Watch Those Cravings, Mom!

Researchers have discovered that children may grow up liking the foods their mothers ate while they were in utero.

Woman eating cereal

You are what you eat, right? Well, what if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding a baby? Does a pregnancy full of Pop Tart cravings turn a baby into a Pop Tart junkie? Maybe -- new research has discovered that babies often take after their mothers in more ways than her looks. A new study shows that babies prefer foods that their moms ate while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Carrots, anyone?

Researchers spent time with over 40 babies and their parents. They offered the babies a carrot-flavored cereal and discovered that those who were exposed to carrot flavor in the womb -- that is, their mothers drank carrot juice on a regular basis -- ate twice as much of the cereal than their peers.

Experts suggest that one way to counter the growing epidemic of childhood obesity would be to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during pregnancy. Children naturally like sweet and salty foods -- how many kids do you know who dislike ice cream or chips? -- so it can take time to get them to like veggies. If they have exposure to many different nutritious foods in the womb or through mom’s breast milk, it can give them a huge advantage over their peers who turn their noses up at a plate of greens or sweet potatoes.

“The research clearly shows that if mothers eat a lot of fruit during lactation and pregnancy, then their child will be much more open to eating fruit during weaning,” said researcher Dr. Julie Mennella. “The same goes with vegetables.”

Childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is an unfortunate growing trend. The decline in activity and the rise in unhealthy foods has lead our kids to a potential lifetime of health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and potential psychological problems.

Helping a child get off to the right start by eating healthy yourself may be an important step we can take. I know I often had terribly unhealthy cravings (hello, Potato Oles from Taco John’s!) so it can be hard to shovel in veggies if you’re not in the mood -- but maybe this will help your motivation a little.

More on nutrition

Easy new nutrition guidelines from the USDA
Smart switches for pregnancy cravings
Quick snacks for pregnant and breastfeeding moms

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