Nutrition Guidelines For Pregnancy: A Recipe for Diabetes and Obesity

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.

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10 Responses to Nutrition Guidelines For Pregnancy: A Recipe for Diabetes and Obesity

  1. Ronna says:

    It is scary that this is how we are told to nourish our growing children… with sugars and high amounts of all carbs and dangerously low levels of fats… especially the healthy ones.

    • elliemaeh says:

      I know. When I first saw these nutrition guidelines I laughed, but then I got to thinking that it was very frightening and very sad, especially for the people trying to do the right thing for their children by following this terrible advice that comes from what they believe to be a reliable source. I feel that so much of the “information” put out by the USDA and other government resources is absolutely criminal.

  2. WordVixen says:

    I wonder how many women chalk up all their tiredness, swelling, and feeling lousy to being pregnant, when so much of it is probably related to their diet?

    • elliemaeh says:

      Probably quite a few. I have felt great for the whole ten weeks, honestly the best I have felt in my entire life – and no problems with morning sickness at all.

  3. Jo says:

    It’s horrifying to see what they are recommending pregnant women to eat. Thanks for a great post.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thanks for stopping by! It really is sad – now they are not just advocating “healthy” whole grains, but heavily processed sugary junk food. The worst part is thinking about what such recommendations could be doing to the future health of unborn children, who have absolutely no say in the matter.

  4. Jamie says:

    I read The Crazymakers by Carol Simontacchi and was appalled to learn how much of a baby’s brain may be irreparably damaged, causing life-long problems, by lack of proper nutrition in the mother’s diet. Knowing that, it’s absolutely sickening to read what doctors are suggesting pregnant women eat! Thanks so much for sharing this vital information!

    • elliemaeh says:

      I have not read the book yet, but I will be checking it out of my local library. Thanks for the recommendation! Here is hoping that more and more women start eating nutrient-dense diets during pregnancy, and not the nutritionally barren junk food that so many market as “healthy.”

  5. Christy says:

    Years ago when I was on WW and became pregnant I was supposed to eat about a LOAF of bread a day – can you imagine? I quit WW at that point. Same thing for nursing moms.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Oh my goodness, I really cannot imagine – I think that would make me literally sick. I just found your blog this week and have been enjoy reading – thanks for being part of the hearth and soul blog hop.

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