If you're a woman whose already into raw foods and are considering having a baby down the road odds are you've thought quite a bit about pregnancy nutrition. After-all, once you clean up your diet and experience the health benefits such as elimination of disease, better fitness levels, clearer skin, better digestion, more peace and happiness in your life, improved self esteem and mental outlook, etc, you can't help but want your future baby to get the benefits of proper nutrition as well!
Pregnancy is a truly miraculous time where your body works intimately with Nature and the Universal Energy of Creation to literally build a separate human being from scratch. How the female body can build, sustain, and nurture to the extent that it does is truly mind boggling when you think about it. Making a baby is quite a feat and the importance of getting proper nutrition throughout the process should never be overlooked! However, when things like morning sickness (or on the opposite end, hard core junk food cravings) kick in it can be hard to make optimal food choices. It can also be hard to know what to do when everyone out there is giving you there opinions and experiential knowledge, and every book or doctor you talk to has something different to say. You want to be certain that you are providing everything your baby needs to be healthy and vibrant! Yet you may find that your mind is telling you something different (way different!) than what your body is saying. You may be completely confused or even scared. If you are a mama or future mama whose interested in following a raw food based protocol during pregnancy hopefully this blog will give you some suggestions that resonate.
The number one rule for pregnancy is to listen to your OWN body. No two pregnancies are the same, and one women's experience may differ hugely from another! Take other peoples advice with a large grain of salt (Himalayan salt of course!). Pregnancy is not the time to be restrictive, set unachievable goals, or overly stress yourself out about things like diet. It is a time to surrender, trust, get cozy and get quiet so that you may listen to that inner guidance, because if you do, you will find that it is communicating with you very clearly. By listening to your own intuition and body you will feel a sense of empowerment which will aid you during your entire experience as a pregnant women. Instincts are strong during this time; embrace them!
There is no reason why one can't eat a high raw diet during pregnancy, and no doctor, even in mainstream medicine, will tell you that raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds aren't healthy for a mama and developing fetus. However, don't be shocked if your taste buds, and your ability to eat and enjoy foods you once did, completely shift during early pregnancy. Morning sickness can be awfully intense for many women, and it is not necessarily a sign that you are doing something wrong, or that your body is overly toxic. Hormones are raging, and your body is channeling large amounts of energy towards developing a healthy placenta to nourish your baby during this time. These elevated hormone levels are enough in and of themselves to make one queasy. The body also has natural protective mechanisms within it that will shy you away from foods that MAY potentially harm your developing baby. Dark greens, herbs, and highly cleansing foods such as blue green algae are great examples. While these foods are some of the most potent and nourishing foods on the planet, they also contain a lot of complex plant chemicals, or can trigger detoxification, and in these early stages of pregnancy the body has one goal in mind: protect, protect, protect that little baby! You may find that those spirulina salads, kale chips, and green smoothies you once loved look completely unappealing or may even make you feel downright sick! Listen to your body at this time. Stick with basic, whole foods even if that means consuming more cooked foods. Some non-raw things that may work well if you're experiencing bad morning sickness are: steamed or baked potatoes, yams, or squash, steamed vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, or millet, cooked vegan soups, or sprouted bread toasted. Fresh fruit is a great choice even with morning sickness as the sweetness and high water content will be inviting to the palate, will help with dehydration, and give the body a flood of vitamins and antioxidants. Consuming fats that are easy to digest such as coconut oil, young Thai coconut meat, and avocado may be a better option than nuts, seeds and nut butters during this time as well. Consuming foods that are very easy on the digestive system and liver is important during early stages of pregnancy while the body's vital energy is deflected to the babies rapid growth and the development of the placenta. Put yourself on the "No Dogma Diet" during this time. No dogma allowed! If your body is telling you to eat something in particular it may be best to go ahead and honor that. Note how it makes you feel physically without sitting in any judgement. This experience can be eye opening and awareness expanding!
Once morning sickness fades away (and don't worry it will eventually even if it takes its sweet time!) you'll be overjoyed to be able to enjoy a more well rounded diet again. Quality over quantity is the name of the game during pregnancy. Don't buy into the idea that you must eat enough calories for 2 people, it is simply not true. To keep things in perspective remember how tiny this little being is at this point. You will need to be eating enough to put on the healthy amount of weight necessary during pregnancy and breastfeeding but there is no need to overdue it and gain too much which may have health complications. Nutrient density, not nutrient deficiency and high calories, is where its at. There are several key nutrients that come up a lot during pregnancy discussions, even more so if raw foods or veganism are the focus. These are: Protein, Essential Fatty Acids and DHA/EPA, Folate, Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D, and Choline. Please note that ALL vitamins and minerals are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, these are just a few focal points especially as a vegan or raw foodist.
If your intention is to stick with a mainly raw, vegan diet it IS actually possible to get all of the above nutrients while eating this way, however a bit of planning and effort may be in order. Foods like dark leafy greens, hemps seeds, blue green algae, sprouted nuts/seeds and nut butters
, coconut, goji berries, Incan berries, olives
, etc. are rich in tissue and muscle building amino acids. Foods such as chia seeds, the herb purslane, hemp and borage oil, and blue green algae
provide plenty of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Folate can be found abundantly in sprouted legumes such as lentils and also in leafy greens, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, avocado, and even tomatoes. For iron the following foods are wonderful, just make sure to accompany them with plenty of Vitamin C for optimal absorption: spirulina
, spinach, parsley, sprouted legumes, hemp seeds
, as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Pregnancy can draw a lot of minerals from the bones. Raw vegan foods rich in calcium also happen to be more alkaline than animal products sources like dairy. This leads to less mineral leaching from the bones in an attempt to buffer acidity. Get calcium from dark leafy greens of all kinds like kale, chard, collards and broccoli, sesame seeds
and sesame tahini
, coconuts, chia
, and almonds
. For Vitamin D your best bet is to get unfiltered sunlight on your bare skin for at least 15-20 minutes per day (along with some stretching and deep breathing!) but if you can't do this it is recommended to take a whole foods-based, organic Vitamin D supplement to ensure that you have enough in your blood stream to replenish yourself while the baby takes what it needs from you. Many vegan supplements these days combine a balanced ratio of Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium along with various co-factors making it easy to get these critical bones building nutrients.