Its summer here on lovely Long Island – a true double pleasure for this sun-sea-heat-loving cavegirl because a) the weather is perfect (at least for always 96 degree me, with respect to all normally-thermo-regulated Northeasterners for whom the the 90-100 degree crazy going on right now is not ‘perfect’) and b) I’m not teaching over the summer – so, while I’m not “off work” (I’m writing 1-2 long scholarly articles on Victorian science fiction), this work is significantly more pleasant and requires no commute. In fact, for most of June it meant sitting on the beach reading trashy 1890s novels about mesmerism, vampires and Bacchanalia. #winning.
Painting by Lizzie McCormick 2010
So – Paleo/Primal pregnancy progresses superlatively well. Of course, I offer the same caveat as always: I am a fellow explorer and not a perfect role model or expert. Here’s a quick run down.
I feel amazing! I’ve gained 15 pounds – all womb – and have (so far) been spared every complication for months. In fact – if you read my older post – I suspect my first trimester nausea and exhaustion was made so much worse by “self-soothing” with crap food. Worst offending substances: Gluten, sugar, vegetable oil, “gluten-free” items and rice.
Here’s a short list of things I have avoided that my other pregnant friends seem to be overwhelmed by – many that I even suffered from in pre-paleo/ pre-pregnant life. It might be luck, but I wager cavegirl living isn’t hurting: Swelling/Fluid retention (and I live on real salt); Acne; Stretch marks; sunburns/sun sensitivity; round ligament pain; any digestion or elimination issues (like constipation); mood swings and anxiety.
There’s so much I’d like to write about, but I can’t today. The list includes smart supplementation; our daily diets/recipes/food sourcing; links about vegetable oil; dairy and calcium dilemmas; homebirth preparation and prenatal exercise. Oh well, more posts to come I guess. For now, I’ll channel Keith Olbermann and give a rant about the “worst substance in the world”
Sugar is the devil. With baby showers and other well-meaning sugar pushers at every bend (“spoil yourself – you’re pregnant!”) its important to keep this critical fact in mind. It is not a benign ‘guilty pleasure’ but a seriously damaging one.
One of the reasons why people seem to do so well on Paleo, in my humble opinion, is that they cut down significantly on total carbohydrate intake. Sugar, like grain, is outrageously inflammatory and encourages all kinds of terrible in our bodies (not only insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain, but also heart disease, dementia, cancer and inflammation issues like asthma). It also blocks endocrine system messaging (i.e. jams up hormone receptors) interfering with all reproductive functions from conception through breastfeeding.
We have a 0% sugar policy in our house and both feel amazing. If I violate it, as I did for my birthday last night (see also: not a role model) – I feel it immediately – my ankle tendons swell up painfully, I begin to wheeze and I’m exhausted. If you have carpo tunnel or arthritis – cut it out for a week and see what happens 🙂
Don’t take my word for it:
Gary Taubes wrote a major piece for the NYT Magazine on the topic that is required reading if you ask me.
Mark at Mark’s Daily Apple, as always, has also tackled this topic and has the links to back it up.
Nora Gedgaudas has a great book (new edition out: Primal Body, Primal Mind) that clearly and convincingly addresses all health issues related to sugar. The author’s professional work as both a nutritionist and Clinical Neurofeedback Specialist adds a great mental health element to the mix. Cheap option: Her excellent podcast (in iTunes) is free and really well done.
Dr. Cate Shanahan is a genius. If you haven’t read Deep Nutrition – which has the best chapter on sugar anywhere – buy it ASAP for 10 bucks on your kindle and read it carefully (other chapters will be referenced later, too). My husband and I have run through at least 5 copies, because we end up giving it away to doctors, relatives and friends. Tons of info on the effect of mother’s diet on baby!!! She has a great blog too 🙂
Yabba Dabba, cavemommies!