Cravings Schmavings: Why Pregnancy is Not an Excuse for Unhealthy Behavior

*Disclaimer: I love my current and old friends and acquaintances. I know plenty of people, personally, who fall into the category I illustrate below and I absolutely understand the internal struggle with something that is, essentially, a form of addiction, especially for a pregnant woman with uncontrollable cravings. My frustration is more about how our country has allowed this frame of mind to become so common and to replace true common sense and conscientiousness about our health and bodies. This is not a personal comment about anyone and I truly hope I don’t offend…

I know I’m a bit of a ranter when it comes to how I believe people should eat, but I’ll just never understand being lax about your health! You see people every day on all sorts of medications with instructions from their doctors about the ways they have to change their diets or physical activities to keep from croaking too early, yet so many people are still walking around eating hamburgers, mac and cheese, and Twinkies while they drink a liter of coke, coffee, or both. I know these things taste good, but do you have no will power?

Let me get to the point of this entry. Every workday, I listen to my favorite radio show of all time, “Blaine and Allyson in the Morning.” I just cannot get enough and don’t know what I’m supposed to do with the remaining 4.5 hours of my workday once the show’s over. They’re hilarious, smart, witty, and caring. Most important of all, though, they’re incredibly amiable and easy to relate to. You want to be their friend, you want to have discussions with them, debates. You can’t get enough!

So, one regular feature (which happens in multiple formats) is, of course, for listeners to write in with dilemmas that the hosts and listeners can help to solve. Whether it be “Helping Facebook Friends,” “Therapy Thursday with Dr. Steve,” “Love Court Tuesday,” or anything else, there are many stories from listeners that are opened up to us, the listeners, for thought and discussion. Sometimes I think they’re really interesting, sometimes a waste of my attention, sometimes blood boiling. For the most part, I’m just intrigued, but a listener problem on today’s show had me particularly frustrated. One caller after another was giving the wrong answer until, finally, one sensible woman called in with reasonable advice and I was set at ease. However…I still feel the need to let out the rant that was building up inside 🙂

The story is, basically, that the listener’s pregnant wife is eating junk food like there’s no tomorrow and he’s worried she’ll gain far more weight than intended and will have a great struggle to lose it after having the baby (a struggle he’s had to witness his sister deal with for a great deal of time). On the surface, it seems like this guy is just a chauvinist with his own priorities in mind–dear God, don’t let my wife end up fat! And maybe that is what his real concern was, but that’s far beyond the point I want to make. As he describes the gross number of Big Macs his wife is piling into her mouth to satisfy her pregnancy cravings, all these people are calling in to say TOO BAD! She’s pregnant, she has cravings, this is what her body is telling her she needs, leave her alone! Seriously!? Is this what people really think?

Your body NEEDS hamburgers and french fries and ice cream with pickles on top and fried chicken slathered in the creamiest, fattiest gravy known to man? Does it really? I can’t tell you why pregnant women have such odd cravings; I’m sure it has something to do with the grand changes her body is undergoing, including an increase of so many hormones. What I can tell you, though, is that pregnant or not, that food is not good for you and it, certainly, is not good for your unborn child. And pregnancy is no excuse to “let go” and gain 70 lbs, as if it’s all going to magically drop away because, somehow, you believe that 70 lbs is simply because of the 8 lb baby you’re going to deliver.

I’m not sure where women have gotten the idea that gaining weight to support a fetus relates and excuses gaining weight because of an unhealthy diet. Does nobody listen to their doctor? At 138 pounds, pre-pregnancy, the most weight I was supposed to gain was 25. Do you know how easy that is? My daughter was 8 pounds-even and various fluids and breast growth make up maybe another 7 or so, which means that, at delivery, I automatically lost up to15 pounds. If I’m only supposed to gain a total of 25, that only leaves me 10 pounds of fat. That means, in the 9 months that a woman is supposed to be pregnant, she should have only gained 10 pounds…Most of you realize how simple it is to gain 10 pounds, right? Probably something you could achieve in, oh, one month? Certainly something you could achieve, easily, in just a few, depending what you’re eating and what your physical activity is like.

So, imagine that you’re eating McDonald’s all day with a side of ice cream, cupcakes, and whatever else has the highest fat, calorie, and sugar content. How much weight do you think you’ll gain in 10 months? Definitely not the healthy 25. And, guess what, 25 is about the maximum any woman should gain; if you’re overweight, you should be gaining less. Yet, somehow, we all think pregnancy is a free-for-all for weight gain. The perfect excuse to be bad! Forget the repercussions, I’m having a baby! That means I can do anything!

But let’s think about all the things you’re not supposed to do, that everyone knows you’re not supposed to do, like drinking alcohol or smoking…or doing drugs. Why aren’t you supposed to engage in these activities? It’s certainly not for the benefit of your own health. It’s because they affect the baby! When you consume anything, it’s entering your bloodstream and going straight to the fetus, which is feeding off of that substance. This is how we get babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or drug addictions. There’s no magical wall preventing anything from entering your unborn child’s body. And this child is so extremely tiny. Think about how much alcohol it takes for you to get drunk and then think about how much your unborn fetus weighs in comparison to you. So, how much do you think it would take her to get drunk?

Everything you do greatly affects this child, so what I don’t understand is how anyone could be so lax about what they consume while pregnant. I had so many people yelling at me about staying away from fish, from deli meat, from the tiniest sip of wine, from standing near anyone with a lit cigarette, yet these same people had no issues scarfing down a platter of double churned Edy’s covered KFC on a nightly basis during their own pregnancies, as if that wasn’t going anywhere near the kid. Or does that not matter? I suppose once the same baby is old enough to eat solids, they’re feeding it the same exact things without any regard for the affect on his or her body, right? *sarcasm*

It’s just something that eats away at me. Why have people stopped caring about themselves? Why is all the concentration on weight and beauty? Probably about ninety-nine percent of the people who I’ve heard talk about their need to work out or go on a diet are referencing their desire to lose weight while maybe, maybe one percent want to do so, or are doing so, in order to be healthy. Forget the fact that eating a nutritious diet will likely aid in your weight loss; that doesn’t matter. The main goal is to be thin at any cost, so filling our arteries with fat and cholesterol on the Atkins diet (because carbs are, apparently, the enemy. Confused as to how the French and Italians are thinner than us…) or eating a sliver of donut for x number of points and a drop of Mountain Dew for another x number of points on Weight Watchers is worth it. I just don’t get it.

Can anybody clue me in? Is there anyone out there who wants to be on heart medication? Anyone who wants type 2 diabetes? Anyone who wants to give these issues to their children? When did we stop caring about the state of our bodies on the inside, about whether we have strength and energy, about whether we’re healthy and whether our children are healthy? And that’s what bothers me the most. Let yourself go, fine…but how can you do that to your child?

It’s a very sad state our minds are in. And I can’t believe only one caller thought to say that what she’s eating is unhealthy for her and for the baby.

That’s 26 lbs of baby, fluids, breasts, as well as cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet potatoes, carrots, grapes, avocado, baked chicken thighs, grilled steak, baked french fries, risotto, pasta, and a glass of wine here and there (yes, wine!) and a bowl of ice cream every so often.

And this is what 1.5 months post-delivery looks like when you don’t eat an entire Wendy’s franchise in 9 months time.  I know, I know…Sometimes what you eat has no impact on the fact that you’re going to gain a ton of weight, every pregnancy is different. And even if you eat well and don’t gain a ton, you may still have trouble losing it. But let’s know that the pregnancy did that to us and that we didn’t do it to ourselves!

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