I discovered the real food movement just over a year ago, and while I wouldn’t say I am a convert, I am intrigued by what real food enthusiasts have to say about eating during pregnancy.
Background note: Real food is mostly defined by being unprocessed, unadulterated and as close to its natural roots as possible. This means it’s free from preservatives and artificial additives, and that it comes from humanely treated, grass-fed animals. Many real foodies follow the guidelines of Weston A. Price.
By that definition, it makes sense that such natural, wholesome food would be best for a developing fetus. Of course pregnant women should eat fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats and whole grains. But here are five, possibly surprising, real foods that pregnant women might also consider:
Possibly the perfect food to eat in pregnancy. Eggs are rich in choline as well as vitamins A and D, which are necessary for correct organ development. They are packed with protein as well as some omage-3 fats. You especially want to eat the yolks as they contain almost all of the valuable vitamins. The type of egg you purchase is also important — you’ll reap the nutritional benefits more with pastured eggs. (Learn about egg labels.) In real food circles, the more yolks you eat, the better.
Rich in nutritional fats, potassium, magnesium, fiber, calcium and vitamin C, plus anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, daily doses of coconut oil can strengthen your immune system, relieve morning sickness, heartburn and constipation and improve circulation. You and your developing baby need this saturated fat—which is vital for fertility, energy and hormonal balance. The lauric acid in coconut milk also stimulates breast milk production and makes an excellent body cream. You can eat coconut oil by itself, in place of other oils or in a smoothie. Wellness Mama has 101 uses for coconut oil before and after birth.
Fish is especially important in the third trimester when omega-3 fats are crucial for the baby’s brain development. While some people believe pregnant women should not eat fish because of the toxins within (like mercury), the benefits outweigh the risks — if you shop wisely. The key is to choose small fish like salmon, sardines or shrimp and to shop for wild-caught (not farmed) fish, which have lower levels of toxins. Take a quality cod liver oil supplement if you can’t stand eating fish or can’t find quality fish near you.
Kraut, Kefir and Kombucha
Otherwise known as natural probiotics. Probiotics aid in optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. They also create the “good bacteria” in your gut that keeps the bad bacteria from growing. The good news for moms? Probiotics help reduce yeast infections, strep B bacteria and thrush. Sauerkraut and yogurt (with “live and active cultures”) are familiar probiotics. Kefir is a cultured milk product you’ll likely find near the yogurts. Kombucha is an increasingly popular fermented tea-like beverage. Find it in the stores or try making your own kombucha with this recipe from the Kitchn.
Everyone in real food circles has a recipe for bone broth, which used to be a dietary staple because of its healing benefits (it reduces inflammation, promotes bone growth and soothes digestion). The magnesium, potassium and calcium in homemade bone broth make it a mineral powerhouse that is easily absorbed by our bodies. Whether you make the broth from chicken, beef, turkey or lamb, the meat should be organic and grass-fed (no antibiotics or hormones) for optimum rewards. Make batches in advance and freeze them for later, as bone broth is excellent for postpartum healing (restores fluids and nutrients).
Disclaimer: I have presented this information for general research purposes and am not a qualified medical expert. Every woman’s pregnancy needs are different; always follow your intuition and talk to your doctor or midwife.
Get more great information about real food from the Green Sisterhood during our Earth Month Blog Party! Check out the blogs below: