Pregnancy should be a time to relax, put our swollen feet up and succumb to all those strange cravings–after all, we’re eating for two, right? Not so, according to some researchers who not only think we should only be eating for one, but they also think it’s safe for women to diet during pregnancy. Yes, a diet while pregnant!
According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, a team of brilliant researchers (have any of them ever been pregnant?) looked at 44 previous studies involving more than 7,000 women and concluded that dieting during pregnancy is actually safe for both mom and baby. It seems that out of the three weight-controlling choices: diet with restrictive calories, exercise, or diet with exercise, dieting alone was the best way to gain less weight.
This, they say, prevents excess pounds and cuts the risk of health complications such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes and high blood pressure. And given the fact that 20-40% of women in the U.S. and Europe gain more than the recommended weight during pregnancy, their solution must seem perfectly reasonable in their eyes–just put these overweight fat pregnant women on a diet and everything will be fine.
Dr. Shakila Thangaratinam, a consultant obstetrician at the University of London who led the study justified their back-assward position:
We are seeing more and more women who gain excess weight when they are pregnant and we know these women and their babies are at increased risk of complications.
She went on to say that we shouldn’t be afraid of dieting with a bun in the oven:
Women may be concerned that dieting during pregnancy could have a negative impact on their babies. This research is reassuring because it showed that dieting is safe and that the baby’s weight isn’t affected.
They went on to tout the benefits of all pregnant women eating a sensible diet (not just those who were overweight or obese), which we can’t disagree with (although they called it a “controlled diet” making us wonder if they believe all pregnant women are out of control?). But, instead of a diet mid-way through pregnancy, how about simply advising women to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet all the time? Shouldn’t that really be the answer here?
Telling a pregnant woman that she should go on a diet is just wrong. It sends a dangerous message to her and every other pregnant woman out there. Now, instead of enjoying our nine months of baby-making bliss, we have to be worried that our expanding stomach may be expanding too much. The notion of a pregnant woman going on a calorie-restricted diet is just ridiculous.
Give us weight guidelines, ask us to start our pregnancy at a healthy weight, encourage us to exercise and follow a well-rounded diet (that includes giving in to those cravings without the guilt), and then let our bodies do what is natural. Each woman is different, so making some women feel like they are gaining too much weight (during a time in our lives when it’s actually “allowed”) is only putting undue pressure and stress on the mom to-be. So what if we gain a bit more than the “guidelines” tell us to?
Please leave our knocked-up bodies alone. Just like we don’t want strangers touching our pregnant bellies (and saying stupid things like, “Wow, how many do you have in there?”), studies like this only encourage people to start eyeballing and judging our weight. Pregnancy is the time to be OK with our bodies–not the time to start a diet.