As my baby has begun eating more and nursing less, I have been more concerned and vigilant about the food that I buy. Along with this, my Mother-In-Law recently showed me an interesting article about the connection between food, allergies, and autism. Plus, I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about the importance of healthy eating for you and baby in pregnancy and even before you become pregnant. Now we discus about why healthy eating habits are important.
Importance of Healthy Eating Habits
The following are some highlights from what I have learned concerning nutrition and healthy eating habits for pregnant women, babies and toddlers. Because the foods we eat affect more than most people realize and affect our bodies for years afterwards, it is important to be sure we are instilling healthy eating habits in our babies. For instance, in the Wall Street Journal article “Healthy Diet May Cut Risk of Birth Defects,” a study by Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that a woman’s diet affects the health of her baby at least a year before she even becomes pregnant.
Healthy Eating in Pregnancy
The study found that women who followed either a Mediterranean type diet or the U.S. dietary guidelines were 36-51% less likely to have a baby with a brain defect and 24-34% less likely to have a baby with a cleft lip. Both diets are high in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and “good” fats, emphasizing the importance of healthy eating habits for everyone.
If a woman is planning to become pregnant, it is imperative to follow a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and high in fiber. Also, although all pregnant women should take their prenatal vitamins, it is even more important to get those necessary nutrients directly from the source. That means legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats in moderation are very important for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Baby’s Healthy Eating Habits
Even after baby is born and no longer nursing, we need to stick to those healthy diets to set the proper example for our children. It is very important to give children the chance to establish healthy eating habits from the very beginning of their lives. Eating vegetables should not be a chore to dread, but something enjoyable to do. Also, what we feed our children may actually influence their behavior.
In the article “When Food Affects Function,” Dr. Diana Fatayerji has described a connection between foods and certain autistic behavior in children. Essentially, some children may have an allergic reaction or an inability to break down certain types of grains and casein- the protein in milk. According to her, children with autism may not be able to properly digest these proteins and this can cause an increase in autistic behavior.
It is amazing how much our diets can affect our lives. Let’s give our children a good start towards healthy eating habits.