25 Weeks – Update

Hello Campers!

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!


4 responses to “25 Weeks – Update

  1. Awesome post, and well done!! I’m 26 weeks and trying to keep it as paleo-friendly as possible too. Your sugar posts have crushed my ice-cream loving though, if ONLY ice-cream were as good for you as it tasted! *sigh*

  2. Dear Amy,
    I love ice cream too! And I find this whole thing very sad – especially in a heat wave – c’mon!

    I tried to make some with raw milk and stevia, but the same sticky icky bonding stuff sugars do to your cells (glycation) is the chemical magic that also seems to make ice cream stay super creamy. The best substitute I’ve found: You can throw milk and frozen berries in a blender with stevia and get a erzatz milkshake. Let me know if you come up with a more delicious solution.

    But, thank god, babies develop in relationship to their environment as well as in accordance with genetic messaging, and with the kind of sugar-ravaged and sugar-sensitive family (and ergo genetic sensitivity) I have (most obese, some diabetic, cancer, etc), I don’t want my baby to have an already off-balanced pancreas and endocrine system pre-destined to love sugar. Dawn at The Paleo Baby also mentioned in a post (http://www.thepaleobaby.com/2011/06/paleo-fetus-food.html) that babies (20 weeks and on maybe?) start drinking amniotic fluid which is flavored by mom’s diet. I didn’t see her research, but she’s a smart cookie and I’m sure she’s backed it up somewhere.

    Of course, I can’t recommend Cate Shanahan’s book, Deep Nutrition, enough for a full discussion of sugar (with some material on glycation’s potentially devestating effects in utero).

  3. I just read a few of your blog entries and I am fascinated! The Paleo-Diet is one I heard of only recently and being obsessed with Nutritional Anthropology/Evolution, I’d love to learn more. Not to mention that pregnancy adds a very interesting component to this way of life. I look forward to reading more :).

  4. Hi –
    Thanks for checking it out 🙂 Hope you are having a fun day.

    Mark’s Daily Apple is frequently cited as the place to start getting info: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/
    It’s archives are second to none in terms of of excellent articles (and recipes).
    But I like this intro to the whole idea even better:

    See you soon – L

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