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Hyperemesis Gravidarum Diet


Hyperemesis Gravidarum Diet

More than 50% of all pregnant women experience some morning sickness, but only 2% develop hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious condition often leading to dehydration and malnutrition.

The exact cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is unknown, but it may result from:

  • High levels of human chorionic gonadotropin
  • Increased estrogen levels
  • Pregnancy-induced changes to the gastrointestinal symptom
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety
  • Consumption of a high-fat diet
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori

Risk factors
Risk factors include:

  • First pregnancy
  • Carrying more than one baby
  • Younger than 24 years of age
  • Carrying a female fetus
  • Nausea in previous pregnancies
  • Obesity

Hyperemesis gravidarum results in severe nausea and persistent, excessive vomiting. Other symptoms include:

  • Losing more than 5 pounds in 1 or 2 weeks
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Urinating infrequently
  • Developing a pallor
  • Becoming jaundice

Before diagnosis
Before a diagnosis is made, your health care provider may test for gastrointestinal problems, thyroid problems, liver problems, neurological disorders, and other conditions. Sometimes urine and blood tests are used to determine if you are dehydrated.

If you are vomiting more than two or three times a day, a clear liquid diet generally is recommended. If you are vomiting less than this, the following tips may help:

  • Eat small amounts of food frequently, instead of trying to eat three large meals
  • Try small portions of the following foods:
    Baked or mashed potatoes
    Melba toast
    Unsalted pretzels
    Vanilla wafers
    Rice cakes
    Cream of wheat
    Dry cereals
    Plain pastalain rice
  • If you have not vomited for 2−3 days, see if you can tolerate the following foods:
    Baked skinless chicken
    Baked fish
    Lean meats
    Fruit cocktail
    Low-fat and mildly flavored cheeses and cottage cheese
    Ice pops
    Italian ice
    Low-fat puddings
  • Add salt to food (if needed), but avoid adding fat, which sometimes worsens symptoms
  • Avoid fatty foods, such as:
    Whole milk products
    Processed meats
  • Do not eat and drink at the same time, instead drink your fluids between your meals and snacks
  • Do not drink more than 1 cup of fluid at a time
  • Try drinking pure (100%) fruit juice or lemonade, which may help to relieve nausea
  • Eat slowly and thoroughly chew all foods
  • Do not lie down for at least 2 hours after eating
  • Avoid strongly spiced or highly aromatic foods
  • See if you tolerate cold foods better than hot foods
  • Talk to your doctor about taking a ginger supplement—some people have reported relief with taking 250 milligrams of ginger daily
    Note: Always talk to your physician before initiating any supplements or medications
  • Consider eating a small snack before bed—this may reduce morning nausea
  • Know that strongly flavored vegetables may worsen symptoms, including:

Other treatments

  • Antacids and antiemetics are sometimes prescribed
  • Antihistamines may help to improve nausea and motion sickness
  • Vitamin B6 supplements or injections may help
  • Medications, such as metoclopramide, help to increase the rate that food moves from the stomach into the intestines
  • Severe cases of hyperemesis gravidarum result in hospitalization in order to provide the necessary intravenous (IV) fluids, glucose, electrolytes, vitamins, and nutritional supplementation
  • Your physician also may monitor vitamin levels, because deficiencies of thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin A, and retinol-binding proteins can result from excessive vomiting


References and recommended readings Hyperemesis diet.
Available at:
Accessed April 4, 2011.

The Ohio State University Medical Center. Hyperemesis diet (dry diet).
Available at:
Accessed April 4, 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Hyperemesis gravidarum.
Available at:
Accessed April 4, 2011.


Review Date 5/11




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