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1. Question: Suggestions For Food Before/After Labor?
I am 37 weeks pregnant to my first child. I am going to give birth in a natural birthing centre.
I am just puzzled at what sort of foods to take with me to the unit, what possibly to eat during the labour and afterwards, etc… I will be staying 5 days there after the birth so I need to prepare and freeze all my foods for that period, apart from stuff that doesn't need a fridge. I will be taking my water filter with me too, and a bath filter for the birthing pool water. I will have my own shampoo, soap, etc. all natural and non-toxic.
Any ideas for delicious and nourishing meals and snacks for the very important time in my life when I give birth to my son? I do not eat wheat.
Any other tips for my stay away from my natural and toxin-free home?
Oh gosh I hope you haven't had the baby yet! It takes me a while to get through all these emails…
I would suggest lots of soups and stews made with bone broth — those are easy to freeze and transport. Chili, beef stew, etc. Fish stock made with fish heads is especially nourishing for new mothers, as the fish heads contain the thyroid glands. You could make some delicious clam chowder or Thai coconut soup made wiht fish stock. You could also make risotto with brown rice, fish stock and lots of butter and cream. Another great option would be lasagna made with rice pasta — or shepherd's pie.
For snacks, you could bring grass-fed cheese, soaked and dried nuts, gluten-free whole-grain crackers, grass-fed yogurt and fruit and soaked granola. I'd also bring lots of kombucha, herbal tea, bone broth, kefir, raw milk and other things you like to drink. Staying hydrated is really important, and the more nourishing the liquids, the better.
It sounds like you're doing great on keeping things non-toxic! The only thing you may want to do is bring a sleep mask. I just got a sleep mask and it is rocking my world — I love how much more soundly I sleep (darkness helps you produce more melatonin).
Best wishes to you and your new addition!
2. Question: Peanut Butter and Omega 3 And Omega 6 Fatty Acids?
I had a question concerning Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. I know that nuts and but butters (peanut butter especially) are high in Omega 6s, but I'm just short of addicted, and I was wondering if there was a way to keep these delicious spreads as a part of my diet. Should I try to balance it out by ingesting more Omega 3s? Right now, I eat about one serving (two tablespoons) of nut butters daily, but it's a habit I'll try to break if it's mucking up my ratios of 6s to 3s. Thoughts?
Right now, I'm not taking cod liver oil, though I do plan to start soon. Would that help with the issue of polyunsaturated fats? My diet mostly consists of meat, eggs, cheese, half-and-half (low temperature pasteurized is the best I can do, since raw suppliers are too far away). Everything is from pastured animals, including the lard I use to fry chicken, etc. Are the nutrients in those enough to counterbalance any possible negative effects of the Omega 6s in nut butters?
I'm not a big fan of peanut butter, unless it is properly prepared. I think it's okay to eat it every once in a while but I don't believe it should be eaten frequently if the peanuts are not soaked. Even then, it should be eaten in moderation. For example, adding some (soaked) nuts to a salad or eating them as a snack here and there is fine, but I don't think eating peanut butter sandwiches every single day is a good choice (egg salad or liverwurst is much better for you).
Read this article I wrote a while back: Do Bread & Cereal Cause Cavities? I quote a very interesting study by Mellanby in which one group of children ate their normal diet plus oatmeal, one group ate their normal diet plus vitamin D, and a third group ate a grain-free diet plus vitamin D. The children in the oatmeal group had the highest rate of cavities. The children in the second group saw a signifigant drop in cavities (1 cavity versus 5 in the first group) and the children in the last group had the least cavities (less than 1 cavity).
One reason this study is important is that the children on the grain-free diet still ate plenty of carbohydrates and sugar. The key differentiators are vitamin D and whether or not they ate grains.
Grains, nuts, seeds and legumes have a lot of anti-nutrients, particularly phytic acid. Peanuts are very high in phytic acid, more so than many other foods (oats are also very high).
If I were going to eat nut butters (peanut or otherwise,) I would make sure they were properly prepared. I do not believe in eating store-bought unsoaked nut butters. You can find soaked nuts and soaked nut butters online.
Click here to find soaked nuts and nut butters on my resources page.
You can also make your own peanut butter at home (I love homemade peanut butter). Here is my recipe for soaked peanut butter. You can either buy soaked nuts or soak them yourself.
Regarding the issue of omega 6 versus omega 3 fatty acids, eating peanuts and other nuts here and there would not be a problem if it weren't for the vast quantities of omega 6 fats we eat. Our modern diet is very imbalanced. We get a lot of omega 6s from modern factory-made seed oils including cottonseed, corn, vegetable, grapeseed, canola, sunflower, soybean, and safflower.
Anytime you eat out, it's very hard to avoid these oils. They are in salad dressings, mayonnaise, and restaurants exclusively fry with these oils (there are some restaurants that will use butter to sautee some foods, but only the high end restaurants). These oils are also in many processed foods.
If you want to increase your omega 3s and decrease your omega 6s, eating grass-fed and pastured meats, eggs and dairy (which you are already doing) is important. It's also important to try to avoid the modern seed oils as much as possible.
Seafood is also a great source of omega 3s. The best sources are herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, halibut and tuna. I personally try to eat seafood at least 3 times a week. It's not hard to do. Eat salmon for dinner one night, have a tuna sandwich for lunch another day, and eat some sardines or salmon roe on crackers for a snack.
And yes, I believe cod liver oil is an absolutely essential supplement. You can find the fermented cod liver oil on my resources page.
Bottom line: it's OK to eat peanut and other nut butters, but do so in moderation and make sure the nut butters are soaked. Also, eat your seafood, and take your cod liver oil.
3. Question: Suggestions For Relief From Nausea During Pregnancy?
I'm very new to the idea of GAPS and real food but it makes sense to me. It's turning everything I thought I knew about nutrition on it's head. I went to nursing school and I remember specifically being told that sugar does not cause diabetes which I always imagined was the case.
I also remember feeling a burden for people with autoimmune diseases because the medical establishment does not have an answer for these people. They don't know what the cause is and they certainly don't know how to heal it. GAPS is answering questions that I've pondered for years.
While I'm still in the gathering information phase, I keep thinking about any health problems I've had in the past and how this might relate to it. One thing that I've never seen addressed is nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. I've always been sick for the first 20-24 weeks of every one of my pregnancies (5). Some worse than others. Three were pretty severe (constant nausea, extreme fatigue, dehydration-you get the idea).
Have you read anything that might explain what's going on to cause that? Do you know anybody who found a way to relieve it through nutrition? I'd love to read any anecdotes. It's hard to imagine eating the kinds of meats that are good for you while pregnant because anything like that sounds positively vile to me when I'm pregnant.
Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
From what I have read, morning sickness can be caused by nutritional deficiencies including magnesium and vitamin B6.
Here are some anecdotes that were posted recently on the WAPF Chapter Leader's Email List (I saved them for my next pregnancy; I'm trying to conceive now):
I had terrible morning sickness with my last pregnancy too. Raw milk didn't help; in fact I think it made it worse. My morning sickness seemed to be caused by a magnesium deficiency. Since milk is high in calcium, it made it worse.
I started supplementing with Maga-Mag ionic magesium by Trace Minerals Research and it made me feel a lot better. I just added it to my water and drank it throughout the day.
I've heard morning sickness can also be caused by a deficiency in vitamin B6. Brewer's yeast might help, but it has a pretty strong flavor, so may be hard to take when you are feeling nauseous.
Sea-Band (those wristbands they make for motion sickness) also helped me. You can buy them at any drugstore.
31 years ago, when I was very newly pregnant with my second child, I followed the advice given by Adelle Davis in the book Let's Have Healthy Children. She said to take Vitamin B6, starting with 50mg and adding more if needed to a maximum of 250 mg. I believe she said to take a B complex vitamin as well. The 50 mg of B6 worked beautifully for me. I had morning sickness every morning with the previous pregnancy, but none at all with that one.
When that second child got pregnant, I told her about the B6. For her it took 100mg of B6 to not have morning sickness, but again, that worked beautifully for her as long as she took it every night.
MDs used to give women a prescription for morning sickness that was B6 with something added (so it could be patented).
BTW, I followed all Adelle Davis's advise for supplements during that pregnancy and labor, and also had a pain-free labor and birth. She gave specific instructions on what supplements to take during pregnancy and at the beginning of labor.
4. Question: Is It Worth It To Make Chicken Broth From Factory Farmed Chickens?
I have a question that I would like to get your opionion on. I would like to start making homemade broth from chicken bones. The only problem is that we cannot afford to buy organic or pastured chickens.
I have completely revamped my family's eating habits over the past months. We are now eating local pastured chicken eggs, local raw pastured cheese, frozen wild-caught salmon, sprouted or soaked grains, homemade yogurt, coconut oil, and Organic Valley cultured butter. (Kerrygold and Organic Valley pasture butter is not available in our area, nor is raw butter for a price we can afford.)
There is only so much I can do because we are on an extremely limited budget. I cannot afford to buy any of our meat grass-fed. Would it be worth it to make home-made chicken broth from factory-farmed chickens, or would the toxins outway any benefits? Right now I am breastfeeding and soon would be feeding this broth to my daughter.
Thank you so much!
Congratulations on changing your family's diet! The benefits you will reap are invaluable.
I really think it's best to avoid factory farm chickens. It is cheaper to buy one pastured chicken and use the meat and then take the bones and make stock. I'd rather eat chicken less frequently (maybe once a week or once every couple weeks) and the other days eat more soaked beans and rice.
You might also consider buying beef bones. You can get grass-fed beef bones for as little as $1-2 per pound. You can also buy meat with the bones still in — such as lamb chops or beef ribs. After you've roasted or slow-cooked the meat and eaten it for dinner, you can use the bones to make beef stock. Here's my recipe for beef stock.
If you can't afford grass-fed soup bones, I would buy conventional (non-grass-fed) beef bones. Buying conventional beef cuts with the bones in, or beef bones, is better than buying factory farm chickens.
I've also bought wild whole Thai snapper for as little as $5-6 per pound. Ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish for you and make sure he gives you the bones and the heads in a separate package. Then use the bones to make fish stock. Here's my recipe for fish stock.
You can also save shrimp shells and make stock from leftover shells (just freeze them until you have enough).
You can often find wild fish and shrimp cheaper at Asian food stores.
5. Question: How Much Bone Broth Should I Consume To Notice A Difference In Cellulite?
After your bone broth challenge I've been trying to incorporate more bone broth and gelatin into my diet. I'm wondering how much I should be consuming to notice a difference in cellulite.
Well we don't have any scientific studies yet, unfortunately. (Wouldn't that be cool?) The anecdotes I heard from the women who saw results said that they were drinking 1-2 cups of broth per day for a few months when they saw their cellulite disappearing.
6. Question: Advice About Hypothyroidism And Real Foods?
I have a low thyroid and I am hesitant to start on the artificial hormones and be dependent. Though I am working to heal myself with bone broths (especially fish heads). I am experiencing some negative health consequences. In your opinion is it worth it to use the medication to help manage and eventually go off of it and is this just something I will need to take going forward or have you heard of people hearing from hypothyroidism using real foods?
I have heard of people reversing thyroid problems with real food. However, I'm not a doctor so I can't answer this question.
I recommend that you find a doctor who can help you. You don't have to take Synthroid to help your thyroid. Many doctors will prescribe Armour which is made from the thyroid gland of a pig.
Many people also see results by addressing food allergies and damaged guts. I would work with a naturopath or holistic doctor who can help you heal.
7. Question: Thoughts On Kombucha And Alcohol Levels?
Hi, Ann Marie!
I had a question about kombucha. I grew my own SCOBY from a bottle of GT's Kombucha and have been home brewing kombucha for several months now. I really like it, but I've had a nagging worry about the alcohol levels in it.
I'm a recovering alcoholic and avoid all alcohol (don't cook with it, don't take herbal tinctures in alcohol, etc), and wonder if it isn't a very good idea for me to be brewing my own kombucha.
How can I monitor the alcohol level in it to make sure it doesn't turn too alcoholic? Also, my toddler absolutely loves kombucha, and I wonder if I should be watering it down for him?
Kelly the Kitchen Kop wrote a great post on how to find out how much alcohol there is in kefir soda pop: Is Kefir Soda an Alcoholic Beverage?
When she tested her kefir soda with a hydrometer that she bought at a beer-making store, she found that it had 0.64% alcohol.
From what I have read, kombucha can contain anywhere from less than 1% to as much as 2-3% alcohol. It depends on how long the tea has fermented and how warm it is.
Recently GT Dave's pulled their products off the shelves so they could investigate the alcohol level. According to the FDA, products that contain more than .05% alcohol need to have warning labels.
Although our products are tested to be compliant at the time of shipping, a subsequent increase in alcohol levels could potentially cause the product to go above 0.5% causing potential labeling issues. — GT Dave (Source)
I'm assuming GT Dave's is back under the legal limit because it's in the stores again. I just looked at the label on my GT Dave's and there is nothing about alcohol.
I'm not sure how much alcohol is in your homebrew but if less than 1% is OK, maybe you can test your homemade brew using Kelly's hydrometer method and see how it fares. Please let us know if you decide to do it.
8. Question: Thoughts On Shrimp And A Toddler?
The last 2 times I have made shrimp, my 3 1/2-year-old daughter has thrown it up. She will eat it OK; she doesn't put up too big a struggle at dinner time; but a few hours later, up it all comes. Would this be a shellfish allergy? She doesn't get hives or any other symptoms.
The shrimp is local, good quality. She does fine with other shell fish — mussels, clams (although I don't think she has had either since the shrimp incidents).
Also — is it absolutely necessary to devein shrimp? I was thinking about how the Native Americans would eat the entire intestines of buffalo's, so would it be harmful to just leave the vein in the shrimp and eat it??
It sounds like it could be a shellfish allergy.
Regarding deveining, most Americans (including me) insist upon it, due to the fact that the vein is excrement and can contain grit, dirt and sand. (Blech!)
For more about the shrimp's “poop chute,” read this post on The Straight Dope.
However, there is some debate. See this post on Chowhound. If you find that it is tolerable to you, maybe you don't need to worry about it.
9. Question: Advice About Homemade Infant Formula?
Hi Ann Marie!
I have a brief question for you.
I have a soon-to-be one-year-old. I emailed you a couple of times over this past year regarding homemade infant formula. We tried and tried without success and have had to keep her on a prescription formula for about 5 months.
That said, I've been adding Sally Fallon's coconut milk tonic to her bottles — about 6 ounces or so per day thus far.
I added the total fat per cup in the recipe is 18 grams which seems really heavy to me. It is delicious, however! Anyway, I think I should dilute it. Homemade rice milk or bone broth. She has bone broth in each and every bottle mixed with her formula right now, but, she won't drink it out of a sippy. I would think a homemade rice milk mixed with the coconut tonic – she would take.
Any advice? Or, am I concerned too much about the fat total – it's just so much higher than whole raw milk?
I don't watch her fat at all — lots of egg yolk, avocado, ghee, coconut oils etc. — but that much just seems like overkill. I also wonder as I increase the amount she is taking in that she might have loose stools or something?
Thank you for your time! I'm SOO ready to get her off of this stuff — it has been a long haul.
Have you ever tried the meat formula made with liver? That is what I would recommend if your daughter is allergic. You can remove the lactose and whey if necessary.
If she won't do the meat formula, she may be old enough just to do solids. I would just get her on the GAPS diet — lots of broth, coconut milk, meat, fish, lots of fermented foods, and of course probiotics and cod liver oil.
10. Question: Have Any Kidney Recipes? / Are Deer Bones Ok To Use To Make Bone Broth?
Hi Ann Marie!
Do you have any good recipes for kidney? I'm getting tired of steak and kidney pie!
Also, is there any reason not to use deer bones to make bone broth? We don't have a lot of farmland around here, so I'm not too worried about soy content.
Steak and kidney pie is the only one I know. You might also try grinding up the kidneys and adding to sausage or chili.
Sure you can use deer bones. Here's a recipe for venison stock from Emeril Lagasse. Although I would think you could just make it the same way you make beef stock.
11. Question: Can I Use Goat Milk To Make Whey, Yogurt or Ice Cream?
Hi. I have been using your site for years. I often recommend it to people interested in traditional nutrition. I have a question. Can I use goat milk to make whey? Can I use goat milk the same way I use cow milk for other things as well? I have been using it to make kefir and it has been going well. What about for yogurt? Ice cream? Etc.?
I'm sure you can use goat milk to make whey. You can also use it to make yogurt, kefir, or ice cream. You can also make goat butter.
12. Question: Recommendation For A Good Water Filtration System?
Hi Ann Marie,
Thank you for your wonderful blog. It's my go-to site for many traditional food recipes.
Seeing as how your recipes always call for “filtered” water, I'm wondering if you can recommend a good water filtration system. I'm having a hard time finding one that removes fluoride. We have fluoride and chlorine in our water.
We got a reverse osmosis system for our house but I think in our next house we're going to go with the Doulton filter recommended by David Getoff of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. The Doulton filters he recommends filter out chlorine and fluoride.
You can read an article David Getoff wrote here.
I am also going to get the shower filter he recommends. I can't believe I've lived with it this long!
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