Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 4 of 5

Today’s topic: NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY.

Remember, what you’re eating when you’re pregnant is also contributing to healthy blood, bones, tissues, and organs—or not.

It’s so painful for me to remember back to eating 7-11 nachos, Diet Coke, a Special Burger and fries (extra fry sauce!) at lunch, and Ben & Jerry’s after dinner, throughout my first pregnancy. I didn’t know any better. I assumed my body was making good fuel for my baby, out of the bad fuel I fed myself—as illogical as that is.

I imagine that’s why I not only gained 65 lbs., but it’s also why my baby developed significant auto-immune problems in his first year of life. With my later pregnancies, I was learning and implementing good nutrition strategies, and the babies were FAR healthier.

My last baby was (and still is, at age 12) completely healthy—never once a bacterial infection of any kind, never any antibiotics or meds or even doctor visits. The labor and delivery got easier, too, when I ate the right foods throughout the pregnancy and gained only 35 lbs. instead of 65!

I can’t even count how many times a 12 Steps to Whole Foods young mom has talked to me after a class I teach, and told me this:

“I’m so thrilled that I changed my diet to eat whole foods, because this last pregnancy has been my easiest and healthiest!”

I’ve had many moms tell me about major complications they had during their earlier pregnancies, while they were eating the Standard American Diet, and how all that changed when they embraced whole-foods fuel.

One mother in Texas told me that with her first 4 children, she was on bed rest, with terrible edema, and pre-eclampsia. As she told me this, she was 9 months pregnant, and beaming ear to ear. She said, “This is my first problem-free pregnancy. I’m about to deliver, and I’m so excited I learned all about whole foods from you.”

My diet now is the diet I would eat if I were pregnant again. The “pregnancy diet” is no different than the ideal diet for life.

It’s high in greens, in vegetables, and in fruits—80% of more of them raw. I also eat cooked legumes (beans, split peas, lentils), and whole grains (organic quinoa, whole wheat, rolled oats or oat groats, spelt, Kamut, buckwheat, millet—most of them sprouted before they are baked at low temperatures). I buy sprouted-grain (whole grain only) bread or English muffins or tortillas at the health food store. But I also make my own granola.

I eat nuts and seeds every day, some of them sprouted, many of them rich sources of essential fatty acids. I soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds to add to my granola.

I use coconut oil on my skin and in occasional baking, for medium-chain triglycerides. I always have a quart of green smoothie a day. Most days, I also have a glass of vegetable juice, although at many points in my life, I’ve not had the time to make juice, and now I hire someone to do it.

I choose big salads in restaurants. I don’t eat refined sugar, ever, nor do I ever drink soda, or eat processed meats, or pork or beef. I eat a 95 percent plant-based diet, and I keep refined foods or animal products at 5 percent or less.

While I was having my babies, I was learning how to do all that. It was new to me then—it is habit now. I didn’t give up sugar cold-turkey back then. I had fits and starts in dealing with my addiction.

My changes involved bucking “the system.” Lots of systems, in fact. The medical system. The social system of parties and barbecues and family events and Easter and Halloween and Christmas. The church system of keeping kids quiet in nursery and later, in class, with junk food. The family system of generations of “comfort foods” that contributed to my babies’ health problems. It wasn’t easy. But it was one of the BEST THINGS I’VE EVER DONE. I’ve never looked back, and I have absolutely zero regret.

What I did HAD TO BE DONE.

So, what I’ve just described my diet being now is a great diet for a pregnant or nursing mom. It’s a terrible idea for a pregnant mom to eat a diet high in refined carbs. The baby does need good protein for brain health, and overall for building. There’s plenty of protein in nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and greens.

If you avoid those good food categories, eating a vegan diet, you’re likely to develop dental problems, blood sugar issues, and fatigue-related disorders. If you want more protein, I suggest a scoop of our whole-food, vegan protein powder added to your green smoothies.

Doctors tell women to eat lots of protein, and everyone’s first thought with protein is meat and dairy. Those are “perfect proteins,” to be sure. But “perfect” doesn’t meant “better”—it just mean it is protein the body doesn’t have to assemble from amino acids, because it matches human flesh very closely. Protein from greens, seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts is protein the body has to work harder to build muscle with. But it’s far more durable muscle mass.

Always eat protein when you’re eating sugars. For instance, if you have a green smoothie and yours is high in fruits, eat a handful of almonds, too, or a bowl of lentil or split pea soup. Or add a scoop of protein powder. I make my green smoothies as high in greens, and as low in fruits, as I can tolerate. Slow down and regulate impact on blood sugar, by eating FIBER and QUALITY PROTEIN. This is how you can, with lifelong habits, avoid insulin problems and eventual diabetes, which currently most of our population is heading toward.

Don’t undertake a major, radical detox program while you’re pregnant or in the first year of nursing. As toxins range your body, on their way out, they flush through a developing fetus, and through your breast milk, as well.

Again, don’t take my advice in lieu of competent practitioner care and counsel.

Tomorrow, we talk once again about WHAT TO DO ABOUT PICKY KIDS.

 

19 thoughts on “Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 4 of 5

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  1. I’m in my 9th month of pregnancy and I can’t agree with you more. However, I think you have to be careful about saying that everything will be great with your pregnancy as long as you eat a healthy diet. Our bodies are not perfect and are subject to problems even when we do all we can to eat right and exercise. I have been on a whole foods diet for about 4 years now and have felt very healthy, but with this last pregnancy I developed gestational diabetes for the first time. I was so sad and wondered what I did wrong. As I began taking my blood sugar levels regularly I realized that my even though I have gestational diabetes, my blood sugar levels have always stayed within target range (during pregnancy, blood sugar levels are to stay between 60-120). Every time I go to visit my OB he tells me “Your numbers look so good, I have no idea why you failed the glucose test.” Things I have done to keep my blood sugar levels in check- Soaked almonds, I could not live with out them right now…so much easier to digest when they are soaked first…plus they aren’t so dry and won’t make you gag. Whole grains and maybe an egg (I know, I know, but my body takes the protein from eggs really well when I’m pregnant…plus it’s from my own hens) for breakfast. You need to start your day off on the right foot or else you are playing catch-up on your blood sugar for the rest of the day. And last but not least is green smoothies…but be careful, do more greens than fruit. I’ve found that even fruit sugar makes your blood sugar spike. A lot of times my smoothies are just a few strawberries, a banana and kale or spinach. The last thing I do is exercise. Find something you like to do…walking, swimming etc… because I’m almost done with my pregnancy, I love walking at night after the kids are in bed, exercising helps burn off extra sugars.
    Even though I have this problem right now…because of my healthy eating, my body is still able to perform the way it needs to, to have a healthy baby and for me to feel great.

  2. I appreciate you sharing your PRE-“green smoothie girl” experiences with your pregnancies and babies…like many others, I started learning and changing because of weird health problems my family was experiencing, not really even knowing that we were eating badly – I mean, my gosh! We followed the Food Pyramid! 🙂 Now I look back at my pregnancies and how I fed my babies and shake my head at myself, especially since I *thought* I was feeding them better than most! I’m so glad to hear your stories of “redemption”, so to speak, as it gives me hope that I can fix the damage I did before I knew any better! I finally started getting things right with #5 and can’t believe the difference in his health, not to mention his love for green smoothies, salad and any veggie that comes his way! Thank you!!

  3. Is there such thing as a “good” prenatal vitamin? I drink my green smoothies every day. I’ve cut out white flour and sugar, eating mostly vegetables and whole grains. My diet is not perfect, but I’m working at it. We are starting to think about having another baby. Is there anything out there that’s worth taking?

  4. I was introduced to you about 3 months ago and can I say I LOVE you! My family is eating better (before we weren’t too far off the mark–but needed some improvement) and we all FEEL better! So I want to ask you about my kids 2 main staples, peanut butter (no jelly) sandwiches and burritos. I make my own whole wheat bread, (I grind my own wheat) each week and use peanut butter that only contains peanuts and salt. As for the burritos, my next step is to make them home made rather than from the freezer section. What is your take on these staples for my kids? Thanks!

    PS I love the idea of saying my kids are allergic to the snacks in school and church because ultimately they are allergic!

  5. I am newly pregnant and wonder if I start eating this way now will it negatively effect my baby? I know that sounds weird but I’m asking because I know that to some extent my body will detox.

  6. I just wanted to comment on the first post. I had a friend fail the g?ucose test and she was so sure it was incorrect. Because of her persistence with the Ob she was tested a different way, not the usual sugar drink….and found that the original test was incorrect. This all came after her doc had sent her to go get all the equipment to keep tabs on her “gestational diabetes.” It sounds like this could be a possibility with her having normal levels when tested. I believe that you can’t always trust what the tests say especially if sometimes something can change your results, such as a specific thing you ate! It’s good to be diligent! Thanks for all the great info GSG.

  7. Robyn,
    I have been viewed as the health nut of my family for awhile now and really make a point to keep my family on a strict whole foods diet. I am currently 9 wks pregnant and feel just absolutely awful! My first pregnancy I had a little of the usual stomach funk, the second one was a little worse and this third is just horrible. I can’t keep much down some days and throw up at least once every evening. Hardly anything sounds appealing and even thinking about eating my usual giant green salad at lunch makes me sick. Everyone says you can’t do much at all about nausea during pregnancy, but I’m desperate and thought I’d post on here to see if you have any advice. I’m so concerned with the fact that I’m not getting proper nutrition right now due to my constant stomach issues. I started taking the MegaFood whole food prenatal vitamin b/c I was concerned about how little nutrition I was taking in. Help please??

  8. ChristineN:

    I have had four children and was sick with hyperemesis (severe nausea and vomiting) throughout the entire pregnancy with all of them. I did not discover green smoothies until a year before I got pregnant with my fourth. Though I was very sick even with my fourth one, I was more in tune with my body to really notice those things (nutritionally) that altered the nausea level one way or another. First of all, consider sugar (especially precessed sugar of any kind) to be the devil. Because of the changes in my diet prior to the pregnancy, I often went for a couple weeks without any sweets at all. After I got pregnant and started the routine of throwing up everything I ate, I started to crave sweets more, but when I indulged, my nausea went through the roof and I paid for it for about two days afterward.

    The things that helped me were plain carrot juice (about 16 oz. a day) from my juicer every day (though it often took a day or two to help if I was had eaten sweets), and making my smoothies a lot thinner. I couldn’t stomach salads until about month eight, so I quit trying. Also, if either of those things do come back up, there are no chunks to get stuck in the back of your nose for hours at a time, which is a good thing, because they will come up sometimes.

    The Ormus Greens were also very helpful. They have a mint flavor to them (mint is good for nausea) and I was able to mix it with ice water (cold is also very helpful) and drink it when I couldn’t eat ANYTHING — though even that came up sometimes.

    Other than that, try to stay very hydrated (even though that seems impossible when even water can make you throw up), get lots of extra rest (lack of sleep also increases nausea), and keep the stimuli in your life to a lower level if that’s at all possible (noises, lights, people, stress, crowded places –they all make it worse, too). I also took Odansetron (Zofran), though at as low a dose as I could get away with. It never touched my nausea, but it did decrease the amount of vomiting.

    I was never able to take any pre-natal vitamins because they made my nausea worse. But even with all the throwing up I did on my fourth pregnancy, when they tested my iron level, it was very good. I just did whatever I could to get some sort of stellar liquid nutrition.

    I’m so sorry you feel so sick. No matter how you look at it, it stinks to go through it. Just do the best you can and rest easy that because you ate well before you got pregnant, your baby will be already be miles ahead (nutritionally) than that of the average pregnant woman. Some of the most important development took place in the first few weeks when you were still able to eat. And though I know it is different for everyone, I do hope that some of what helped me will be helpful for you.

    Good Luck!

  9. I discovered your website a year ago, read all the archives, and slowly started making changes in my diet. While my previous diet was never “terrible,” I did consume plenty of caffeine, sugar, dairy, and grains. Instead of immediately cutting out bad things, I started adding in good things. I first started drinking a green smoothie with my breakfast. Then, I started making fresh vegetable/fruit juices and eating larger leafy green salads with dinner. Gradually, I cut down on coffee (and two teaspoons of sugar) and switched to green tea (with one teaspoon of honey) and finally ended up drinking unsweetened herbal tea. I started losing my taste for highly sweet foods and quit sweetening my morning oatmeal. I cut back on dairy, wheat, and processed foods. I tried more raw food recipes. When I use meat and eggs, I buy organic, pastured options. Ultimately, my digestion improved and my cystic acne disappeared (it took about 6 months before I saw any improvement and now I’ve been cyst-free for a full 6 months).

    In July, I conceived naturally. I am 31 years old and am now about halfway through my first pregnancy. Both my grandmother and my mother had terrible morning sickness but I only had some mild nausea and food aversions during my second month. I felt the worst around week 6 when my partner and I both had the flu. Neither of us felt like shopping for food or cooking and we ate takeaway and delivery almost every day. I have no doubt that the lack of fresh food contributed to my decreased well-being. Fortunately, we both recovered from the flu in just under a week and went back to our usual eating habits. Even though I didn’t always feel great in the first trimester, I kept exercising regularly and kept eating vegetables, even when they seemed like the most unappealing things in the world. Doing these things helped me feel better in the short term and by week 9/10 I was feeling completely normal again (apart from peeing all the time, of course).

    Though I am only halfway through my pregnancy, I cannot relate to typical pregnancy advice books at all. I have not yet had acne or skin problems, heartburn, dental problems, aches and pains, yeast infections or UTIs, or extreme mood swings. My weight gain has been slow and steady. I know some people will say that I’m just lucky or that I still have plenty of weeks left to develop those problems, but I am convinced that exercise and good nutrition have much to do with how my pregnancy has progressed so far. I look forward to seeing how the next 20 weeks go.

    I would like to say thank you to Robyn for writing such an informative, inspirational, and accessible blog. It has been a major tool in my health transformation over the past year and I am very grateful.

  10. I discovered your website a year ago, read all the archives, and slowly started making changes in my diet. While my previous diet was never “terrible,” I did consume plenty of caffeine, sugar, dairy, and grains. Instead of immediately cutting out bad things, I started adding in good things. I first started drinking a green smoothie with my breakfast. Then, I started making fresh vegetable/fruit juices and eating larger leafy green salads with dinner. Gradually, I cut down on coffee (and two teaspoons of sugar) and switched to green tea (with one teaspoon of honey) and finally ended up drinking unsweetened herbal tea. I started losing my taste for highly sweet foods and quit sweetening my morning oatmeal. I cut back on dairy, wheat, and processed foods. I tried more raw food recipes. When I use meat and eggs, I buy organic, pastured options. Ultimately, my digestion improved and my cystic acne disappeared (it took about 6 months before I saw any improvement and now I’ve been cyst-free for a full 6 months).

    In July, I conceived naturally. I am 31 years old and am now about halfway through my first pregnancy. Both my grandmother and my mother had terrible morning sickness but I only had some mild nausea and food aversions during my second month. I felt the worst around week 6 when my partner and I both had the flu. Neither of us felt like shopping for food or cooking and we ate takeaway and delivery almost every day. I have no doubt that the lack of fresh food contributed to my decreased well-being. Fortunately, we both recovered from the flu in just under a week and went back to our usual eating habits. Even though I didn’t always feel great in the first trimester, I kept exercising regularly and kept eating vegetables, even when they seemed like the most unappealing things in the world. Doing these things helped me feel better in the short term and by week 9/10 I was feeling completely normal again (apart from peeing all the time, of course).

    Though I am only halfway through my pregnancy, I cannot relate to typical pregnancy advice books at all. I have not yet had acne or skin problems, heartburn, dental problems, aches and pains, yeast infections or UTIs, or major mood swings. My weight gain has been slow and steady. I know some people will say that I’m just lucky or that I still have plenty of weeks left to develop those problems, but I am convinced that exercise and good nutrition have much to do with how my pregnancy has progressed so far. I look forward to seeing how the next 20 weeks go.

    I would like to say thank you to Robyn for writing such an informative, inspirational, and accessible blog. It has been a major tool in my health transformation over the past year and I am very grateful.

  11. Robyn,
    Thank you so much for this blog series. I discovered you about three years ago shortly after my second baby and was having major health problems. I have slowly made huge changes, my third baby is now ten months old and my pregnancy with him was by far the easiest. My diet is much better -but not perfect and I do a bit of a roller coaster of being better and slipping. I have a very sensitive gallbladder and would really like to do a cleanse but i am planning on exclusively breastfeeding till 18mo – you mentioned waiting till after the first year of breastfeeding, does that mean its OK even if I am still breastfeeding? Also you said something about developing a cleanse, when will that be available? Thank you so much for all that you do!

  12. Hi Robyn! I know how to sprout but how can I cook sprouted grain low heat? Thanks so much for your vast pool of health knowledge!!!!!!

  13. Hi Robyn. I have a very particular question for you about pregnancy nutrition in my situation. I am 24 weeks pregnant and have had a large sub chorionic hemorrhage that has been bleeding for the past 10 weeks. I am anemic and have been prescribed iron supplements and instructed to eat meat. I haven’t eaten meat for years and feel that the resulting inflammation and carcinogens would inhibit my bodies ability to attempt to heal. That said, I also don’t want to be stubborn and am certainly willing to do whatever is best for my baby even if that means getting some good quality local organic meat. I understand that you can’t give medical advice but given that my midwives and doctors simply pull out a food pyramid pamphlet when I try to talk with them about it I am having a hard time deciding whether to follow their advice of not. I feel really confident with my food choices (plant based whole foods) when I’m healthy but it’s tough to know if there really are extenuating circumstances. My situation is not good and I realize there is no one thing I can do to cure it. As you can imagine, though, I am having a terrible time fighting the “what ifs”. Do you have any thoughts? I guess this is sort of the same old ‘are plant sources of iron good enough’ type of question.

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