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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Plant-Based Pregnancy

Probably one of the strangest, most frightening and exciting experiences in my life was the first (and second) time I was pregnant and knew that everything I did directly impacted another human being's life. Talk about pressure to make appropriate choices! Unfortunately for me and my kidlets, I was not convinced yet of the miracles of plant-based, whole food nutrition. I had not yet come across books like The China Study, Disease-Proof Your Child, or Eat to Live, the books that changed my world forever.

From there, I was led down an upward spiral into a whole world of incredibly well-researched, substantiated evidence that fulfilled my lifelong dream that helping animals is safe for your health. Previously, every time I tried to go veg (during childhood, teen-hood, college, and nutrition grad school), I was shot down with utter terror that my hair would fall out, I would be sick and deficient in nutrients, and that I could never be healthy. I will never forget when my parents had their friend, a nurse, teach me how dangerous a veg diet is and they took me to a restaurant and forced me to eat a teriyaki steak to break my crazy recent "phase" of being a vegetarian.

Fast forward to now...I have absolutely no fear, no concerns about a strictly plant-based, whole food diet for myself, my husband, and even for my little kids. I do wish I had started them early, but the confidence was just not there yet. It's better late than never...right?

So, if I were pregnant again (which, according to my husband, will not happen), what would I do to ensure optimal nutrition for my baby and me???

First, I would be sure to ignore other people's concerns and opinions. Or, at least set them straight with information to ameliorate their concerns.

Second, I would make sure I was eating all the right foods everyday. What does that mean? Here is a great article that describes the details: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/pregnancy.htm. Even though it is now super-controversial, for the first trimester I would take a B supplement to make sure I was getting enough folic acid (at least 400 mcg/day). Just in case. I would, of course, try to eat all the greens I could get into my mouth all day long...but, nausea??? I couldn't even look at vegetables (my favorite food group normally) during the first three months of my pregnancies. So, just to be safe and prevent any neural tube defects, I would take the silly supplement and move on...just for the first three months. After the nausea subsided and I could eat greens ad libitum, I would opt for that instead.

Third, I would do my best to include as many greens, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit as I could all day long. I wouldn't worry about calories or other numbers. Just focus on nourishing my little bubula inside my belly.

Another fun thought that I will never forget is advice given to me by my acupuncturist at the time I was getting prego...he told me that I should eat walnuts everyday because in Chinese medicine, walnuts help build and support the brain. He justified this suggestion based on the fact that walnuts look like little brains. I laughed, ate as many walnuts as I could (even though they were nauseating and hideous during my pregnancies...I had to plug my nose to get them down), and thought about it later. He was brilliant! If you look at the nutrients in a walnut, it is exceedingly high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an incredibly important nutrient during pregnancy: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t040900.asp.

Ultimately, eating for two is a lot more simple and significant than is led to believe. Forget the pills...eat plants!!! Your baby will appreciate it for the rest of his/her life...


The Casual Vegan said...

I've never commented before because I hate using my Google account, but in this case I think it's time I mention how much I enjoy reading your blog. You've really touched on some common issues.

We've been eating whole plant foods for almost a year now thanks to John Robbins' wonderful books. We've been blogging about our food journey for almost 6 months, and the power of pregnancy nausea took us both by surprise. We've taken trips to the buffet where K can only consume watermelon and soup.

When Dr. Fuhrman posted on December 1st about the dangers of prenatal vitamins with folic acid, we were already in the midsts of a month long personal discussion about vitamins.

While it's easy for many to dismiss nausea as a symptom of an unhealthy diet. It's quite the opposite; Many once favorite foods are now completely inedible.

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