Pregnant? Don’t Diet!

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Dieting when pregnant? No, no, no!Many weight loss facilities don’t allow pregnant women to participate in their programs. I know Weight Watchers will keep your membership active, but won’t allow you to come when you’re pregnant. That seemed a little crazy to me and I wondered why they didn’t just up the points allowance a bit to compensate.

Here’s why:

In 1944, Germany starved the Netherlands with an embargo. Many starved to death and the women who were pregnant during the embargo were restricted to approximately 1000 calories a day. The children born at that time ended up with a high incidence of addiction.

We still don’t know why, but theories abound:

This heightened risk was most strongly correlated with exposure during the first trimester, when crucial brain development occurs. It is not clear exactly how starvation predisposes the brain toward addiction. One possibility is that decision-making and reward centers of the brain do not grow properly because there is a dearth of chemical resources. Another possibility is that the fetus senses the scarcity of food and comes out prepared to voraciously grab whatever pleasurable things that it can find.

So, if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t be restricting your calorie intake. Follow the recommendations that your doctor gives you and worry about losing weight AFTER you give birth to a healthy and unscathed child.


5 Responses to “Pregnant? Don’t Diet!”

  1. Mark Says:

    Did you look at the actual numbers in that study? The number of “addicts” was very low. The incidence was higher, yes, but not the overall risk. This is like saying, “Don’t eat potato chips” because you have a 1.5 per million chance of getting stomach cancer versus a 1 per million chance if you don’t.

  2. Fitness Guy Says:

    I never knew this and I remember when my wife was pregnant with our son and she just mentioned at a weight in that she was excited to be pregnant and should she raise the number of points she should eat?

    They sent her home.

    She still followed the diet principles but did not count points in her journal and everything was good.

    The problem as we all know is that when pregnant some people will just eat everything without having any reason and then wonder why they gained so much baby weight.

    I guess it is better to treat your kids better before they are born than to take that risk while pregnant.

  3. Elaine Says:

    The first time my mother tried Weight Watchers was about the time she got pregnant with me. Apparently at the time (mid-70s) their approach was that pregnant women should be eating the same as before, or something. She got really frustrated and quit.

    Then when I was in my early teens she finally tried again, and lost something like 50 pounds. I’m STILL proud of her. 🙂

  4. Lynn Says:

    Heh… as a gestational diabetic, I had to go on a diet while pregnant. Under Doctor’s orders, I was allowed 1,500 calories a day, had to inject myself twice a day, and was told “do not gain any weight this pregnancy.”

    My daughter was born healthy and happy, and the day after she was born, I was weighing in at… get this! 50 pounds LESS than my pre-pregnancy weight.

  5. Michelle Moss Says:

    I agree that trying to diet while pregnant is generally not a good idea. There are some exceptions though, be it for gestational diabetes or because if the mother is overweight the baby can be at risk for other complications. The best advice I’ve heard it to be healthy–weight and fitness wise–before getting pregnant and then eating smart while pregnant. Eating a whole batch of brownies in one sitting is typically not okay–pregnant or not.

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