Sticking to a healthy diet can be a struggle for a lot of us. In my own experience, there are times when my diet gets off track — especially holidays. When I was pregnant, as an older mom, I had some issues with borderline gestational diabetes. Once I learned of the relationship between not managing my blood sugars and the risks for my child, I found willpower I never had before despite my last trimester occurring from the start of Halloween candy season, through Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies, and right up to Valentine’s chocolate time! In many ways, this was the moment where I first stepped up as a mom, putting my own wants aside for my child’s needs.
New research, however, makes a compelling case for all expecting moms to eat well, not just those of us who have special circumstances. Previously, I covered insights on the relationship between your healthy diet while pregnant and lowering your child’s risk of Type II diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as decreasing the your child’s risk of autism.
Here are three more top reasons to eat healthy while you are pregnant:
You Can Give Your Child a Higher I.Q. Consider eating more organic produce while you are pregnant. Three separate studies, funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, point to a relationship between pesticide exposure for pregnant moms and a significant decrease in IQ for their children. For every 10-fold increase of a mother’s exposure to organophosphates — the class of pesticides studied — her child had an average drop of 5.5 I.Q. points. Researchers compared the impact of pesticide exposure to the similar discovery of the effects of lead on children’s I.Q.s.
If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce, try purchasing organic for the fruits and vegetables on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list. These items tend to contain the most pesticide residues. EWG also has a “Clean Fifteen” list of non-organic produce varieties that have the least pesticide residue.
You Can Lower Your Daughter’s Risk of Early Onset Puberty A high fat diet during pregnancy may also be linked to risk of early-onset puberty for your daughter. Girls who experience early puberty have a higher rate of obesity, insulin resistance, teenage depression, and breast cancer in adulthood.
The study, from The Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, also indicated that your diet during pregnancy has more influence on the risk of early onset puberty than even your daughter’s own diet after birth.
And, Yes, You Can Help Your Child Become a Less Picky Eater Before your child was old enough to demand mac and cheese, the foods you ate during pregnancy already set some taste preferences for your child by “flavoring” the amniotic fluid, according to research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. In the study, infants whose mothers who drank carrot juice every day during pregnancy or while breastfeeding preferred cereal made with carrot juice instead of water when they first were able to eat cereals. Pregnancy may just be the easiest time in your child’s life to get her to eat her vegetables!
There is one more reason to eat healthy during pregnancy — your own health! Pregnancy is hard work for us moms, along with the months ahead of minimal sleep and breastfeeding your newborn. By eating well for ourselves, we can help give our little ones a stronger, healthier mom.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations
Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.