That is…in your diet.
I know we live in a super low-fat culture. I know everyone is terrified that eating fat will make you fat (it won’t) and that saturated fat causes heart disease (it doesn’t; trans fat does).
But the thing is, pregnancy is a time when you really need excellent nutrition. And there are a lot of reasons why, especially when pregnant (and breastfeeding), you shouldn’t skip the fat. Embrace it. Love it. Enjoy it! Continue reading to learn what types, and why.
Fat is great. Really. I’m not crazy, I’ve been eating lots of it for two years now and no, I don’t have a weight problem! My husband eats this way too and weighs much less (60 lbs. less, to be exact) than he used to. Oh, and his cholesterol’s low too. Sure, I know that’s anecdotal (but this is just a blog…lol), but there is plenty of proof that this is common.
But why does this matter for pregnant women, in particular? It’s been known for awhile — since the 90s, actually — that fat is actually critical to development, and that babies and children (and pregnant women!) should not go on low-fat diets.
Brain — Your baby’s brain is made largely of fats. Consuming adequate amounts will ensure proper development! After birth, the fat in breastmilk actually helps the brain to develop properly.
Eyes — They don’t develop properly without vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Limit the fat and you’re liming this nutrient, along with all other fat-soluble vitamins. Fat itself seems to play a role in retinal development. Consuming DHA and omega-3 oils has been shown to be especially beneficial.
Heart — The heart requires vitamin A, too — fat soluble vitamin!
Vitamin D, which plays a large role in baby’s development, including preventing infections and even future diabetes, is, again, a fat-soluble vitamin.
Eating large amounts of fat in pregnancy will not result in excessive weight gain unless paired with excessive refined carbs like white flour and sugar (and then it’s the flour/sugar causing the problem, not the fat). Most women seem to gain a particular amount of weight in pregnancy, naturally, which can range from very small amounts (for heavier women) to over 100 lbs. In my first pregnancy, eating low-fat, I gained about 20 lbs. (and was a bit overweight when I got pregnant). In my second pregnancy, eating higher fat, I gained close to 25 lbs. (and had been 15 lbs. lighter when I started). This time? I’ve gained only about 10 lbs. and I’m almost 6 months in, and I’m eating the most fat of all.
Don’t be afraid of fat. Your baby needs it. It’s crucial to your baby’s development.
And, contrary to popular belief…it’s easier to lose the baby weight too. :) When you eat well during pregnancy, you will lose the weight easily; when you eat junk, it’s more likely to stick around.
*Lard (from pastured pigs, not the store!!)
I incorporate all these in my diet on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to skip “vegetable oil” and other polyunsaturated oils, because they are highly unstable and susceptible to becoming rancid. When exposed to heat and light (i.e. cooking), they’ll form trans fats. Not what you want!
Thursday, look for a giveaway of my book: Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods!
EDITED TO ADD:
“The Oiling of America” (Written by Mary Enig, Ph.D. and citing 66 published journal articles)
Top image by Jessicafm