Powerhouse Pregnancy Foods Your Doctor PROBABLY Forgot To Mention
If you’re getting your advice on pregnancy nutrition from the likes of What To Expect When You’re Expecting or BabyCenter, you’ll hear advice like “choose extra-lean meat” or “replace ground beef with ground turkey.” Or “Replace your whole milk with skim to reduce your saturated fat.” Or “Reduce your salt intake to avoid swelling.” Or worse yet, “Instead of butter, pick margarine with oil or water listed as it’s first ingredient.” (These are actual phrases I’ve found online today!)
The thing is, this advice could not be further from the truth. And it’s certainly not the way traditional healthy cultures have ever eaten, especially during childbearing years.
Understanding how to eat during pregnancy goes far beyond the proverbial “eating for two.” Your body is literally building a person! A person primarily made up of protein and whose brain is primarily made up of cholesterol. This little one is surrounded by amniotic fluid, which your body has to produce from somewhere. In addition, this constantly growing person is being sustained by an organ–your placenta–your body created from scratch in the first trimester, will sustain the whole pregnancy and then discard when you are done!
To boil it down to it’s simplest terms, to grow a baby you need:
Protein and Fats.
Yep, those are the most important things. And these should come from the most nutrient dense sources you can find/afford. I’m not talking junk food here! I’m talking about food that is packed full of the best proteins and fats. If it’s from a great, natural, organic, traditional source it will be full of all the minerals, vitamins and trace nutrients that your baby needs–lovely things you probably don’t think about much, such as omega-3 fatty acids, large buoyant LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, vitamins A & D, calcium, magnesium, collagen, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, and so much more.
Sure, you need other stuff–vegetables, fruits, complex carbs. But, without enough protein and healthy fat you won’t be able to process what you need from the other things. So, we have to get first things first.
This stuff is essential, ladies! And your body can’t create it from a deficient diet. You need to be taking it in on a regular basis.
Now you might think, “Hey, it’s OK if my diet is not all that great, because I take prenatal vitamins.” And if you tend to think this way you might be tempted to continue drinking your Dr. Pepper, eating fast food, and bags of potato chips. I don’t know how else to say it: You can never make up for a poor diet with an artificial supplement. Never. Am I saying not to take prenatals? Well, not necessarily. That determination really needs to made between you and your midwife or doctor and taking a strict look at your diet from a REAL FOOD perspective. But I am saying that you can’t out-smart a bad diet with a supplement. Your body requires food, not capsules, pills or powders.
A supplement is not a substitute.
Case in point, I’ve supplemented with calcium/magnesium religiously since my first pregnancy until my eighth pregnancy. I still suffered with muscle cramps the likes of which could be depicted only in graphic novels with words like “Ka-chow!” and “BAM!” They would literally knock me off my feet. Hurt worse than any of my labors. The supplement helped, but did not cure. However, when I started making traditional bone broths part of my daily diet, the muscle cramps miraculously disappeared altogether–without supplementation. I’m not saying that will necessarily happen for everyone. But it does illustrate that it is far better to get one’s nutrients from food rather than supplements.
By way of inspiration, here are some foods I partake of liberally when pregnant:
Use broths in soups, stews, sauces, gravies, or just straight in a mug! It’s a super easy thing to incorporate into your diet. See how we do it here: Beautiful Bone Broth Benefits.
EGGS, EGGS, AND MORE EGGS
Fried eggs for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches, quiche, egg drop soup, as topping on salad, and so much more! If you have a safe source for pastured organic eggs, use them raw in smoothies!
especially mollusks, shellfish, roe and fatty fish.
whole, grassfed, organic, and raw
The most nutrient dense parts of the animal are the parts we throw away! The bones, fat, and organ meat! In fact, organ meat has ten to 100 times the vitamins and minerals than muscle meat!
Did you know that the healthy bacteria that populates your gut starts with birth? Your baby will pick up your bacteria if born vaginally through the birth passage. And this bacteria will populate his or her intestines and lead to a healthier life, with fewer allergies, digestive upsets, colic, etc! So, it’s really important you increase your own body’s healthy bacteria. Start populating your own gut with great flora by including yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc in your diet every single day.
If eating in traditional ways is new to you, you might be thinking, “WHAT?!” or “YUCK!” or “I COULD NEVER EAT THAT STUFF!” Do not be overwhelmed. Ideally start when you are not pregnant. And start with just one thing. Set a baby step goal. The first month think, “OK, I’m going to have a fermented food or drink every day.” After that becomes normal and part of your routine say, “Now I’m going to start bone broth and take it at least five days a week.” Step-by-step in this way you can be building up a strong body and giving your reproductive system the best chance for producing a healthy, happy baby at term!
What if you are already pregnant? You do your best! You again, start with a doable goal. One of the ways I stay on track when pregnant is to periodically track every thing I’m eating. I’ll do it for a couple weeks at the beginning of pregnancy. And I’ll ask a friend who is into nutrition or a childbirth educator to review it and give me their harshest critique. I’ll do it again midway through pregnancy and again towards the end. This keeps my nutrition on track. Accountability does wonders!
So, ditch the “lean” and “lite” and “sugar-free.” Feed your body and your baby REAL FOOD, nutrient DENSE food, and see how wonderful you can feel from conception to birth!
(Linked to Creative HomeAcre Hop, One Sharendipity Place, You’re Gonna Love It, Try A New Recipe Tuesday, Encourage One Another Link-Up!, Pin-It Monday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, and Allergy Free Wednesday)