concerns
Another psychological reason why you might be pregnant and not eating is because of body image concerns.
Most women gain weight during pregnancy; however, it might be difficult to accept. If you’ve experienced body image issues or disordered eating before, pregnancy can trigger these concerns or make them worse.
Knowingly or unknowingly, you may be reducing your food intake to try to limit weight gain.
7 Tips for Those Pregnant Not Eating Food
If you’re pregnant and not eating food, try to pinpoint the cause. When you understand why your appetite has decreased, you can brainstorm possible solutions. Consider the suggestions below.
#1 Pinpoint Your Aversion
If aversions are the reason you’re pregnant and not eating, get specific about the foods you don’t like. For example, maybe you loved spicy foods before but now anything with a kick kills your hunger. Pay attention to other types of aversions too. Perhaps a specific scent or the temperature of food is throwing you off.
#2 Try Morning Sickness Snacks
If the reason you’re pregnant and not eating food is because of morning sickness, explore your options.
After you’ve pinpointed your aversions using the tip above, brainstorm new snack ideas. When you discover foods that don’t turn you off, add them to your daily staples. Make sure to stock up and keep snacks in your purse to ensure you’re frequently eating.
Need ideas? Read 33 Satisfying Pregnancy Snacks Perfect for Morning Sickness
#3 Eat Frequent, Smaller Meals
Instead of eating big meals, break it up into more frequent, smaller meals. This trick is helpful for those experiencing morning sickness or acid reflux.
#4 Take Steps to Reduce Nausea
You probably can’t fully rid yourself of nausea—but you can take steps to reduce the intensity of it. Try a few anti-morning sickness tricks and see what works for you:
- Carry a pleasant scent to sniff when you smell something nauseating
- Stay hydrated
- Take B6 vitamin
- Reduce cybersickness before eating (scrolling through your phone or on the computer)
- Use deep breathing
- Take your prenatal vitamin at a different time of day
Read: 16 Best Morning Sickness Relievers to Ban Nausea
Try Our Acupressure Anti-Nausea Wristband to Alleviate Morning Sickness!
#5 Improve Your Digestion
If you think constipation is affecting your appetite, take steps to get things moving again. You can free up space in your stomach and alleviate constipation by:
- Slowly increasing your fiber intake
- Drinking more water
- Using a poop stool (AKA squatty potty)
- Choosing the right iron supplement (or prenatal with iron)
For more tips on improving constipation, read Constipation in Pregnancy: 7 Fixes
#6 Address Your Mental Health
Pregnancy can be overwhelming and you don’t have to go through it alone. If you suspect you’re pregnant and not eating because of anxiety or depression, reach out for help. Your doctor can recommend a therapist, free community resources, or coping mechanisms.
Also look at science-backed ways to improve your mental health, including:
- Self-guided workbooks
- 7 Actionable Tips to Manage Panic Attacks in Pregnancy
- What’s The Difference Between Postpartum Depression and Baby Blues?
- Pregnancy Worry: 10 Practical Remedies for Anxiety During Pregnancy
- How to Prevent Postpartum Depression Before Delivery: 8 Ways
- Pregnancy Mood Swings: 9 Powerful Remedies
#7 Tackle Disordered Eating
Thoughts about your weight and body image may be affecting your appetite. Whether these are new or old patterns of thinking, pregnancy is a good time to tackle them.
If you’re pregnant and think you may be struggling with disordered eating, talk to your doctor. They can put you in touch with a counselor, nutritionist, and/or community resources.
Talking about body image is difficult and being pregnant can double the shame. Try to remember that other women struggle with disordered eating when pregnant. Along with advice from your healthcare provider, consider joining a support group for moms-to-be with eating disorders.
Summary: Pregnant Not Eating Food
If you’re pregnant, not eating food, and wondering why, there’s a few possible causes. Nausea, constipation, extra stomach acid, and mental health problems can all contribute to changes. To increase your appetite, use the tips above. If your appetite doesn’t go back to normal, contact your doctor. Remember that your baby needs nutrients to develop properly, so eating right is extra important during pregnancy.
P.S. If nausea is causing a lack of appetite, try an acupressure wristband. They’re designed to press your P6 acupressure point, alleviating feelings of sickness.
Is Morning Sickness Wrecking Your Appetite? Try Our Anti-Nausea Wristband!