Yesterday, after months fan speculation, Kylie Jenner finally announced that she gave birth in an 11-minute YouTube documentary. Around the 4:50 mark of the video, Kylie is shown at a doctor's appointment discussing an oft-discussed aspect of pregnancy: food cravings. Kylie's doctor tells her that she's gained 20 pounds, and should aim for 28 to 35 pounds by the end of her pregnancy. Kylie excitedly does some math and says, "So, yeah, eight more pounds," and laughs.
Her doctor sits down and says, "If you're gonna eat, you need to exercise." But Kylie says, "It's just, In-N-Out these days literally tastes like it's the best thing I've ever had." The doctor gives a disapproving sigh, then says, "Can I tell you something? Never eat In-N-Out." Cut to: a montage of Kylie going through In-N-Out drive-thru and ordering "a double cheeseburger and fries well done" with her friends.
If the brilliant video editing is to be believed, Kylie didn't really GAF about her doctor's suggestion to steer clear of In-N-Out, and she and baby are doing just fine, thank you very much. But is there any reason why pregnant people should avoid In-N-Out, or any fast food for that matter? Let's explore.
Though the doctor's directive seems blasphemous to Kylie and other In-N-Out lovers, it's pretty normal for a doctor to recommend avoiding fast food, whether you're pregnant or not, says Lynn L. Simpson, MD, FACOG, professor of women's health in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. Fast food is generally high in salt, sugar, and fat, which doctors recommend limiting during pregnancy, she says. "Many women are aware of this and do their best to eat a nutritious diet during pregnancy — which can lead to those cravings for fast food being more intense," she says.
The thing is, an imbalanced diet with too much fast food could contribute to gestational diabetes, which complicates the baby's growth and delivery, as well as the baby's short- and long-term health. "So for many, many reasons, it is recommended to limit intake of fast food during pregnancy," Dr. Simpson says. That said, fast food itself won't cause gestational diabetes, says Torey Armul, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Gaining excess weight during pregnancy and a family history of diabetes can greatly increase your risk, however," Armul says.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a cheeseburger, in particular, may also be slightly riskier than other foods, because undercooked beef can contain E.Coli, according to the FDA. When you're pregnant, your immune system is compromised, so it's harder to fight off food-borne illnesses like this. We can assume that In-N-Out follows the proper food safety protocols that would prevent this from happening, but that possibility may be why her doctor also tried to dissuade her from eating cheeseburgers. (We reached out to In-N-Out for comment, but didn't hear back at the time of publication)
At the end of the day, Kylie's doctor wasn't necessarily demonizing In-N-Out — she was just providing the dietary recommendations that she believed applied to Kylie's specific lifestyle. And that's key to remember: Nutrition isn't one-size-fits-all, during pregnancy or any other time. Plus, pregnancy weight-gain guidelines are particularly fraught, and often lead to unnecessary stress, so it's especially important to pay attention to hunger cues and eat intuitively during this time.
"Even fast food can have a small place in a healthy pregnancy," Armul says. "It’s important to find a balance between eating healthy for the sake of yourself and your baby, and enjoying your food during pregnancy."
And honestly, a world where pregnancy means you can never have a double cheeseburger with well-done fries is not really one we want to live in.