Dire diets amongst new mothers in the UK

Published 31 July 18

New -mum -diet -infographic -1A fifth of new mums put their healthy diets on hold - until their children are old enough to eat with them, according to a recent study run by OnePoll. These findings come in stark contrast to the increased nutritional needs of new mothers who require an additional 550mg of calcium each day whilst they are breastfeeding.  

Researchers who polled 1,000 mothers with children aged three and under found 91 per cent were 'too busy' adjusting to parenthood to eat ‘properly’.  During the first six months of becoming a mum:  

  • 52 per cent ate more takeaways
  • Over a third tucked into more fried foods
  • 45 per cent ate more ready meals

Worryingly, 78 per cent revealed there were days when they barely ate anything at all. 

In contrast, those polled ate less fruit (17 per cent) and vegetables (18 per cent) during the same period. 

The research, commissioned by AHDB, also found that 26 per cent were not prepared for the negative impact that having a baby would have on their diet. Incredibly, 87 per cent revealed any thoughts of having a balanced diet went out of the window during the first six months – instead mums ate whatever they could to keep hunger at bay. 

More than a quarter said they were so exhausted with the added demands of parenthood they consumed foods which were quick and easy to prepare.  45 per cent even resorted to eating their children’s leftovers rather than preparing themselves a meal from scratch.  

“Welcoming a baby into the family is life changing and for new parents, it’s an overwhelming time. It’s also a time when nutrition should take centre stage as a woman’s body is going through a process of readjustment and great care should be taken to ensure nutritional requirements are met. In the first months following childbirth and throughout breastfeeding, a woman’s calcium requirements actually increase to safeguard against bone mass loss. Dairy products are a good source of calcium, protein and phosphorus all of which support the maintenance of normal bones,” commented dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton.

Despite this need, just one fifth of respondents considered foods containing dairy to be healthy snack options.  In addition around one third tended to avoid dairy products because they feared they contained lots of saturated fats and a high number of calories. 

“Snacks containing dairy are some of the most nutritionally dense options and new mothers should consider them as part of their diet,” said Dr Ruxton.  

The research also found that 54 per cent think there is a lack of education when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle as a new parent. 

“This negative perception of dairy is evidence of a lack of education out there. New mothers are in a critical transition time and their nutrition needs are specific. Dairy is one of the most important food groups due to its rich calcium content which is needed to support bone health and breast milk production. Greater work needs to be done to educate new parents on their own nutritional needs, not just their baby’s needs,” concluded Carrie Ruxton.