Today, as I promised earlier, I am going to take a close look at the nutritional recommendations that my OB/GYN’s office put into an informational folder for me. Take a look at these “Nutrition” Guidelines.
The first and most shocking piece of information I found was that these guidelines advise women to eat almost 2900 calories per day. Unbelievable! Such a high caloric intake might be appropriate for a woman who is training for some sort of endurance event, but for the average pregnant woman, it is incredibly high, and a recipe for excessive maternal weight gain, increased risk of gestational diabetes, and a high-birth-weight baby that would require delivery by c-section. And high birth weight subsequently increases the risk of metabolic disregulation in the infant, often leading to obesity and diseases such as cancer and asthma later in life.
Among children with high birth weight, born from diabetic mothers, recent studies (OBJECTIF NUTRITION 77 September 2005 by Dr Béatrice Dubern, Hôpital Armand-Trousseau AP-HP, Paris) have demonstrated an increased risk of metabolic syndrome in the course of childhood. In the same study, maternal obesity appeared as an additional risk factor for metabolic syndrome during childhood, suggesting the role of in utero hyperinsulinemia. I guess that means we should keep our insulin levels (read: carbohydrate intake) reasonably low during pregnancy.
So let us move on to the recommendations provided in these nutritional guidelines concerning carbohydrate consumption. Do they suggest a lower-carbohydrate diet to ensure low insulin levels and decrease the likelihood of metabolic disregulation in our children? Why, of course not. These guidelines suggest a whopping 377g of carbohydrates. This is well within what Mark Sisson terms the “Danger Zone!” This level of carbohydrate consumption is associated with a high risk of fat storage, inflammation, anddisease markers including metabolic syndrome and diabetes.” And I am sure that is the legacy of health and wellness that all mothers want to pass along to their children.
Such extreme carbohydrate consumption is actually easy to reach with the “normal” American diet – cereals, pasta, rice, bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins, soft drinks, packaged snacks, sweets, desserts. This is exactly what the supposed “health” guidelines disseminated at hospitals and clinics across the country recommend. Yes, including the packaged sweets and desserts. According to this information pregnant women are to eat two cups of cereal (fortified, of course, so it is healthy!) along with a cup of skim milk (none of the fat to help cushion the massive insulin response from the lactose and cereal combined), and then wash it down with another cup of orange juice (translation: all of the sugar of oranges with none of the fiber to slow that sugar absorption). Two hours later, for a mid-morning snack, they are to eat an entire bagel. Lunch requires another two slices of bread, and to the evening meal pregnant women should add a roll, and then for dessert eat sliced peaches (the canned kind, drenched in heavy syrup, I wonder?) topped with Cool Whip. Yes, you read that right. We are supposed to feed our unborn children a processed, packaged dessert product whose main ingredients are, after water, hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats, anyone?), high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup – the two absolute worst types of sugar a baby and mother (or anybody, for that matter) could possibly eat. And did I mention that lunch and dinner also come with more insulin-spiking, heavily processed skim milk? Baby and mom also get a bedtime snack – more milk, and graham crackers, which contain enriched flour (again, fortified with folic acid, so it has to be good for us!), sugar, and even more high fructose corn syrup.
With nutritional recommendations like these coming from our health care providers, it is no wonder that gestational diabetes is so widespread, and that they insist on testing virtually all pregnant women via the glucose tolerance test (making them drink another 100g of pure glucose, on top of all this sugar they are already supposed to be eating). And it is no wonder that the diseases of childhood obesity and Type II Diabetes are so widespread, and increasing every year, when babies get this type of nutritional start in life.
I am sharing this post over at Primal Toad’s Primal Cave Friday #2.