Food cravings and aversions during pregnancy: relationships with nausea and vomiting

Appetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):45-51. doi: 10.1006/appe.2002.0470.


Food cravings and food aversions are common during pregnancy. A mechanism that may explain these changes in food preference is taste aversion learning. Accordingly, this study examined the temporal association between the first occurrences of nausea, vomiting, food cravings and food aversions during pregnancy. Ninety-nine women completed a questionnaire that asked about the occurrence, timing of first onset, duration, strength and targets of these symptoms. Nausea and vomiting were reported by 80% and 56% of the women, food cravings and aversions by 61% and 54% respectively. Although more women experienced both food cravings and aversions than either symptom alone, cravings and aversions were statistically unrelated. There was a significant positive correlation between week of onset of nausea and of aversions. In 60% of women reporting both nausea and food aversions, the first occurrence of each happened in the same week of pregnancy. No such association was found for cravings. These retrospective accounts provide good support for taste aversion learning as a mechanism for the development of some but not all food aversions during pregnancy. Prospective data are needed to confirm these temporal relationships and to assist understanding of the emergence of food cravings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Nausea / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Vomiting / psychology*