A couple of years ago, on our quasi-annual trip to Hawaii, my husband and I decided to read the book Eating Animals, by Jonathan Saffron Foer. In case you couldn't guess, the book doesn't exactly advocate for an omnivorous diet. Upon learning his wife was pregnant, the author sets out to learn about food so he can answer questions for his soon-to-be offspring.
Hilarity doesn't exactly ensue.
After reading this (and noting a small world connection to my high school crush's father, who is quoted in the book), my hubby and I gave up dairy for a long time. Completely.
It is from this experience that I relate to you the various techniques we found acceptable for replacing dairy products in our home. Am I suggesting you do the same? Not at all. But since the most common dietary irritant of the exclusively breastfed infant is dairy (in mom's diet), I get the please-help-me-cut-dairy-for-my-baby-even-though-I-love-it-more-than-coffee plea on a weekly basis.
Step One: Banishment
Review all packaged products for the highlighted, bolded word MILK either in the ingredient list or in the allergen disclosure below. Put those items into a special place for your other family members to enjoy and use a large marker/tape to label the item so you do not consume it.
Step Two: The Cheese Situation
Refuse to eat artificial cheese. Trust me, don't bother with it. Soy cheese is horrific on a good day. Some vegans I know enjoy the Daiya non-dairy cheese made from pea protein, but I think it tastes like expensive plastic. Instead, replace cheese with things that also taste good.
Pizza: use no-cheese pesto, caramelized onions, olives, artichoke hearts, and other salt/fat combinations to replace the salt/fat you're missing from the cheese. Also note you'll need to eat more pizza because of the number of calories and amount of fat you're missing.
Quesadillas: instead of cheese, use hummus in your quesadillas. Just hummus, maybe some black beans, salsa, peppers, onions, etc. Prepare as usual. It's delicious.
Dip: this accidental invention comes courtesy of my bro-in-law who lived at our house for nine months and ate his weight in salsa every week. Combine equal parts salsa and hummus and use as a chip dip or veggie dip. No, it isn't queso, but it is rich and tasty.
Sandwich/burger/wrap condiment: try avocado, roasted red peppers, sunflower seeds, olives or other tasty treats. The exception to the artificial cheese is tofutti cream cheese. I'm sure it isn't good for you, but it tastes and feels like dairy cream cheese (and is equally unhealthy). If you're seriously craving a creamy spread on your sandwich, this will do.
Step Three: With Cookies?
There are lots of delicious non-dairy milks out there. Some are healthy, and some are essentially soda. I recommend having a variety of milks available, from soy to almond to hemp. Note that most non-dairy milks have little protein and are fortified with vitamins (and sometimes sugar). Hemp and soy have the most protein while coconut and almond are tastier. Use some for cereal/oatmeal/baking and others for a latte.
Step Four: I Will Scream
Avoid the soy ice cream and almond ice cream (I think they're icy and not satisfying) and head straight for the coconut stuff. It costs twice as much and has just as much fat and sugar as the dairy kind, and it tastes just as good if not better. Yogurt is another story. It's hard to find good yogurts, but you can find something that will do if you mix in some granola or fruit. At least we know they have their priorities straight?!
Step Five: Family Recipes
The most alarming thing we realized when we went dairy-free was how much our cooking and meal planning relied on dairy. Try some new stuff! I've found many good recipes online from sites like ManifestVegan and CompassionateCook
Step Six: Dining Out
Go ethnic. Try to find some Thai, Japanese, or Kosher food (since they will not mix meat and milk in the same meal, you know you can easily avoid dairy). Take Out!
Hope this helps!
First, let me be clear: babies are birthed and pizza is delivered.
Now that THAT is out of the way... step into my time machine as I bestow upon you the wonders of grocery delivery.
Imagine a weekly (or bi-weekly) box of fresh produce and pantry items that arrives at your doorstep.
Imagine that it contains only things you like.
Imagine that it costs the same as a trip to the grocery store.
Good news for you! My time machine is just a figment of my imagination. The beauty of doorstep groceries is a modern convenience, and it is perfect for new mamas and those on bedrest.
Some things are more fun with babies, like bath time and navel gazing. Some things are a little more challenging, like loading up groceries, figuring out who to carry in first (baby or ice cream), and grocery carts (in general). While I'm a HUGE proponent of getting outside of your own house once a day once you're healed, I'm not sure grocery shopping will be the blissful experience it once was.
Here are my favorite delivery services:
Door to Door Organics (Colorado and a few other states)
- Set your "likes" and "dislikes" so you never end up with parsley unless you want to.
- Order weekly or bi-weekly and forget about it.
- Log on a week before and "customize" your fruit and/or veggie box with items that you need or want; add any pantry items or dairy/meat etc.
- Hold, cancel, or change box sizes any time (no fee).
- Affordable at $25 for a bitty box and up.
- Easy refunds on any damaged or icky produce (this has happened to me only twice in two years).
- Routine prescriptions are mailed to your home with no additional charge (but you need to set them up at least two weeks in advance).
- All sorts of toiletries and other things you might need.
- Schedule regular deliveries if you know you'll need shampoo or tissues every so often.
- Shopping list feature allows you to bookmark items you buy frequently so you (or your partner) don't have to snoop around the internet for the right shampoo.
- Free shipping on most orders and regular discounts via email.
- A combination of healthy snacks mailed once a month.
- After your first box, you can customize and include allergies/preferences.
- Just like a road trip, where you want the snacks everyone else brought? In a box.
- Nuts, pasta, toilet paper, birthday gifts... whatever else you could possibly need can probably be ordered via Amazon.
- Wish list keeps items you like in an easy place.
- Recurring orders will save you a bit, if you have a dried coconut habit like I do.
Take your trips out of the house to visit the library, a coffee shop, or the zoo and leave the shopping to the Internet. At 2am. Or whenever you are most shoppy!
I don't get any kickbacks from these companies, but I've noticed many mamas who have really appreciated the support of these online and delivery services.
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
When I was about two years old, I named the chickadee couple that frequented the cherry tree outside of our kitchen window.
The mated pair were quite obviously named Ralph and Hungryeater.
Today, as I was looking out the window of my home studio, I realized that I am a genius. Or rather, that I was a genius at the tiny age of two.
These are the two states of pregnancy appetite:
This is a tricky situation, particularly given the varied (and conflicted) lists of foods you should eat more of, foods you should avoid, and foods nobody should ever eat, but now you want all the time.
If you are seeing a direct-entry midwife (not always a CNM), you're likely going to get lots of expert advice about which foods are best for you given your particulars. Midwives get more mandatory, specialized training about diet than MD's and CNM's (which isn't to say that yours hasn't taken on some additional study or research) and will often ask you to provide an extraordinarily detailed report of what you're eating, if/when you're sick, and how you might support yourself more fully with a few tweaks and changes.
Most women in the US are under the care of an MD, and the typical advice I hear from my clients surrounding diet includes:
1. Take a prenatal multivitamin
2. Don't eat mercury-laden fish, deli meats, or unpasteurized cheeses.
3. Don't drink alcohol.
Based on the questions I get in class sometimes, this information is not sufficient for most mamas-to-be. Here are a few resources that my students have recommended to me. I know a lot about food and nutrition, but I have no fancy letters behind my name that would permit me bestow on you professional advice. Peruse these at your leisure, or consider visiting a nutritionist or nutritional counselor who can answer your specific questions.
For the mama who loves checklists, The Brewer Diet is all about categories and checklists. Recommended by Bradley Method childbirth educators, this one is adapted for vegetarians and vegans as well.
For the mama who likes photographs and wants to learn more about the intricacies of each food, The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy is another popular book recommended by my students.
In my opinion, it is worthwhile to listen to and report food cravings to your prenatal care provider or nutritionist. Your body might know a thing or two about what it needs to make the best baby possible. It makes good sense to focus on nutrient-dense foods and avoid empty calories. And it also stands to reason that you should never trust anything you read on the internet.
Have you seen People magazine lately? Do they always have so many photos of pregnant celebrities or stars with their brand new babies? We know the babies are cute, but the celebrities themselves can often make us feel, well, ordinary.
This is because they have personal trainers, nannies, nutrition professionals, tailors, and other artists whose job is to make them look this way. I promise you, if you had personally custom-tailored maternity clothing, you'd look like that too. Have you ever seen what a celeb looks like first thing in the morning? Take a look in the mirror, love, because that's what they see, too.
In the 1950's doctors recommended that pregnant women gain 15-20 pounds during pregnancy. Many of our mothers and grandmothers (who lived through this era) hold that mentality as their fundamental belief and might not support the healthy changes that your body is making. Tell them that they are not helpful, and then tell them (lovingly) to go sit on a tack.
Want to know the current recommendations? They build upon your pre-pregnancy body and depend on how many buns are in the oven.
Body image is no small matter these days, and if you've always been fit it can be particularly disconcerting to watch your body grow in new and profound ways.
Find role models: there are some women who love their bellies and feel more feminine than they have ever felt. Observe their grace and try on what they are doing. If it doesn't work for you, try complimenting them and letting them know how much you appreciate their comfort with their bodies. If you can't identify any, find a picture of a happy pregnant woman who seems comfortable in her body (not a skinny pregnant woman or a supermodel). Find one that seems maternal, cozy, warm, exhuberant and joyful (they do exist).
Wear clothes that fit: Nothing makes you feel worse about how you look than ill-fitting clothes. This is true whether or not you are pregnant, but it is much more noticeable when nothing in your closet fits. Unless you are a seamstress, it doesn't make sense to alter your clothing, but it does make sense to find clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe that is a scarf or sweater, or some lovely jewelry that will fit no matter what. You might consider renting something for a special day, or even for a period of time if it will help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Focus on nutrition: This is no time to restrict calories or adopt a limited diet, so focus on eating according to the recommendations of your provider. They are most likely to suggest lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and water because these are the most nutritious foods. Try cooking new recipes that focus on nutrition and consider what you are really hungry for. If you are eating to cope with stress, try something else to remove the stress because baby is feeling it too.
A few of my favorite recipes?
Aloo, Gobi and Chard
Hurry, Curry (lentil dip)
Believe in miracles: Because you are one. No, I'm not being a silly yoga instructor here, you are literally creating another person out of the food that you eat and the thoughts that you think. What impression do you want to give to your child? That they wrecked your body, or that they were your first experience of a true miracle?
What do you know about Omega 3 fatty acids?
You may or may not have had a conversation with your midwife doctor about omega 3s when you talked about diet and supplements. In case you didn't here is a primer about what you might like to know:
Omega 3s come in three types: ALA, DHA, and and EPA.
DHA is critical for your baby's brain development.
Your body is capable of creating DHA and EPA from ALA.
ALA must come from a dietary source.
You might think you need to eat fish, and if you're like me and the thought of eating fishes makes your stomach turn for one reason or another, I'd like to make a couple of suggestions. Sure, you can eat fish like salmon, herring, and sardines to get your omega three's, but you can also expose your developing baby to heavy metals like mercury by eating fish that has been poisoned with high levels of metals. Oil supplements? I'm almost as afraid of "fish oil burps" as I am afraid of the fish themselves.
You can cut out "the middle fish" and get your omega threes the way they do: from algae (yum?). Not to worry, there are lots of great algae supplements out there, so you don't need to set yourself up for something equally as distasteful. If you like seaweed, you can do a little research and make some veggie sushi rolls and get your omega 3s in a tasty lunch.
There have been no studies (that I can find on reputable websites) indicating the safety of flax and chia in pregnant women. Some worry that flax has estrogenic activities or that the consumption of these kinds of seeds in their whole form might cause GI distress in people with diverticulitis. I'd love to find a reputable study or two to support any concerns, so please share if you find any! Other foods with estrogenic activities include sweet potatoes, dairy and soy. I personally enjoy both flax and chia on a regular basis. Both flax and chia only provide the ALA form of Omega 3s (which is the only form you must take in via your diet).
The bottom line? Ask your doctor or midwife and do some research on your own to determine the best form of Omega 3s in your life. And then find and share some recipes with your other pregnant friends!
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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