Pregnancy Diet – Eat Real Food

Why didn’t anyone tell me that what I eat in pregnancy does matter? I don’t have an intro to this excellent post by Donielle, of Naturally Knocked Up, other than to say I’m fascinated!  (And to say, I’m not quite there yet, but we’re working on it bit by bit.)  I’ll share more thoughts on my own pregnancy diet next week.

My strongest belief is that God truly has a hand in the health of our babies. Before, during, and after pregnancy. Sometimes, even when we do everything right, our little ones place in glory is ready for them before we’re ready to see them go.

God’s will trumps all.

But there are some things we can control – like the food we put in our mouths.

Over the past five years, with infertility struggles in the beginning due to my PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome), to becoming pregnant and following the modern advice during my first pregnancy, to following completely different advice during my second, I’ve become very passionate about food.

Why you ask? Well, the one thing I wish someone would have told me when I first became pregnant was how much food affected not only my body during pregnancy, but the baby’s body for years to come.

Now, I’m not a doctor or medical professional, but I have spent hours upon hours researching and reading, finding out exactly how food fits into my life. Finding out exactly how our bodies are meant to function. And it’s all about nourishing our bodies.

One in six couples now struggles with infertility, about 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, some women are unable to breastfeed due to lack of supply, babies are born with allergies and asthma, and a record number of children are now being diagnosed with things like autism, ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities and many are chronically sick. It is my belief that some of this may be due to the fact that we’ve veered so far away from the food that God has intended for us to eat.

Back when I first became pregnant, I followed all of the conventional and modern wisdom my doctor had to offer. I drank only skim milk and ate low fat yogurt, I ate healthy and fiber rich cereal, stayed away from spicy foods, and stocked my cart with boxes touting the “health” of the food within. But I was also horribly crabby, tired All. The. Time. and had constant headaches, nausea, and heartburn!

The foods that currently stock our super market shelves may feed our bodies, but do little to actually nourish it.

Because it’s not real food!

Real food is:

  • Unadulterated and unprocessed
  • Free from preservatives, flavor enhancers, and artificial coloring
  • As close from the ground as we can get it and grown without the use of chemicals
  • From animals that are humanely treated and fed what their bodies need – grass!
  • Prepared in a way to glean the most nourishment from it – the same way our ancestors did

I wish someone would have told me…….

How good fat was for you

During pregnancy specifically, our bodies need a lot of good fats from good sources. Good whole milk, (preferably raw, but at least lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized) lots of eggs, butter, coconut oil, and wholesome fats from fish and animals are essential to growing a baby. They nourish the baby and provide nutrients essential to proper brain development and neurological function as well as building proper bone structure. (did you know that narrow jaws and crooked teeth are due to lack of these essential nutrients?) Above and beyond all food science, studies, and experts, the fact is that God provided these foods in perfect form! He did not give us cows that produce skim milk! He gave us perfectly good and wholesome fats that are full of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

How bad processed food was for me

And not just the stuff we easily admit is unhealthy like chips, pop, and frozen pizzas. But things like the “healthy” frozen dinners, cereal, and flavored yogurts. Anything processed goes through some form of heating which kills enzymes, and the processing destroys many of the nutrients. Our bodies also have to work extra hard to digest processed foods which lead to using up stores of vitamins and minerals. You know…the stuff that helps build a healthy baby!

How good probiotics were for me

Not only do probiotic foods help keep your immune system in top notch shape, they also populate and prepare the baby’s gut. In doing so it helps the baby absorb nutrients, fend off illness, and avoid disorders associated with a ‘leaky gut’. (autism, ADD, behavioral issues, and depression)

How simple adding nutrients could be

When we were struggling with infertility and when I then became pregnant, we were eating the standard American diet. We bought plenty of fruits and veggies, but then everything else was from a box or bag. Why make bread when you can just buy it? Why make soup when it comes so conveniently in a can? Make your own beans? Never! Those come in cans too.

But by making more from home, you can easily increase the nutrient content of your food. Making bread is fairly simple once you have a recipe, a few minutes of active working time, and 3 hours at home. Plus it tastes soooo fabulous. Homemade broth should be a pantry (ok freezer) staple as it’s chock full of vitamins and minerals and super easy to make. And you can absorb more nutrients from beans when you prepare them yourself! (fyi – did you know that beans are high in vitamin B and can help stave off morning sickness?)

I hope I was able to give you all something to think about! Making just a few changes within your diet can allow you to have a healthier pregnancy and healthier baby. I’d love to hear your thoughts about a pregnancy diet in the comments!

Thanks to Amy for letting me guest post today! It’s so comfy over here, I may just stay awhile. My passion beyond my family is food and natural health and since I could go on and on about eating, I’ve also posted my 10 Essentials for a pregnancy diet over at my blog today. I’m also launching an eCourse on July 12 all about how to prepare our bodies for pregnancy. So whether you’re on your 10th kid and just want some great info on how to ensure better health, or you’re struggling with infertility, you’ll find a one of a kind, multi-media course that will walk you through preparing your body step by step.

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Comments

  1. What a great post! I wasn’t aware that eating probiotics during pregnancy helped avoid things like autism, ADD and ADHD.

  2. It’s unfortunate that all this info has really always been there but we’ve been duped into taking the easy way of packaged foods by misleading advertising. Most people probably feel like they have no time to do the investigating and read the books available about food—that’s why they use the quick packaged food to begin with! I’m so glad there are so many bloggers sharing info that might jumpstart someone’s path to more healthful living!! great info!

    • I think you’re right. It all goes back to the advertising… which leads back to the almighty dollar. Sad. :(

    • @Heather, I know what you mean! When I first began my own Real Food journey, it was almost paralyzing due to the amount of information out there. So much to research, it was much easier to grab a box of cereal that TOLD me it was healthy. But like Amy said – it all just comes down to the pockets of the food manufacturers.

  3. Ainslee says:

    I also was diagnosed with PCOS and was told I would need to take clomid in order to become pregnant. After seeing a nutritionist and eating the foods that my body needs (protein, good fats, LEGUMES!) and not eating things that are detrimental (sugar in any form) I was able to conceive after one month. I hope your post encourages others to avoid the pre-processed “nutrient enhanced” foods and look to eat the foods that God has so generously given us. (The nutritionist that I went to can be found at karenhurd.com where you can find multiple intellectual articles about what we should(n’t) put in our bodies.)

  4. Katherine says:

    I think this was well written, but frustrating. We need to be really careful not to blame moms for causing problems like ADD, asthma, etc. Moms eating a sensible, balanced diet are probably NOT giving their kiddos ADD. A can of beans is probably NOT leading to asthma. More likely, the rise in diagnosis of these things is due to our changing society, better healthcare, increased tv use, and a rise in mental health professionals (some quite overzealous to diagnose these things). Healthy eating is a great thing and should be achievable to all in America. But, it is getting frustrating that now canned fruits and veggies, canned beans and whole grains are considered “bad for you.” Really? That is a lot of pressure to put on mothers – especially working moms or moms of certain incomes. And, whoa on saying that malnutrition causes crooked teeth! I have been to 3rd world countries, with very malnutrioned children, and some of them have the most beautiful straight teeth you have ever seen. Where is the good, solid research on this statement? Aspiring to good health is wonderful and glorifying to God. But, we moms face enough pressure as it is and should not feel guilty about using a can of tomatoes in a recipes.

    • @Katherine,
      “I have been to 3rd world countries, with very malnutrioned children, and some of them have the most beautiful straight teeth you have ever seen. Where is the good, solid research on this statement?”

      Let me start here first. There was a dentist back in the 1930′s who started research on teeth and nutrition. His name was Weston A Price (http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/price.htm) He traveled the world while there where still completely non industrialized, un modernized cultures that showed certain foods bred fertility, wellness, and overall health into a person. He found that in traditional cultures (one without any processed foods whatsoever – they ate only local and seasonal foods) the people had less than 1% rate of dental cavities and deformities (crooked teeth).
      http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/PriceResearchConclusions.htm

      When processed foods were introduced the faces of the children changed, becoming much more narrow. The scientific evidence is there – just not broadcast mainstream.
      http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/index.htm

      So while those children in those third world countries may be underfed, their parents most likely had better diets than they do. And the jaw and teeth are first formed in utureo. In fact, it’s completely possible that the children here in America are fed quite well – but malnourished. Because the foods they do eat, do nothing to nourish their little bodies. Processed foods in fact deplete our body of essential nutrients allowing our bodies to be susceptible to the modern diseases today. (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc)

      Some great sites for further reading:
      Weston A Price Foundation (currently down for some reason)
      Price Pottenger Site
      Cure Tooth Decay
      The story of the author behind The Maker’s Diet (healed himself of Crohns)

      GAPS Diet- stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome

      As per the fact that we should not guilt women – I agree. We all do the best we can. And like I started out with, God controls all! So a woman can do everything right and something could still go ‘wrong’. But His will is always done.

      Environmental factors also come into play – pesticides, air pollution, chlorine and fluoride in the water systems, plastics, vaccines and on and on. So no – food isn’t the end all be all solution, but it can help heal and prevent. Even mainstream doctors and scientists can attest to that. They know certain foods cut down on the instance of cancer for instance.

      Thank you for voicing your thoughts! I at one point was very doubtful of the same things I now believe wholeheartedly. And I do so because I’ve seen great healing within my own family and circle of friends. And I’m not perfect either. I still use a can of tomatoes when I have to. I tend to live by the 80/20 rule – making sure I eat a good whole foods diet at least 80% of the time and the other 20% I don’t particularly eat junk per se – but do allow “not perfect” foods onto my plate.

    • I don’t sense blame in Donielle’s post at all… just lots of great information that people may be unaware of. We can’t make good choices without the info.

      No one can deny the “coincidence” of the poor health trend and the packaged/processed food trend. The stats are there. The research is there. As a society it’s really easy to ignore the facts and focus on the immediate… what’s accessible and in front of us right now.

      I saw a documentary once on the teeth thing. FASCINATING! Wish I remembered the source. My hubby and I were in awe.

      In the end, it’s not about the “can of tomatoes.” It’s about the cumulative effects of artificial, processed junk (colored and flavored in any which way) that’s passed on to frazzled Americans as food. We’ve been duped. ;)

  5. I find this all so fascinating… what wonderful information to have out there! Truth be told, I was so busy trying to gain any kind of weight at all through my pregnancies (since I was getting hollered at by doctors…) that that was my primary focus– calorie-dense, nutritionally rich foods. I worked hard to make healthy, homemade choices, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that I could have done better! Thanks for this post!

    • Shhh, don’t say that too loudly. Might find some preggo mamas wanting to throw tomatoes at you for that weight-gaining issue. ;) I don’t think any of us can stand on a pedestal and say “Eat like I eat, cause I’m the best!” We just have to do the best we can with the info at hand.

  6. AMEN! I agree w/ all of this!
    Bring on the REAL food! =)

  7. Love this post! With each pregnancy, I have been bound and determined to continue on with the whole foods dier we eat….however, each time I have ended up so unusually sick I am in the hospital and throw up for nine months. :( Sooooo, it each time (and for 9 whole months!) becomes a matter of staying hydrated and out of a “danger zone”. I end up frustrated and feeling quilty. My doctors have tried to encourage me that the healthy, whole foods we typically eat have given my body good reserves, and that our little one is in the Lord’s hands. I try and give it my best (which looks like months of sipping lemonade!) and pray the Lord will protect our little one…in spite of it all!

    • Ugh! I have a cousin who went through the same thing. Definite survival mode! Smart doctor, encouraging you with your “reserves.” So true!

  8. I desperately wish that I had known more about food when I was having babies. If only I had done something different maybe my child wouldn’t have problems. Actually 2 of my children. I try not to think about, knowing that I did the best I could at the time with the info I knew then, but if I could go back maybe things would be different.

    • @Jennifer, I know! I knew nothing of whole food diets when I was pregnant with my first. There are already things we’re working through with him trying to heal his body and prevent other issues. It’s hard not to look back and feel guilty – but like you said – we did the VERY BEST we knew how at the time. The good news is that there are many different natural therapies that can bring a lot of healing – and we have a big God. So even if healing doesn’t happen, we know our little ones are being cared for by the one who loves them the very most!

    • Right there with you, Jennifer. I learned some things from my Bradley Method classes… but not all that!

  9. Kathryn says:

    This is a great post. I was blessed to grow up in a family where eating whole foods and cooking from scratch was the default, so I went into adulthood equipped to do the same. What I love about eating whole foods is the fact that it has an automatic reward system–the more you do it, the better you naturally look and feel.
    Specifically, I’m thankful that I had a mom who understood the benefits of probiotics at a time when no one talked about that kind of thing. Yogurt was one of the few things that I enjoyed eating during my first trimester of pregnancy, when I was nauseous ALL the time. Oh, and it’s not just good for your immune system and digestion (and the baby’s)–it also helps prevent urinary tract infections, which can be quite dangerous for pregnant women.

  10. Its my first trimester. I am having food cravings for ice cream. Is it good for health? Please help me…

  11. Thanks so much, Donielle and Amy! I linked to this post, too!

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