Eating for TWO

In today’s world, consuming a healthy diet can be challenging enough; eating a healthy diet that will not only provide every thing a woman needs but also all the building blocks needed to make another human is overwhelming. Having a nutritional plan eases a mom’s mind that she is nourishing her growing baby with all the love and food one can get.

Why does what you eat during pregnancy matter?

Research continues to conclude that the first 1000 days of a child life, conception to 2 years, are critical for the health and wellness of the child throughout adulthood. This means that what mom eats effects the health of the baby well into the future. Baby depends on mom for their calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fluid. Including evidence-based strategies can help baby grow healthy organ systems, assist in brain development and mental health, and promote appropriate birth weight.

Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE paints a beautiful metaphor in her book Real Food for Pregnancy: “Anyone who has ever had a garden understands that when you plant a tomato seed, you can expect a tomato plant to grow (not a pea vine or a broccoli plant). The seed has the blueprints, and even if you’re not a very good gardener, that seed will grow given the bare essentials: some soil, water, and light. However, what separates a novice from a master gardener is their attention to optimal conditions. They have learned that amending the soil with nutrient-dense and microbe-rich compost will provide the plant with more of the raw materials for growth. They understand that there’s a sweet spot in the amount of water and light that helps a tomato plant not just survive, but thrive. Ultimately, they know that with a little TLC, they will have a healthier plant with vibrant green leaves and plentiful, delicious tomatoes.” (Nichols, 2018).

To peak interest even further, one recent Oregon State University study found that when pregnant mice were fed the same phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower, the offspring had a significant decreased risk for certain cancers (Kaur, Shorey, Ho, Dashwood, & Williams, 2013). As a nutritionist, this study makes me want to jump for joy. It shows how much power food really has! As a mom, it makes me feel confident that I can actually have a little bit of control over the future health of my child.

What can improving nutritional intake do for you?

By implementing simple, evidence-based practices, you and your baby can ease through the first stage of life together. Mom can avoid or, at least, lessen the dredged symptoms of constipation, nausea, swelling, and heartburn. Baby can thrive on essential nutrients that will not only help them in the womb but out in the real word too. Food is a powerful medicine.

Resources:

Kaur, P., Shorey, L., Ho, E., Dashwood, R., & Williams, D. (2013). The Epigenome as a Potential Mediator of Cancer Prevention by Dietary Phytochemicals: the Fetus as a Target. Nutrition Review, 441-457.

Nicholas, Lily. (2018). Real Food for Pregnancy. USA

Prepping for Baby

Fertility is about more than just having a baby. It is a sign of HEALTH and VITALITY. — Ayla Barmmer

The dreaded/happy/excited/nervous/dreaded again “TTC” period of life…. Trying To Conceive. Unfortunately, there is so much emotion behind this phase. The anticipation, the excitement, and of course, the perceived lack of control.

However, there are other avenues you can employ to take control when planning for those precious little fingers and toes. You can take the bull by the horns now and focus on YOUR health and YOUR wellbeing. After all, a healthy and happy baby comes from a healthy and happy momma. Implementing simple eating and clean living strategies into one’s daily routine can be a game changer when trying to conceive. Having go to strategies in place before pregnancy also ensures that mom’s body is primed to grow another little one.

Unfortunately, more and more women are experiencing fertility issues. To be frank, the medical model has only strategy for you: medication. Medication is only part of the puzzle. While is it effective, it cannot fix the root problem of infertility that could ultimately cause issues in the future. The body is such a wonder. When one part of the human body is not functioning correctly, the hormonal system down regulates fertility capabilities. The theory goes if your body does not believe it is thriving then it’s not going to put itself in harms way by becoming pregnant and having to support another being. If you are under oxidative stress or chronic inflammation, your immune system or digestive systems are not functioning appropriately,  your body is storing toxins, or you are just plain stressed out becoming pregnant is simply going to be an uphill battle. The good news is that nutritional strategies can help pave the broken roads and lead you to the ultimate goal of having a little angel of your own.

 

Breastfeeding Nutrition

Breastfeeding is an incredible and selfless gift and can provide benefits that last a lifetime. Though no matter how beneficial, breastfeeding is also one of the most challenging, most labor intensive, and most exhausting periods in a woman’s life.  Having a nutritional game plan that emphasizes milk supply but also focuses on ease and convenience is key to survival for both you and baby.

The first year of my son’s life, I was completely consumed with every nuance of breastfeeding. After all, breastfeeding was something I had really looked forward to. With my background as a nutritionist, I was just plain excited for this intimate journey with my son. Let me tell you personally, I was not prepared for how hard it truly was. I went through times of low milk, times of difficulty latching, and buckets, upon buckets of tears. To put it mildly, breastfeeding was the hardest job I had ever completed.

In my experience, most women feel just as I did. The struggle is real. That puts me in the unique position of knowing how hard the job is day in day out but also knowing the demands both you and your baby is under nutritionally. Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE, whose work and research I so admire and put into practice, expresses what my goal as nutritionist during breastfeeding should be. She states,

“Rather, I simply want to encourage new mothers to eat as much nutrient dense, real food as possible, so you can both replete your nutrient stores after pregnancy and produce the most nutritious milk for your ridiculously hungry, rapidly growing baby. This is about self care and nourishment for both of you. It’s about ensuring that you have the ability to heal from childbirth and handle the stresses of motherhood without burning out, while your baby gets optimal nutrition to develop and thrive.” (Nichols, 2018).

My goal during this stage of motherhood is to focus on you, the mother. You have just been through a storm and now asked to climb up the side of a mountain in the same wet clothes you had on during the storm. You need support. You need easy, simple, mindless eating tips and tricks.

 

 

Resources:

Nicholas, Lily. (2018). Real Food for Pregnancy. USA

 

Postnatal Return

After a woman grows and births a baby, her body has gone through a terrific amount of changes. While those changes have produced such a joyous outcome, the same changes can wreck hormonal homeostasis and deplete nutrient levels. Hormones are the main operators behind the child bearing process. Returning a woman’s natural hormonal rhythms post baby can be quite tricky and frankly depressing without nutritional support.

Similar to hormonal changes, a woman’s body must give a significant amount of her own vitamin and mineral reserves to her new baby. Getting those reserves back to a healthy baseline is critical not only to having energy today but also prepping for future offspring tomorrow.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (that might be gluten free too!)

I LOVE a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie. It reminds me of the standard slice and bake Nestle cookies that I had at least once a week as a kid. Good news with this recipe, making a big batch once a week is no biggie! So enjoy with no guilt!

Ingredients

1/2 cup melted butter (grass fed, if possible)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 cup brown sugar (you can sub 1/2 cup brown sugar with coconut sugar here if you want to cut the sugar content even more)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoonsalt

3 cups almond flour (I have used the Bob Mills brand; however, if you have plain almonds on hand, you can grind in food processor to make a flour.)

1 1/4 to 1/ 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and/or chucks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, coconut oil, and sugar with a hand or stand mixer. Add in vanilla and eggs. Using mixer, beat for another minute. Add baking soda and baking powder and mix few seconds longer. Slowly add in almond flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

New Food Rules: VEG OUT

Many people ask me, what do I need to do to be healthier? “Well… That depends… Healthy is such a relative term.” The answer is SO different for each person. Nonetheless, there is one universal piece of advice I give to absolutely everyone without fail: INCREASE your non-starchy VEGGIES DAILY.

 

Non-starchy veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals. They help you feel full and satisfied. They are very low in sugar, fat, and calories. Veggies enhance pretty much every body system from the circulatory to the skin.

Two distinct points to make with this (not so new) food rule. First, I did not say eat more FRUIT and veggies. I left all off the fruit apart of the usual phrase for a reason. Fruit is a very nutritious part of any diet; however, 2 servings per day is ENOUGH. Fruit is composed of vitamins, fiber, and yes sugar. More is not necessarily better with the sugary goodness.

Secondly, add more veggies of the NON-STARCHY type. Corn, peas, and potatoes are all examples of starchy vegetables. Just like with fruit, the main components of starchy vegs are vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates (which triggers an insulin spike.) Not to say that these types of foods are bad, we just do need more than 2 – 3 servings per day of them.

More than likely, you knew the WHYS to consume veggies more often. But actually getting the goodness from the frig to your mouth is much harder. Here are 3 tips to making it work.

 

Prep Your Fridge: When prepping a quick lunch or going for a speedy snack, a head of cauliflower or whole carrots are not going to make the cut. In the moment, bringing out the cutting board and breaking down the item will just not happen. Especially when crackers or chips are much easier to grab. Instead make it your intention to cut each veg right after you purchase your stash. You will be surprised how much more appealing a strip of bell pepper or a wedge of zucchini are when they are bit sized and ready to go!

carrots and broccoli pic 2cut carrots and broccoli pic

 

Make a Tasty Dip: Let’s face it… raw veggies are not that punch of flavor that your favorite chips might be. Why not change this fact? Explore different sauces, dips, or hummus recipes that get you excited about the afternoon snack time.

carrots and broccoli pic

Here is one of my personal and recent favorites:

Ian’s GrIans Green Dressingeen Dressing

One big handful of basil | One handful of           parsley | 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard | 2 – 3 squeezed lemons | 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil |     2 – 3 cloves of garlic | Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together. Enjoy! (NOTE: For a thicker version, sub half of an avocado for ½ cup of oil. Or try MCT oil instead of olive oil.)

 

 

Blend it Up: Have an “easy-out” on hand on those days that you just cannot seem to fit it all in. There are many brands of “green powders” on the market that you can add to either a full smoothie, a vegan milk, or even just water. I encourage purchasing a few different sample packs to do a bit of taste testing. Watch out for artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and preservatives. Vega One is currently the brand in my diet routine.

Vega One Mix Pic

Food For Thought: Food Policy

In honor of the upcoming elections, I am sharing a little FOOD FOR THOUGHT. While you will hear much about immigration, economics, and national security in the debates, you are not going to hear about something I believe is even more important than health care. Its our food supply! Below is a statement from one of my favorite Top Chefs: Tom Colicchio.

 

{Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: “Tom Colicchio” by Alexandra Wolfe}

“What he [Tom Colicchio] really wants to do now is change the way people eat. With his nonprofit Food Policy Action, he is hoping to persuade Americans that food policy should be more prominent in politics. “The idea of food up to a leave of the Second Amendment and reproduction rights?” he says. The problem, he adds, is that “calories are cheap. Nutrition is expensive.”

His goal is to have the government make policy changes that direct farm subsidies away from commodity crops like corn (which often goes into processed food) and toward more fruits and vegetables, to make produce less expensive for consumer. Other changes he’d like to see are healthier school lunches and labels for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.”