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Dieting During pregnancy
Dieting During Pregnancy and Child Obesity Risk Linked

Brand new Childhood Obesity research suggests that a diet while pregnant could mean your child will end up obese. A healthy balanced diet during pregnancy seems to be one of the ways we can start preventing child obesity. WLR guest writer, Cara Frost-Sharratt investigates . . .

Dieting During Pregnancy and Child Obesity Risk Linked

By WLR Guest Writer, Cara Frost-Sharratt

Scientists have discovered that women who diet while they are pregnant could be putting their unborn children at risk of becoming obese during childhood.

It is believed that less nutrition entering the womb sends signals to the baby’s developing fat cells. It causes a chemical imbalance that can trigger weight problems in later life.

While this sounds like a contradiction, it actually makes sense and it is yet another example of how the body works and the care that needs to be taken when dieting.

Diets While Pregnant

Pregnant women often try and cut down on their fat intake in order to remain fit and healthy during pregnancy and to try and limit the amount of weight they put on.

However, it’s actually essential for mums-to-be to gain a certain amount of weight over and above that of the baby. Whilst the baby does account for some pregnancy weight gain, most of it is actually from other elements such as the placenta, amniotic fluid, fat reserves and the extra blood in circulation around the body.

As a rough guide, most women put on 22-28lbs during their pregnancy and, although it sounds like a lot, a large proportion of this is shed in the delivery room.

Eating Healthily

There’s a fine line between eating healthily and actually going on a diet. Whilst it’s obviously very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet when pregnant, it is also equally important to provide the right environment for the baby to develop.

A pregnant woman requires a greater number of daily calories – fat being an important component – so dieting while pregnant is not advisable on any level. The body is experiencing such a change in its chemical and hormonal make-up that it would be crazy for a woman to disrupt the balance by embarking on a diet at this stage in her life. 

Eating for Two

The old phrase, ‘I’m eating for two’, used to cover a multitude of sins with regards to excess consumption but we’re now far more aware of nutrition and health, particularly when it comes to foetal development. Whilst there’s no need to literally double the daily food intake, most women find that they do need to eat more than usual.

In the past, it was the perfect excuse to hoover up lorry loads of chocolate and biscuits, and while this isn’t a great eating regime to follow during pregnancy, the phrase itself can still act as a reminder that now is not the time to be dieting. It is far more beneficial to both mum and baby to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that caters for a developing baby and a pregnant woman’s nutrition and energy requirements.

Future Eating Habits

The food consumed during pregnancy can have a direct impact on the future eating habits of the unborn child, so although dieting is out, junk food should be limited. Research has shown that babies get a taste for certain foods while in the womb and a propensity for processed foods with a high fat and sugar content could be just as detrimental to future health problems as a lack of nutrients.

Celebrity Supermums

The situation isn’t helped by the constant media bombardment of celebrity baby stories. Women are led to believe that they should be shedding the baby weight within hours of leaving hospital.

However, instead of parading around the park in a tight-fitting jumpsuit with a new bundle of joy, the reality is more akin to padding around in posset-stained pyjamas after a sleepless night.

Most women don’t have the luxury of full-time nannies, chefs and personal trainers and, although every woman would love to get back into shape once the baby arrives, there’s often little time to think about dieting and exercise for the first few months.

The Upside

The upside is that a lot of baby weight comes off naturally. Breastfeeding is the body’s way to shift some unwanted pounds, while dashing around looking after a demanding infant is a great workout in itself.

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