What Eating Well Means & Why it is so Essential in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum

As a Certified Health Coach and a mom of 3 small children, my definition of eating well is:

  • Consuming primarily whole foods
  • Following Food Fundamentals (which can be applied to any dietary theory)
    • Healthy Proteins – Plant based, Grass Fed/Pasture Raised animals
    • Healthy Fats – Omega 3’s, coconut oil, avocados
    • Fruits/Vegetables – Wide variety of 9-13 per day
    • Hydration – Quality water, coconut water, homemade ‘gatorade’
    • Fermented Foods/Probiotics

Our body was designed to consume whole foods as there are thousands of nutrients and synergy within them that provide our body with the tools it needs for increased health and wellness. There is an intricate balance between our food, our digestion, hormones, and cardiovascular health (veins, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc).

Pregnant woman with abundance of vegetables and fruits in kitchen

When our body is nutritionally deficient and/or inflamed (due to toxins, environmental factors, too much Omega 6 foods, inflammatory foods, etc), it makes it challenging for our body to operate optimally especially during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum health. Each person will experience different symptoms such as: skin issues, constipation, bloating, infertility, or pregnancy complications (high blood sugar, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term labor, etc) just to name a few. When we go back to basics and incorporate more whole foods into our daily diet, natural positive things start happening in the body…the body is provided the tools it needs to regain balance and function properly.

Studies show that what we as parents consume in preconception and what moms consume during pregnancy and breastfeeding can have life-long impacts on children. A baby inherits his/her genetic code from both parents, but how these genes are expressed is dependent upon environment which includes stress on mother during pregnancy along with diet from both partners in preconception. Additionally, what is consumed while a woman is pregnant, not only influences growth, development and health of mom and baby but also influences baby’s taste buds. While breastfeeding, a woman’s body will produce the correct ratio of fats and proteins for baby, but the more Omeg3’s a mom consumes, the higher amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids are in the fat portion of breastmilk. Omega 3’s are know to be essential to brain development and provide anti-inflammatory properties to the body and brain (the brain is very susceptible to inflammation).

From my own personal experience in postpartum, when I did not consume enough protein or healthy fats (because I was forgetting to eat), I experienced extreme mood shifts and tiredness from a lack of nutrition to support my own health (hormonal, cognitive, digestive) and feeding my baby. While my milk supply was ok, my physical body was massively depleted and my symptoms were very obvious from a physical, mental and emotional perspective. For a short period of time, I was getting sick a lot and on an emotional rollercoaster. Once I realized what was going on (sometimes, as you know, it can be challenging when you’re in the thick of the moment, to see what you need), I increased my supplements, proteins, fats, and fruits/veggies. As a result, my blood sugar levels became more stable (no massive mood swings), energy increased, immune system stronger, digestion improved…..

So how can you increase our whole foods when we are tired, pregnant, taking care of our family and/or fulfilling other responsibilities?

Small and Simple Steps is the KEY!! Here are some ideas….

Ask significant other to prep up some food:

  • Cut up veggies
  • Place veggies and fruit in containers or baggies
  • Cook up meatballs and place in freezer to warm up
  • Make up black bean burgers and leave mixture in bowl in refrigerator. When ready to make, form patties and cook. Maintains freshness if in the refrigerator 1-2 weeks.

 

Simple and Healthy Meal Ideas:

  • A grilled chicken breast and steamed or roasted vegetables for a meal
  • Crockpot meal such as a Rotisserie Chicken or a Stew full of vegetables and protein
  • Simple Stuffed Peppers (this recipes can be easily made and then frozen before you heat up the peppers)
  • Spinach Salad with Salmon or Grilled Chicken, avocado, fresh vegetables with lemon and olive oil drizzled over top.
  • Smoothie with protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables
  • Baked Sweet Potato with a healthy protein
  • Sprouted bread topped with avocado

 

MelanieMelanie is the Wellness Coordinator for Willowsong Midwifery Care, a Certified Health Coach (through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and AADP), and more importantly a mom of 3 small children. She is very passionate about empowering moms and children in attaining overall health and wellness and loves supporting Willowsong Families with health classes, free initial prenatal consults, information via blogging and much more! Melanie approaches health from a holistic perspective, meaning that she believes each component of our lives creates our overall health and wellness. You are welcome to connect with Melanie anytime via email (Melanie@Food4Thoughtdm.com).

Please don’t just take Melanie’s experience…as always consult with your medical professional and your own self understanding when making health decision; Melanie is not a medical professional, a nutritionist or dietician. She does not hold a degree in medicine, dietetics, or nutrition. Melanie makes no claim to any specialized medical training, nor does she dispense medical advice or prescriptions. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, preconception or pregnancy health. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes ONLY. Please consult with your doctor and/or wellness team if you have questions and then make your own well-informed decisions based upon what is best for your unique genetics, culture, conditions, and stage of life.