Here are my 3 Pregnancy Food Rules, worth following beyond pregnancy:
- Be well HYDRATED – that means about ½ your body weight in ounces of liquid per day;
- Eat REAL FOOD – nutrient dense, local, seasonal food preferred without a label as you would find at farmer’s markets or grow in your garden;
- Watch for QUALITY – purchase organic produce if you have the option, otherwise I suggest to consult the dirty dozen (dirty=most contaminated & should buy organic vs. clean=least contaminated produce) as an orientation, and if you are a meat and or seafood eater the quality matters even more: industrialized milk products & meat has uncontrolled amounts of antibiotics and hormones; the same is true for farm raised fish.
Food isn’t just nourishing our bodies. Who hasn’t experienced the joy of sharing a meal? Eating the right things alone is not enough. Mindful eating, aware chewing, and appreciating your company (even if it is just yourself!) are instrumental to your health.
We rarely talk in depth about pregnancy nutrition. We take it for granted that we are nourished well enough to grow a baby. Only when problems like infertility, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia – to name some classic ailments – arise, do we consider having a closer look at nutrition. And even when we do this, it is generally more for short term troubleshooting than for a permanent upgrade to our diets.
Commonly, we are confronted with easy advice like “don’t eat deli meat, unpasteurized cheeses, sushi, or to avoid alcohol and smoking.” Furthermore, we are told to avoid large fish because of the concern of mercury contamination. But in general, other toxins we find in all processed foods, such as food coloring, preservatives or taste enhancers are not addressed.
What that generalized advice doesn’t tell us is the danger of sugar overloads, unhealthy fats, heavily treated produce, or industrialized meats with an unpredictable amount of antibiotics and hormones – all goes by often undetected. The lack of nutrients is compensated with prenatal vitamins as a quick fix. In general, we walk away confused from the controversial information without understanding the bigger picture and without clear guiding principles on what to eat.
Is there something simple and straightforward we could use as a guidance? I came across Michael Pollen’s ‘Food Rules’ (2009), a compact and witty guide book, that is simple and easy to read. It boils down years of nutritional research into 7 words:
- EAT FOOD (not food like substances!).
- MOSTLY PLANT (increase your vegetable and fruit intake dramatically, hold off from industrialized meats).
- NOT TOO MUCH (even in pregnancy moderation is good advice; the common saying ‘eat for two’, often translated into ‘eat whatever’, doesn’t automatically make you well nourished).
From this pointed summery Pollen develops 64 Food Rules designed as a comprehensive guide to eat real food in moderation and, by doing so, substantially getting off the Western diet.
Interestingly, Michael Pollen’s contribution goes way beyond his detailed research, although that’s impressive and fascinating, he directs us to a bigger picture.
There is not one ideal diet fitting everybody, but a variety of options with the big exemption of the wide spread Western or Standard American Diet (SAD). It is a diet focusing on quantity and a lack of quality which manages to leave us both ‘overfed and undernourished’ with a host of negative health effects.
The newest Primal Health Research is pointing towards the undoubted influence of the fetal environment on our long-term health.
What we eat during pregnancy as well as throughout our lives may have the biggest impact on the health of our children.
Questions how to optimize your pregnancy? Don’t hesitate to email me for a free Health History consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org