That third scoop of Rocky Road may be a delish comfort at the end of a long achy day, but moms-to-be may want to think twice before giving in to every last craving. Eating tons of junk food while expecting or breastfeeding may raise a baby's risk of becoming obese, according to a new animal study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Scientists fed rats either a mix of food including jelly doughnuts, chocolate-chip muffins, potato chips, and pancakes, or regular rat chow (a combo of soya, grains, protein, vitamins, and minerals). Those who ate the pastry-packed diet gave birth to babies who craved more high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods than those whose moms subsisted on chow. "We know that flavors from a woman's diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid, which her baby drinks as his lungs develop, or through breast milk while she's nursing," says Miriam Erick, RD, senior clinical perinatal dietitian at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and author of Managing Morning Sickness. "So your child's palate gets accustomed to these sweet, rich foods, which he may have a natural penchant for as he grows up."
We know what you're thinking: It's bad enough I have to ditch spicy salmon rolls and Chardonnay; now I have to feel guilty whenever I grab a handful of Cheetos? Truth: Only if you eat junk food excessively. "If something indulgent is calling your name, don't deny yourself to the point of being miserable," says Erick. "Everyone deserves a splurge now and then, but do be smart about it." Keep these compromises in mind:
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