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Does your diet during pregnancy influence your child’s tastebuds?

Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 5:06pm

Have you ever wondered why children love some foods more than others?

According to studies being done in several countries, the diet of a pregnant woman influences the food preferences of a baby.

Proof for that might be that the babies of Indian women take to flavoursome spices quicker than babies whose mothers ate plain foods during their pregnancy.

My friend Caz and her husband are food lovers who plan their holidays based on restaurants they could visit and the food they would like to discover. This continued into her pregnancy and both girls are very adventurous when it comes to trying out new foods.

On the other hand, a woman I know who ate takeaways and crisps during her pregnancy and also has two girls but they wouldn’t try anything that is not related to a chip, chicken nugget or crisp!

So, the idea that your diet during pregnancy influences the food preferences of new-borns has gained merit. Reading through some articles at the US National Library of Medicine, you can follow some researchers who ran trials in 1985 focusing on the diet of pregnant women just before giving birth. They found that babies had a peculiar odour of (as described) cumin, fenugreek and curry when the mothers had a spicy diet just prior to giving birth.

I couldn’t find much information on how these babies continued their own diet but it showed very clearly how the diet of a pregnant woman affects the baby.

Of course, we all know that a poor diet during pregnancy can harm the baby and its development but apart from the health factor, taste is also very much down to the diet of a mother.

I remember when the first of my friends fell pregnant – firstly, she was way too young to be a mum herself and knew nothing about it – but she was happy and that was all that mattered to me.

So, I went to the library (no Mr Google at the time) to educate myself on what pregnant women have to do to stay healthy.

One of these clever books stated that tomatoes were the best food during pregnancy – so she got tomato soup, salad, stuffed tomatoes, grilled, steamed and raw tomatoes and anything else I came up with to feed my friend Nadja (who almost defriended me after about two weeks of this).

I never asked her if the baby loved tomatoes afterwards (I moved away so I lost contact with her).

My mum, for example, ate loads of bananas and strawberries when she was pregnant with me and I love banana flavoured food (ice cream, jelly etc.) but funnily, I hate bananas. I love strawberries, fresh and juicy but no strawberry flavoured food (drink, yogurt etc.).

But saying that, I prefer savoury to sweet food and my mum was the other way around. Where does that leave us? Look after yourself when you are pregnant, eat good food and you might not get a fussy eater (or so you wish).

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