Eating healthfully while pregnant and breast feeding is of the utmost importance to set up good health for your child. To be honest, I am amazed at how unhealthfully many mothers eat during this period of their life and still give birth to healthy and normal babies. The human body is extremely adaptable and can live on all sorts of foods. But we thrive best on our species specific diet of raw fruits and vegetables.
A lot of women DO want to eat healthy, though, and understand the importance of nutrition in this period of their life. The health of the mother and father prior to conception is highly valuable in creating healthy children, and is a much easier way to go. But that should not hold you back from making a healthy diet change now that you are pregnant. This post is for women who are already pregnant or nursing, and are looking to better their health, for both themselves and for their baby. It is for the women who are already made certain, are fairly informed, and desire to follow a low fat raw vegan diet. And this post will focus on helping these women implement the proper steps to get there.
(Meaning: I am not going to focus this post on convincing the unconvinced to understand that a low fat raw vegan diet is not only healthy, but optimal for pregnant and lactating women. It would become a very lengthy post and I will have to save this subject for another time.)
I have come across many women who are either pregnant or breast feeding their child looking for advice in wanting to eat healthier and follow the 80/10/10 diet (or even just wanting to eat whole foods vegan), but are fearful of detoxing in the process. Their instincts tell them it would be very beneficial to eat an abundance of raw fruits and vegetables for both themselves and their growing baby. But too often other people in their life, as well as the media, instills fear and weariness in them, which holds them back in eating healthier.
Most people do not know that the mass majority of medical doctors receive little to no training in nutrition. People generally hold doctors up on this pedestal as if their advice on proper diet to grow healthy babies is somehow more knowledgable than someone like you or me. There are some doctors, yes, who choose to further their education and become informed. But a large portion of doctors in America know very little about nutrition. Even certified nutritionists and dietitians receive a lot of very biased schooling which is largely funded by the meat, dairy and processed foods industry. I really could do a whole post on this subject, but will also need to save this for another time. Getting new ideas for blog posts within my posts!
I want to encourage you, empowered women, to take the step to inform yourself and go with your intuition. Eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables is healthy and optimal for you and your baby. We should not be fearful of the transition to a healthier lifestyle. Your baby needs nutrition and the best way to do that is to eat whole plant foods and to live a healthy lifestyle. The focus should be making sure you are implementing the proper steps to get there, while ensuring the health of the baby. The human body will not heal instantly from a toxic diet. True healing takes time. So it is important to make gradual, long, and consistent strides towards a raw vegan diet while pregnant.
“A large amount of excess toxins suddenly released into the system could have a negative effect on the fetus, so it’s important to detoxify slowly, especially if changing to 100% raw foods during pregnancy…A change to 60 to 70 percent raw vegan foods during pregnancy is encouraged, with the remaining 30 to 40 percent being the least harmful cooked foods-steamed vegetables. This diet will still be quite healthful and easier on mother and baby. Mother can then move to totally raw foods after the birth of the baby, when detoxification will have less, and eventually, no effect on the baby.” – Karen Ranzi, Creating Healthy Children, through attachment parenting and raw foods.
To combat criticism that will come your way when going against the grain of what the public generally promotes, I encourage you to inform yourself as much as possible. This way, when people discourage you on your health journey, you will have the answers and will be confident in your responses to why you are eating the way you are. You will know fully that you are doing the right thing for you and your baby, so no amount of negativity will get you down. It will only provide opportunities for you to gently inform others! Stay positive and know what you are doing! CLICK HERE to see the books I recommend.
I will give just one example of the type of criticism you might receive in following a low fat raw vegan diet while pregnant, and what type of information you can learn so you know how to properly respond: But where will you get your protein?! Your baby needs lots of protein so you need to eat foods like meat and dairy to give your baby the nutrients from meat!
Of course, this is simply not true. A pregnant and lactating mother will get all the protein she needs eating raw vegan foods.
“A maximum of 10% of total calories consumed [should] come from protein. If one is consuming 2,000 calories per day that would equal a maximum of 50 grams daily. If, as typically happens during pregnancy and nursing, as well as during extended periods of great degrees of physical activities, total calorie consumption rises, protein consumption should and will rise accordingly, based on my percentage suggestions. Therefore, an athlete consuming 6K calories per day would be consuming close to 150 grams of protein per day.” -Dr. Douglas Graham
“When your caloric needs are met [by eating whole foods], your protein needs are met automatically. Focus on eating healthy natural foods; forget about trying to get enough protein. Your protein needs increase in direct proportion to increased caloric demands and your increased appetite. Guess what? You automatically get enough. The same is true during pregnancy. When you meet your caloric needs with an assortment of natural plant foods, you will receive the right amount of protein- not too much and not too little.” -Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live
“There is no essential vitamin, mineral, or nutrient, that you cannot get from a fruit or vegetable” -Dr. Douglas Graham
The following is a list of things I recommend, based on the experiences of myself and my mamma friends who went through the same transition. Focus on getting to your healthiest you. These steps focus on the fact that you are growing a baby, either in your womb, or through your breasts.
EAT FRUIT IN ABUNDANCE!
The highest quality source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients comes from eating a wide variety of whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic, fruits and vegetables. The book “The 80/10/10 diet” by Dr. Douglas Graham is a must read to help get you started on the road to the amazingly vibrant and healthy frugivorous path.
EAT VEGETABLES IN ABUNDANCE!
Do not neglect your greens. Some pregnant women have a hard time chewing large salads for dinner. If this happens to you, put greens like kale, collards, or lettuce greens in a smoothie filled with delicious ripe fruit. It can also be beneficial to include large fruit and vegetable juices into your diet to keep your green intake high. When I was pregnant, one of my favorite go-to juices was a large celery, cucumber, apple, pineapple kale juice. I craved these sweet green juices and drank them on a weekly basis. When you are making salads for yourself, keep it simple with lots of tender greens and add in celery or sun dried tomatoes (no oil, no salt) to your dressings to satisfy your salt cravings. Also, add some overt plant fats like avocado, coconut meat, hemp seeds or walnuts to your salads or dressings. An example of a super satisfying dressing to pour over veggies is avocado, celery, sun dried tomatoes and fresh tangerine juice blended smooth.
EAT ENOUGH CALORIES.
This is the most important step. If you are pregnant or nursing and are not already following a whole foods vegan diet, then chances are you will need to learn how to adjust the portion sizes of your meals to larger quantities, especially while pregnant. Whole plant foods are generally lower in calories than animal foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables. And fruits are very high in water content, which can give the illusion of fullness to a beginner before they are actually satisfied. It is crucial to always satisfy your desires for food. This is one reason why including cooked foods for dinner will help a pregnant woman transitioning to a low fat raw vegan diet get enough calories, when they find it difficult to get enough calories from fruits and vegetables alone as their belly grows.
Drink lots of water. Start out your morning with a liter of water before you eat your breakfast and drink more water throughout your day. It is imperative that you stay hydrated while nursing your child to ensure proper milk production. I generally drink at least 2 liters of water a day and back when I was exclusively breast feeding my son, I drank more.
Nothing is more taxing on the body than yo-yo dieting, especially while growing a baby. Going back and forth from extremely healthy foods, to extremely unhealthy foods is not recommended. What you do not eat without exception is more important than what you do eat. The body heals itself, if you let it. Binging on junk foods like french fries, chips, cookies, cheese and foods loaded with oil and salt will impede your progress. The best way to ensure you don’t have trouble with this is to fuel your body with enough calories from high carbohydrate whole plant foods. When we satisfy our carbohydrate needs, the desire for unhealthy foods will minimize, and in many cases completely cease to exist. DO NOT RESTRICT YOUR CALORIES. During pregnancy and early lactation your appetite will heighten, which we know is a sure sign that your baby needs you to eat more. The problem with people in America today is that they eat more of the wrong foods which do not promote health.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
The best way to take care of your baby is to first take care of yourself. This way you will be the best mother, wife, sister, and friend you can be! Get rest and sleep as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends or partner. It is quite common for mothers to become sleep deprived after having a child and while this is an expected part of the journey, getting outside help so you can get some needed rest is very important. What you put in your mouth is just the beginning. True health goes so much deeper than just food.
LEARN PROPER FOOD COMBINING PRINCIPLES.
Having good digestion will positively impact on your overall health and well being immensely while you are pregnant (or not pregnant for that matter!). Google search “food combining charts” online to help guide you. Only eat cooked foods after you are done having all your fruits for the day. Fruit is like a jealous lover and wants to be digested by itself (or with tender greens). Fruit digests very quickly, in about an hour, where as cooked food takes much longer to digest. If you eat fruit after you have had cooked food within the same day, the fruit will ferment over the cooked food, causing gas, bloating, and indigestion. Eat fruits for breakfast and lunch and enjoy cooked foods for dinner. Eat tender leafy greens with your cooked meals to help with digestion.
In short, eat fruit in abundance during the day. Enjoy large bowls of your favorite fruit, green smoothies, fresh citrus juices, green juices, and mono meals galore for breakfast and lunch. Include tender greens with these meals as well if desired. For dinner time, if you feel like eating a raw meal, go for a big raw salad. If you started out on this lifestyle eating a fairly standard American diet, be sure to include steamed vegetables with your dinner or even some boiled potatoes on the salad as well. And for any day you are desiring more than just a salad, or are not able to eat large enough quantities of fruits to fill your caloric needs during the day, make a large WHOLE foods cooked vegan meal to go with tender greens for dinner. Examples of this are boiled sweet potatoes, steamed veggies, brown rice, quinoa etc. Keep the oil and salt out of the kitchen. Teach your taste buds to enjoy simple flavors. If you are looking to eat a fully raw, or nearly full raw diet, choose to cut out cooked foods after you give birth and your nursing relationship becomes stable with your little new bundle.
I transitioned from a high fat raw vegan diet to the low fat raw vegan diet (80/10/10) while nursing my then 6 month old baby, who exclusively breast fed until he was 8 months old. I had no problems with milk supply and experienced amazing things on my journey. He weaned from breast milk at 26 months of age. My son is the happiest, healthiest child I know and is thriving in every way. He has been a raw vegan since birth and is growing and developing at the same rate of his fellow kiddo friends. I like to say my bebe is made of raw fruits, vegetables and breast milk. During my pregnancy I ate what is considered the high fat raw food diet, simply because I had not learned of the 80/10/10 diet yet. I have been eating raw vegan foods for over 7 years now (since August 2006) and during pregnancy I craved loads of fruit and raw vegetables. I ate more fruit during pregnancy than I did in the previous 5 years on the high fat raw food diet and I felt great because of it. I still included some cooked vegan foods which I now consider to be unhealthful (like vegan Chinese restaurant food filled with salt and oil) and ate a good amount of nuts and high fat dehydrated foods. Looking back, I realize now how much my body was asking me to fuel myself and my growing baby with fresh fruit, and I’m glad I listened to its request. I felt great the whole time during pregnancy. I never had any morning sickness, gained 24 pounds, and had a wonderful home birth experience. I can only imagine how much greater my next pregnancy will be now that I follow the 80/10/10 diet and completely avoid oils, salt, and processed foods! I am very much looking forward to our next pregnancy, when the time is right for our family, to share my experience with you all.
Instagram star @lonijane was interviewed by news.com/au about her 80/10/10 transformation and was pregnant during the time of the interview. After the positive interview, she received loads of backlash through media outlets around the world about how “unhealthy” her diet is and how she is harming her newborn baby. They expressed how she needed to take supplements, eat more protein and cut the carbs. You can read her original interview here: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/loni-jane-anthony-801010-diet-saved-my-life/story-fneuzkvr-1226757955932
And you can also read her follow up article here, where she defends herself: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/loni-jane-defends-following-801010-diet-while-pregnant/story-fneuzkvr-1226761011465
She, of course, stuck to her guns and recently gave birth to a beautiful and totally HEALTHY baby boy named Rowdy Nash. Check out her Instagram for the beautiful pictures of her and her glowing new babe. It’s baffling, although expected, that there will not be the same big news coverage on, “Hey! We were wrong! Loni Jane gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby! Maybe we should open our minds to the 80/10/10 diet.” Nope. Instead there will be silence (unless of course, news.com/au does another follow up article on her; which I hope they do!). And what so many people will only remember is that they read an article about how unhealthy it is for a pregnant woman to be vegan eating only fruits and vegetables. But a large amount of people were positively impacted by her story being shared! Her article brought a lot of new people into the 80/10/10 lifestyle. The only way she would have made it back into big media coverage is if her baby ended up in the NICU or if her baby was born will illness, which did not happen. THIS is one of the main reasons why not many people know the truth about real nutrition. And of course, no one blames poor diet to any mother on the standard American diet who gives birth to a baby with illness.
My sister-in-law Tessa, recently gave birth to her second child, a beautiful baby girl named Rooney Bliss. She ate a low fat vegan, most raw diet and had a wonderful pregnancy and home birth. And she wrote about her pregnancy experience for me to share with you all today.
“I was 6 months into my 80/10/10 high carb low fat journey when I found out we were expecting our second child. Why should the diet that we were created to thrive on be vastly different just because of pregnancy? I didn’t believe it should be. I continued my plant based pregnancy, focusing on a high raw, high fruit diet with plenty of leafy greens. I avoided oils, processed foods and any added salt. On average I continued to maintain 80% of my daily calories in carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables and cooked starches, 10% protein, and 10% fats from WHOLE FOODS. Unfortunately I still had a decent amount of morning sickness, similar to my first pregnancy. But this time I slept great the entire pregnancy, was not dehydrated at all, my iron levels were excellent, I did not swell, retain water, or gain excess water weight; all of which made for a much more comfortable pregnancy! I gained 18 pounds this pregnancy and I could not believe the amount of energy I had this time around, specifically in my third trimester! It was such a better experience than my first pregnancy! I also have to say that the high carb low fat vegan lifestyle has been life saving when it comes to sleeping with a newborn. Despite broken sleep at night, I still have consistent energy throughout the day. Definitely not the excruciating fog of sleep deprivation that I remember with my first child!” Two weeks postpartum I had lost all the baby weight except two pounds; which I suspect was one pound in each breast. All my clothes fit perfectly and I feel amazing.” -Tessa Fisher
See Tessa’s Instagram @tessamfisher
Cissy is a wonderful friend of mine who is near and dear to my heart. I asked her to write about her experience and journey to health. She is currently still breast feeding her 18 month old bebe and has successfully transitioned her older daughter, Piper, to a whole foods vegan diet.
“I transitioned to the 80/10/10 diet cold tofurkey from the SAD diet 4 months postpartum. My decision was easy as I was well aware of the benefits of this lifestyle. Because I was breastfeeding I wanted to make sure my body was capable of handling any detox symptoms with ease. I drank plenty of water, got as much sleep as I could, and fueled up on enough calories from fresh organic fruits and vegetables to keep me energized and satisfied. 80/10/10 has changed my life in so many positive ways. I feel so much better, my kids are eating extremely healthy, I have energy to keep up with my 4 year old and now 18 month old, and I’m so much more connected with life! It’s beautiful!” -Cissy Lala
See Cissy’s Instagram @rawlala
I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Douglas Graham, and he has personally helped me heaps on my journey to health. My gratefulness to him cannot fully be expressed through words. I asked him what his thoughts were on women transitioning to the 80/10/10 diet while pregnant or nursing:
“Getting as healthy as you can, as soon as you can, is always the best choice. Getting rid of toxins as soon as possible is always smarter than waiting until later. Imagine if the problem was alcohol, and not food. Would you recommend that an alcoholic woman who was pregnant wait until she’d given birth before she stopped drinking? Of course not. How about if she’d just given birth, would you advise her to keep drinking until she’d finished nursing. Again, the obvious answer is, ‘No, quit drinking asap.’ The same is true for cooked foods. For the best possible outcome, switch to the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet as soon as possible.” -Dr. Douglas Graham (Author of The 80/10/10 diet)
I hope you found this post to be informative and inspiring. There are other women out there too, although few and far between, who choose to grow their babies with an abundance of living fruits and vegetables! We need more women in the world to become informed and learn how to TRULY eat healthy to nourish both themselves and their babies. Join us in the journey of creating healthy children through a whole foods raw vegan diet, rich in living fruits and vegetables!
Here is a picture of myself and my son Elvis, at one day old.
In love and health,
– Mango Island Mamma, Ellen Fisher