Regardless of the infamous, “I’m eating for two” line, you only need an extra 200 to 300 calories per day to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Hormone levels fluctuate during the 9 months of pregnancy, generating all sorts of interesting cravings, but crazy junk food binges are not the answer. If you’d like to learn more about eating healthily and optimally during your pregnancy and beyond, here are three books to read that will guide your eating habits and choices during this joyful, miraculous stage of creating a new life!
Your Vegetarian Pregnancy by D.O., M.B.A. Holly Roberts
This book is conveniently divided into chapters that are based on each month of your pregnancy and the early postpartum phase. It discusses both yours and your growing baby’s nutritional needs, how your body changes during pregnancy, and preparation for labor and delivery. There are several magazine style Q&A’s throughout the book, which allows for easy skimming (it is 400 pages). It addresses a variety of questions and topics such as nutritional supplements and helping others support and honor your vegetarian lifestyle. There is an entire chapter devoted to comparing a vegetarian diet to a non-vegetarian diet, and it points out a tremendous amount of benefits for vegetarianism.
‘Your Vegetarian Pregnancy’ also dives into other topics such as bonding with your baby and breastfeeding. Overall, it is a concise book for those who would like to incorporate or maintain a vegetarian diet while pregnant. It also briefly addresses a vegan lifestyle.
Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven: A Gutsy Guide to Becoming One Hot (and Healthy) Mother! by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
Skinny Bitch is geared toward the ladies who already maintain a vegan diet. Written in an in-your-face, sarcastic manner, the book aggressively takes a stand against the dairy industry and the corporate giants who pump sugar and other fillers into products. This book will reinforce existing vegans’ confidence in their choice to maintain their lifestyle throughout their pregnancy. If you are on the fence about incorporating a vegan diet into your pregnancy, I would recommend speaking with a holistic nutritionist such as Tender Shoots Wellness, your doctor, and checking out other vegetarian and vegan magazines for more introductory style information.
FOR MEAT AND DAIRY EATERS:
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating For Two, and Baby’s First Foods by Nina Planck (due out late March 09′)
While we can’t argue with Nina Planck’s basic premise — that whole foods are best — we are a little put off by her sensationalistic and scientifically dubious claims that vegan diets are unhealthy. You may have heard about her infamous op-ed piece, “Death by Veganism,” in the New York Times, in which she equates a crazy/uneducated vegan couple in Florida who starved their baby to death by feeding him only applejuice with all vegans everywhere, and claims that vegan diets are lacking in the proper nutrition.
Despite this unfortunate issue, the fundamental point of Planck’s book is sound: pregnant women’s diet should consist of mainly whole, unprocessed food. The first section offers a general introduction into whole foods and their benefits during pregnancy and beyond. The book then goes on to explore how one may utilize certain ingredients within a meat/dairy diet to encourage and promote fertility. There are several charts throughout that help mothers learn which foods provide essential nutrients to their unborn baby throughout their pregnancy. Planck recommends a variety of foods to introduce to your baby after at least 6 months of breastfeeding. She also addresses the soy formula debate for those who are weighing that option.
Overall, this book makes a case for incorporating meat and dairy into your diet during pregnancy. There aren’t many suggestions for recipes and menu options. For more recipe tips and ideas, I would keep an eye out for recipes and product reviews in magazines, healthy cookbooks, trusted media sources and holistic food consultants.
Despite the fact that the three books have differing philosophies on vegetarianism, they do all have one thing in common, and that is that quality, whole foods are ideal for pregnant women. While I am neither a certified nutritionist nor a pediatrician, I do think that a mother should eat an organic and local diet whenever possible. There are a variety of produce items that should definitely be purchased from an organic source and others that are safe to be purchased without an organic certification. Checkout this list to help you decipher between the two.
COW’S MILK/COLIC CONNECTION:
With regard to the growing dairy debate, I had come across an interesting note about dairy and nursing women. While certain gaseous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, onions and soy products were on this list of colic induction culprits, dairy products were listed as the main culprit. The famed pediatrician, Dr. Sears, suggests weaning off of, or completely eliminating cow’s milk if your baby is colicky during the breastfeeding stage. Visit the website here to learn more about the colic/dairy connection. If you are on a vegetarian diet or meat and dairy diet, it may be worth it to explore sheep’s milk and goat’s milk as other options during your breastfeeding stage.