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Emotional eating in pregnant women during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bi-weekly pregnancy tip

 

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JOCELYN HAS BEEN FEATURED ON:

It’s been a few months since regular posting on pregnancy research, but with the “new normal” of pandemic-living settling in here in the Yukon, including school re-opening, I am eager to get back into the swing of things as much as everyone else! That includes more work on my upcoming online fertility program, and re-starting posts on pregnancy research. It feels good to be back to some semblance of normal.

The pandemic’s impact on population health and well-being are on everyone’s minds, and not just the direct effects of the virus itself. The impacts of this ongoing stressor are both mental and physical. A recent Chinese study confirmed what I have been seeing in my own clinic over these last months – that the pandemic is resulting in increased emotional eating, including in pregnant women.

The study found that the highest increase in emotional eating amongst pregnant women occurred in areas where there was a high concern about COVID-19, and where physical activity was limited. They found that pregnant women on lockdown tended to snack more, and consumed higher amounts of grains and fats – the classic comfort foods.

The concern with higher emotional eating is a corresponding excess gestational weight gain, with associated risks of C-section and gestational diabetes. Recommendations based on the study include:

  • better nutrition education and interventions during checkups (I have found doing a 24-hour diet review to be the most useful way to do this. If you are doing this on your own, keeping a food diary for three days can be incredibly useful to track what you are actually eating, and shifting when/what you eat to focus on whole foods at planned meal times rather than more random snacking throughout the day)
  • better psychosocial supports and counselling during lockdown (this includes both tele-support an in-person supports – in the Yukon many counsellors have offered outdoor walking counselling sessions which has been a creative way to still provide important supports)
  • increased physical activity options to regulate mood and curb emotional eating (online programs like Yoga With Adrienne‘s “Home” program have received great reviews, as well as scheduling daily walks with friends and colleagues to be able to meet both physical and social needs safely outside)

I hope you have found this helpful, and do let me know if you have any questions!

If you are hungry for more evidence-based information in your pregnancy, sign up for my free webinar: 7 Pregnancy Myths Debunked – and get the information you need to have a healthy pregnancy and a thriving baby.

And if you are a care-provider looking for evidence-based resources for your pregnant patients, please get in touch with us at support@myhealthypregnancyplan.com.

In health,
Dr Jocelyn Land-Murphy, ND
Terra Life

References:

Zhang, J. et a. (2010). Emotional Eating in Pregnant Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Association with Dietary Intake and Gestational Weight Gain. Nutrients, 12: 2250.

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