American Baby revealed exclusive results from a recent survey on the eating habits and preferences of pregnant women. The findings from the survey, which polled more than 2,300 pregnant and new moms, are featured in a special report,“What Pregnant Women Really Eat,” in the October 2015 issue of American Baby and online at americanbaby.com/pregnancy-nutrition.
Almost all moms polled, 70 percent, said they started eating healthier when they became pregnant, however 63 percent are not eating the recommended 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. A shocking 12 percent eat one or fewer servings a day. Many are restricted by extreme food aversions due to pregnancy.
“Time constraints, aversions, and convenience are the top reasons moms-to-be are missing out on beneficial nutrition,” said Mindy Walker, Executive Editor, American Baby. “There is some good news though: 92 percent say no to alcohol, 77 percent are eating breakfast every day, and 84 percent are following the recommended guidelines for caffeine, all of which are critical to a healthy pregnancy.”
Cravings were common among the survey respondents. Eighty four percent reach for foods like ice cream, chips, pretzels, chocolates, cookies, and candy. While these indulgences are common, a staggering 8 in 10 women also admitted to taking chances with risky foods. The study found that 48 percent have eaten cold deli meats, 32 percent have had undercooked eggs, meat or fish, 20 percent have had premade deli salads, and 7 percent have eaten unpasteurized cheese. All of these are considered off-limits because they may contain listeria, which can lead to complications during pregnancy.
“Pregnant women often aren’t given the tools they need to make smarter decisions,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If they aren’t told the reason behind a nutrition recommendation, the message gets lost or ignored because they don’t know why it’s important.”
The survey also revealed that 61 percent of moms are concerned about weight gain during pregnancy and over one third started their pregnancy obese or overweight. Surprisingly, of those moms who were overweight, an astonishing 87 percent said their physicians expressed no concern about it, shocking given that a high body mass index increases a mom’s risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and delivery by C-section.