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Primal/Paleo transition and newly pregnant!

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  • Primal/Paleo transition and newly pregnant!

    Little background:
    Made a decision a few months ago to get myself healthier and fitter, started in the fitness center paid for with our hoa dues and then joined a CrossFit affiliate about 1.5 months ago. Diet was already improved prior to CF and post joining I've gone pretty much full Primal. No bread, no pasta, no potatoes, no processed junk, no soda, no sugar, very very minimal dairy. Getting quality (grass fed, pastured) meat and eggs as much as possible. My one cheat is a bit of ranch or caesar dressing on occassional salads. That's me, and I'm doing awesome with it.

    To my surprise and pleasure my wife decided to try out and started doing CF with me She also agreed to do a "mostly" paleo/PB diet since I was already doing so. But, she LOVES...LOVES bread, and desserts are a weak spot as well. My stance when we started was "It's great that you're doing better and if you go 80/20 or 90/10 on the diet then I won't say a thing if you aren't as 'hardcore' as me." She's an adult, understands most of the reasons for the changes, and while I would argue that there is no reason at all to have bread or cake or other desserts, it's a comfort food thing for her. She too was and is doing awesome (losing some weight, better shape - she loves being thinner!).

    Now to the issues...we found out she's pregnant about a week ago. Of her own volition, without any prompting from me she said that she wanted to go 100% on the diet for at least the next 6 weeks. Great, right? Well, she tends to slip on statements like that especially on food, and she already had a piece of cake at a co-worker's at-work baby shower the other day. Small piece, not the end of the world, but it caused an argument when I "called her out" on not sticking to her own plan. The other point of contention is that I'm wanting her to continue the 100% throught the pregnancy, while she wants to add in 'occasional' bread/pasta/potatoes (2-3 times a week) and 'rare' desserts (once a week). It's stuff she still wants (in my opinion, is addicted to), and I'm a bad guy for wanting her to not eat that stuff since it has no positive nutritional value compared to other foods, and plenty of negatives.

    How important is PB/Paleo during a pregnancy for the child (which is why I'm pushing the issue)? Obviously a little bread or sugar isn't going to be the end of the world, but ...

    On dairy, neither of us have a big reaction to it but it still makes sense to limit it for all the various reasons out there. However she's concerned about calcium intake (the recommended 1000-1200mg) without it. Are veggies enough?

    The other issue (WARNING, poo talk!!):

    Her BM's have been almost all liquid, diarrhea, since eating more Paleo/PB. I've read the 'poo' posts here on MDA and a big discussion about it here on FreeTheAnimal. What I'm guessing is that she needs some more good flora in her gut along with possibly reducing fat intake for a little while until she adjusts...but I don't like guessing. Any thoughts/help here?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Hmm. I have lots of feedback. First would be for you to go 100% on lecturing your wife when she "slips." I promise it's not going to make her any better about going 100%. It will just make her resent you. 80/20 is the general accepted idea around here. Why isn't that good enough? I'd wager that trying to go 100% will get her closer to 80/20 or even 90/10 than trying to go 80/20 will. So relax, and back off.

    Also, there is some evidence to suggest that eating no gluten/wheat whatsoever in pregnancy will raise your chances of your child having celiac disease. Rob Wolf, I believe, did a talk on this. So, while wheat is never desirable to eat anyway, I know I sure as shootin' would much rather have a kid who just doesn't eat much wheat because we don't buy it, instead of one who has a very bad reaction to it. Additionally, she will most likely crave more carbs while pregnant. The glucose in her body will go to the fetus first, which is why many women crave carbs during pregnancy. Yes, fruit and some potatoes would be better than grains, but keep in mind there is a biological reason she may be wanting more carbs. (Read "Exercising through you Pregnancy for a better explanation of this)

    Paleo is definitely a great way to eat for pregnancy. How could it not be? Eating Paleo/primal means eating tons of super high nutrition foods. How important is it? Well, very important, since it contributes to the developing baby's brain function, birth weight, food preferences, etc. But don't get yourself too wound up in every little detail of your wife's diet. I'm a young, healthy, paleo eating Crossfitter who has had nothing but multiple miscarriages while my wheat-eating, channel-surfing, candy addict friends produce healthy offpsring like bunnies. So, clearly, while it is beneficial to be primal, it has its limits. Pregnancy diet is important, but it's nothing to get yourself so worked up over when your wife is already eating primal most of the time.


    About the loose stools - have your wife take a good probiotic supplement. The same thing happened to me when I went primal/paleo, and my naturopath has me on a good probiotic (8 billion+ bacteria count)
    Last edited by junebug; 04-21-2010, 11:53 AM. Reason: forgot something


    • #3
      I think eating correctly is extremely important during the development of you baby. it also sounds like your wife is following a good diet. Sure some things she eats are not primal, but remember its all in proportion and she seems to be tipping the scales heavily to the primal side. Also, not eating healthy doesn't mean you can't have a healthy baby as the above poster has mentioned and clearly evident by our growing population. That said its definitely can't be good for the child's health and may not show up at birth, but later on in the kids life.
      I haven't updated it in a while, but i have a "pregnancy journal" labeled bunty of my wife's primal pregnancy. Most high amounts of carbs she takes are usually from fruit, which is maybe 1 or 2 pieces of fruit in a day. We eat zero grains and she has no cravings. Last visit, the doc was so relieved to finally see a patient that was normal and he could talk about baby stuff with us. He actually let out a sigh of relief that he could walk into the room and didn't have to worry about something going on with the expecting mom. He's also very supportive of our lifestyle and said he wished more mothers followed our same way of living.
      Typical Calorie break down in macros is:
      60-80% fat
      20-30% protein
      5%-20% carbs


      • #4
        Hi hbeck.

        I'm responding as a long-time crossfitter who's currently 4.5 months pregnant with baby #2 and had chicken livers for breakfast. So forgive me if I'm blunt, but I'm coming at this from the perspective of a pregnant woman. I know you are thinking about the health of your baby, and that's great. And since you are a paleo xfitter, I'm guessing you have the kind of intensity of conviction that most of us do about the "right" way to do things. Again, fine. But the WORST thing you could do for your baby or your wife right now is stress your wife out with criticism about what and how she's eating. She's not sitting down every night to a huge plate of Fettucini Alfredo and a half-bottle of wine, so try to keep it in perspective and try to support her in the larger sense by keeping your mouth shut when necessary. Take it out later in your WOD if you have to.

        Sounds like this is probably your first baby and you are both really wanting to do the most healthy thing possible. I think that's wonderful but remember that a woman's diet in pregnancy, and especially through that 1st trimester, is a weird journey anyway and you're just going to have to relax a little bit about what she's doing.

        Trust that she is trying to work within Paleo principles but understand that her body may be sending all kinds of crazy messages to her as well. Any "promises" she makes about how she's going to eat, just recognize she's trying, smile and ignore them from here on out. For the next 8 months or so, she's only partially in charge.

        Just to illustrate my point, I am a conscious eater, aware of what food is doing to my body, my performance, etc. So despite a pre-pregnancy diet of mostly wild fish, little meat (it's easier to source wild fish than wild game/pastured meat in my area), veg and fruit, my first trimester of this pregnancy I didn't want any protein. None. I ate bowls of brown rice with cups of salsa dumped on top. 6 or 8 oranges a day. I made tomato sauce, like one might for spaghetti, and ate the sauce with the spoon....basically if it wasn't a tomato or an orange or a starch, I didn't want it. If it was, the queasiness I felt for a month straight would abate long enough for me to eat.

        Second trimester rolled along and everything changed...if it wasn't fried eggs, chicken liver, beef (I found a source for grass finished!) or iron-rich game meat, I didn't want it. So now I eat huge bowls of veggies, roasted and grilled meats, seafood, fried eggs almost every day, fruit and tons of fat (yum, coconut!). Looking back to the 1st trimester, would I rather have had a more macronutrient-balanced diet? Sure, but I think if my body was crying out for that degree of vitamin C, I was smart to listen.

        I would really encourage you to just relax when your wife occasionally indulges. Her general trend is excellent. Recognize that you are on a very long road here, cultivating your own fitness & nutrition and that of your child. This is really just the beginning, so pace yourself. : ) Criticism and fighting about your degree of paleo will only lead to your wife resenting you and the whole lifestyle. I mean really, you think it's hard now, wait until you have to deal with what "other kids" get in their school lunches that your kid doesn't. So work to cultivate an environment where you are all in this together (against the world, it seems sometimes!) and where the small bumps along the way don't stop the general progress you are all making.

        Congrats to both of you!


        • #5
          Sounds like this is probably your first baby
          ...yup. I'm not sure whether I'm more excited or nervous about it at this point, and input on perspective is very helpful, thanks all. Being a perfectionist certainly doesn't help me relax in regards to wanting to do the right thing for both her and the baby's health!

          I think part of the issue is that I am approaching the changes I've been making as a lifestyle, whereas she views it as some exercise (fortunately the intense and awesome CF brand of it) and a "diet" to do for a while and then go back to "normal". It is frustrating to have someone that knows and accepts the logic behind primal nutrition - and agrees with it!! - but still wants to eat bread all the time (before the pregnancy so that was not a factor). She loves the changes she has made to her body in just the 1.5 months of doing CF and our eating changes, but still wants to go back to what she was doing before...more frustration for me since I've seen her yo-yo on weight several times when she "diets" (usually just calorie reduction which I've been trying very hard for us to avoid).

          But all of that is not really related to the topic! Which is, again, where the perspective is useful especially from someone who is going through pregnancy now So please excuse my little venting and continue providing your good advice.


          • #6
            Congratulations on your wife's pregnancy hbeck. I myself am 19 weeks pregnant. I started the primal journey last summer and other than occasional cheats, was pretty good about my diet overall. And I told myself how strictly primal I would be during my pregnancy. And then I became pregnant. And like ehstrauss, I couldn't eat too much meat or eggs in my first trimester. All I wanted to eat was traditional home-cooked Indian food (rice, lentils, veggies and such). Every meal would be followed by huge amount of guilt, guilt of being an inadequate mother. But then in the second trimester, I felt better and am able to eat more meat and eggs but still crave comfort foods. I've realized stressing about it was doing me more harm than the food itself. I may not be completely primal, but I'm comforted by the fact that I'm probably eating way healthier than a lot of people.

            My point is, if your wife's diet is healthy and primal overall, don't sweat the small cheats. Some people use pregnancy as a license to eat all the junk they want, which she clearly isn't. Yes, eating a paleo/primal diet would be ideal but 80% (or 90%) primal is WAAAAY better than the food that most pregnant people eat. There are pregnancy journals here if you or your wife are interested in having a look at (FNW, slesca, Kay, jostle/bunty, myself). All the best to your wife and wishing her a safe and healthy pregnancy.


            • #7
              Thanks maba! Coincidentally I'd already stumbled my way to the journals area and started reading yours.

              Sounds like I'm just going to have to suppress or redirect my perfectionist urges away from the wife! Knowing when something is "good enough" has always been a struggle. Our first doctor visit is May 10th, that will be an interesting trip I think...


              • #8
                Hey your lucky atleast your wife trys to eat primal. I have been doing the PB for two months now. I've lost 55 pounds, feel great etc. My wife is now 10 weeks pregnant and cries that she has gained 5 pounds. I said not to worry your pregnant but she still is upset and asks me for help. I tell her to read the PB she says she can't eat primal. She doesn't like anything but bad stuff. She eats bagles or cereal every day. Loves pizza, mac and cheese, pasta in general, chicken fingers, pancakes etc etc etc. Now I love all of those things too but I just chose not to eat them. The thing is my wife hates all seafood, and really doesn't eat alot of meat or vegetables. I'll sit down with a nice steak and a pile of asparagus and she cringes. If she went primal she would have nothing to eat. She doesn't eat alot she just doesn't eat well. I don't know what the heck to do because when she works out hard she does loose weight but being in the first trimester they tell her she can't do anything but walk and walking just isn't cutting it. I come off feeling like I did something wrong because I can't fix it. So let the wife eat a piece of cake and be happy she tries.
                "Live Free or Die"


                • #9
                  I guess the reason for the craving for carbohydrates in the first trimester, is the need for the body to build fat stores to provide energy later. In the first trimester the foetus is very small and does not require much nutrition in itself but in the coming two trimester the food requirement will grow a lot. In the wild, animals get pregnent when the spring comes, because animals have access to much more food. The same thing would have applied to humans before we became civilized. The pregnent woman would consume a lot of fruits to build the fat stores.

                  In the second trimester, the foetus is growing more rapidly and the body needs lots more protein and nutrients. This means the taste changes to require more meat. This should continue well into the third trimester. The third trimester would be during the winters when food is low, so the fat and other stores made during the first two trimesters will be used and the food requirement may not be as much.

                  I am not a doctor, it is all just speculation ;-).


                  • #10
                    Congratulations!!! I know this is probably not super helpful, but I've been a good primal eater during this (my 2nd) pregnancy, and I also have an older child who is the picture of health even though I ate CW "healthy" during that pregnancy. The main difference in pregnancies has been for me, and I'll be surprised if my second child ends up "better" than my first. I attribute my daughter's health to breastfeeding for a year (NOT an easy task and not one that should minimized) and eating unknowingly pretty darn primal as a young toddler.

                    And, I'd freak out on my husband if he ever said a word about what I ate, how I exercised, when I slept, etc, while I'm pregnant But I don't hold back much and I think it's supremely unfair that I have to do all the gestating. Having said all of this, I can say that pregnancy while eating primally has been much more comfortable than it was while eating cereal, sandwiches, and pasta. Lots of unpleasant "pregnancy" symptoms, I think are actually just standard CW diet issues that are simply more noticeable when there's a big fetus in your body. I'm talking about the digestion related stuff: constipation, heartburn, acid reflux, interrupted sleep because of any of those three things. Also, I've had no swelling, I've gained 15 less pounds, and my leg veins haven't become more prominent like last time. And finally, my moods and hormones are totally under control, whereas during my first pregnancy I felt like I had severe PMS for 9 month. As a result, I eat primally for my own selfish/vanity reasons. Congrats and take care of that wife! Pregnancy is hard work and pregnant ladies require some extra love and understanding, especially the first time around. It can be scary to have your body feel so beyond your control.


                    • #11
                      Hi hbeck,

                      Just wondering how the pregnancy is going? I have some thoughts that might be helpful but wanted to hear first from you on how things were going.


                      iherb referral code CIL457- $5 off first order


                      • #12
                        Well, if nausea being worse is an indication of a healthier baby/pregnancy, then we're doing great! Wife has had all-day morning sickness for 4 weeks now and I'm happy that she keeps any food down at all. She gets pukey at the sight, smell, and sometimes simple thought of any kind of meat. Veggies are about the same if not quite as bad. About all she's been eating is certain fruits, some jello, pasta, and now peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

                        So, different spot than when I first posted, and she's not any happier about what she's eating than I would be because she loves meat!

                        I think we're past 10 weeks now, so hopefully the nausea will subside in the next week or three.


                        • #13
                          I threw up constantly for the first 17 weeks of baby number one and the only thing that helped was carbohydrates. It's all right. even the thought of fat was the worst!


                          • #14
                            I think the first trimester, requires high starch diet. I would think starchy tubers and fruits, would be much better than jello, pasto, and sandwitches. Even rice would be better compared to these.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anand Srivastava View Post
                              I think the first trimester, requires high starch diet. I would think starchy tubers and fruits, would be much better than jello, pasto, and sandwitches. Even rice would be better compared to these.
                              LOL at eating 'starchy tubers and fruits' - it's like my father in law telling me that "pregnancy is not an illness" when I had my head in the toilet all morning.

                              When I was in my first trimester the only food I could get down was plain crackers and plain steamed chicken breast. I couldn't stand the smell of practically anything else.

                              If a woman has good intentions, is reasonably well informed and is at least -attempting- to have baby's health in mind when choosing food, then any food they can get down is good food. Best to leave her be, she knows what her body wants.

                              Mind you, I never accept anyone telling me what to do. Ever.