So There You Are . . .
Dressed to the nines, full belly caressed by the silky feel of an empire dress, reveling in the crisp delight that is lambs lettuce. An eight course dinner in Monet’s favorite garden is not where you imagined you’d be at 35 weeks pregnant, but you’re not complaining. Except there is this one thing:
So. much. staring. You try to catch your reflection in the polished marble . . . could the light be playing a dirty trick with the fabric of your dress? Tricks that make it see-through, or turn it the exact shade of chartreuse your mother told you never to wear?
Put down the plate and walk away, honey. They’re staring at your salad.
You see, in France eating raw vegetables while pregnant is a big no-no, while an occasional glass of red bordeaux is considered beneficial. Head across the pond to the good ole U.S. though, and you’ll see a ton of this:
And none of this!
So who’s right? In her new book, Beautiful Babies, Kristen Michaelis of Food Renegade separates fact from fiction. Before we get to that, though, I have to tell you about something that is too good to pass up.
If you preorder Kristen’s book, you get her $199 online fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and baby food course for FREE. All you have to do is email her your Amazon receipt for immediate access. You can check out the class here.
I took the class last year – it was ahMAZing. Totally worth the $199, but for the price of a paperback book it’s a steal (plus you get the book!!). If you want to give a gift that’s hundreds of times more valuable than a package of diapers at the next baby shower, now’s your chance. If you’re thinking about having a baby or you are a mom of grown children who wants the best for your future grandbabies, this book is an invaluable resource.
Who should not get this book? Two groups: Those who do not have a uterus and those who do not know anyone who has a uterus. Everybody else should have a copy.
Okay, back to the post . . .
Eat This, Not That: Pregnancy Edition
The average pregnant woman is inundated with rules. Don’t eat soft cheese. If you eat lunchmeat, reheat it to kill the listeria. Don’t change your cat’s litter. You absolutely must not drink any alcohol at all. Don’t eat fish; you risk exposure to toxic levels of mercury. Avoid raw milk and raw cheeses. Don’t drink more than a cup of coffee per day. Don’t lie on your back. Don’t eat more than 30% of your calories as fat. And, the list goes on.
Beautiful Babies, p. 115
Indeed it does. Let’s see what Kristen has to say about a few of these taboo foods, shall we?
Will I Really Get Listeria from That Sushi or Raw Cheese?
Did you know that pregnant women regularly eat sushi in Japan? According to Kristen, “If they had a sweeping epidemic of listeria because of this habit, surely eating sushi would be taboo there, too?”
Indeed. While Kristen does not at all try to downplay the seriousness of Listeria poisoning, she points out that aside from raw meats and cheeses, deli meats, hot dogs, and even raw vegetables and fruits can be sources of listeria. From there she makes several other good points:
- Raw seafood is one of the most nutrient-dense animal foods on the planet, not to mention a sacred food for fertility and pregnancy in almost all traditional cultures.
- Women regularly eat sushi in Japan (I know I already mentioned that, but I think it’s very important!)
From there she describes the criteria she used for sushi consumption during her pregnancy.
I decided to set my limits. Since I didn’t really know what went into the safe handling of raw, sushi-grade fish, I decided not to eat sushi I prepared at home. I’d only eat fresh sushi from a source I trusted, a source with an impeccable kitchen that would answer my questions.
After taking such reasonable precautions, I indulged.
It felt amazing. My body was craving it, and I gave it what it wanted with a clean conscience.
Beautiful Babies, p. 120-121
Kristen goes on to talk about how vital knowing your source is. Regarding another taboo food, raw egg yolks, here’s what she had to say:
When asked about the relative safety of pastured-poultry operations in the wake of a nationwide egg recall for salmonella, Joel Salatin said,
“So far, not one case of foodborne pathogens has been reported among the thousands of pastured poultry producers, many of whom have voluntarily had their birds analyzed. Routinely, these home- dressed birds, which have not been treated with chlorine to disinfect them, show numbers far below industry comparisons. At Polyface, we even tested our manure and found that it contained no salmonella.
Pastured poultry farms exhibit trademark lush pastures and healthy chickens with deep-colored egg yolks and fat. As with any movement, some practitioners are excellent and others are charlatans. Knowing your product by putting as much attention on food sourc- ing as you do on planning your next vacation is the way to insure accountability.”9
Once you know your farmer, weigh the risks. I ate raw egg yolks from pastured hens routinely during all three of my pregnancies with no fear of salmonella. Even among conventional battery hen eggs, the risk of contract ing salmonella is one in 10,000. From pastured hens? The risk is almost non- existent.
Unfortunately for you brie lovers, Kristen gave soft raw cheeses the axe, saying “Soft cheeses run one of the largest listeria risks even among the cleanest of cheese making facilities. The risk greatly diminishes as the cheese ages, so I heartily pampered myself with aged raw hard cheeses like Gruyere or cheddar from grass fed cows instead.” (p. 121-122)
Will a Glass of Red Wine Really Harm My Baby?
Until recently, there has never been a study measuring the effects of light or even moderate drinking during pregnancy. The studies only addressed heavy drinking—defined as “five drinks or more per day”—or no drinking at all.
. . . Then, in 2010, a large study on light drinking during pregnancy was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It studied 11,513 children whose mothers reported on their drinking habits while pregnant. The study followed the mothers through their pregnancy, birth, and the first five years of the child’s life. For the purpose of the study, “light drinking” was defined as two units of alcohol no more than once or twice per week, when a standard unit is 7.9 grams—approximately one small glass of wine. The British research found no negative effects—at all—of such light drinking on five year olds. In fact, the children were slightly less likely to have behavioral problems and performed somewhat better on cognitive tests than children whose mothers had abstained. ¹
In 2012, a series of five Danish studies were published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They also monitored alcohol consumption in pregnant mothers and studied the children of those mothers again at age five. These studies defined low consumption as one to four drinks per week and moderate consumption as five to eight drinks per week. Heavy consumption was nine or more per week, and binge drinking was defined as having more than five drinks in a single sitting on any single occasion. A drink is defined as 12 grams of alcohol.
Not only did this series of studies find no negative cognitive, emotional, or neurological effects in the children of light to moderate drinkers, but it also found no harm to children from binge drinking!² Heavy drinking, of course, resulted in the typical and well known alcohol side effects—behavioral problems, lower attention spans, learning disabilities, etc.’
Beautiful Babies, p. 122-123
Y’all, I am so thrilled about this. Though the studies do carry some weight with me, what really puts me at ease is that the taboo against wine is not universal. This little quote from the book really resonated with me:
The ancients knew of both the benefits of light consumption, as well as the risks of excess. Some of the oldest Ayurvedic texts we have called it a ‘medicine’ if drunk in moderation and a ‘poison’ if abused.
This is true with just about everything we consume – even water in excess is risky to a pregnant woman! I always crave red wine when I’m pregnant and I have never indulged. Obviously, I won’t go overboard, but I think I’ll take my hints from the French and Japanese and not restrict myself entirely.
Kristen explores raw eggs, iron supplements, saturated fat and other hot topics in her myth-busting chapter. I highly recommend you check it out along with the other chapters on increasing your odds for conception, preventing morning sickness, having a gloriously healthy pregnancy, and starting your baby of right with nutrient-dense foods.Article sources: ¹ Kelly, Yvonne. “Light Drinking during Pregnancy: Still No Increased Risk for Socioemotional Difficulties or Cognitive Deficits at 5 years of Age.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 66.1 (2012): 41-48. Print. ² “Danish Studies Suggest Low and Moderate Drinking in Early Pregnancy Has No Adverse Effects on Children Aged Five.” British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. BJOG, 20 June 2012. Web. 26 June 2012..
Would You Indulge In Sushi Or Wine While Pregnant? Why Or Why Not?
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