How and what you eat in your diet is pretty important to how your body functions while pregnant and breastfeeding. You have another human being dependent on you providing them with the nutrition necessary for their body to thrive. This is a pretty serious commitment by you, the mother. This being said, it is also pretty easy to provide your baby with everything she needs and with very little extra effort on your part.
The most important diet requirement, I believe, is to keep your foods real. Our bodies know nature. If you only fill your body with artificial, processed foods then your body will not thrive. For example, our body knows what to do with an apple. The chemistry of the apple works harmoniously with our own bodies’ chemistry. On the other hand, our body isn’t quite as familiar with boxed macaroni and cheese. Most of the ingredients are difficult to spell, let alone pronounce. Stick to whole, natural, preferably organic, foods and your baby will thank you for it.
There are consequences to not eating well during this stage of your life. Since this is the time of your baby’s growth, whatever you are missing in nutrition will be taken from you. This means that if you don’t consume enough calcium then your body is going to take it from your own body (your teeth and bones) and give it to your baby. Please trust me with this. I haven’t had a cavity since I was 14. After 12 children you would think my mouth would be full of them, but it is not.
Our bodies require 3-4 servings of protein a day. I know I’m going to step on some toe’s but I believe God intended for us to eat meat. It seems to make sense as He gave us canines. That being said, the best form of protein will be in the form of animal meat. Beans and rice are a close second but they should not be a total substitute, nor should soy.
Each serving should be as big as our fist and in pure form. By this I mean not a fist full of chicken nuggets but a chicken breast. Again, our bodies know what to do with clean, unprocessed food.
While pregnant and nursing our bodies require extra iron. We can get enough iron if we make sure we eat 3-4 servings of protein every day. This will help you not be/become anemic. Alfalfa helps with this also (tea) but that is another post.
Our bodies require a minimum of 3-5 servings of vegetables a day, preferably more. Not only does this help us get enough fiber for digestion but it will also help keep the excess weight gain down (when pregnant) or help us lose weight (when nursing).
When you are looking at which vegetables to eat it is best to eat more of the darker, leafier veggies. They have the most bang for your buck in the form of vitamins and minerals. Think kale, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, etc. All the food our parents used to have to force-feed us is the food you need to be concentrating on eating right now. They knew what they were talking about! I actually love kale chips! Try putting a bowl out on your counter. You’ll find your kids, if they’re anything like mine, complaining about kale but constantly snacking on them. Funny how kids can be.
Fruit can be a little bit tricky. Yes, it is God-given, good for you, yummy, and healthy. BUT, it is also loaded with sugar. Stick to berries if you find yourself always craving fruit. Now, I do believe that if you have a sweet tooth a good way to help it out without binging on chocolate is to have extra fruit. God’s sugar is way better for us than all the processed sugars currently out there. Just try to keep it to a minimum. It will make weight loss while breastfeeding near impossible if you have too much. Try to stick to 1-2 servings a day, max.
Ideally, you should get four servings a day of dairy, primarily for the calcium it provides. My opinion of dairy is that it should be raw. Some people cringe over this but, again, I think it should be as God made it. If He wanted it pasteurized and homogenized then it would come that way. Drink raw milk, eat raw (even homemade) yogurt, make homemade cottage cheese, etc. If this isn’t possible for you then store-bought is acceptable, just not as good.
Consuming healthy fats is helpful with feeling full and keeping your metabolism revving! Not only that but they taste way better than margarine and canola oil.
Healthy fats consist of butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, lard, and bacon fat, to name a few. Try to avoid canola, vegetable shortening, and soybean oil. Also, limit nut and seed oils as they are prone to oxidize rather quickly.
When consuming carbs it’s important to consume complex carbs and not simple carbs. Simple carbs (i.e. white potatoes, white pasta, white rice, white bread, etc.) are treated by your body as sugar. When you eat them your blood sugar goes up and spikes. Not only is this not good for morning sickness, baby growth (if pregnant), or your own blood sugar, but it is not good for your waistline.
Complex carbs consist of, again, God’s grains. Whole wheat bread (real whole wheat bread, not Wal-mart style bread), brown rice, sweet potatoes, cracked wheat, and steel-cut oats are a few good examples of complex carbohydrates. These choices are better for you but you still need to consume them in moderation. I’d stay within two servings a day, fist-size.
Additionally, you should be consuming supplements. This would include vitamins, minerals, herbs, brewer’s yeast, spirulina, and other goodies. Ideally, our food should contain everything our bodies would need to flourish. However, in modern-day agriculture, our food isn’t what it was 100 years ago. To make up for this we need supplements.
For vitamins, I recommend Vitamin Code by Garden of Life. It’s a raw vitamin and it really does make me feel better and more energetic. I have a hard time with it during morning sickness but I have a hard time with everything during morning sickness!
I also regularly consume brewer’s yeast for all of its b-vitamins. I like it sprinkled lightly on air-popped popcorn and on my fried eggs. My kids give me a funny look with my eggs but some of them actually like snacking on my popcorn.
Spirulina, to me, is an acquired taste. It’s soooo good for you but I don’t care much for it. My husband loves it though. Occasionally I’ll put a little in my shakes. My husband almost always puts ‘green goop’ (that’s what I call it) in his.
Herbs are my go-to superfood. I have herbal teas all day. I actually drink them as my water. I’m not going to go in-depth with the herbs I use here because it truly is its own blog post. But, that post will be coming up soon. To put it briefly, I have lemon balm tea (with a little bit of peppermint added) all throughout the day and chamomile tea at night. When I’m pregnant I also drink homemade pregnancy tea. It’s made up of raspberry leaf, alfalfa, as well as a few other herbs. I buy my herbs in bulk to save money and rarely use teabags.
Lastly is water. You need to drink 8-10 large glasses of water a day. This helps flush your body of impurities and keeps everything moving if you know what I mean. Your skin will be clearer and more radiant and your body will function as it should.
If you don’t get enough water, not only will you get constipated but you will also get sluggish and experience headaches. The headaches are particularly common for me.
So, to recap and put everything in one place, your diet should consist of:
- Protein: 4 servings
- Complex Carbs: 2 servings
- Veggies: 3-5 servings, or more
- Fruits: 1-2 servings
- Dairy: 4 servings
- Water: 8-10 large glasses
- Supplements: Daily prenatal, herbal teas, spirulina, and brewer’s yeast
- Fats: To cook with mainly, although coconut oil can be used in bulletproof coffee or for oil pulling
Remember, all servings are fist-size and you can always have more vegetables if you’re still hungry!
So, this sums up how pregnant and nursing moms should eat for optimum health. Always do your best and don’t fret if you miss a vegetable here or a protein there. Just do your best every day and your baby will thank you for it! God bless.