Fast Food During Pregnancy – Forbidden or Allowed?
It is widely known that women during pregnancy may form weird food habits.
The reason of such behavior is in question, scientists have not yet come to a conclusion why it happens.
According to one theory, after conception an organism produces large amounts of progesterone, which starts a sequence of biochemical reactions in the brain, a search mechanism, aiming to determine resource shortage and evoke a crave to “restock”.
Nevertheless, sometimes the mechanism malfunctions and evokes the desire for the wrong products, products which aggravates deficiency of a nutrient, instead of alleviating it. Because of this process tastes can change dramatically, for example, some women who couldn’t stand eating fast food may take to it badly.
Why is fast food bad for health?
Fast food is undoubtedly detrimental to anybody, but what impact does it have on pregnant women in particular and why?
Fast food recipes mainly lack whole grain, which is prerequisite for a fetus development.
The sub sandwich, pizza base or doughnut does not have whole fiber. This may lead to baleful consequences, e.g. constipation.
Donuts, chocolate and ice cream contain lots of sugar, whereas high sugar consumption causes irritation, mood swings and gestational diabetes.
Possible complications of gestational diabetes include injuries during delivery because of a baby’s size, baby’s low blood sugar and mineral levels, jaundice, pre-term birth and hardened breathing.
Women eating fast food are subject to excessive weight gain during their pregnancy. If so, they are at risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, back aches, leg pain, the need for cesarean sections and other long-term health complications. Normally a woman should gain 25 to 35 lbs after during pregnancy.
Physicians used to claim that high salt intake may result in problems with blood pressure, so the fast food containing lots of salt within its sauses was frowned upon. However recently experts have proved that moderately high salt intake during pregnancy is actually useful for both women and babies. The recommendation is up to about a teaspoon of salt a day – that’s six grams of salt.
Exceptions to the rule
Among all take-out dishes, there are a few ones that are especially harmful for pregnant women. For example, ramen noodles, which contain large amounts of fat and species, soft drinks practically consisting of sugar, iceberg salad having little nutrients and prepacked commercial lunches, larded with fat, salt and preservatives, just like prepared frozen meals.
However, not all fast food is that detrimental. There are a few dishes that can be eaten during pregnancy with a light heart. Are there safe fast food during pregnancy?
Surprisingly, burgers. Even though burgers are known as a quintessence of junk food, they are generally not that risky to eat.
Load a single patty burger up with salad, tomato, cucumber and any other vegetables on offer, leave the fries behind and you’ll get a healthy and nutrient meal.
Sub or sandwich can also be completely harmless, depending on what is inside.
Leaner meat of chicken or turkey, veggies and mustard (not a ranch-type sauce) can make a very good stuffing.
Same goes for pizza – if its topping has lean meat and low fat feta cheese instead of pepperoni and hard high-fat cheese, it’s totally healthy.
Besides, stir-fries and noodle soup can be an option, since they are low in saturated fat and contain enough nutrients, as well as Mexican Beans, tomatoes, avocado, chicken and shrimp, unless wrapped and deep-fried, with gobs of cheese and sour cream.
On top of everything else, there is one reason why a pregnant woman should be careful of what she eats during pregnancy and avoid harmful fast food.
In case if eaten food caused heartburn, there are a few ways to fight it and avoid it in future:
- First of all, eat small meals. Instead of three square meals a day, try five or six smaller ones. This is also right for drinking; drinking small amounts of liquid frequently is healthier than making huge gulps few times.
- Also you can lower your eating pace. Eating slow will help your digestion to refine food properly. After a meal, take a leisurely walk, do a little housework, sit down and read a book-just don’t lie down, and don’t do anything that requires you to bend over.
- Don’t eat right before bed. Eat for at least three hours before you go to sleep.
- Keep your head and upper chest elevated at night. You may put blocks underneath the legs at the head of your bed.
If heartburn still brought you down, you can try ginger. Although there’s not much scientific evidence for ginger as a remedy for pregnancy woes, it is noticed that it is quite helpful in coping with heartburn and nausea. Or you can try taking antacid, but not the one which contains aluminum, because such remedy can be toxic and cause constipation.
If an antacid isn’t working, it may be time to consider stronger medications. Your first option will likely be an H2 blocker like Tagamet or Zantac.
These drugs suppress stomach-acid production.
All four H2 inhibitors on the market are now available without a prescription and considered to be safe during pregnancy.
If a mom-to-be’s eating habits resulted in bloating, there are some remedies for treating and preventing it too:
- Firstly, cut off on refined sugars. Refined sugars are contained in carbonated beverages and sweetened fruit juices, particularly, in high fructose corn syrup.
- Secondly, intake fiber rich food: yams, rice, carrots, apples, leafy green, whole wheat toast and abovementioned whole-grains.
- Thirdly, soft drinks should be avoided, because they induce gas, which cause bloating when accumulating.
- Fourthly, exercise. It’s good to get outside in the fresh air after last meal or walk the dog as this will help you alleviate some of the annoying gas you are experiencing.
- Fifthly, cut off on fried food, such as onions, beans, cabbage and broccoli.
An opinion of a real mother on the topic:
In sum, fast food during pregnancy is not deadly, in fact, some fast food dishes can be pretty harmless, whereas the most harmful products have healthier substitutes.
In either case a pregnant woman should mind fat, sugar and preservatives content of such meals.
Although high salt intake was considered as a serious threat for a moms-to-be and their children, it is now known that this is not an issue. But what should be worried about is that a child may well take over his/her mother’s food habits in future.
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