Paleo, Pregnant and can't give up cereal? Your not alone!

What is it about that morning, afternoon or bedtime bowl of cereal that is just so special? For western cultures, cereal is  as much of a staple as meat, eggs and dairy. So much so, that entire grocery store isles are dedicated to the sales and marketing of these non-paleo products. 

The problem with cereal: Lectins and Phytic Acid

If your new to the Paleo diet you may be wondering, what the heck is so wrong with my bowl of whole grain organic nutty "0"'s anyway? Well, aside from the obvious suspects (sugar, food colouring and additives), the problem is that cereals are made primarily from grains. Grains are smart...smarter than you may imagine. They contain compounds called lecthins and phytic acid that are designed to protect the plant from predators and aid in their reproductive success. 

Lecthin is a toxic compound that acts somewhat like a natural pesticide, protecting the plant from harmful predators like bugs. Phytic acid is a substance found in seeds that protects the nutrients the plant requires for reproduction. Pretty smart! When we eat foods containing high levels of these compounds (like our morning flakes of goodness), we expose our bodies to toxins, which act as irritants and also bind to minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium, that our bodies need to stay healthy and grow a sweet litte baby. This is why these two compounds are often called 'anti-nutrients'. 

 "BUT ALL I CAN EAT IS CEREAL!"

 I hear you sister! If you've made the transition to a Paleo-friendly diet, you've likely cut out cereal products entirely, but what happens when you become pregnant? For many, the craving for cereal becomes overpowering in the first trimester. In fact, many women find breakfast cereal is all they can tolerate during the first few months of pregancy. So how do you navigate this when you're trying to maintain a paleo friendly grain free diet? Here's how...

Seek out soaked & sprouted grain cereals

Most traditional cultures sprout and soak their grains. Sprouting grains helps break down many of the anti-nutrients. When grains are soaked, they engage an enzyme called phytase. Phytase, helps break down phytic acid (in small amounts) and aid in nutrient absorption. Lethicin is also reduced a small amount during the soaking and sprouting process.

Gluten free cereals such as One Degree Organic's Rice Cereal or Arrowhead Mills Sprouted Corn Flakes are all good options for the pregnant mama who just can't tollerate much other than cereal and needs something fast she can buy from the store. 

You could also try a Paleo Cereal alternative, such as any of these 15 Cereal Recipes. The version of cinnamon toast crunch is my fav and isn't as fiddly to make as it seems. You could also pick up some of Steves Paleokrunch Cereal. They ship across the country and are good alternatives to grain based cereal when eaten in moderation.

Fermentation

The process of fermentation seems to have the greatest effect on reduction of the grains anti-nutrients across the board. The problem is that it's tricky to find pre-packaged cereal! Actually, it's impossible.

In traditional West African cultures, fermented cereals are a staple food. Sometimes called Ogi, it is typically made from maize, sorghum or millet sprouted for 3 days before straining to remove the husk (often then fed to lifestock) and prepared as a porridge.  

This recipe from Brittany Angel is genius and may just help fend off your cereal cravings

The process of making traditional sourdough breads includes a substantial fermentation process. If a piece of toast would serve as a good substitute for your cereal craving, I suggest you seek out a traditional bakery in your area and ask if they can make a gluten free sourdough or make your own.

Gluten free Sourdough Recipe

If you feel like toast may be a good cereal substitute, you could try to avoid the grains entirely and enjoy a good slice of Paleo friendly grain free bread. Here are two recipes I've tried that are pretty great and rather easy to make.

Brittany Angel's Grain Free Bread 

Elana's Pantry Paleo Bread

    Stay away from Gluten: Period

    Even though gluten and lethicin levels may be reduced a small amount by soaking, fermenting and sprouting, the effect is minimal (when compared to other grains) and should still be avoided. Foods containing gluten irritate the lining of the gut and affect its permeability. Some believe this can lead to "leaky gut syndrome".  Many people also may experience a full blown inflammatory immune system response when exposed to gluten. During pregnancy, when your body is already in an immuno-compromised state,  best to avoid gluten entirely. For this reason sprouted cereals such as Ezekial 4.9  and wheat based sourdoughs should be avoided. 

    Be gentle on yourself

    Remember, there is no such thing as a 'good' and 'bad' food. You aren't a terrible person if you break the 'paleo' rules and give your body what it is asking for every now and again. "Paleo perfectionism" (thanks Diane for that awesome phrase),  can create unnecessary stress in your life and hold you back from reaching your goals of a happy, stress free pregnancy. Do your best, nourish your body with nutrient dense foods and if you need to live on sprouted brown rice cereal for a few months, so be it. Just try to make the best choices you can. 

    Homebirth: As paleo as it gets

    I feel like homebirth has been getting a lot of bad press lately. It seems like much of what is being reported on is based on poorly researched and biased studies. While homebirth is not for everyone, it can be a safe choice for many low risk women and their families. Study after study have demonstrated homebirth, when planned and attended by a Registered Midwife, is safe for low risk women.

    Waterbirth is also safe when attended by trained midwives. Here's a link to the recent debate floating around the interweb. 

    I thought it may be helpful to see some positive images of a couple of births at home that were empowering, beautiful and SAFE. Thanks to Julie and Page for sharing their journey on camera. 

    Homebirth...pretty much as paleo as it gets! 

    Julie's Birth

    Page's Waterbirth

    On another note...this is adorable and worth a watch.

    Break out the tissue! 

    Food and Feelings: The Effects of Gut Microflora on our brains and babies

    Thank you for all your kind emails. I get so amped up and totally inspired by all your questions. I try my very best to answer each one, but these days it's been tough. I'm a bit run off my feet getting my midwifery practice re-established, buying my first house and trying to find some time for a social life..maybe even a love life too (?) 

    Still trying to find time for a little bit of ski time play....my paleo friendly sandwich during this ski day had fermented pickles in in :) 

    Still trying to find time for a little bit of ski time play....my paleo friendly sandwich during this ski day had fermented pickles in in :) 

    With this insane schedule, I've had to work hard to keep myself healthy. Recently I've added fermented foods into my daily routine. I'm happy to report that I've noticed big changes in my immune function, gut health and even my mental wellbeing.  I've been consuming daily doses of Kombucha, kimchi and raw kraut and find that my body just can't get enough of this good stuff!   I firmly believe in the amazing power of probiotics and am fascinated by all the kick-ass research coming out about the effects of gut micobotics on both our physical and emotional selves.  

     In a spontaneous moment of nerdy pleasure this week, I came across a recent journal article that looks at a phenomenon called "developmental programming". This fascinating theory explores how environmental influences early in an organisms development affect an organism's later structure, and function. More specifically, this theory examines the effects of gut microflora and early colonization on human development. Most of the early data indicates that gut microbiota may have systemic effects on liver function. This raising the possibility that gut microbiota can and most likely does, have developmental effects in other organs elsewhere in the body.....like the human brain.

    How does bacteria get into our guts in the first place?

    Good question! I'm glad I asked :) 

    Before we are born, our guts are sterile, a.k.a free of all bacteria. It is the process of birth that starts the colonization process.  A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal  found that the mode of delivery significantly impacts the types of bacteria found in our guts. For example, babies born vaginally have significantly more of the health promoting Escherichia-Shigella and Bacteroides species while babies born by c-section have significantly more c.difficile bacteria. C. difficile is associated with increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes.

    So how does this affect our brains if the bacteria is in our bums?

    The human brain is suceptible to cues from both internal and external sources especially during the period of  infancy when it undergoes most of it's growth and development. Some studies have indicated that there is a possible link between common neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, and microbial pathogen infections during the perinatal period. Animal studies have show that exposure to microbial pathogens during early developmental periods result in behavioral abnormalities, including anxiety-like behavior and impaired cognitive function. Interesting stuff! 

    I'm no microbiologist...but this is pretty cool

    I'm no microbiologist...but this is pretty cool

    Our bellies are filled with neurotransmitter receptors for tryptophan, serotonin and GABA (AKA all the feel good chemicals) ...just like our brains. This is the reason that the gut is often called our "second brain".  So if these neurotransmitter receptors exist in our bellies....how does the health of our bellies and bacteria that colonize our guts effect our happiness?? 

    Well....cliffhanger...I don't have all the answers..but it would stand to reason that if our guts help produce many of the chemical compounds that affect mood patterns in the brain, it could significantly contribute to our overall happiness and wellbeing. Perhaps overly simplified...but hey...simple is good. I'm so pumped to learn more about the science behind this all. 

    " Oh man...I had to have a c-section. Does this mean my baby is at risk? "

    Paleo Mama's, if you required a c-section for medical reasons don't play the blame game! Mama guilt is the worst....fear not....these things can be fixed and here are a few good places to start: 

     

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    Bio Gaia - From a swedish company, this baby friendly probiotic will help support the development of beneficial bacteria in your babies little belly. 

    Therbiotic Infant- Another great probiotic formula that can help optimize an infants gut colonization.

    Breastfeed- Breastfed babies are have greater colonies of good bacteria. Breastmilk contains natural probiotics in addition to  large amounts of prebiotic oligosaccharides. Preboitics help support the healthy growth of beneficial bacteria in the belly. 

    Further Reading:

    Human Microbiome Project 

    Daily Beast Article 

    Chris Kresser Podcast Episode

     

    A little bit of lazy link lovin

    When I do have some free time, I've been trying hard to nurture myself in wide open spaces

    When I do have some free time, I've been trying hard to nurture myself in wide open spaces

    Hello! I'm still here. Still crazy busy...but still here. Thank you all for your kind messages of support and for all your questions. I'm working hard to return each and every message and answer every question I receive. Right now, I'm working on a great post all about the effects of gut flora development and emotional wellbeing...it's really awesome...but sadly not done yet! So, while you wait, here are some things that have sparked my interest as of late.

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    Paleo friendly Books:

    I finally got my hands on a copy of Chris Kresser's Your Personal Paleo Code. It's a great starting point for folks that are new to a paleo diet and also offers suggestions to customize the paleo diet to meet your individual challenges or needs. Simple, down to earth...overall an awesome read.

    Eat the Yolks- This book by the ever popular and terribly cute Liz Wolfe is due out any day...or maybe it's already out now...I'm totally out of touch! What I do know is that I'm really looking forward to this one. I love Liz's triple crown combination of wit, humour and intelligence. 

    Mindfullness:

    I've been doing Tuja Wellness's 30 day mediation challenge. It's not too late to sign up and it's amazing how 5-10 mins a day really can change your life! 

    Baby Talk:

    This is a great guide to help give you some tips about how to help a friend who's just had a baby! It seems like all my girlfriends are becoming new mom's and the best thing you can do as a friend is to lend them a helping hand!

    Research:

    Several recent studies have linked folic acid supplementation to breast cancer growth. Yikes!  Since the 1990's, when folate deficiency was found cause neural tube defects, high dose folic acid supplements have been recommend to women of childbearing age and is a standard recommendation to all women in early pregnancy. Synthetic folic acid has now been added into most mulitvitamin blends and is added by law to 'enriched' grain products like pasta, cereals and bread (another reason to stay away from grains!) in an effort to reduce neural tube defects caused by deficiency. This makes me think that perhaps this widespread 'deficiency' is really caused by a lack of whole foods in the standard American diet. Instead of 'fortifying' foods, shouldn't we just encourage the consumption of real food....I digress....

    What is a cavemama to do? Stick to natural folate (B9) in the form of tetrahydrofolate. THF can be found in real foods like romaine, spinach, broccoli, and liver. If you're taking a prenatal supplement, look for 'folate' or tetrahydrofolate vs folic acid (the synthetic oxidized form of this water soluble B vitamin) on the label.

    Eats:

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    - I made this delightful Paleo Chicken Pot Pie from Healthful Pursuit and it was AMAZING.

    - I've also been experiencing a strange and unreasonable craving for horseradish...not sure where it came from but Bubbies makes the best I've ever had. Naturally fermented and free of artificial everything. Delightful especially when mixed with some broco-cauli mash and some leftover bison steak.

     

     

    Kombucha has saved my life

     Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? Like you just don't fit in? This has pretty much been my experience since leaving my mountain home about 18 months ago. I traded fresh air, trail runs and mountain vistas for big city lights,  treadmills and smog alerts. I moved with the intention to be closer to my family during a difficult time, but now that things have settled, this cavegirl is packing up and moving home to the mountains! 


    I'm headed back to  Canmore Alberta to re-establish my small midwifery practice. I hope to bring some more birth choices back to the women of my community.  I'm so excited and feel like this is the best decision I've ever made. You know when something just feels SO right? Sometimes you have to leave to find out just where your "home" really is.  

    All that being said, it's been a long and busy few months and I thank you all for the kind emails of support I've been receiving. There is a lot of work to be done and my blog and site has fallen a bit by the wayside as I re-establsh myself and move across the country.

    All this stress has got me thinking....how do you keep yourself healthy during times of turmoil and STRESS? For me, Kombucha is a key part of staying healthy, plus it tastes great. GT's Gingerberry is amongst my favourites. I'm yet to try making my own. My friend Laurie is making some experimental brews and I'm hoping to learn from her mistakes and start my own batch this summer when I have a bit more time on my hands! 

    Kombucha

    This lovely naturally fermented tea is chock full of everything that is good for you and it tastes soooo good.

    Kombucha is made from tea which is fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance). Most commercial Kombucha is blended with a fruit juice of sorts. A lot of people I've spoken to worry about the  sugar content, however the sugar is an essential part of the fermentation process and the end result isn't very high in sugar. In fact, up to 8oz is permited on the popular 21-day sugar detox and it is whole 30 approved.  

    Kombucha is well known to be full of probiotics. Probiotics are not only important for good gut health, but they are also a key componet in a healthy immune system. Kombucha has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. In rats, it's been shown to improve liver function and protect against oxidative stress.

    Kombucha is also full of organic acids including glucuronic acid, lactic acid and oxalic acid, all of which aid the body in detoxification and protection from viruses, fungus and bacteria. 

    Kombucha also is amazing at regulating bowel function in times of stress. I don't know about you, but when I travel or get stressed out, I just DONT go (I bet you always wanted to know that). However, when I drink a bottle (2 servings) of kombucha a day during these times, my guts thank me and I'm able to eliminate with much more ease. 

    My Best-y Laurie's fine looking brew

    Even pregnant women can enjoy this tasty beverage. If you make your own however, I caution you to master your skill before you get knocked up. Great recipes are found in Jill's book Fermented, I also like Wellness Mama's Kombucha Soda recipe. I often mix half a bottle of GT with lemon juice and carbonated water from my sodastream to make a yummy "pop".  I digress...Back to the safety piece....The tea must ferment properly and under sanitary conditions to prevent contamination by airborne pathogens. You should also ensure your Kombucha pots and containers are free of lead-tainted ceramic glaze as the acidic compounds in kombucha may cause this to leach into the mixture, contaminating it with the heavy metal. This is the one time where I kinda trend towards purchasing your drinks from a company such as GT's over making your own but hey...this could possibly be because I am a Kombucha virgin. 

    Worried about alchol content? When I was recently in Florida visiting my folks I noticed the packaging was WAY different there than it is in Canada. You have to be over 21 to buy Kombucha? After some investigation, the alcohol content in Classic Kombucha is less than 0.5%...totally safe for pregnant cavemama's so please enjoy! 

    What's your favourite flavour or recipe? 


     

     

    Busy Bee!

    Thanks for all your emails wondering where I've been! Ive been a busy bee and hope to have some exciting announcements soon. Until then, babies are keeping me hopping! Stay tuned

    Transient

    How to eat Paleo during Pregnancy: A guide to every trimester

    The Fourth Trimester: Postpartum Nosh to keep you and your Cavebaby healthy

    You’ve made it! You’re holding your new cavebaby in your arms and are filled with bliss…..right? Actually, if you ask me, this is when the real work begins. The first 6 weeks following your baby’s birth can be the among the most challenging and is referred to as the Fourth Trimester. Sleep deprivation, sore breasts, possible stiches and wound healing can all take their toll on a cavemama’s body. What can you eat to stay healthy and keep it paleo during these challenging weeks?  I’ve got some suggestions that may help you maintain your paleo diet and feel great all at the same time.

     

    Paleo Foods & Herbs to aid Healing

    • Stinging nettle helps rebuild blood supply
    • Vitamin C rich foods: Citrus, cauliflower, bell peppers, dark leafy greens
    • Turmeric helps reduce inflammation
    • Chicken bone broth- My Chinese clients swear by this for a good reason. Simply put a chicken carcass into your slow cooker,  cover with filtered water and cook for 12-48 hrs on low. After it’s done strain and season to taste.  You could also use a pressure cooker like Michelle does over at NomNom Paleo or use the good old stovetop method. This is a good thing to do in advance! 
    • Dandelion: made into tea or eaten fresh in salad can help reduce swelling and edema.
    • Animal protein aids in tissue repair and should be consume with each meal. 
    • A general reduction in sugar also aids in tissue regeneration and repair

     

    Paleo Foods that support Brestmilk production a.k.a Lactogenic foods

    These paleo friendly foods/teas/herbs will aid in milk production and should be started right after birth. They can be continued for as long as needed and increased when your baby experiences growth spurts.

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    • Water! Not a supplement but 2-3 liters of clean filtered water is recommended for breastfeeding and supply. I use Santevia water filters and have both the counter top and fridge models. This filter both purifies your water and re-introduces beneficial trace minerals that is lost in most city tap water.
    • Spices: Fenugreek, fennel, dill, caraway, basil, garlic (if baby tolerates it), ginger (helps with milk flow and let down)
    • Fennel: eaten raw or cooked.
    • Carrot/beet/yam
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Fresh dates
    • Green papaya (order Thai one night!)
    • Spirulina and spinach can increase the fat content of your milk. Detoxinista has a great green smoothie recipe  
    • Need to boost your production in a hurry? Fenugreek capsules 3 caps 3 times a day with meals will do the trick.

    Paleo Foods that support CaveMama Wellness

    When breastfeeding you need an average of 500-700 additional calories. That’s more than when you were pregnant! As the old saying goes, never stand between a hungry lactating women and the buffet table…she will bull you over.  I’m going to cover detailed breastfeeding nutrition in another post, but here is a quick list of foods that should get you started.

    Eat daily:

    • Fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend (1.5 tsps.)
    • Grass-fed butter
    • Eggs from chickens or ducks that have been pasture raised
    • Coconut oil
    • Bone broth
    • Lacto fermented veggies like sauerkraut or beet kvass
    • Dark leafy greens

    Eat weekly:

    1. Organ meat like liver
    2. Wild caught fatty fish- the DHA will also help improve your mood postpartum
    3. Seaweed (In Korea they make a seaweed soup for women postpartum)

    What about eating your placenta?

    Ok…I don’t want to lose you with this, but I’m a granola-crunching midwife at heart. Did you know that we are the only mammals that dispose of this highly nutrient rich organ?   Nature can’t be wrong!  The summarized benefits of placenta consumption include: increased milk production, significant reduction of postpartum depression, increase in maternal iron stores and ease in re-establishing optimal hormone balance.  There is even some new research that’s emerging out of Europe about its treatment of postpartum depression so please stay tuned for more on that once it's published.

    There are a few ways to consume your placenta. Some women simply  eat their placenta as a meal. Would you believe there is a recipe book out there for just such a treat!  Who knew?  I hear placenta is best cooked much like liver and goes well with onions and garlic.   

    There are other options if you don’t want to create a delicious meal with your placenta. Many women choose to encapsulate their placentas and there are even some companies that will do this for you. This is my recommended method of placenta consumption and is one that many of my past clients have had good success with.