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The Natural Pregnancy Diet: What Foods to Eat and Avoid for a Healthy Baby
BY CHELSEA WILEY, FNP
Let’s Clean up Your Diet—Foods to Limit or Avoid During Pregnancy
Dairy: Get off it and stop dairy foods. Dairy bogs down the liver, prevents toxins from leaving your body, and can create a heightened allergic state in your body. If you really need it and want an alternative, switch to goat cheese or yogurt.
Grains and High Glycemic Foods: Eat a low glycemic diet to stabilize your hormone levels. High glycemic foods cause an increase in inflammatory chemicals, stress, fluid retention, headaches, and insomnia. As such they make the list of what not to eat when pregnant. Stop all products containing gluten (wheat, barley, or rye) and refined carbohydrates (cookies, chips, and crackers). Grains are a modern-day discovery, and our systems are not adapted to process them. If you choose to include grains as part of your pregnancy nutrition plan, go for healthy alternatives such as brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. Beans, lentils, legumes: Limit to one cup per day as they are difficult for most people to digest. Soak them before you cook them.
Sugar: Eliminate. No soft drinks and no artificial sweeteners. Studies show that mice that were addicted to cocaine and then offered sugar as an alternative will choose the sugar one hundred percent of the time!
Caffeine: If you can, get off it; if not, limit it.
Canola Oil: Damaging to the immune system, feeds the bad pathogens in your body, and eats away at the linings of your body.
Corn and Soy: Eliminate corn and soy products because they tend to be allergens, and because they are genetically modified, the altered DNA feeds the bad bacteria in the gut leading to chronic illness. If you find this difficult or struggle with what to eat when pregnant, try eliminating them for a couple of weeks and reintroducing to see what effect they have on your energy level.
The Pregnancy Diet: What You Want to Eat When You’re Expecting
Fats and Protein: Make sure to eat good fats: Omega-3 rich foods (such as wild caught salmon), avocados, nuts (No peanuts because of allergies.), and coconut oil. Avoid vegetable oils. Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats and proteins and a healthy food food for pregnant women. (Try soaking them for easier digestion.)
Vegetables and Fruits: We co-evolved with plants, not with animals. Eat nutrient-dense, organic, and chemical-free fruits and vegetables. Diets for pregnant women should include a lot of kale, collards, and mustard greens. It is ideal to have your pregnancy diet foods be sixty to seventy percent fruits and vegetables. Villoldo explained, “A plant-based diet (nutrient-dense, calorie-poor) will switch on more than five hundred genes that create health and switch off more than two hundred genes that create cancers.”
Meat: Eat sparingly and only free-range or grass-fed.
Fish: Eat small, wild caught Fish. Watch out for mercury toxicity.
Eggs: Great for you, if you are not allergic. Look for organic, free-range, pasture-raised eggs because they are higher in Omega-3 and vitamins A and E. Eggs are a great source of protein, and they don’t affect cholesterol.
Improving Your Health during Pregnancy with Nutrition, Diet and Herbs
The number one rule for maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is to focus on the types of foods you are eating and not attempt to replace nutrition through supplements. This means that the best food for pregnant women should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein, grains, and lots of hydrating fluids. Some midwives will ask for a three-to-seven-day food diary, but not all doctors do this. I recommend that you record one whether your health professional asks or not and provide it to them for review. You may want to personally understand your long-term relationship with food and your own health status so that you are better prepared to eat the best foods for you and your baby. If money is an issue or you don’t have time to prepare your food, make sure you plan and discuss these issues with your medical provider, family, and your boss.
During pregnancy, I highly suggest avoiding pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones because of the relative size of the fetus compared to the alarming concentration found in foods and products. If you can afford it, I would make it a priority to buy only organic foods whenever possible because of the higher nutritional value. If you choose to drink dairy, avoid products with bovine growth hormones; the packaging may have a label that reads “No rBGH.” This is a concern in the United States when it comes to what to eat during pregnancy but not in most European countries. Your meat and eggs should be free of antibiotics. Most fish and seafood have trace amounts of mercury, but ones that are particularly high include swordfish, mackerel, tuna, grouper, and halibut, so please avoid these. It is best to eat only wild caught fish if you can. Also monitor the facial and makeup products that you use, and try to buy to an organic brand. Other products and foods to avoid during pregnancy include junk food, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, food additives such as preservatives or coloring, raw or cured meats, and sushi. Avoid chocolate while you are pregnant as it is a stimulant and many brands are toxic.
Throughout the day, make sure you drink at least two quarts water (preferably filtered) daily. This is especially important when it is hot outside. When I worked at a hospital in Los Angeles, one of the main reasons we saw patients in the triage room was because contractions started early as a result of dehydration in the summer months. While pregnant, make sure to eat at least eighty grams of protein daily, and if you are vegan, it is vital to take a vitamin B12 supplement. According to Elizabeth Davis, author of Hearts & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, beyond a high-quality well-balanced diet, there are specific supplements that the pregnant woman should have. Proper nutrition and supplementation as part of a healthy pregnancy diet helps support babies in better brain and nervous system development and better sleep and behavioral patterns. The mother’s health is also significantly increased, and there is a reduced chance of issues such as preeclampsia, postpartum depression, or preterm labor.
Aim to consume the following, preferably in your food:
+ Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach
+ Folic Acid: 400 – 800 mcg before and especially during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. The dose is dependent upon previous conditions, so please seek medical advice. (Brussels sprouts, eggs, broccoli, asparagus, brown rice)
+ Vitamin C: Papaya, broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cantaloupe, mustard greens, Swiss chard, tomatoes
+ Iron: Pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, almonds
+ Calcium: Sesame butter and dark green leafy vegetables
+ Magnesium: Meat, fish, eggs, rice, and bread
+ Zinc: Spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, beef, chicken, kidney beans
+ Omega-3 DHA and EPA: Flaxseed oil or flaxseeds
Pregnancy Tea Recipe
When I was pregnant, my midwives gave me the recipe for a calcium-rich tea that I drank throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Drinking it regularly along with eating healthy food for pregnancy can help to tone the uterus, increase energy, aid digestion, and calm the nervous system. The ingredients provide a lot of nutrients including calcium, magnesium, and iron. A large mug of the tea provides as much calcium as a cup of milk. If you cannot find these herbs locally, it is very easy to buy them in bulk online.
+ Red Raspberry Leaf: Has been used for centuries as a uterine tonic. It helps to normalize the uterus—increasing tone or relaxing the tissues if they become too irritable. Many midwives believe that it helps to shorten labor, decrease nausea, ease labor pains, and decrease the chance of excessive bleeding after birth. Some midwives only recommend using this herb and nettle in the second and third trimesters, so check with your provider.
+ Nettle: Highly nutritious and considered the best overall tonic. It affects the kidneys and helps to eliminate waste, while also increasing energy and the flow of breast milk.
+ Dandelion: A liver tonic, which increases bile flow helping you to break down fats. It helps with digestion and waste elimination. Nettle and dandelion are especially good at preventing edema.
+ Alfalfa: Contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamin K helps to reduce excessive bleeding after childbirth.
+ Rose Hips: A great source of Vitamin C.
+ Wild Oats, Lemon balm, Chamomile, and Lavender: Nourishing and calming to the nervous system.
+ Spearmint and Cinnamon: Tasty and add flavor! Mint is a great source of calcium and magnesium.
+ Stevia: Sugar substitute that is two hundred times sweeter than sugar with no calories! Only a small amount is needed.
To make the mixture: combine three or more of the herbs together. Make sure that you add one of the sweeter herbs for flavoring. When I make an infusion, I boil a large quart of water. I turn the boiling water off and let about a fistful of herbs (tucked into a tea filter sack) soak in the pot for four or more hours. I put the mixture in the fridge and drink it for the next few days like iced tea. Sometimes I’ll add lemon, honey, carbonated water, or juice. Remember that with infusions, the longer the tea steeps, the more minerals and compounds are extracted. The tea keeps for up to three days in the refrigerator and four hours outside the fridge. You can also make small batches on the go: place one-half cup to two-thirds cup of herbal tea (in a tea ball or filter sack) in a glass jar of boiling water, cap it, and let it sit as long as thirty minutes to overnight in the fridge. Take it with you to work, or sip on it during your errands.
This article is excerpted from the book Mystical Motherhood: Create a Happy and Conscious Family: A Guidebook for Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond by Chelsea Wiley.
About The Author
Chelsea Wiley, FNP is the author of Mystical Motherhood: Create a Happy and Conscious Family A Guidebook for Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. She uses her background in Western and Eastern Medicine to help women enhance their fertility, conceive consciously, maintain a healthy pregnancy and raise enlightened children. Her vision is that families across the globe will awaken to their full potential and raise vibrant, healthy, and happy children. To work with Chelsea, listen to the Mystical Motherhood podcast or purchase the book visit mysticalmotherhood.com
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