‘ARE YOU REALLY GONNA EAT THAT?’

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Has anyone else found that since becoming pregnant, their diet is everyone else’s concern? Whether it’s to enquire how much/little I’m eating, how balanced/unbalanced my diet is, or how healthy/unhealthy my snacks are, it seems everyone wants in on my alimentary action. If you are/have ever been pregnant, I will safely assume that you too have been on the receiving end of this avid fascination in your comestible choices. It’s funny isn’t it? And by funny, I mean absolutely, completely, and entirely infuriating.

I’ll tell you what is funny though. The idea that up until 6 months ago I was a capable, functioning, and adept woman of the world, able to meet my nutritional needs without advice from anyone, and everyone (family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers you know who you are!). Yet no sooner had I peed on a stick and had my ‘with child’ status confirmed, I was replaced with an ill informed, witless, and more rotund version of myself, who supposedly lacks agency over my body and the decisions surrounding its nourishment. Strange how that happens!

I’d like to think people proffer menu suggestions to me out of caring for my unborn baby. However, given I’ve faced a number of digestive issues which have seen me add hundreds of additional foods to the NHS ‘avoid’ list during my pregnancy, it can be hard to swallow when the ‘advice’/’care’ is so often gift-wrapped in a perfectly timed (always when I’m about to bite into a sandwich) look of admonishment, and handwritten with condescension, ‘are you really gonna eat that [silently insert: you irresponsible, silly preggo]?’

When I was 17 weeks pregnant, looking very much like my pre-pregnant self, and at the point of still only being slightly fed-up with people’s concerns over my (impending/future/potential/inevitable) pregnancy weight gain, I asked my midwife about being weighed. She informed me, that assuming an individual had a healthy BMI when they were weighed at their booking appointment (I did), and they don’t have a history of an eating disorder (I don’t), they don’t concern themselves with the mum-to-be’s weight. How refreshing! Granted, I’m willing to accept this practice may not yet be the norm, given (and despite anecdotal license to exaggerate) I’ve read online that some women are still berated by their midwives for gaining a pound above their recommended weight. Nonetheless, it’s worrying that despite my midwife’s lack of interest, people still want to bother themselves with mine or any other pregnant woman’s weight, and as a by-product what she eats. I would love to know what a) motivates this unwanted nutritional advice, and b) makes everyone but the pregnant halfwit an expert on the aforementioned nutritional subject matter.

Most recently, I’ve had comments about ‘all’ my snacks. For clarity, I probably carry two types of nuts, possibly a flapjack or rice crackers, grapes, and at least a litre of water on me at all times now. Why? So I can make sensible food choices when I’m out and about, and I am able to resist the urge to throw a few choice words in the direction of the individual doling out food advice when my hanger sets in! See the thing is, I’ve been an intuitive eater for a long time now, and I’m not about to stop. Sure that may mean I gain a few extra pounds over the next 11 weeks, given my spike in hunger levels, but it’ll also mean when my body no longer needs to store up fat for breastfeeding I will drop them. So please don’t judge me as I brazenly demolish a scone/bag of tortilla chips (small in case you’re wondering) in two swift bites on the tube.

Funnily enough, and since it may come as a shock to all you helpful advice-givers out there, my baby’s health is my primary concern, and I will ensure I’m eating well for him. Therefore, please don’t worry on our behalf. However, just in case you do work for the pregnancy food police, or are in the least bit interested, here’s what I’ve eaten so far today: porridge with oat milk and blueberries; two Sour Squirms (yum); a handful of cashews and Brazil nuts; an avocado, cheddar and habanero chilli relish sandwich; a glass of orange juice; and one Cadbury Creme Egg (mainly so I could list it here…oh and Easter is on the horizon). Given it’s still early, I’m sure a whole lot more will be added to that list. Sorry not sorry.

Therefore, please bear this in mind. However it is shared, unless an individual (pregnant or not) solicits your nutritional wisdom, you can bet they don’t want/need your advice. This isn’t a rant, nor even a moan (really…). More an expression of wish, that anyone considering giving a pregnant woman food advice, even if they ‘got so so fat’ during their pregnancy and ‘want you to avoid’ their mistakes, first takes the time to look at their own regimen. Maybe even ask themselves, ‘are you really gonna eat that?’

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