For years, women thought of pregnancy as a time when they could eat whatever they wanted with no guilt. Then studies and research started to appear warning of possible health effects on unborn children related to their mother’s weight and eating habits during pregnancy, and what was once a straightforward issue became a confusing one. Really, though, it’s just a matter of the terminology you use and how you address your pregnancy eating habits.
Pregnancy is Not the Time for Weight Loss
The word “diet” carries a whole lot of mental baggage with it. It’s a term that implies weight loss, denying yourself treats and consuming fewer calories. You don’t have to be an OB/GYN, though, to realize that consuming fewer calories is not the way to go when you are pregnant.
This doesn’t mean that nutrition during pregnancy isn’t an important issue, but your focus should be more on making sure that you consume the right foods. In fact, some recent research has shown that if you are focused on counting calories during pregnancy, the effect may end up being the opposite of what you were hoping for.
The study came out of the UK’s University of Manchester, and its findings indicate why pregnancy and dieting probably don’t go together. Specifically, researchers discovered that when the nutrition patterns of sheep were changed at the time of conception or during early pregnancy, those changes actually altered the DNA of the unborn sheep, changing the way they processed substances like glucose.
The eventual effect of this was diabetes and obesity in the sheep as they grew up. According to Dr. Gerald Weissman, editor of “The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” where the study was published, “we are what our mothers ate.”
Focus on Pregnancy Nutrition Rather Than Dieting
When you’re pregnant, eat plenty of fiber, calcium and green vegetables, and make sure to take your prenatal vitamins. Iron, vitamin C, calcium and folic acid are all important to the growth and health of your baby.
Beyond that, just remember that weight you gain during pregnancy is directly related to the child you are carrying. Any “extra weight” was likely there before you got pregnant, and you should wait to try to lose it until afterward.
Most importantly, if you have concerns about your pregnancy weight gain, keep in touch with your OB/GYN or midwife for monitoring and nutritional suggestions. No study or journal article can substitute for care from a licensed medical practitioner.