Moms and moms-to-be need the right kind of fuel to make it through the day. Caring for a newborn and carrying a yet-to-be-born can take their toll on your body. For those who have had food sensitivities, alternative approaches to eating have been helpful.
According to Mary Seger NP PhD, an expert on diet and exercise, alternative medicine, stress reduction, parenting strategies and healthy pregnancy, these nutrition tips keep her tip top and ready to face the day.
1. Eat a protein breakfast before coffee. Yes, you read it right: eat before coffee. When you drink coffee on an empty stomach it causes your blood sugar to rise, then crash. This causes a release of cortisol, the stress hormone, to bring your blood sugar back in balance. Increased cortisol causes you to gain weight in your middle. Try to have boiled eggs, a protein shake and nuts or a protein bar available to eat.
2. Eat protein at each meal along with lots of veggies and a 1/2 cup of fruit for dessert. I suggest staying away from peas, corn and white potatoes, as they are high in sugar. Fruit also contains a lot of sugar. You need to cover fruit with a protein so you don’t get the rise and fall of blood sugar and the cortisol release. Berries and apples are the best choices for fruit.
3. My patients ask what I eat. Here’s the list: meat – beef, pork, chicken and fish – nuts; nut butters; peanuts; peanut butter; cheese (not processed); veggies, except peas, corn and white potatoes. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and leafy greens are important for good health; 1/2 cup of fruit – berries or apples. That’s it. If it’s not on the list, I don’t eat it. I also suggest whey protein shakes and protein bars, more on those later.
4. What do I drink? Water. Juice and pop are full of sugar. They cause insulin resistance, which leads to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies are beginning to show a link to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease from insulin resistance. Use almond or goat milk instead of cow milk.
5. Cheese, butter and eggs are good for you. Studies from Europe show cheese, not of the processed variety, moves calcium from the arteries to the bones, making strong bones. Calcium in the arteries can cause heart disease. Other studies show prevention or reduction of cancer in those that ate the most cheese compared to those that ate the least cheese. Butter is a natural fat; margarine is made of Trans fatty acids – a manmade fat. Whenever man starts to tweak our food, bad things can occur. Eat natural, eat butter. Eggs are the perfect protein. They do not increase cholesterol; in fact, eating eggs will lower cholesterol, especially in women.
6. Sweetened yogurt, sweetened oatmeal, bananas and watermelon are not good for you. The first ingredient in regular or Greek yogurt is milk. The second is usually sugar. Milk turns to sugar when it hits the stomach. The large molecules in cow’s milk are not well absorbed in the human body and can cause a whole host of health problems. A study on teenage acne found it was milk, not chocolate, that caused the worse acne. The amount of probiotic is not listed on the label, thus you are probably not getting a medicinal dose. The amount of sugar in the yogurt feeds the bad bacteria, which kills off the good bacteria. I prefer ricotta cheese to yogurt.
The studies done on oatmeal were on steel cut oats with nothing in it. It reduced the total cholesterol between 15 to 20 points. Eating oatmeal with all the lovely sugary additions will increase your weight, blood sugar and cholesterol. If you do not eat protein for breakfast, you will not lose weight. Bananas and watermelon are high on the glycemic index, which leads to insulin resistance.
7. Protein bars are a much better choice than cereal bars. I eat them for a snack, one to two times per day. They do have carbohydrates in them, but they have protein to cover the carbs, preventing the rise and fall in blood sugar. Most cereal bars have the same amount of carbohydrates but minimal protein; some even have less fiber than the protein bars. I prefer a minimum of 14 gm of protein in the bars, read the labels. Also be aware of sugar alcohols, as too much can cause severe stomach distress.
8. Move away from grains. We are seeing a dramatic increase in celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and most oat products are contaminated with gluten. Studies show a link to rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes in children, low thyroid function, and all autoimmune diseases. Do not begin eating gluten free products. They are made with substances high on the glycemic index, which causes insulin resistance. Purchase your food on the outside perimeter of the grocery store, skipping the bakery. Stay out of the aisles, except for nuts and peanut butter.
9. Whey protein is a medicinal food and an easily digested protein, which is good for meal replacement. Whey is a milk protein, but not casein, which is the protein that causes problems. I prefer a pharmaceutical grade, undenatured whey protein with Stevia as the sweetener. Be careful, as many protein shakes contain sugar alcohols. I drink a whey protein shake with nuts (measure 1/4 to ⅓ cup), for breakfast and lunch. Mid-morning and afternoon snacks are protein bars, nuts or cheese. Dinner with meat and vegetables completes my day.
10. Portion control! Cup your hands. This is the amount of food you require at a meal. Get rid of the dinner plates and use salad plates. Leave space between the foods. Serve yourself and put the food away before eating. If it sits on the table or even on the stove you are more likely to get seconds. If you are still hungry after you eat, set the timer for 1/2 hour. When the timer dings assess whether you are really hungry or just want to eat more. Eat nothing after 7 pm. This is the time your body needs to detoxify, not digest food. Drink water.
Dr. Mary B. Seger is a wife, mom, grandmother and a certified Nurse Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. She has an Integrative Medicine practice at Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, MI. She is the also the author of Invite Joy into Your Life: Steps for Women Who Want to Rediscover the Simple Pleasures of Living. Her newest book is, The Parent Guidebook ~ How to Raise Happy, Healthy Children With Advice From a Mom and Nurse Practitioner.