I hope you are still reading these, because this is where it gets good. This is where the hope finally starts to shine through.
After my second pregnancy, I went into “change my health mode”. I knew there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t healthy. I needed to make changes. But with health there are so many options and varying opinions of what makes a person healthy. I spent a summer being vegetarian, I made a weak attempt at vegan. I started reading labels, I stopped buying cereal, and highly processed foods. I started switching recipes out that contained ingredients like Cambell’s soups. I stopped buying things packaged in cans lined with BPA. I switched to glass containers,and quit microwaving plastic. I started using all natural cleaners. I switched my makeup and hair care products so they were also chemical free. Through all of this I studied Paleo, and watched lots of health documentaries. I discovered the “Real Food” community. I learned that hormones are built of cholesterol and I started eating lots of coconut oil and grass fed butter. I started drinking raw, organic, grass fed milk. I started making my own cheeses from that milk. I started purchasing meat and eggs that came from pastured animals. I started soaking my grains. I started using bone broth and eating organ meats. I also started using Epsom salt and taking fermented cod liver oil and a quality raw prenatal supplement. I changed how I think of food entirely. All of this was to become healthier, and to prepare for what I knew I would eventually feel I needed to do, get pregnant.
I am now 20 weeks pregnant. And although I still am not one of those women that loves being pregnant. This time around has been very, very different. Did I puke? Yes. But I could count the number of times on 2 hands, which is what would have been the number of times in a day! And most of those times can be linked to something I ate that I knew I shouldn’t have, like the 5 buck pizza my husband brought home, or some french fries. Or there was the time that I had to clean up cat vomit. Let me just tell you that it wasn’t pleasant. I would have dry heaved normally and there was no way around loosing it that night. But this time, the sight and smell of raw meat hasn’t caused it, the smell of the garbage can hasn’t caused it, and my tap water hasn’t caused it either. (I think this is a good time for a happy dance)
I am not nearly as emotional, I can’t say I am completely normal, but I am not a complete basket case. I am still very tired. I thought without being so sick that the exhaustion would be less but it has still been debilitating. For a few weeks I needed a nap and an early bedtime almost every day. I was too tired to exercise much during the first trimester, but I have regained most of my energy now that I am into my second trimester. I go on walks, and do yoga, and have even hit the gym for some light weights a few times.
So what changed it? People like to tell me it is because I’m having a boy. I would kinda like to strangle them for saying that. Maybe there is a little truth to that. I don’t know yet. But either way it is completely unfair to make that assumption. I’ve changed to many things to pass it off as “Oh you must be having a boy then!” Grr… ok rant over. I wish I could tell you that there is one simple trick. But with health there never is. And that is a big reason we have pharmaceuticals. They try to be the easy solution. Just take this one pill and everything will be better. But great things are never easy but are always… let me repeat that… they are always worth it. So this is what I have changed….
Breaking it Down
Eliminate toxins, chemicals, and anything made in a lab
The number one most important key to a healthy pregnancy, and life for that matter, is to just eat real food. That means the labels on your food should only have ingredients you understand. It means eliminating processed foods. No artificial anything, no dyes, no MSG, no BPA in the lining of the cans containing your food. No toxins, or artificial preservatives.
Eat the Right Fats
Eat healthy fats. Eat lots of healthy fats. Hormones get the blame for a lot of pregnancy problems. They get blamed for moodiness and for nausea. What should be to blame is your fat intake. What we should be blaming is not getting enough good fat.
Good fats include coconut oil, raw organic butter from pastured animals, lard, and tallow also from pastured animals. Egg yolks from pastured chickens. These fats are full of cholesterol. As a society we have learned to fear fat. With the idea that fat makes you fat. When in truth, the opposite can be very true. Hormones are built out of cholesterol. Which means if you don’t have a consist supply of healthy fat then your hormones will start causing you grief. Your pregnant body is also busy building your infants brain. The brain is 65% cholesterol. Not to mention whatever fats are needed to help your skin stretch with out scaring, and to expand your uterus, and build a placenta. So get over buying low-fat sour cream, get over rinsing your hamburger, and get over your fear of egg yolks and add a little… or a lot, of extra butter to that bakedpotato.
In contrast bad fats can cause havoc. Bad fats include soybean, canola oil, corn oil, and all other vegetable oils. These oils are truly disgusting. During processing they become rancid and then go through a bleaching process to deodorize them. Soy is also known for causing hormones to become imbalanced.
Want more info? Check out this post by Food Renegade.
For me I can directly feel the effects of good fat. I’ve had evenings when I was afraid I would end up bowing to the porcelain God, but if I fry my dinner in tallow the nausea dissipates instantly. I have never enjoyed dinner so much as the night we sat around in the kitchen as a family deep frying pickles, mozzarella sticks, avocados, and chicken. I was in food heaven!
In contrast, fat can make you feel terrible, if it is the wrong fat. To my misfortune my in-laws own a franchise for a fast food restaurant. On a few occasions I have given into the temptation of delicious smelling french fries. They smelt good, they tasted good, they didn’t settle well. There are few things worse than loosing your lunch in a public toilet. I learned my lesson and I won’t be eating anymore french fries that were fried in soy bean oil. (Most, if not all, food establishments fry in soy bean oil)
Let’s sit back and think about what is really needed to make a baby. Ultimately what are they? They are a piece of meat! They are made up of lots of protein, fat, blood, and bone. Not to mention the fact that you have to create a placenta and stretch your uterus. That is a lot of blood, and protein. It only makes sense that you would need to eat extra animal products to create a new animal… admit it sometimes that beautiful bundle of joy is truly an animal.
But seriously, I’m not a huge believer in overdoing meat. I believe in general we eat too much meat and we undervalue the life that was sacrificed for our delectable steak dinner. We don’t use the animal with enough gratitude, and we don’t take care to make sure we don’t waste any part of it. But when you are pregnant, it quite honestly takes a life to create one. You need to be eating liver, heart, and bone broth. Your body needs fish, and chicken, and beef. And whatever other form of meat you are craving. Everyone is different, but for me I need some meat everyday to feel well and to feel nourished.
Now to get to the nitty-gritty part. I just said all meat was good. But there is a clincher. The animals that meat comes from needs to be pastured. Animals need sunlight, and green grass to grow well balanced meat and fat. Pastured animals have balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They have vitamin D. They are healthier, which in turn makes you healthier. They typically aren’t given antibiotics or vaccines. They aren’t fed GMO corn. Their diets and their lives are natural.
Want more on meat? Check out this post by Thank Your Body.
I am not a hater of grains. I think we should eat them. I don’t make them a huge part of my diet but they are still in my diet, and are typically smothered in butter or coconut oil. We need to step back into our great grandmothers kitchen before we do it. If your favorite bread is the white “Wonder” variety then maybe you should stop eating grains. At least that kind for sure. I wish I could tell you that whole wheat bread would be the perfect solution… But even your typical loaf of wheat bread still isn’t good enough. (I know, it really sucks!)
My rule of thumb for grains is soaked, soured, or sprouted. When grains are prepared with one of these 3 steps it improves their digestibility and releases the phytic acid. Releasing the phytic acid is especially important with pregnancy because phytic acid binds important nutrients to it, preventing you from absorbing them. The nutrients you end up missing out on are phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron, all of which play key roles in a properly developing fetus, and can also affect the balance of your hormones and health. For those worried about gluten, it is also minimized when grains are soaked, soured, or sprouted.
Fruits and Veggies
Dairy and Eggs
Salt and Water
With one of my pregnancies I tried to cut out salt completely for a short time. I was afraid of retaining water. (This is where I smack myself in the forehead and say stupid, stupid, STUPID!)
be properly hydrated you really need salt. Salt and water are both necessary and needed to have balanced electrolytes. If you eat salty food you are going to get thirsty. If you exercise you need to replenish both salt and water. Keep them balanced. Also all salt intake should be from a sea salt. Refined salts are lacking in vital micro-nutrients. Pick the variety of nutrient rich salt you like and never ever turn back.
Do you have questions about how to change your diet or where to find the right foods? Let me know.