Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Pregnancy Diet

My pregnancy diet probably looks different than what most doctors think it should look like. I don't really follow the rules and have kinda made up my own pregnancy diet because it works for me and my family. First as most people who read my blog know my daughter and I are gluten and dairy free. She is a very strict no gluten or dairy and I am a strict no gluten but will very occasionally eat dairy (out to eat, pizza, etc.).

Lately I have been doing lots of reading and research on different healing diets (GAPS, Body Ecology, Paleo, etc.) and have come to the conclusion that at some point I know we may need to implement one of these diets for complete gut healing. Scarlett is stooling so much better (1-2x per day compared to 3-6x) since implementing the gluten/dairy free diet but still has loose stools occasionally especially when given high fiber foods, citrus fruits or lots of grains. She also still gets awful watery diarrhea and intense stomach cramps with dairy. I know most doctors would probably diagnosis her with toddlers diarrhea and just say she will grow out of it. But in all the reading I have been doing I know that gut health is extremely important and is linked to brain function. If she is still having some issues with digestion she has a gut health problem. I also notice various behavioral things (such as being less compliant and having more sensory issues) when she eats too much sugar or any food additives.

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell the author of The Gut and Psychology Sydrome (GAPS) Diet many conditions such as ADHD, Autism, learning disabilites, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and many other disorders are linked to gut health. Our gut health can become damaged by so many factors in our society including stress, SAD (standard american diet), antibiotic use, contraceptives, not being breastfed and the gut health of your mother. I am definitely not a expert on the subject so for more information I will turn you over to this website.

However, the diet is extremely intense. It is meant to be a healing diet and not followed forever. Some of the things she incorporates include probiotics, fermented foods, bone broth, lots of healthy fats, no grains, and no starches (including potatoes). I know that right now doing this diet or any of the diets mentioned above would stress me out. I tend to get stressed out about food already having taken out dairy and gluten and cannot picture myself having the energy while pregnant to do all the cooking/planning that is necessary with any of the diets above especially the GAPS diet. I also know I would fall of the band wagon after the baby was born with sleep deprivation and constant feedings. Another reason I have decided to put it off is my toxic load. I know I have a larger toxic load with getting my mercury fillings out before pregnancy and don't want to detox to quickly while pregnant. So what exactly did I decide to do then?

I decided to follow a more balanced approach throughout my pregnancy while implementing many of the ideas in these diets.

1. Limit Grain Consumption - I have decided to limit grains since feeling better. I know we technically don't need to even eat grains (it provides no nutrients that cannot be gotten elsewhere) and actually contain anti nutrients that prevent our body from absorbing it and can acutally damage our gut. That being said I take a more balanced approach and include soaked /sprouted grains (this is extremely important if you are going to eat grains) in 1-2 meals a day 4-5 times a week. It varies day to day and some days we don't eat grains at all and others we have more. I do however occasionally splurge on non soaked grains like popcorn/corn chips and salsa, rice noodles and when we go out to eat. The grains we mainly eat are buckwheat and quinoa (both technically not grains but act like them in the body) and rice. This makes me less stressed and I like the variation in my diet. So you may be wondering where do I get my carbs. There are plenty of carbs in fruit, potatoes, and winter squash. We still eat some soaked beans and lentils too. So altogether I am getting plenty of carbs.

2. Probiotic Foods - I have started to include even more probiotic foods into my diet. I have started learning how to make my own sauerkraut  water kefir, and kombucha. If you don't have time to make these things you can usually buy them at your local health food store. My favorites are Bubbies sauerkraut Bubbies pickles, synergy kombucha, and lately we have been doing Tula's young coconut kefir. Probiotics are extremely important during pregnancy and some studies have even shown it can reduce the likelihood of eczema and possibly even some allergies. It is also very important in Group B Strep testing. The more healthy bacteria you have in your body,  the harder it is more the possibly harmful bacteria to build up. Supposedly a baby's first gut flora actually comes from the vaginal environment of their mother. If you are pregnant educate yourself on GBS and decide if you even want to be tested for it. Also know if you do test positive there are other options besides antibiotics (which you very much want to avoid if possible because it will damage not only your gut flora but your new baby's). For more information on GBS you can go herehere and here. It will also help prevent yeast infections so common in pregnancy. The thing about probiotic foods or even a probiotic supplement is that you want to introduce them slowly into your diet to prevent detox and die off symptoms. It is attempting to reset all of your gut bacteria so it will take time to adjust. I always start with 1 tsp of whatever probiotic I am starting and gradually increase. If you are pregnant and have never had any probiotics I would start with water kefir, saurkraut, or coconut kefir.

3. Grass fed Meats and their organs - I have also started including grass fed meat/organ meats into our diets. Doctors will tell you not to consume organ meats during pregnancy especially liver, but to me this is crazy. These meats are full of nutrients important for a growing fetus and it is a great source of iron for a pregnant mom. Many of the fears of eating liver during pregnancy come from the fact the accutane, an acne medication extremely high in vitamin A, causes severe damage to a growing infant. Liver is high in vitamin A. However, we know that the body reacts differently to isolated vitamins than to a whole food.  I wouldn't recommend going crazy and eating liver every day. I usually only eat 2-3 oz once a week. The Weston A Price Pregnancy Diet (which is a great diet to follow during pregnancy) recommends 3-4oz once or twice weekly. This being said I actually very very much dislike liver and down it as fast as possible followed by an orange or orange juice. My husband cringes the whole time he watches but Scarlett loves to eat it right along with me. I have tried to hide it in chili but you can still feel the displeasing texture. I have heard of people putting it into capsules but that seems like too much work to me and just opt to swallow quickly.

4. Juice Plus - I cannot say enough about Juice Plus! I love it! It is such a great whole food supplement and this time I opted not to take any prenatals and just take juice plus. If you decide to take prenatals it is a good idea to take whole food ones (rainbow light brand, etc.) because your body will actually absorb some of the nutrients and you have less chance of getting constipated.  I love juice plus though because it is just fruits, vegetables, and some grains and it is actually absorbed by your body. Plus it is gluten free! They have gummies too if you are struggling with morning sickness. Here is a sheet comparing the gummies, which you can give to your children, and flinstone vitamins. After reading it I am pretty sure the flinstone vitamins are doing more damage than good to the children and pregnant women with morning sickness who are taking them.

5. Bone Broth - I have been trying to consume more bone broth because it is just so good for you. Bone broth is actually surprisingly easy to make it just takes a little time. I use my crockpot because I am lazy :). I just make a whole chicken and save the bones or save beef bones from roasts (or you can buy them) and put them into my crockpot. I cover them with a little apple cider vinegar for a half an hour to draw out the nutrients, cover them with water, put in some sea salt, and add leftover celery or carrot shavings if I have them and let it sit on low for 24 hours. Then I strain it, put it in mason jars, let them cool, and put it in the freezer for later. I don't always have time for broth so I have also been making "jello" out of beef gelatin. Sounds gross right! But you can't even taste the beef gelatin and it is so easy to make. This link will explain the benefits and this one will show you how to make it.

6. Follow Dirty Dozen - I try to follow the dirty dozen as much as possible although it isn't as realistic in our town's organic selection and  our personal monthly budget. I try to do as much organic as possible and we still are using some things from our CSA last year. We also will be doing that again along with our little garden.

7. Omega 3's - It is so important to get omega 3's especially when pregnant. It is crucial for baby's brain development. We don't often get enough fresh fish and are encouraged not to eat a lot of it due to mercury levels so important to supplement. Make sure you find a good brand. Most chiropractors/health food stores carry them (very different from the Walmart, Walgreens, etc.). Our whole family takes Nordic Naturals.

8. Pregnancy Tea - Full of nutrient rich herbs and is a great support for pregnancy.

9. Sunshine or Vitamin D - Sadly as I write this I am still supplementing with Vitamin D. I take around 2,000 mg a day. Once it gets sunny out I won't supplement and will just get some sun! Vitamin D is so important when you are pregnant and can help prevent pregnancy complications. It also helps in forming baby's bones.

10. Eat as Many Healthy Fats as Possible - Anyone who tells you fat makes you fat is not correct. Healthy fats are so important to our bodies especially when pregnant. They are crucial for hormone balancing and for baby's brain development. According to Dr. Sears they are brain building, provide energy, build healthy cells, help the body use vitamins, and provide healthier skin (some have even said prevent stretch marks though who knows). So what exactly are healthy fats. Healthy fats are avocados, coconut oil, real pastured butter, good quality olive oil,  bone broths, whole raw milk (we would totally drink if we could), animal fats, and omega 3 supplement or wild caught low mercury fish. Avoid unhealthy fats such as anything hydrogenated or basically anything processed. And limit/avoid vegetable oils which are extremely high in omega 6 and throw off our omega 3 to 6 balance. They have also been linked to cell mutations and possibly cancer.

11. Eat more protein - This one wasn't too difficult for me except in the first trimester. I just try to eat protein (usually meat or eggs) at all my meals and snack on high protein things such as nuts/nut butters, jerky, beef gelatin "jello", hardboiled eggs, or occasionally a piece of cheese. If you can tolerate dairy raw is best and it is a very good source of protein.

12. Water - I am trying to drink lots and lots of water. I try to get a gallon a day, but do struggle a little sometimes. It is important for staying hydrated and also prevents constipation.

13. Limit Sugars - The only thing with sugar I eat a lot of is fruit. I know some people even say to limit fruit but I don't really feel it is necessary for me while pregnant. I usually eat 3-5 pieces of fruit a day or possibly more some days. I also limit my sugar to honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, date sugar, and occasionally sucanant. I also use sugar when making kombucha and water kefir but most of it gets used up during the fermentation. My dark chocolate also has a little bit of sugar in it. I do splurge occasionally on dessert when we go out too!

14. Limit Caffeine - I was already limiting caffeine before pregnancy. However, I do occasionally drink green tea and I eat dark chocolate (80% or higher). I am not opposed to a cup of coffee here or there either, but since my adrenals get a little stressed out from it I limit to a occasional thing.

15. Greens - I have been trying to include more greens in my diet. Greens are full of vitamin K and folate both very important during pregnancy. I usually do smoothies, salads, and my latest favorite kale chips!

16. Enjoy life a little - Okay so sometimes life is not perfect. I will be the first to tell you I occasionally stray from the diet. I believe you have to live a little and we don't eat perfectly when we go out. We sometimes order dessert, I eat grains, vegetable oils and dairy. We eat chips at barbecues and occasionally a hotdog with nitrates and MSG(gasp!). We don't always feel the best afterward but that becomes normal when your body isn't used to it anymore. My brother has always talked about the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time eat how you are supposed to and 20% treat yourself. I think that is a good rule and makes life more enjoyable. And remember to start by slowly incoporating healthy habits. We didn't go from eating frozen pizza almost every night to eating this way instantly. It has been a very long process for us starting from around a year before Scarlett was born. It has gradually changed the more educated and informed I have become. We had to make big leaps in terms of cutting out gluten and dairy for Scarlett (that was so hard at first) but now it is just how we live and doesn't seem hard at all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's a..............


I was so excited to find out we are having a little boy!! My heart is so full of joy knowing everything on the ultrasound looked normal and I get to hold my little man sometime this coming October!! My heart is so full tonight it feels like it is going to burst. How you can love someone so much in such a short time without even knowing them yet, is something only a mother could know. Tears rolled down my eyes as I watched my little boy move, kick, and touch his face. It is such a wonderful thing to get to be a mother and carry a little life around inside of you. I love laying in bed at night watching Chris's eyes light up as he holds his hand on my belly and feels this little guy do summersaults. It is such a miracle and I am in awe every day! 

We decided to do a gender reveal party tonight just for our immediate family even though we just found out today too! I am not good at keeping secrets so the sooner we did the party the less chance I would slip. Although I still said "he" to my mother in law when looking at ultrasound pictures! Whoops! Plus my sister was so excited she called me this morning at 7:30am and was so excited she had trouble sleeping the night before. She couldn't make it to the party but was texting me the whole time asking if she could know yet. The funny thing is is that we almost had to cancel the party because when we first got there little guy was in a tight little ball and wouldn't budge. I had to go to the bathroom 2 times, lay on my side for 10 minutes, and do a few jumping jacks before he would finally stretch out so we could tell. 

At the party my Mom got the winning cupcake with the blue frosting in the middle. Everyone at the party guessed boy so they were all very excited they guessed it right!

Our guessing station!
Yummy Gluten Free Cupcakes

Everyone chose a bow

 I loved having a little party and making it more of a surprise. We didn't do a huge party but it was still kinda fun to have a little party with our close family. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pregnancy Tea

Herbal Pregnancy Tea is an awesome way to get nutrients throughout pregnancy and prevent some common pregnancy complaints. When I was pregnant with Scarlett I did drink some nettle, dandelion, and red raspberry leaf  tea at the suggestion of my midwife, but I did not realize you could make your own loose leaf pregnancy tea. This time around starting in the second trimester I started making this tea. The first thing I did was to order herbs. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs which is a very reputable herb company, although I know there are others out there too. I choose Red Raspberry Leaf, Nettle Leaf, Alfalfa Leaf, Oatstraw, and Dandelion root as the herbs I wanted to include in my tea. 

Here is the recipe I have made up based on a recipe by Aviva Romm in The Natural Pregnancy Book:

2 cups Red Raspberry Leaf
2 cups Nettle Leaf
1/2 - 1 cup Alfalfa Leaf
1/2 cup Oatstraw
1/4 - 1/2 cup Dandelion Root

I mix all the ingredients in a big air tight container and mix them up. Then I take a handful and put it in a quart sized jar and fill with boiling water. I let mine sit for 1-2 hours than strain out the herbs and store in the fridge.

What it looks like all mixed up in the container

In the jar ready to steep for a couple of hours
According to The Natural Pregnancy Book written by midwife and herbalist Aviva Romm Red Raspberry leaf, one of the main ingredients in the tea is "rich in vitamins (C, A, B complex) and minerals (phosphorus, potassium  iron and calcium) as well as a substance known as fragarine, which tones the uterus muscles". She also goes on to say " this herb is said to nourish the muscles and prevent hemorrhage due to its high iron content and its astringent qualitites". She recommends this throughout pregnancy. I choose to start drinking it my second trimester due to the uterine toning qualities. Surprisingly though for me it has decreased my braxton hicks contractions so far. My midwife recommends to start this herb in small amounts and see how you react. She has only had one woman in  all her experience who had increased braxton hicks contractions and chose to stop drinking it. I think as my midwife has said many times,  it is all about listening and being attuned to your body.

The second herb included is Nettle Leaf. Nettle is a great source highly useable vitamins and minerals. Again Aviva Romm writes that nettle "promotes healthy kidney function, strengthens the blood vessels preventing varicose veins and hemorrhoids, and decreases likelihood of hemorrhage at birth". 

The third herb I chose to include was alfalfa. Alfalfa is an awesome source of protein, vitamins A, D, K, E, and B6, calcium, iron, magnisieum, phosporus, trace minerals, and digestive enzymes. It also contains a large amount of chorophyll (which is actually what you can take if your iron is low to bring it up without causing constipation). 

Oatstraw was also included because it is a great source of calcium and magnesium. It helps to prevent leg cramps, insomnia and other related pregnancy discomforts.

Lastly, I included Dandelion root. I love dandelion root and drink the tea even when I am not pregnant. It is great for liver support (which we greatly need when pregnant with the increase in the amount of hormones our body has to process). It is also good for the kidneys and bladder and supports the digestive process. Because it is a mild diuretic it also helps with excess fluid retention.  In addition, it supports healthy blood sugar and blood pressure. 

Aviva also suggests adding spearmint and rosehips to your tea. I think this helps with the flavor. The tea does take some getting used to but I have come to enjoy it. You can also add things like honey to make it more palatable. 

With all this said you should also seek the advice of a qualified herbalist or your midwife before consuming any herbs. 

Have you ever made pregnancy tea or taken herbs during pregnancy?

(Edit: I did include oatstraw and was wondering why my stomach was so upset all the time. Now I know oatstraw contains gluten (hence the stomach issues) and have decided not to include it in the tea anymore)

Monday, May 13, 2013

18 Weeks

I cannot believe that I am already 18 weeks. Okay so technically I am 19 weeks tomorrow so thought I better get this posted today.

In some ways this pregnancy has gone very slow (no thanks to the wonderful winter weather we have been having this spring!), but in other ways it has flown by. I think being preoccupied with a 2 year old makes all the difference. 

How far along: 18 weeks

Baby's size: Bell Pepper (5 1/2 in & 6.5 oz)

Total weight gain:  None so far, down 3lbs from starting weight. That being said I lost around 10lbs the first 12 weeks so I am definitely gaining it back. I lost weight with Scarlett in the beginning too, but gained large amounts weeks 20-30.

Stretch marks? None yet :) I luckily didn't get any with Scarlett, but we will see with this one.

Sleep: Sleep is easy to come by some nights and hard others. I am up at least once to go the bathroom and to eat. We definitely need a new mattress since ours in sagging and my hip pain is starting already :(. I had awful hip pain the last 10 weeks I was pregnant with Scarlett. 

Best moment this week: Seeing the baby move on the outside! This baby moves less than Scarlett did so it is kinda weird for me. Chris has been able to feel the baby move once, but usually when we put our hands on my belly the little stinker stops moving! 

Miss anything? Not really. I only thing I can think of is more energy, but I didn't always have enough of that before pregnancy.

Movement: Definite kicks! I have been feeling flutters since 12 weeks. My midwife said it was actually possible for me because my uterus was tipped so far forward.

Food cravings: The only thing I am really craving this time around is fruit (especially frozen blueberries and raspberries) and kale (yes, seriously!). Kale chips are incredibly good!

Anything making you queasy or sick? Yes! Seriously, what is up with your smell when you are pregnant? Strong perfume smells, cleaning products (especially certain types of dish and laundry soap), and cigarette smoke make me gag.  I was able to smell the one spray of cologne Chris put on upstairs all the way downstairs. Also, strangely enough I also get queasy when I think of pot roast.

Gender: Don't know yet. 2 more weeks!

Labor signs: Nope. Too early for that.

Symptoms: Growing belly, hip pain, fatigue, food cravings, and increased acne :(

Belly button in or out: In, but slowly getting shallower

Maternity Clothes: Thankfully my pre-pregnancy pants still fit comfortably. They are slightly tighter but still feel good. I really dislike maternity clothes (I know I am kinda strange). I just hate how the panel only goes halfway up your belly and it is uncomfortable and itches. The ones without the panel just always keep sliding down and I really dislike the be-band too. And maternity shirts sometimes upset me too because they make the breast area so large! I am small to begin with and don't grow much during pregnancy so they never seem to fit right. I have resorted to buying smalls even though pre-pregnancy my shirt size is a medium just so the breast area fits. I know, I know I just have to make it harder on myself :). With Scarlett I just wore a size bigger pants and I might do that with this one too. Plus it will be summer this time around so I might just wear lots of dresses.

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy :) But, I have random little meltdowns. I feel very emotional and passionate these days so little things can push me over the edge. My poor husband!

Looking forward to: The ultrasound in a week and a half! So excited to see my little one and to find out what we are having!