Eating for two, craving pickles and ice cream, ah yes, the joys of pregnancy, but these little joys are creating a generation of children with more health issues than the previous generation. Its not good enough to just “eat well” when you are pregnant, recent studies are showing that what women eat during pregnancy will have a lifetime effect on the child. Diseases such as diabetes, asthma, liver and pancreas disorders, anxiety and depression, decreased bone density and immune function are more evident in children when mom did not have a healthy diet during their pregnancy.
There are three main factors which impact the health of your child later in life. Obesity of the mother, eating high fat, and high glycemic index foods. Of course, these are all inter-related.
So, obesity increases the likelihood of obesity. Seems pretty simple. Being obese means your BMI is >30. There are several websites where you can find this information for yourself. Carrying that extra weight is like carrying your own inflammation factory. The fat cells send out inflammation signals to the body. These signals tell your body to raise blood pressure, plaque formation causing heart and blood vessel diseases, and risk for type-2 diabetes. It goes to reason that these inflammatory messages are carried to the unborn child.
Obese moms, specifically, intensify the risk of their children having problems with their pancreas, and anxiety and depression. The pancreas is partially responsible for digesting food and balancing blood sugar. Both of these functions are critical to be healthy. Changes in brain development cause anxiety, depression and spatial learning challenges.
High fat diets alone or in combination with high glycemic index diets also emerge as major factors in the long term health of your child. It’s easy to see these are the same diets that are detrimental to your health. High fat and high glycemic index foods have lead to the rise in obesity and the other chronic disorders.
The glycemic index tells us how fast a particular food is going to raise your blood sugar. Think of processed foods in plastic bags or wrappers. When your blood sugar rises quickly more insulin is needed to normalize the blood sugar. The more insulin produced over time leads to increased triglycerides, and more fat storage - that’s right - weight gain! Typically this weight gain is around the waist which is not only unhealthy but promotes more insulin release and inflammation. A vicious circle promoting more obesity. Again it makes sense these signals are carried to the fetus.
The conditions that are specifically attributed to high fat and high glycemic index in the next generation are type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity to asthma, decreased bone density, and diminished immune function are found in the research. Also found in the literature were an increased incidence of liver and pancreas disorders. .
The outcomes of poor nutrition are devastating for your child and the future generation. Simple lifestyle modifications will make you healthier and positively impact your legacy. So, choose the pickles, but watch out for the ice cream while you are pregnant.
Obesity, high fat and high glycemic index foods cause many health issues in the next generation. Diseases such as diabetes, asthma, liver and pancreas disorders, anxiety and depression, decreased bone density and immune function are more evident in children when mom did not have a healthy diet during their pregnancy. So, what should a pregnant women eat? And how can she reduce the degree of impact on her unborn child?
Common sense needs to prevail. If you are obese and pregnant, keep your weight gain to a minimum of 15-25 pounds. Typically, junk food like chips, fast food, ice cream, and baked goods like donuts, cookies, and bagels generally have a high glycemic index and are loaded with fat. But decreasing fat is not good enough, the high glycemic index still exists in those foods. Also, most low fat products have increased sugar and carbohydrates to make up for the flavor lost by decreasing the fat. The food pyramid is also not helpful as it encourages this high glycemic intake. Use the following recommendations to reduce calories and promote a healthy fetus that won’t suffer from diseases caused by poor nutrition.

  • Eat small frequent meals. Eating a small amount of protein(low-fat mozzarella cheese stick, cottage cheese, or left-over lean meat) and a vegetable(some pre-cut baby carrots or celery) or low glycemic fruit, like berries or an apple(not bananas and grapes), every 4 hours will level your blood sugar. Level blood sugar prevents craving and energy crashes. It also promotes healthy insulin levels, preventing further weight gain, and reducing the potential for diabetes.
  • Stay hydrated. During pregnancy 3 liters(quarts) of water is a normal amount. The volume of blood in the pregnant mom increases up to 50%, and carries 33% more red blood cells. Also, the fluid surrounding the baby increases as the fetus grows.
  • Getting adequate protein is necessary. No less than 80 grams or 12 ounces per day. That looks like a lot but when its divided into small portions through the day its only about 2-3 ounces 4-5 times per day. Two ounces is about half the size of the palm of your hand. All of a sudden it doesn’t seem like that much!
  • Plenty of fiber is also key to staying full and satisfied. Vegetables and fruit, not only contain more vitamins and minerals than processed foods, but also contain more fiber! Cereals and breads usually only have 1-3 gr of fiber per serving, whereas a 1/3 cup serving of beans contains over 5 grams. Substituting beans for grains is smart, use a 1/3 cup measure to maintain portion sizes. Also, apples and berries contain higher fiber than most cereals and breads.
  • Reduce cereal, bagel and bread consumption. These are generally highly processed, and high on the glycemic index, even the “whole grain” versions. One serving per day is adequate. Make sure the bread or cereal you eat has at least 5 g of fiber per serving.
  • Good supplementation will require more than “one-a-day” prenatal. It is important to get enough iron, EPA/DHA omega-3 fish oil, choline, calcium/magnesium, vitamin D and a multi-vitamin to adequately provide nutrients to mom and the developing fetus. Find a good nutritionist or chiropractor who specializes in nutrition to help you figure out exactly what you need.
  • Light exercise, especially is you are not used to exercising. Walking 30 minutes a day, everyday, prevents more chronic disease than all of the drugs combined. Just do it!
  • Treat yourself! Instead of buying large containers of junk food or ice cream. Make a special trip to the store for a single-serving size of whatever you are craving. You will think twice and the serving size will be appropriate!
  • We all care about the health of our children. You can make a major impact on their lifetime health, and yours, when you take control of what is in your control - food choices. Choose wisely now, and you and your child will be able to celebrate long healthy lives.

    Dr Kristina Sargent is a chiropractic physician with a Master’s in Advanced Clinical Practice and 18 years experience.  Her mission is to engage, educate and empower people to take control of their health to prevent chronic diseases and lead successful lives, through serving people with alternatives to medication.  Her toolbox includes personalized diet recommendations, weight loss, exercise, chiropractic care, positive thoughts, prayer and meditation, and massage therapy. Her office, Restor Healing Centre, is located in Wheaton, Il.  The website is .
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