There are none so blind as those who appear to be control freaks. Peter Gluckman’s words - “For the first time ever, we have a way of working out what mothers should eat” – were considered worthy of the subtext box front page of the paper version of the Herald on Tuesday. You have to wonder why. Here’s the online version.
Let’s cut to the chase. The Prime Minister’s science guru, says that carbohydrates which mother’s eat during pregnancy could end up blighting their children’s obese lives, and it's all the mother's fault. Problem. He doesn’t know which carbohydrates.
Gluckman has missed the boat altogether, even though it’s staring him right in the face. This is not the "first time" they have a way of working out what mothers should eat. If they had opened their eyes over the last 100 years, they would already know. Perhaps he’s read so much, he’s lost the ability to think straight. But then, as he would say... “What does she know? What medical school did she go to?” So here is why I think he’s got his head stuck down the wrong rabbit warren hole.
First, two thing’s Gluckman knows. Or should know.
1) Data from previous epigenetic studies shows that women in WW2, with inadequate food during pregnancy, had babies prone to putting on weight, more diabetes and more heart disease.
2) A Swedish woman Corrine Hoffman, who lived with the Masai for four years, during which time she had a child, discussed in a newspaper how her masai daughter, Napirai, struggled with abundant western food, and couldn’t maintain the sleek body type of the Masai - which was programmed to take the maximum nutrients out of minimum food quantity.
Here’s something else from doctor's surgeries between the 60's and today, which Gluckman might have forgotten, but I have not.
I was pregnant with our first child in 1981.
The very first finger-wagging “lecture” the doc delivered, was that I was "only allowed” to put on 14 pounds weight during –the --- whole --- pregnancy – about 6 kilos.
Any more .... would “cause damage to the baby”, and it would be “your fault”. Not much different to what Gluckman is saying (obesity is the mother's fault), but in a different vein.
It’s always the mothers fault. Don’t you remember when autism was caused by refrigerator mothers?
On researching the 14 pounds limit, I found that strict weight control had been “standard practice” particularly in America, for the previous 20 years. Ten years later, that had risen to 25 pounds. Even today, women are still told the same thing.
So Professor Gluckman – did you take the decades of neurotic weight control admonitions of doctors with control freak tendencies, into your equations?
Today, depending which American “expert” you listen to, you can gain 37 – 54 pounds , if you started at a healthy weight, or 25 – 37 pounds if you started at a healthy weight. Big difference, but both believe they hold pontifical status.
A New Zealand site says, "Most women gain between 8 kg - 20 kg during a pregnancy for a single baby"
By 25 weeks in my first pregnancy.... my doctor was going ballistic. I had already gained 7.5 kgs. My reaction? To tell the doctor where to stick it. I wasn’t going to tell my body what it could, or couldn’t put on.
But what I had been doing from before pregnancy, and was going to continue doing, was eat very healthily. And I mean, healthily.
I did not eat any refined sugar, refined flour or “crap”. Except for one licorice strap every week. Don’t ask me why. My body pleaded for it every Tuesday.
We had a large garden, and grew a lot of our own vegetables and fruit. We ate properly, as our ancestors had.
When I read baby-blogs these days with regular entries about how many pounds of chocolate brownies and sugar mothers devour, I despair.
In those days, such a thing as a “glycaemic index” (GI) wasn’t even part of the English language, but those who understand the GI now, would say that, my foods were low glycaemic, no blood sugar spikes – food as it did ought to be.
My nutritional rules were simple. If I want something baked, I made it myself. It could not have white sugar, white flour in it. I used Billington’s Molasses sugar, wholemeal flour and never ate much of it.
Nothing for myself, came off the shelf prepared. Not even bread. Bread was home-made and the sorts which a year later came out in Mollie Katzen’s 1982 book, “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest”. Interestingly, my body didn't want me to eat much bread, but buckwheat pancakes were ravenously pleaded for. And starchy bananas.
By 7 months pregnancy, the doctor ranted, raved, and probably put himself on blood pressure medication.
By the time Ian was born, he'd probably had a coronary. At the last prenatal appointment he filled out "Mother has gained 19.5 kgs in weight".
He kept saying, “You are not listening to me.” I kept replying, “No sensible person would.”
But so many of my friends who worshipped at their doctor’s feet, starved for the sake of that magical “6 kg weight gain and no more”. They cried, they went hungry ... they wouldn’t listen to me, and their babies were small, and many of them whined non stop. And some of those babies today, are porkies.
So there you have it Professor Gluckman.
There are five commonsense answers to this issue, which anyone who listened to “Old Wives Tales” from many traditions, will tell you. What you need to do is go back to the records of any obese middle agers (and kids today), and find out these things:
1) Did the mother starve herself to keep her doctor happy.... which resulted in the same sort of nutritional deprivation suffered by those women in Finland and elsewhere in the war, who had no option? And are their children (now having families of their own) obese as the result of your colleagues obsession with “fatness”?
2) Did the mothers who starved themselves also primarily eat pre-packaged refined garbage with a high glycemic index.
3) Of those mothers who didn’t starve themselves, (but whose children are now porkies) also make high glycemic index foods the long term mainstay of their family meals?
4) Are those who are obese, couch potatoes, who continue to revel in nutrionally bankrupt high glycemic index foods?
5) What is the gut flora of those people like, and HOW does that orchestrate future obesity?
When you find out the answers to those questions, you will know the solution.
Obesity is a no-brainer, Professor Gluckman - in either children and adults. No-one needs a degree to see the blindingly obvious. You just need to look in people’s shopping trolleys, and their lifestyles. All those things work together to creat porkies.
Seriously. Ask anyone in a laboratory of rats, the easiest way to get rats to become obese. You put them on refined foods, ADD MSG and cut the exercise. Voila !!!!! And how many foods have MSG in them these days? You can hardly turn around without finding MSG on a label....
Obesity comes down to something really simple. Garbage in, equals garbage out. What you eat, has to be expended in energy and exercise determines how well the body processes food.
The problem is that you are still telling people that eating garbage is okay, MSG is fine, and aspartame makes the world's axis relax in bliss.
We don’t need epigenetic studies to tell us what mothers should eat, because we already know that mothers should be eating what everyone else should be eating, and aren’t:
Ask Taine Randall. He's already proved the points above. The families of the Maori who took part in this project, are stunned at the results, and hopefully, now that they have gone back to basic common-sense, will continue to help people who really want answers.
In the meantime, for any mothers who've wandered onto this blog - some simple advice. if you want to have a healthy baby do the following:
Take no notice of any weight restrictions, and certainly don’t listen to what the "average" doctor tells you to eat.
Eat natural unprocessed foods, vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, whole grains, good quality proteins, plenty of free range eggs, fish and chicken... stay away from margarine, or any of the fancy man made rubbish which is not what your body is designed to assimilate. If you want to obsess about anything, make sure your vitamin D and C levels are good, you're eating plenty of vitamin K foods, and that you're concentrating on mineral rich foods. Make sure you're getting enough foods with magnesium , selenium, zinc and folate in them. (Folate isn't important "just" for neural defects - it's important in making sure that any cell that divides so that your child can grow, makes and accurate copy of the genes making new cells. ) Sort your diet out, and never think that supplementation works as well as good diet. It doesn't and never will. Lots of parents-to-be, want to have their cake and supplements, and want to believe that that is okay. It's not. Good nutritional habits need to be life long, so you might as well start BEFORE pregnancy and carry on eating properly for ever.....
Oh, and just a final comment. .... No, the medical profession has absolutely no idea what the proper fundamentals of nutrition are, and frankly, have no place determining dietary guidelines. If you don’t believe me, read this.