Understanding maternal dietary choices during pregnancy: The role of social norms and mindful eating

Amanda Hutchinson, M Charters, Ivanka Prichard, Chloe Fletcher, Carlene Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction Serious health complications associated with excessive weight have been documented for pregnant women and their babies during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Whilst research has focused on identifying particular foods that can be either detrimental or essential for the developing baby, pregnant women's food choices are likely determined by broader considerations. This study examined social influences as represented in reports of descriptive and injunctive social norms related to healthy eating during pregnancy, and individual differences in mindfulness while eating, as important potential correlates of pregnant women's self-reported diet. Methods Pregnant women (N = 139) completed a questionnaire that measured self-reported consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods, descriptive and injunctive norms related to healthy eating during pregnancy and the Mindful Eating Questionnaire (MEQ). Hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to assess the extent to which norms and mindful eating accounted for variance in consumption of both foods. Results No significant associations were observed between perceived social norms related to diet during pregnancy and self-reported dietary behaviour. Mindful eating was found to play a role in pregnant women's eating behaviour, with the awareness subscale of the MEQ significantly associated with healthy eating and the emotional subscale associated with unhealthy eating. Age was also associated with consumption of unhealthy foods; younger pregnant women reported consuming more unhealthy snacks and fast food meals. Conclusions The associations between mindful eating and dietary behaviour suggests that improving mindfulness related to food consumption before and during pregnancy may provide a strategy to address excessive gestational weight gain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-234
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


    • Diet
    • Gestational weight gain
    • Mindful eating
    • Pregnancy
    • Social norms


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