Bulletproof Coffee and Pregnancy

Ever notice how things always seem to happen in three's? This week I've gotten three questions from readers about the safety of Bulletproof coffee in pregnancy. Huh, well, I guess I have my topic for the week! 

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

Bulletproof coffee is a trend that has taken the Primal/Paleo world by storm in recent years. Bulletproof coffee is a brand developed by Dave Asprey. Bulletproof coffee is made by blending high quality coffee, MCT oils and grassfed butter into a delicious and highly potent drink. Dave markets and sells "Upgraded" products including high quality coffee, Brain Octane (MCTs) and other products on his website but many folks simply use their own local grassfed butters, coconut oil and organic dark coffee beans.

 Bulletproof coffee is bascially a tweak of a classic Tibetan drink called yak butter tea. Now, if you've ever had yak butter tea, which I have, it isn't exactly the most palatable stuff but it is exactly what your body needs at higher elevations and serves as both a nourishing beverage and important social custom for many of the people of the high Himalayan. 

Benefits of Bulletproof Coffee

Dave claims that drinking this beverage regularly can help you lose weight, optimize brain function, enhance fertility and overall make your life more rad. Sound like a gimmick? Jury's still out on that one. Try it for yourself and see how you feel. I'm dairy allergic (can't even have ghee) so the only version I've had is coffee with copious coconut oil/butter. It was delicious but true story, I love breakfast and if I drink it I can't eat breakfast too (too rich) so it's a hard choice for me! 

 Is Bulletproof coffee safe for pregnancy?

Well, let's break down each ingredient and decide for ourselves:

Grassfed butter: Safe and Recommended

- High in Vitamin A, D and K2, all essential nutrients for pregnancy.

-  High in Oleic acid and Myristic acid (cancer fighting fats)

- Contains CLA (metabolism boosting fats)

- Source of dietary cholesterol (essential for brain development and nervous system function)

- High in glycospingolipids which protect the lining of the gut from pathogens

- Rich in Omega-3's which help babies brain and eye development as well as aid in optimal maternal cardiovascular function. 

MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride): Safe and Recommended 

- High in lauric acid which our bodies convert into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties. 

- Stimulates metabolic activity (utilized as energy rather than being stored) and aids in healthy thyroid function.

- Shown to improve gut microbiome diversity (in a good way) which is really important during pregnancy.

- Anti- inflammatory properties and healing on the digestive system

Coffee: Approach with caution and moderation

- Aids in cardiovascular health and is protective against dementia and Alzheimer's 

- Rich in antioxidants and some studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of skin cancer 

- May block a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide that may play a role in the development of diabetes.

- Aids in mental sharpness and athletic performance and recovery

- Coffee and pregnancy: Coffee naturally contains high levels of caffeine. For a full run down of the risks and benefits of caffeine in pregnancy, see this previous post of mine all about the use of coffee and caffeinated beverages in pregnancy. The take away message is that we don't know how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. When pregnant,  the ability to metabolize caffeine decreases (via CYP1A2 enzyme pathways) therefore their circulating levels of caffeine in the bloodstream and thus to the growing fetus are increased. I take this delayed metabolism as a sign that it isn't something the body should have much of when growing a new little human.  You may notice that a little caffeine goes a long way when your pregnant. Maybe it's natures way of telling you to cool it. 

So....does this mean bulletproof coffee is 'out' during pregnancy?  Nope.

- Swap out regular coffee for Organic Swiss Water Decaf. Many studies show that decaf coffee still has many of the protective antioxidant benefits of regular coffee. Please be sure to source your beans well, choosing organic and fair trade when possible and make sure that the coffee isn't chemically processed. Dave even sells a clean decaf version of his Bulletproof coffee on his site but you can also just source your own beans from a local roaster. 

- MCT and grassfed butter are pregnancy superfoods! Consume in 'liberal moderation'! 

Do you drink bulletproof coffee? Have you noticed any benefits? Any downsides? 

Want to learn more about just what to eat and WHY it’s ok or not ok when you’re expecting or planing to conceive? Check out the Core 4 and the modules that are the right fits for you in Baby Making and Beyond .

 

 

 

Is a Paleo Diet Safe During Pregnancy?

Is the Paleo Diet Safe for Pregnancy? 

I get this question all the time! My simple answer is YES! How could a diet rich in wholefoods from clean sources not be beneficial for you and your growing cavebaby? Studies focused on pregnant women and nutrition go back to the 1930's when food shortages were linked to an increased rate of miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects. It is now a long standing belief that the maternal diet has a direct correlation to the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the growing baby. Let's get right down to the nitty gritty and look at a few main reasons why a balanced Paleo diet can be optimal for your healthy pregnancy. 

Want to learn more about how to build your PALEO based plate….head over to Baby Making and Beyond to Enrol in the Core 4. Here you’ll learn how to dial in your macros, choose the right foods for your pregnancy and build your plate.

Why a Paleo diet is great for pregnancy

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Rich in clean animal based proteins: Your body needs extra protein during pregnancy. Protein from clean sources such as grassfed cows, pasture raised chickens and wild fish provide easy to assimilate dense sources of what your body needs extra of during your baby growing times. Although there are many macronutrient variations on the Paleo diet. A well balanced diet containing 20-30% protein is common for many Paleo eaters and is a perfect ratio for pregnant mamas. 

Optimal Omega 3:6 ratios:

As long as you take it easy on the nuts, which are higher in omega-6, a balanced Paleo diet provides optimal levels of omega 3's which are needed for your babies brain/eye development. Studies have also found that diets rich in omega-3's may help prevent pre-eclampsia and protect you from postpartum depression and anxiety during pregnancy. Stocking up on grassfed meat, wild caught fish, sardines and plant based omega 3’s will contribute to a reduction of inflammation in the body and result in optimal health for you and your growing baby. 

Rich in prebiotics and probiotics

More of the good bugs and less of the bad!

A balanced Paleo diet should include some fermented vegetables or if you include grassfed dairy in your diet, fermented dairy like yogurts and kefir. These food sources are rich in probiotics that help establish a healthy bacteria flora in your gut. This flora forms the cornerstone of our digestion and immune systems, two systems that may become challenged during pregnancy. A diet rich in probiotics has also been linked to predominance of optimal strains of vaginal bacterial flora which will keep yeast infections away and may reduce the chance of swabbing positive for group-B strep as you approach your due date.

Prebiotics are also plentiful in a healthy Paleo diet. Prebiotics are starches that help feed the probiotics and contribute to their proliferation. They have also been shown to lower insulin levels and stabilize blood sugars, which tend to naturally run high in the second and third trimester.  Prebiotics are critical for healthy bowel function and are found in chicory root, jerusalem artichokes, seaweed and plantains.

-Nutrient Dense:

The Paleo diet is a nutrient dense diet. Why? All the processed foods and general garbage have been removed and replaced by REAL FOOD. Everything you on a clean Paleo diet should be loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are required for good health. Not only that but many of the food items that are encouraged when taking the Paleo approach, such as organ meats, egg yolks and bone broths, are nutritional powerhouses that can be very healing to the body and aid in optimal function. Just what the doctor, or midwife, ordered! 

-Consideration for food sourcing: 

One of the things that I like the most about the Paleo approach to nutrition is the consideration of food sourcing. Food is so much more than proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Where our food comes from directly influences its nutritional value and ability to truly nourish our bodies, and growing babies (not to mention nourishing the planet).  Studies have confirmed that organic produce contains between 20-40% more nutrient value than non-organic produce. I'm not suggesting shelling out mega bucks and buying everything organic but at the least, using Real Food Liz's dirty dozen and clean fifteen as a guide is a good start.  Reducing exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics are all key parts of a healthy diet and even more important to pay attention to when growing a new little life. 


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 little 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 tolerate 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 livestock) 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. 

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

    Third Trimester Paleo Eats 

    Wow! Almost there...if you're like like most women you're starting to nest and get ready to meet this new little person who's been growing inside you for months. Your baby is growing and displacing your organs including your stomach. This means that you're likely not able to eat very much in one sitting. There are a lot of hormonal changes going on and you're body's insulin response is rapidly changing...curious? Well then, let's jump right into this next post and chat about what to eat in the third trimester. 

    Quality not Quantity

    As I mentioned before, your tummy is being displaced by your growing baby and eating large meals just isn't an option anymore. If you haven't done so already, it's time to shift your focus from food quantity to food quality. I know that the idea of grazing or eating multiple mini meals is contrary to what many in the paleo world endorse, however, pregnancy is different. Intermittent fasting with infrequent large meals has no place in a healthy pregnancy. You should aim for 4-6 small meals spread through the day and night. 

     Here's an interactive video that shows you where all your organs go! Sounds gross but it's really cool (or at least I think so). 

    Many women also find that they are waking up A LOT through the night. Perhaps you have to pee every few hours or you just wake up rather randomly your body is preparing you to be up feeding a baby every 3-4 hrs and is just trying to ease you into this rhythm. Many women find themselves hungry when they wake up...please eat! Subtle drops in blood sugar can actually wake you up out of a deep sleep. Include some carbohydrate in your snack to help boost serotonin levels and help you get back to sleep. Sweet potato, warm apple with cinnamon, mashed pumpkin, chia pudding or sliced avocado are all good choices that can help aid your sleep.

    Eat like a diabetic

    Huh? But I don't have diabetes or even gestational diabetes? Well this may be true, your body, especially in the third trimester, is increasingly insulin resistant and it's time to modify your menu accordingly.

    What exactly is "insulin resistance" ? Good question:

    Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body's cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not respond properly to insulin (resistance), the blood sugar level rises. 

    In pregnancy, insulin resistance is a normal physiologic adaptation.  It's important because it facilitates rapid fat accumulation, brain development and overall growth in of the baby in the third trimester. This rapid growth is essential to ensure the baby's survival outside the womb. The problem with insulin resistance in modern western culture is that our bodies haven't figured out that sugar isn't scarce commodity and famine isn't a worry. Our cells don't know that we have access to a 'big gulp' 24/7....as a result, eating a standard american diet in the third trimester often results in gestational diabetic mothers, large for gestational age infants (aka big babies) and excessive pregnancy weight gain, all of which are risk factors for a variety of obstetrical complications.

    If you've suffered from PCOS before pregnancy, insulin resistance is even more of a concern. Pre-pregnancy obesity or PCOS can put you at risk for developing later onset gestational diabetes and exaggerate the normal physiologic insulin adaptations in late pregnancy.  So...what should a pregnant cavegirl do?  

    Meg the Midwife's Recommended 3rd Trimester Diet & Lifestyle Tips : 

    - Avoid SUGARS and fruits. This includes honey, maple syrup and date sweetened paleo treats. If you are a healthy, active cavemama, you don't need to cut these items out entirely, however, you should try to limit them one small serving a day. Stick with low sugar fruits like berries, grapefruit, green apples, and small paleo treats enjoyed after a good walk. After all, life just isn't worth living without Juli's sweet potato brownies! 

    - Enjoy proteins and healthy fats till you're satiated. Grassfed meat, free range poultry, wild caught fish, avocados, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grassfed butter, full fat yogurt are all smart choices.

    - Load up on leafy nutrient dense dark green veggies like kale, chard, collards

    - Enjoy starches in moderation 100-150g/day: Sweet potato, winter squash, yam, turnip, parsnip, pumpkin. The fibre from these starchy veggies will also help feed your healthy gut flora and keep things moving...so to speak.

    - Watch your sodium levels...your're more prone to swelling in the third trimester.  

    - SLEEP LOTS. If you're sleep is disturbed and you feel tired, please sleep, nap and/or rest. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation further contribute to insulin resistance and glucose response in your body.  

    - Walk and do yoga. Both of these activities are shown to reduce insulin resistance. What about lifting? Well, if you've been doing it your whole pregnancy, feel free to continue. Ensure your workouts are scaled and appropriate for the changes that are happening in your body during the third trimester. See this post for my take on crossfit in pregnancy. 

    A great family run Ontario company who making "midwife approved" sheep dairy!

    A great family run Ontario company who making "midwife approved" sheep dairy!

    - Maximize probiotic food intake for optimal digestion, immune system function and vaginal flora (your baby will soon be passing right by this region). Raw kraut, fermented veggies, natural yogurts/kefir, kombucha and probiotic supplements are all good options.  

     

     

    Want some more ideas ?

    Send me a message to find out more about personal pregnancy nutrition coaching. I'm now taking a limited number of private clients. I offer everything from a diet review, supplement suggestions, to more detailed planning and one-on-one email or skype support. Please remember, if you're not a midwifery client, I cannot give you any medical advice, simply nutritional suggestions. 

     I also can't wait to get my hands on Diane's new book 21-day Sugar Detox.  I have a great feeling that this plan will be perfect pregnancy diet and ideal for anyone, especially in the 3rd trimester. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

     

    Second Trimester: Important Paleo Micronutrients and Macronutrients 

    Hurray! You’ve made it through the fatigue, nausea and food aversions that are so common during the first trimester. Your baby belly is growing, you’re starting to glow and feeling rather radiant...now this is what pregnancy should feel like!

    Now is the time to start enjoying food and correct any deficiencies that may have arose during the first trimester. A paleo diet is one of the most nutrient dense approaches to eating, so if you’re avoiding all food toxins like industrial seed oils and grains, especially gluten containing grains and excess fructose and soy while eating a diet rich in cold water fish,  organ meats, muscle meats, a variety of vegetables, fruits and starchy tubers and a moderate amount of nuts, seeds, you’re good to go! Some folks may also find that they tolerate raw fermented high fat dairy products, which is great for you as well, if you are able to source it correctly.

    Second Trimester Micronutrients

    Choline, found in egg yolks are an essential micronutrient for a healthy paleo pregnancy. 

    Choline, found in egg yolks are an essential micronutrient for a healthy paleo pregnancy. 

    You'll find all the key micronutrients for a healthy second trimester and where to find them in your diet in this post.  

    • Omega -3 DHA
    • Vit A
    • Vit K
    • Calcium 
    • Choline

     

    Second Trimester Macronutrients

                This may be one of the most common questions I get from women who follow a paleo/primal diet. Should I eat more carbs? Less carbs? High fat? High protein? Low protein?

                My best answer: it depends…and here’s why. Newsflash…everyone is different. What works for one woman can create deficiencies in others. The best way to figure out what works for you is by experimenting with your meals and adjusting macronutrients depending on how you feel. In general, I recommend 15-20% Protein, 30% Carbohydrates and 45-50% Fat as a starting point.

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    Here’s why

    As your paleo pregnancy progresses your babies glucose demands steadily rise. This helps baby’s nervous systems develop and helps them put on fat mass. As the baby’s demand increases, your body responds by increasing your resistance to insulin. Many women may interpret this increasing insulin resistance as a reason to eat a low carb diet during pregnancy but this is not the case at all. Carbohydrates are essential for proper hormone and nervous system function and are essential in pregnancy and the developing fetus. You’re body is attempting to maintain a higher blood sugar level for a reason…to feed your baby! This does not mean that you have a prescription to indulge in high sugar paleo treats but it does mean that you should be eating a portion of starchy carbs with each meal and not restricting your overall carb content below 100-150g/day.

    In my practice, I often see women who limit their carbohydrate content and replace the lost calories with additional protein. Perhaps this is kick back from the low fat craze of the 90’s?  Gals, please, don't do this! Several studies have found a strong association between a pregnancy diet that was low in carbohydrates and high in protein with elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and blood pressure in the infant. What’s even more interesting is that these markers of stress were still found in these children as they grew past the age of 10. Theoretically, unbalanced high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets in the second and third trimesters may stimulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the mother, increasing maternal cortisol levels, exposing the fetus to excessive cortisol in the womb and programming the infant for lifelong hypersecretion of cortisol.

    From an interesting ancestral perspective, this paper explores the eating strategies of ancestral human foragers during seasonal periods of food shortage. Researchers found that human foragers, when possible tended to under-utilize foods that were high in protein, such as lean meat, in favor of foods with higher fat or carbohydrate content. Nutritional studies suggest that one reason for this behavior stems from the fact that pregnant women, particularly during times when their total calorie intake is marginal, may be constrained in the amount of energy they can safely derive from protein sources to levels below about 25%-30% of total calories. Protein intakes above this threshold may affect pregnancy outcome through decreased mass at birth and increase the risk for infant morbidity and mortality limiting the growth and health of the tribe.

     Another key problem with getting to much protein in your diet is that you often neglect other critical nutrients that are only found in fats. Ancestral tribes likely had an understanding of this and promoted a diet with rich sources of fats aid in the absorption of key micronutrients for pregnancy and good health including vit A, E, K and D. This is why I most often recommend a diet of 20-30% Protein, 30-40% Carbohydrates and 30-40% Fat. Try these macro’s and then tweak the fat and carbohydrate levels from there depending on individual needs and activity levels. You may find you do better with more fat or more carbs....learn to listen to your body's cues and you'll learn what feels right for you. 

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    Here are a couple of real life examples:

    Susan is 25 wks pregnant with her first baby. She feels great and stays active. She walks, skis or bikes 1-2hrs a day, goes to crossfit twice a week (scaled workouts with a good coach) and does regular prenatal yoga. Susan likely needs a higher percentage of carbs in her diet because she is so active. She enjoys regular portions of yams, potatoes, winter squashes, occasional white rice and sweet vegetables like carrots and beets with each meal. She sleeps well and feels best when she eats around 40-50% of her calories from carbohydrate sources, 20% from protein and the remaining 30-40% from fats.

    Kylie is 30 weeks pregnant. She also feels great but struggles with fatigue and cravings for sweets. Kylie had a hard time conceiving, had been diagnosed with PCOS, insulin resistance and is overweight. Kylie became pregnant after adopting a lower carb paleo diet and feels best when her blood sugar is regulated with a high fat, low carb diet. She walks regularly and practices both meditation and hypnobirthing visualizations. For Kylie, a diet with 15-20% carbs, 60% fat and 20% protein may work best. Kylie may also consider adding in some regular strength training to further assist with her insulin response.

    What works best for you? What’s your fave second trimester food or recipe? Submit it and I’ll feature it on the site! 

     

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

    First Trimester: Coping with Nausea & Food Aversion 

    Up to 90% of women experience some form of food aversion, nausea or vomiting during their pregnancy. The good news is that only about 1:5000 will experience nausea and vomiting that requires medical intervention. Most women, find their symptoms are limited to the first trimester and are manageable with some easy adaptations.

    Food Aversions

    By far the most common food aversion women experience is aversion to protein. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes great sense, in fact, evolutionary biologist, Margie Profet, proposed that nausea during pregnancy evolved as a protection mechanism against toxins and other dangerous substances that could harm the developing embryo. 

    In ancestral times, meats had greatest chance of harbouring bacteria and parasites, which posed the greatest risk of harming the developing baby. In addition to protein aversion, my clients also describe food aversions to spicy and smoked foods. An interesting observation, as the flavours in these foods can easily mask the taste and smell of meat turned bad. Women also report an aversion to fresh green veggies. Again, these leafy green powerhouses have the potential for contamination with bacteria like salmonella and e.coli. The body is so SMART!

    May women who follow a paleo/real food diet rich in quality protein sources find this new aversion to protein and food in general to be troubling and worry about possible malnutrition during this important period of fetal organogenesis. My first word of advice is DON'T WORRY! Simply focus on food QUALITY rather than stress about calorie levels or macronutrient percentages. You baby will draw upon your stores and get just what he or she needs. You only need 200-300 extra calories during pregnancy, which is a far cry for the common belief that you are ‘eating for two’. It’s more like you're eating for 1.1 or 1.2. Your body is smart and produces certain hormones that actually make it easier to acquire and store nutrients from your foods during pregnancy.  Your baby will get what it needs to grow, and your hunger will return in a few weeks. Just chill and do your best.

    Nausea

    Nausea is a normal response to many different hormonal changes (HCG /estrogen/progesterone) that occur during early pregnancy. It's not exactly clear why some women experience nausea and others don't.  In a study of more than 2,400 pregnant women,  nausea and vomiting during the first trimester were associated with a reduced risk of early pregnancy loss, particularly for women age 30 and older. Nausea may be a sign that HCG hormones are increasing and thus the pregnancy is healthy. 

    Nausea tends to be made much worse when our blood sugars get low. During pregnancy, your blood sugar naturally runs on the high side in order to ensure a good supply of energy to your growing baby, so, nausea can be seen as a signal that your developing baby is utilizing fuel and growing well.

    As I briefly mentioned above, occasionally, when we experience nausea and food aversions, the only foods we can often can 'tolerate' are starchy carbs. These traditionally had very little chance of contamination by toxins...again, our body know's just the right thing for our delicate developing little people.

    To help fight nausea:

    1. it’s important to not let yourself get too hungry and when you do eat, choose a "safe starch" over a simple starch and enjoy it with lots of healthy fat. 

    2. Studies have shown that a 10mg Vitamin B6 supplement along with some ginger root has show to be effective in reducing nausea and is a worthy addition to your vitamin regime. 

    What’s a safe starch?

    The concept of ‘safe’ starches comes from Perfect Health Diet authors Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. They define ‘safe’ starches as “food, which, after normal cooking, lacks toxins, chiefly protein toxins.” These foods are low in phytates, which bind to nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium, which your body needs lots of during pregnancy. Most safe starches are also complex starches and are digested more slowly, limiting any wild blood sugar spikes that could worsen nausea and/or fatigue. 

    Meg approved Pregnancy friendly Safe Starches:

    jicima...a tasy treat

    Plantains

    Winter Squash/Pumpkin

    Yams/Sweet Potatoes

    White rice (controversial paleo food)

    White potatoes* (controversial paleo food)

    Tapioca

    Jicama 

    Yuca

    *A note on white potatoes: These delightful little starch bombs are very high on the glycemic index and may cause spikes in your blood sugar, exacerbating nausea. Potatoes convert into a ‘RS3 resistant starch’ when they are boiled, cooled and then eaten cold (be sure not to re-heat).  Resistant starches act more like a fibre during digestion, rather than a sugar, and thus, don’t cause wild blood sugar spikes in sensitive individuals, like pregnant cavegals. Here's an interesting discussion about safe starches from AHS 2012. If you'd like to include potatoes in your diet this may be a better way to prepare them.

    Other Great Eats  for the First Trimester

    Avocado puddings. My friends over at Balanced Bites have a great recipe.  

    Grassfed full fat yogurt from your local farmer or coconut/almond plant based yogurt. I'm a big fan of kite hill, silk and forager.  

    Ginger is a natural anti-nauseant and a great addition to your green smoothies, sweet potato mash and pregnancy tea.

    Smoothies with lots of full fat coconut milk, home made almond milk or, berries, greens and a bit of collagen peptides. Megan, the Detoxinista has a great base for healthy green smoothies. Megan  just had a little bundle of her own (congrats!) and drank these frequently during her pregnancy. 

    Pasture raised scrambled eggs (bonus, cook them in bone broth)

    Homemade Jello: Wellness Mama has a great  recipe base. Experiment with all sorts of flavour combinations.

    Bone broth and soups This recipe from Nom Nom Paleo is SOOO easy, just pop the ingredients in the slow cooker and let old man time do all the hard work.

    Paleo Chicken "Noodle" Soup I love the addition of eggs and bone broth in this recipe. It's tasty and will give you lots of nutrition in each bowl. 

    Cauliflower mash : Neely over at Paleo Plan has a great recipe   Or for something sweet try this Lemon Pudding recipe from Leanne at Healthful Pursuit. 

    Paleo Cereal-like creations: For some crazy reason pregnant women LOVE cereal. Perhaps it's easy to digest, perhaps we associate it with comforting emotions associated with our childhoods. Here's a quick roundup of Paleo friendly cereals alternatives. If there is NOTHING else you can stomach, try a gluten free rice based cereal (gasp)...it's the most friendly to your gut. 

    Cinnamon Toast Crunch - (A paleo version) I  eat I breathe I'm hungry

    Paleo Cocoa Puffs - Real Sustenance

    Vanilla Puffs - ( use hemp protein + almond flour blend ) Purely Twins

    Pumpkin Granola- Paleo OMG

     

     

     

     

     

    What got you through the first trimester?  What foods helped you overcome nausea and food aversions? What foods do you crave the most? 

    Meg 'the Paleo Midwife's' guide to Coffee, Tea and other Primal Brews in Pregnancy: Part 2 Caffeinated Brews

    In Part 1,  I wrote about tea consumption during pregnancy. In part 2, I'm going to tackle a question I get ALL the time. Is caffeine okay during pregnancy?? Do I have to give up my espresso, cold brew or bulletproof coffee? 

    How much caffeine is too much in pregnancy? Well, the truth is, like many substances, we don't really know. In the scientific world, randomized controlled trials (RCT) are the 'gold standard' of evidenced based medicine. In order, to be able to obtain answers and know a substance is safe, researchers need to conduct studies (RCT) on pregnant women and their developing fetus. As you can imagine, studies on pregnant women aren't very ethical, and as a result, the list of proven 'safe' substances isn't very long. That being said, here's what we do know about caffeine.

    Numerous animal (not people) studies have shown that high doses of caffeine may cause birth defects, premature labor, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of having low-birth weight offspring. Yikes, sounds scary.... So, is it better to play it safe when it comes to caffeine and avoid it all together?

    Well, perhaps not…. In 2008, two prominent studies on the effects of caffeine related to miscarriage showed significantly different outcomes. One study released in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that women who consumed 200mg of caffeine daily, were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those women who didn’t consume any caffeine during their pregnancy.  This study was countered by another publication in the Journal of Epidemiology,  which found there to be no increased risk for miscarriage in women who drank a minimal amount of coffee daily (between 200-350mg per day.) 

    From a purely biological perspective, we know that caffeine crosses the placenta and can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate in both the mom and baby. Caffeine is a vasodilator and may cause constriction of the vessels that feed the baby nutrients (thus the theoretical risk of low birth weight babies). Caffeine is processed in adults via a complicated metabolic process in the brain and liver. We know that adults can process caffeine but aren't really sure how developing fetal structures metabolize any amount of the tasty stimulant (thus the possibility for fetal neurological issues). 

    Caffeine’s half-life is extended significantly when pregnant from 2-4.5 hrs in a non-pregnant female, to almost 15 hrs during the third trimester.  Anecdotally, I’ve found that pregnant women in my practice report having a stronger response to caffeine, feeling  more jittery and ‘wired’ than they did before they were pregnant. Many women just don't crave their morning brew any more. I'd like to think that the body’s wisdom tells us that perhaps a little bit is okay, but too much isn’t safe for cavemom and paleo baby.

     Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg/day and Health Canada recommends no more than 300mg/day. This could equal a morning Americano, an afternoon square of dark chocolate and a cup of green tea.

    Looking for coffee alternatives?

    Try Organic Swiss Water Process decaf or check out Red Espresso, this antioxidant powerhouse is made from Robios tea and brews up in your espresso maker. Paleo peeps are best to stay away from Dandilion blends as they often contain Rye, barley and other grains.  Teeccino makes a herbal 'coffee' substitute that is made without barley that is available in the USA but sadly, not in Canada. 

    Want to stick with your coffee? 

    No prob! Perhaps switching to 'half caf' . 

    Bulletproof coffee  (if enjoyed in moderation) is certainly 'Meg the Midwife' Approved....with it's high MCT/Butterfat content and low toxic load, it makes a smart choice for the pregnant paleo cavemom and offers benefits to her growing baby.  

     

    How much caffeine do you think is in here?!

    How much caffeine is in that stuff?

    1 oz dark chocolate 20mg

    Kombucha GT’s (8oz) 8-14mg

    Green tea 20- 50mg

    Black Tea 20-90mg

    Coffee:

    The lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content.

    Espresso, Single Shot - 29-100 mg (often around 75 mg)

    French press (8oz) ~ 120-200mg  (depends on grind & length of steep)

    Decaf Coffee (8 oz) - 2-12 mg

    Another little tidbit to part on:

    Going for your Glucose Tolerance test? It’s best to skip the morning brew. A 2011 Study published in the Journal of American Perinatology showed that caffeine consumption impaired your glucose tolerance and increased your insulin resistance. This could mean a false positive result on your sugar test and the possibility for a false diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Nobody wants that!