Updated: Jun 19
By Courtney Bibo
Published June 10, 2021 in The Burg
A lot of people have probably heard mothers say something along the lines of, “I know it doesn’t make sense, but ice cream was “my thing” when I was pregnant with little Johnny, and he’s always loved it, too!” The person is usually implying that by them eating a particular food during pregnancy somehow made that kid have a liking for that same food. And until recently, that sounded hokey, but research shows this is quite possibly true!
There is a great book, “Pleased to Meet Me”, by Bill Sullivan (2019) and it goes into great detail about this and many other interesting facts about why we do what we do. I highly recommend it! He discusses very fascinating research studies about how fetuses start developing a palette in utero. Meaning babies start to develop what tastes good, or doesn’t taste good, to them when they’re still in their mother’s womb.
In this study, the researchers took pregnant rats and fed one set healthy food and the other set junk food (it was high in carbs, fats, and sugars). When the rat pups were born, they gave the babies both options of food (the healthy food and the junk food) to choose from. Lo and behold, the babies whose mothers were fed the healthy food while pregnant with them, gravitated towards the healthy food and the babies whose mothers were fed junk food wanted the junk food! They took a closer look and found that there were actually epigenetic changes to their DNA. They also found that the junk food babies had lower amounts of a hormone that is responsible for letting you know you’re full. In another study, the researchers forced the junk food babies to eat healthy to see if they could change back the DNA and they couldn’t. If this is true for humans, this could explain why some people find it extremely hard to control what they eat and how much.
Many of us think it’s important to eat protein and calcium during pregnancy and beyond that, eating anything else won’t have an impact on the baby. However, research studies, like the ones discussed here, lead us to believe everything we eat during pregnancy can possibly have a permanent effect on the baby. Eating a well-rounded diet, including things you may not like, is extremely important during pregnancy. It sets up the baby for a head start on eating healthy, liking healthy foods, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The key thing I want you to take away from this article is that pregnant mothers need to eat a variety of healthy food throughout the entire pregnancy. They need to eat a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and yogurts. This will quite possibly make your life easier once that kiddo is born and eating table food. They will likely be less picky, and likely want healthier food choices. If you’re pregnant, a good goal would be to eat 4 different things that are healthy each week of pregnancy. Make a list of everything you know is healthy and rotate through the list.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any comments or questions at C.G.Bibo@outlook.com. I’d love to hear from you!
(Courtney Garland Bibo has a bachelor's in psychology, has her cosmetology license and still runs a salon, works as a Registered Nurse, and is in her second year of her Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner program with a Rural Health concentration at University of Illinois at Chicago- Quad Cities Campus.)