Let’s say you’ve enjoyed raisins on your cereal for years, and always looked forward to corn on the cob in the summer. Suddenly, now that you’re in perimenopause or menopause, you find that you’ve developed food aversion to both of these foods, and several others as well. What’s going on?
What is food aversion?
A food aversion is a strong dislike or disgust for a specific food. Individuals with a food aversion may gag or are nauseous when they smell, see, or taste that food. An aversion to a particular food may develop gradually or suddenly and occurs because the brain tells you that the food is inedible and must be avoided.
Food aversion occurs most often among children and pregnant women. However, it also can affect women in perimenopause and menopause.
How is food aversion associated with menopause?
As levels of estrogen decline, it can impact how you feel about certain foods. Something you once greatly enjoyed could suddenly cause you to feel nauseous. In fact, nausea is a symptom of menopause in some women, and it can mimic morning sickness associated with pregnancy in some women.
The mucous membranes in your mouth change when estrogen levels fall, and this can affect your taste buds. Favorite foods may taste completely different than they used to.
If you experience a metallic taste in your mouth, this is an indication of low zinc levels. Insufficient levels of zinc can have an effect on taste and smell. When your sense of smell is poor (like when you have a cold), it commonly follows that your sense of taste changes or goes away.
One more way declining estrogen can affect your sense of taste is that it causes a drop in saliva production, which in turn makes your mouth drier. Dry mouth can affect sense of taste.
How to manage food aversion naturally
A food aversion can go away on its own without taking any action. However, if it is disturbing you or it is disrupting your life, you can try these tips:
- Remove the offending item(s) from your home. If there are other individuals in your home who enjoy these foods, ask if they can consume them when you are not around or only have them when they eat out.
- Slowly expose yourself to the food, and over time you can overcome your aversion.
- Depending on the food, you can add it to dishes or smoothies that you enjoy
- If you are experiencing nausea, drink ginger tea before you have a meal. This can help ease your digestive system.
- If you have a metallic taste in your mouth, then you may have a zinc deficiency. Taking a zinc supplement daily (no more than 30 mg) can help restore zinc levels and the disagreeable taste to disappear.
When to call your doctor
An aversion to one or several foods typically isn’t cause for concern. However, if your food aversion leads to a nutritional deficiency, then talk to your healthcare provider about how to ensure you are getting adequate nourishment.
A food aversion can affect women in perimenopause and menopause. Overtime, as the body adjusts to the hormonal changes, such aversions typically go away.