Congratulations, you're pregnant! Now go on a diet. "Wait, what?" you may whine pointlessly in protest. "I thought this was the one time I didn't have to diet. You know ‘eating for two' and all?" WRONG. A new review of medical research has determined that it's 100 percent safe to restrict ones calories during pregnancy, and in fact you should avoid gaining excessive weight because it can lead to scary complications. So, it looks like you're in for nine months worth of celery sticks.
This godforsaken conclusion was reached by The British Medical Journal, which examined 44 earlier studies that involved more than 7,000 women. The researchers compared women using diet, exercise, or a combination of the two. Dieting involved, not surprisingly, limiting caloric intake, eating a balanced diet with whole grains, fruits, veggies, etc. In other words, not eating for two. They then looked at how much weight women had gained during their pregnancies with these various methods and if they'd had any complications.
What they found that while all three approaches resulted in women gaining less weight, dieting alone had the biggest effect. In fact, it led to an average reduction in the amount gained of almost nine pounds; whereas that number was only 1.5 pounds for exercise alone, and 2.2 pounds for a combination of the two. But the most crucial finding was that even if a mother followed a restricted diet, it did not affect her baby's birth weight. Ergo, dieting is safe because it won't result in a deprived baby, even if you might spend nine long months feeling like you want to gnaw off your own arm.
Of course, for some women making sure they don't gain excess weight is important for their health and the health of their baby. In Europe and the US, somewhere between 20% and 40% of women gain more than is recommended while pregnant, and it can have serious consequences. So in those cases it is useful to know that they have safe options for keeping their weight under control and preventing serious complications. But it's hard not to assume that this finding will worm it's way into all of our minds and make us feel like even though we're creating another life inside of us and need the energy, we still need to be careful not to lose our ladylike figures. Ugh.
So start keeping that food journal, start counting those calories, and make sure you don't enjoy even a single decadent meal while you're knocked up. It's really the only way to ensure that your future daughter comes out of the womb intuitively understanding the womanly art of dieting. And if it turns out to be a boy, well then you can laugh and say to him, "Silly baby, diets aren't for you. You eat whatever you want, and nobody will judge you for it" before handing him a bottle full of steak sauce.
Image via Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock.