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Pregnancy Snacks: Smart Eating for 2

Healthier ways to satisfy those powerful pregnancy munchies.
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Your Pregnancy Diet: Programming Your Children's Health?

Consume too many high-fat, high-sugar foods during pregnancy, however, and you may be putting your child's health at risk, Muhlhausler cautions.

A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition illustrates just that, suggesting pregnant moms who feast on junk food have children with a propensity for packing on pounds.

In the study, pregnant and nursing laboratory rats ate either regular lab chow or a steady diet of biscuits, marshmallows, jam, doughnuts, potato chips, and candy bars. The rats whose moms ate the junk-food diet when pregnant and nursing put on more weight at 10 weeks old than the rats born to moms fed rat chow.

Muhlhausler, who was not involved in the study, says exposure to high levels of blood sugar or fat before birth can alter the development of fat cells, as well as the pathways in the brain that regulate hunger and satiety.

"These individuals are less able to switch off their appetite and stop eating even when they've consumed enough calories," she says. "This makes them more prone to weight gain."

The study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that not only does mom's diet influence her child's appetite and food preferences, but it also shapes the child's risk for chronic conditions other than obesity.

Controlling Pregnancy Cravings

Whatever the cause, every expectant woman knows food cravings are nearly impossible to ignore, whether they're for nutritious foods or unhealthy ones. 

While overwhelming at times, longings for fat-laden foods that may also be rich in sugar and sodium can be curbed using these strategies:

  • Eat on a regular basis to keep blood glucose levels steady. The desire for a sugary pick-me-up may be the result of intense hunger.
  • Stick to a balanced eating plan with adequate calories for your pregnancy, and consider dividing your daily calorie allowance into six small, healthy meals. 
  • Make sure meals supply protein, carbohydrates, and some fat to keep you satisfied. Always start the day off right with a healthy breakfast, such as eggs, whole-grain toast, and a glass of orange juice.
  • Ask yourself this: Am I hungry or just craving comfort? When pregnancy is wearing you down, take a break instead of reaching for a snack. Try a short nap, a 10-minute walk, reading, watching a movie, or anything else that will help you relax, as long as it's safe.
  • Put down a pregnancy craving by indulging in a very small portion. For example, try satisfying your urge for chocolate with a fun-size candy bar rather than a regular-size one.

 

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