Beans for Pregnancy Nausea

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the… less you puke?

Hello 2009
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When I read about Karen Hurd and her “Bean Cure” on Life in a Shoe, I almost tracked down my husband then and there to see if I could get pregnant and test it out.

What if the months and months of vomiting and unrelenting, 24/7 nausea I felt in all my pregnancies was as easy to fix as… eating beans?

Oddly, I often craved Mexican food while I was pregnant, and it always made me feel better. I chalked it up to the steak. (Welcome to Moe’s!) But perhaps it was really the beans!


I took a pregnancy test first thing this morning and it was positive. I ate beans several times today.

According to Karen, the nausea a pregnant woman feels is due to the hCG’s impact on bile production. (hCG is that handy dandy hormone that you test for when you pee on a stick.) hCG is responsible for sustaining the pregnancy. That’s why women who experience nausea are less likely to miscarry – it’s a sign of “good strong hormones”.

hCG increases bile flow. It’s the bile that makes you feel sick. What’s worse, as bile picks up more toxins in your body (that’s its job, by the way, to help you digest fats and clean out your innards), those toxins kind of keep flowing through, making you feel worse and worse.

From Karen Hurd’s website:

“Bile is used in the digestion of the fats that we eat. Bile is also the vehicle that the liver uses to rid the body of fat-soluble toxins.”

The fix?

Eat beans.

Beans contain a lot of soluble fiber, which BIND to the nasty bile and take it out, courtesy of your poo. Pooping isn’t particularly easy during pregnancy thanks to our other friend progesterone, which slooooooows everything doooooown. This is so your body can get the maximum “oomph” from the food you eat, but it also has the effect of making you constipated. Beans can help with that too!

What kind of beans clean the bile and help pregnancy nausea?

“They are pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, navy beans, black beans, lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans, to name just a few. Legumes are not green beans, wax beans, or soy beans.”

(From this page on Karen Hurd’s website, about gallbladders. Also highly recommended reading. By the way if you’re curious about Karen Hurd, her education and credentials, you can find that info on her website.)

As soon as the nausea hit me this time (literally the day after I got a positive pregnancy test) I started eating beans. I usually feel better within minutes.

Y’all might be thinking this is the placebo effect. Honey, I DON’T CARE. If it works it works. Besides, during my pregnancies I’ve tried every “morning sickness” remedy known. None of them worked for me. Some took the edge off a little, but nothing made me feel instantly better like eating beans has.

By this point, I’ve been eating beans about 6 times a day for 3 weeks. Honestly they’re about the last thing I desire. But beans have become my friend because they really do help.

The nausea gets pretty bad if I go too long without beans. My mouth keeps filling up with spit the way it does before you vomit. Except I’m not vomiting. I keep hoping this isn’t because I’m not far enough along yet to start puking, and is because of the action of the beans. I’ve never NOT vomited at this point in a pregnancy.

So, to recap:

  • Pregnancy makes you produce hCG
  • hCG makes you  produce more bile
  • Extra bile makes you nauseated
  • Dirty, recirculating bile makes you even more sick
  • Soluble fiber in beans binds to bile
  • Bile is pooped out with soluble fiber
  • Beans have far more soluble fiber than other foods
  • Eat beans = cleaner bile, less bile = less nausea!

The page on gallbladder disease recommends eating 3 cups of beans daily, spread out into 6 1/2 cup servings. The point of this is to keep the soluble fiber in the body at all times so it can soak up and bind with the dirty bile. Eventually there will be only clean bile!

I’ve been eating beans as soon as I wake up (around 5 am), then again every time I eat. I eat about 1/4 – 1/2 cup at a time. When I run errands, I take a commuter coffee cup and… fill it with beans. :-)

I bought Katie’s Everything Beans book to get more ideas on incorporating beans into my meal planning. It’s fine to just sit down with a bowl of beans, thankfully I love beans. But as the pregnancy progresses and my food aversions get stronger, it will be more difficult, I’m sure.

Here are a few more tips for eating beans for pregnancy nausea:

  • Try a variety of beans. I’ve found that my favorite is pintos. If I eat one variety too often I begin to develop an aversion and eating them isn’t as pleasant. So mix it up. Limas, blackeyed peas, butter beans, white beans, black beans, kidney beans, pintos… there are plenty to try.
  • Add spice. I find that a dash of Tabasco makes my early morning beans much more palatable.
  • Hummus. Buy the plain (no garlic) variety and nosh on raw veggies and pita chips.
  • Skip the onions and garlic. While the addition of those two ingredients normally makes beans yummy, most pregnant women are sensitive to them during the first few months.
  • Hide the beans. Eat them with chili, with huevos rancheros, in soups, in pasta (blend them with sauces), even in brownies! Yes, you can hide black beans in brownies. There’s a recipe in the Everything Beans books! I bet you could even hide white beans in a smoothie.
  • Add chips. The salty and crispy crunch of a tortilla chip to scoop up beans gets them down a little easier.
  • Legumes, le fumes? If you’re worried about gas, get over it. Pregnant women fart a lot anyway. Your body will adjust to the extra beans in a day or two. And you can reduce the gassiness by soaking your beans for 24 hours and cooking them slowly in a slow cooker.
  • Just do it. Force yourself to eat them if you have to. Distract yourself. I often eat my beans while I’m reading or browsing something interesting online. I promise you’ll feel better. Isn’t it better than vomiting?

At this point in my pregnancies I was nearly incapacitated with severe nausea and vomiting. I didn’t leave the house for weeks, cooking was almost impossible, forget cleaning or keeping to any kind of schedule. The bean thing is definitely helping me. I wish I could say that it’s a cure, and Karen Hurd seems to imply that it is on her website, but it isn’t – at least not for me. I still have nausea in the background 24 hours a day, and sometimes it’s severe, but eating beans makes me feel better. I’m able to clean, cook and do school with the kids. This is a definite blessing for me!

Another bonus about beans: the constipation that plagues many women during their pregnancy? Let’s just say that it is definitely NOT an issue when you’re eating all these beans!

Have you heard about eating beans for pregnancy nausea? Did you try it? What else helped you deal with pregnancy nausea and vomiting?

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9 Responses to Beans for Pregnancy Nausea

  1. Cynthia says:

    Carrie, Vitamin B6 is supposed to help with pregnancy nausea. Beans like kidney, lentils, soybeans and chickpeas are a good source of this vitamin. I would think getting it in real foods and not pill form would be the way to go. This could be just the reason why your nausea is better this time around. By the way, congratulations!

  2. Candi says:

    Very interesting! I wonder if the hcg thing is why I had diarrhea the entire time I was pregnant with both babies. I don’t have a gall bladder to hold the extra bile and it just runs through your intestines, irritating it along the way. Hmmm…definitely makes sense.

  3. This is fascinating! Though I don’t want to get pregnant to see for myself ;) LOL!

    Bile and I are way too intimately acquainted since I had to have my gall bladder removed after my first pregnancy.

  4. First off congratulations. I love babies.

    I like this idea. I just munch a lot during first trimester.

    But this sounds like a good idea. I had bean burritos for dinner tonight (cooked in crockpot with taco seasoning mixture). They were good refried in olive oil and cumin and salt and oddly a dash of oregano (all good mexican recipes benefit from this dash).


  5. Emily says:

    Dang, wish I’d known that. I couldn’t eat very much in my first trimester w/o getting nauseated, but never tried beans.

  6. Sara says:

    Wow – that is definitely not something I would have tried for nausea.

    It makes since though if hcg increases bile flow which makes you nauseated when pregnant that eating something to bind the bile would eliminate or decrease the nausea.

    When I was pregnant I ate saltines to get rid of morning sickness.

    Like Kelly said, I’m not going to get pregnant to test this theory out, I’ll just take your word for it.

  7. Angela Wills says:

    First of all, I actually am one of those weirdos who like beans so this is cool.

    Secondly I’m pretty sure I’m not done having babies so I’ll definitely put it to the test next time.

    Thirdly, the bile thing sounds gross so if I wasn’t going to have morning sickness next time after reading this article I think I will cause I’ll be thinking of bile. Glad I got the bean fix to get be out of that little predicament, lol!

  8. This is so cool. Beans are seriously a wonder food. I need to eat more beans but I’m not too sure HOW to incorporate them into my diet. I will check out that book you recommended. :)

  9. Tiffany says:

    Very interesting! I am lucky that I had no nausea at all with any of my pregnancies but I will remember this for any others who ask about it.

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