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More Health Help For Expectant Mothers
The last article wasn’t enough, it seems! So, here’s some fuller help to improve the diet the growing baby inside you needs. Among the rest, I’ve sort of repeated what I said last time, but not quite.
What To Do When Pregnant
First, a warning note. Your pregnant body is set up to feed your baby before it feeds you. So if you are deficient in anything baby needs for growth, YOU will go short first. That’s one reason why good nutrition is so important: you’ll suffer nutrient deficiencies before baby does. Anemia from iron shortage is the most well-known one, but there are many others, and your doctor and nurse are looking out for them. Popping pills is NOT the ideal answer, though you may find some pills unavoidable — you’ll be prescribed them. Fixing your diet to give you what you need is far, far better and you should prefer to get good nutrition the natural way if you can. There’s one exception, and that comes first on this list.
- Those essential nutrients. My first piece of nutritional advice is to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily — one pill. This is a kind of catch-all, in case you have an unusual deficiency, and it won’t hurt to have at least the minimum of each nutrient, the Recommended Daily Minimum Allowance (RDA), in addition to what you get from your food. And of course, you’ll want to improve your diet as well — see later. Go to a health store and buy a big tub of the cheapest kind of multi-vitamin and mineral pills, to see you through lactation, too. Just in case.
Water. Most people are constantly dehydrated, and this stuffs up your body with poisons and causes all kinds of trouble. Give your — and baby’s — blood, brain and kidneys a break and drink lots of water. Aim to drink roughly a half-ounce per pound of your body weight each day. Yes, you’ll visit the restroom a lot more, but you’ll feel a LOT better. And spread it across the day. If you miss for part of the day and get dehydrated, don’t try to make it up. Drink a glassful and go on from there. You’ll be fine within 20 minutes.
If you prefer, some of your hourly water can be watered fruit juice, milk, weak herbal tea or soup. But not coffee, tea or colas, nor alcoholic drinks. They’re all diuretic and will make you pee away what water you might have kept and used. I reckon that the nausea over coffee that’s common when you’re pregnant is your body telling you something important! It’s both diuretic and loaded with poisons.
Essential Fatty Acids. Almost all people on a Western diet are seriously deficient in the Omega-3 EFA, Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). You certainly don’t want your baby to be short of this vital growth factor, but it’s inevitable if you follow traditional advice but eat very un-traditional, highly processed food, like we do today.
Go to the health store and buy a bottle of raw flax oil from the chiller or freezer cabinet. If it’s on the open shelf, go elsewhere — it’ll likely be a little rancid and taste bitter.
Add a tablespoonful of flax oil to your daily food, any way you like. If you’re as deficient as most people, this will make a HUGE difference to your wellbeing over a few weeks, not to mention baby’s. And it’s good when you’re breastfeeding, too.
Unless you’re fixated on junk food, this will avoid the need for those dreadful fish oil capsules. But eating oily fish twice a week is a good idea anyway for its secondary fatty acids.
The other EFA is the Omega-6 one, linoleic acid (LA). If sunflower, safflower, soy or corn oil are a sensible part of your diet, this will give you plenty of LA. A half of people get much more than enough already, so if you eat a lot of sunflower, corn or soy oil (say, in fried food or spreads), replace it with olive or canola/rape oil as much as you can. Ideally, your body — and baby’s — can use ALA best if you don’t eat more than three times as much LA as ALA and twenty times as much saturated fat.
Other fats. Cut down on saturated fats, and fats in general, to improve the quality of the nutrition your baby will get. This includes fried foods, more than a little cheese and fatty meat, pastries and cakes, as well as butter and vegetable fat spreads. Ideally, replace these with green, yellow and red vegetables, weight for weight.
And try to avoid those nasty trans-fats altogether — look out for ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ and avoid it like the plague!
Fibre. Constipation is a big problem with most pregnancies, but there’s a simple solution: eat much more fibre. This will also improve your digestion and wellbeing and speed up your removal of poisons from your blood.
By far the best way to get fibre is to eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit. These two should be more than half of your food by weight if you can manage that — it’s not difficult to get used to. The ideal vegetables to major on are the dark green ones like cabbage, spinach, lettuce and broccoli. Try to eat a wide variety, though, including low-starch roots like carrots and the turnip family and the vegetable fruits like tomatoes, the squash family and bell peppers. Vegetables can replace a lot of your starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Otherwise, add fibre foods like All-Bran or, better still, oat bran to your diet. You should also eat whole grain foods rather than the refined ‘white’ versions: whole wheat bread, brown rice, potatoes with their skins, and so on. Stone-ground flour, coarse meal and grits are best
- Sugar. It’s an addictive killer — you know it, don’t you! Cut way down on sugar and particularly avoid those sugary snacks between meals and high-sugar drinks like colas and sweetened tea and coffee. If you must snack, have crudités prepared in the fridge ready to grab: raw vegetable sticks. Or eat fresh fruit. By avoiding sugar jolts throughout the day, your energy levels will be way up and you won’t be so liable to diabetes. Stable blood-sugar levels are better for baby, too.
- Fresh food. Rather than eating factory-made ready meals with their refined carbohydrates and fat, sugar and salt, make sure that as much of your food as you can manage is either raw (salads, crudités) or freshly and lightly cooked from the raw. This gives you more of those vital vitamins and minerals that the factories pull out of their meals to give them a longer shelf life, replacing them with chemical preservatives, flavours and colours to make the food look more lifelike. Go for the real thing. If you have a need for ready meals, prepare them yourself (or pay a friend to do it) and chill or freeze.
Dyspepsia and nausea. Maybe morning sickness won’t respond so well to this (but maybe it will), but the best cure for dyspepsia is to eat your carbohydrates at a separate meal from your proteins. It’s called compatible eating — making sure that all the food in your stomach at one time can be processed without problems. It can give you a real energy boost, too, and help efficient digestion. Three days eating this way and the sickness is gone, and won’t come back till you forget and eat mixed food again.
The problem with compatible eating is that a lot of popular foods are mixed, and you have to avoid them. For example, meat and cheese pies and sandwiches, pizzas, meals which have both meat and a starch food like bread, potatoes or rice — you have to eat either the starch or the meat. Compatible eating is worth trying for a couple of weeks. See if it makes a useful difference to you — it usually does.
- Exercise. As your baby grows and your body balance changes, suitable exercise is vital to limit the backache and keep you fit. You’ll be told what exercise and how to do it at your clinic — take their advice seriously. Just walking with good posture can be very beneficial. Walking and sitting with bad posture will feel like a killer, especially when your balance shifts to the bump. But if you’ve been pregnant before, you’ll know all this! This time, get good advice and exercise properly.
I could say a lot more, but this is enough for you to concentrate on at one time. People beginning my Bad Health diet plan expect to take a year or two to get straightened out. You don’t have that many months! Good luck.
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