Eating healthfully and maintaining a normal body weight is difficult for many people. It is easy to get in the habit of following a certain diet that consists of frequent stops to fast food restaurants, binges on junk food, and regularly consuming other foods that aren’t so healthy. Although parents may not realize it, their bad eating habits can result in their children developing poor eating habits, as well, encouraging childhood obesity and related illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years (read the full facts here). Many pregnant women wonder since it’s possible to teach children bad eating habits while they are young, if it’s possible to teach them bad eating habits sooner. So the burning question is: can you set your child’s diet habits in utero?
In Utero Eating Habits
According to a 2013 New York Times article, titled “Bad Eating Habits Start in the Womb“, pregnant women who consumed certain foods during their pregnancies gave birth to babies who grew to prefer those foods. If women consumed large amounts of bad foods during their pregnancies, then in many cases their babies preferred bad foods as soon as they were old enough to eat regular foods.
A study conducted by University of Florida researchers found that a pregnant woman’s amniotic fluid is flavored with whatever meal she ate a few hours prior. Fetus’s drink amniotic fluid, and at about 21 weeks gestation, their taste buds develop. They are able to acquire a taste for certain foods by regularly tasting flavors from the amniotic fluid. These foods can be healthy, but they can also be unhealthy. This of course depends on what the mother decides to eat regularly. Mothers who participated in the study purposely consumed certain foods in order to “teach” their babies to learn to love foods like vegetables, fruits, and more, and over 90% were successful.
So if you are a pregnant woman who is hoping to give birth to children who will grow to prefer healthier foods and live healthier lifestyles, then you should eat as healthy as possible. Not only do the foods that you consume during pregnancy provide nutrients in order to promote optimal fetal growth, but as it has been determined by several studies that you can set your child’s diet habits in utero. So if you don’t want your children to grow up to become obese and unhealthy, then you should practice good eating habits as soon as you learn you are pregnant. Check out some pregnancy tips from American Pregnancy Association.