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.

 

Raw green food and kidney stones

I have more requests to address oxalates.

It’s another one of those “they” things: first they tell us greens are good for us, and then they tell us oxalates will cause kidney stones and other problems.   Many people are fearful of kidney stones since they’re not only common (estimates are than 10 to 15 percent of Americans are diagnosed at some point), but also terribly painful.

Here’s the thing: it’s a gross oversimplification to say greens contain oxalates, oxalates cause kidney stones, and so you shouldn’t eat greens.   First of all, calcium is so plentiful and highly bioavailable in greens, and calcium binds to excess oxalates to render them harmless and easily removed from the body.   With all but a few serious health problems where specific nutrients are banned by your doctor, green foods are VITAL and should be eaten DAILY.   Some evidence says BLENDING oxalate-rich foods neutralizes it–voila, green smoothies!)

Foods high in oxalates include soy, beer, wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries.   I eat wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, spinach, and strawberries regularly, most of them daily.   But if you have a problem with kidney stone formation, I would address eliminating three deadly S’s rather than greens: SODA, SUGAR, AND SALT.   Those chemically upset your body’s ability to utilize minerals like calcium and magnesium, leading to stones.

I know a schoolteacher who suffered with stones and eventually kidney failure, probably because for 30 years she didn’t want to have to leave her classroom to go to the bathroom, so she avoided drinking water.   Drink LOTS of water to avoid kidney stones!

Gluten Free Live Granola & Breakfast

Jason, a 12 Steps to Whole Foods reader, shared the following recipes with us. They’re mostly raw, gluten free, and full of sprouted nutrition. He writes:

When I first got the recipes for the 12 steps, I was a little disappointed that the Live Granola contained oatmeal (my wife is gluten sensitive). I know many on this forum avoid gluten, so I thought I’d post the granola recipe we developed, as well as our favorite breakfast. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do! ~Jason (jayroo)

Sprouted Buckwheat Granola (gluten free)

This was inspired by a granola we found at the Ecopolitan, a raw restaurant in Minneapolis, MN. We go through a batch every week.

  • 4 c buckwheat groats, rinsed, soaked overnight, rinsed well (or soaked 15 minutes and sprouted 24 hours)
  • 2 c raw seeds (e.g. sunflower & pumpkin), soaked overnight, rinsed
  • 2-3 c raw nuts (e.g. almonds & pecans), soaked overnight, rinsed
  • 3 T cinnamon
  • 1/3 c raw honey, softened over medium-low heat
  • Optional: 1 T virgin coconut oil
  • 2 c dried fruit (e.g. raisins and goji berries)
  1. Optional: briefly pulse the larger nuts in a food processor (I leave them whole)
  2. In a large bowl, mix buckwheat, seeds, nuts, cinnamon, honey and coconut oil.
  3. Spread on dehydrator trays with mesh, teflex, or fruit leather sheets. Dehydrate at your preferred temp for 6-8 hours, mix, continue dehydrating until crunchy. The amount listed fills 4 trays in my Nesco dehydrator.
  4. Mix in dry fruit and store in a sealed container at room temp or in the fridge.
  5. Yields 10-12 cups

Sprouted Buckwheat Cereal (gluten free)

This was the first gourmet raw meal that my wife actually enjoyed and asked for again. She once told me I could make it for her every day.

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats, rinsed, soaked overnight, rinsed well (or soaked 15 minutes and sprouted 24 hours)
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of maple syrup
  • optional: raw pecans or almonds, soaked overnight, rinsed, chopped

Process buckwheat, banana, cinnamon, and maple syrup in a food processor until creamy. Top with nuts. Serves 2.

 

raw food diet versus alkaline diet

I was having this conversation on Facebook today with a reader, and since I’m sure not all of you are my facebook friends or check in there regularly, I thought I’d share here part of the discussion:

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl (condensed question): I was feeding my kids almond milk but read that overconsumption of nuts leads to mold in the blood. What else should I use?

Answer: The most restrictive diet I know of is the alkaline diet (Robert O. Young, etc.). Well, except for the candida diet, which is even tougher. Dr. Young writes extensively in his various books of mycotoxins (mold, fungus, bacteria, and their byproducts) in the blood from eating acidic foods.

I am highly supportive of this diet but based on observation of human behavior, I don’t feel that most people will undertake it, EVEN IF THEY ARE ILL. If you want to eliminate nuts and eat totally alkaline for a period of time to overcome health challenges, good for you. Your health will benefit. (The alkaline diet will also require that you get rid of grains and many fruits!)

I am very intentionally sitting in the middle of that big divide between folks eating the Standard American Diet and the all-alkaline or all-raw folks. Raw foodists will call what I am teaching “transitional.” I actually believe that a LONG-TERM commitment to eating what I teach, “high raw” or 60-80% raw and the remainder of the diet being whole foods (legumes, grains, cooked vegs), will prevent disease very well for a LIFETIME. I believe that it doesn’t have to be a “transition” to some kind of more pure or “ideal” diet. What I am teaching, I believe, is a common-sense approach that returns you to the basics, the way we were meant to eat, using foods God put on the Earth, but without tons of cooking. Like the vast majority of indigenous and ancient cultures have always done.

Raw goat milk is another good alternative to pasteurized, store-bought dairy milk. You can search this blog for more info.

By the way, I haven’t tested it yet, but at the suggestion of readers, we’ve added a search feature to the site.

Also, almonds are actually pretty alkaline (other nuts are more acidic, like cashews). And yes, eat nuts–but overconsumption will lead to weight gain, too. A quarter cup a day is enough, unless you’re an athlete, in which case you might eat half a cup. I have 1/4 cup cashews in Hot Pink Smoothie in the morning, and usually eat 1/4 cup of almonds, too, as a snack later. (Factor in that I play sports an average of 90 min. to 2 hours a day.)

The Healthiest Foods On Earth

One of my favorite nutrition writers is Jonny Bowden.   Hope you enjoy his corroboration of what I’ve been saying all this time, that whole foods are The Answer, not obsessively counting grams of whatever.   This is from Forbes online:

The Healthiest Foods On Earth

By Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, is a board-certified nutritionist and the author of seven books on health and nutrition, including The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth

What is the best diet for human beings?

Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free?

Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that’s based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.

People have lived and thrived on high-protein, high-fat diets (the Inuit of Greenland); on low-protein, high-carb diets (the indigenous peoples of southern Africa); on diets high in raw milk and cream (the people of the Loetschental Valley in Switzerland); diets high in saturated fat (the Trobriand Islanders) and even on diets in which animal blood is considered a staple (the Massai of Kenya and Tanzania). And folks have thrived on these diets without the ravages of degenerative diseases that are so epidemic in modern life–heart disease, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis and cancer.

The only thing these diets have in common is that they’re all based on whole foods with minimum processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat. Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.

All these healthy diets have in common the fact that they are absent foods with bar codes. They are also extremely low in sugar. In fact, the number of modern or ancient societies known for health and longevity that have consumed a diet high in sugar would be … let’s see … zero.

Truth be told, what you eat probably matters less than how much processing it’s undergone. Real food–whole food with minimal processing–contains a virtual pharmacy of nutrients, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthful fats, and can easily keep you alive and thriving into your 10th decade.

Berries, for example, are phenomenally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with plant compounds that improve memory and help fight cancer. Studies have consistently shown that nut-eaters have lower rates of heart disease. Beans are notorious for their high fiber content and are a part of the diet of people–from almost every corner of the globe–who live long and well.

Protein–the word comes from a Greek word meaning “of prime importance”–is a feature of every healthy diet ever studied. Meat , contrary to its terrible reputation, can be a health food if–and this is a big if–the meat comes from animals that have been raised on pasture land, have never seen the inside of a feedlot farm and have never been shot full of antibiotics and hormones. Ditto for raw milk, generally believed to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet by countless devotees who often go to great expense and inconvenience to obtain it from small, sustainable farms. Wild salmon, whose omega-3 content is consistently higher than its less-fortunate farm-raised brethren, gets its red color from a powerful antioxidant called astaxathin. The combination of protein, omega-3s and antioxidants makes wild salmon a contender for anyone’s list of great foods.

Another great food: eggs–one of nature’s most perfect creations, especially if you don’t throw out the all-important yolk. (Remember “whole” foods means exactly that–foods in their original form. Our robust ancestors did not eat “low-fat” caribou; we don’t need to eat “egg-white” omelets.)

There are really no “bad” vegetables, but some of them are superstars. Any vegetable from the Brassica genus–broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale–is loaded with plant chemicals called indoles, which help reduce the risk of cancer.

In the fruit kingdom, apples totally deserve their reputation as doctor-repellants: they’re loaded with fiber, minerals (like bone-building boron) and phytochemicals (like quercetin, which is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and to have anti-cancer properties). Some exciting new research suggests that pomegranate juice slows the progression of certain cancers. Other research shows it lowers blood pressure and may even act as a “natural Viagra.”

Tea deserves special mention on any list of the world’s healthiest foods. The second most widely consumed beverage in the world (after water), all forms of tea (black, oolong, white, green and the newer Yerba Matte) are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Some types (green tea, for example) contain plant chemicals called catechins which have decided anti-cancer activity

Finally, let’s not forget members of the Alliaceae family of plants–onions, garlic and shallots. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties; hundreds of published studies support its antimicrobial effects as well as its ability to lower the risk of heart disease. A number of studies have shown an inverse relationship between onion consumption and certain types of cancer.

A healthy diet doesn’t have to contain every one of the “healthiest foods on earth,” but you can’t go wrong putting as many of the above mentioned foods in heavy rotation on your personal eating plan.

PCOS and protein

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I have PCOS and I have battled weight for years.   I am currently 275 lbs and 5’10”.   I believe that what we eat does impact our health dramatically.   I was on a green smoothie a day for over a month and started to feel better.   Then I was told that it was too high in carbohydrates by my doctor and that I needed more protein to combat insulin resistance that accompanies my PCOS.   The recommendation: eggs, butter and meat.   I had been eating a green smoothie consisting of 1 c carrot juice, 1 c collard greens, 1 c. kale, 1/2 c. spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.   I would sweeten with stevia if needed.     They want me to cut out the carrot juice, the banana and the berries.   I like greens but I need the fruit to cut the grassy taste.

 

I cannot believe that more and more dead animal and factory farmed animal product is better for me, but I am desperate to regain my health.   Do you have any experience with PCOS or insulin resistance and can you offer me any hope or education about what to do?

 

Answer:   I can’t advise you about specific health problems.   Doctors, however, mostly don’t know that higher-protein foods aren’t limited to animal products.   Higher amounts of legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts) and nuts will increase proteins and decrease any quick-to-the-bloodstream carbs.   And in your green smoothies, you’re already using stevia for sweetener, but you may want to use the mixed berries (lower in sugar) and use lemon and very little fruit (maybe a small apple).   As fruits go, bananas are very high in sugar.