Full disclosure: I don't eat perfect - but I know what I eat and I know what I should be eating, and there is quite a big difference in eating the average diet, an OK diet, a good diet, and the diet that you should be eating. I can tell when my diet is moving into the OK or average section of the nutritional scale by the way I feel, the way I look, the way I act, and sometimes the weight (though that is usually the last thing to change). It also isn't a "pregnancy diet" or a "postpartum/breastfeeding diet" that we should focus on - it is a lifestyle (and doesn't change much throughout these stages - only a little more or a little less at times). Dieting is a trend that sells more products - it serves very little benefit in the long run. Healthy nutrition choices are for everyone and the foundation of so many things.
If your nutrition isn't great in your developing baby/childhood years, you've been set up for disease, sickness, and a reduced immune system in your future. If you're also not eating well during your reproductive years, you're already creating difficulties conceiving and during pregnancy. Add into that "just OK" nutrition during pregnancy, and now it isn't just you suffering from decreased health. Let's also not forget that if you're gestating a girl, you're developing her eggs in the womb - that's 3+ generations (you, your daughter, your grandchildren) that you are impacting. Then the cycle just continues and you have a nation of obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma, neurological disorders, depression... you name it.
What this DOESN'T mean is "but, I ate perfect and my baby still...." Sure - there are things that just happen... (what if you HADN'T eaten perfect?) but I also would argue that you're probably not eating as well as you say you are... and maybe even as well as you THINK you are.
But are YOU really? I was there once where I ate more greens than what I had previously and thought "I'm eating REALLY healthy." And, then I learned more... and I started eating MORE healthy. Then, I learned more... and I started eating even better. And, this snowball just keeps going - or I at least REALLY know that - nope, not enough greens... let's amp it up a bit. I care about you and your baby - I really do - but, in the end, it really isn't my business. What I want you to do is be honest with yourself so that you know when you're healthy and you know when you're not. It isn't about me - it is about you and your baby. Now that we're clear, let's look at a healthy nutrition scale.
|White/BlandProcessedSkipping MealsNo water“I don’t like vegetables unless they’re fried”
“I don’t like fruit”
|White/BlandProcessedFast foodsFew fruits & vegetablesLimited variety
|Somewhat colorful – limited variety of fruits/veggiesPossibly eating a vegetable with lunch and dinner, fruit at breakfastFlavored waterTea/LemonadeJuices
Meats are usually the main dish
Some processed foods
|ColorfulLots of waterWhole foodsDark greens/veggies with every meal/between mealsFruits with every meal/between meals
Meat is an afterthought
Limited processed foods
|ColorfulHome GrownFreshWhole foodsNo Processed Foods
Lots of water
You’re pretty much pooping organic rainbows at this point, no skipping meals…etc.
Don't worry – you’re not getting a grade for this, but be HONEST with yourself. What column do you fall in? Most people today fall in the average column, then they learn a little about nutrition and they end up somewhere in the OK column. We all have our poor days, but the goal is the best nutrition for you and your family. It does matter. I think most of us adopt a perspective of “if I eat good here, I can afford to slack a little there.” And, there is some understanding to that because in our society it can be quite difficult to completely adjust to a Best diet (especially if the rest of the family isn’t on board). However, really work for that colorful plate as often as possible, and try to stay away from chemicals whenever you can because they DO affect your health (and your baby’s).
When something comes up, look back at your week on what you've eaten, and be honest about it (and really think about making an effort to change it). The more vibrant what is in front of you, the more vibrant your nutrients. The Brewer Pregnancy Diet is great in many ways (I think his understanding that nutrition is one of the most important choices we can make is more important than the "diet" itself), but most teach it in a way that is very misleading leaving WAY too much focus on protein – and also on dairy and meat. Not that those things aren't beneficial, but I would argue dark greens and a variety of fruits and vegetables consistently throughout the day is a much more important focus... but that's a post for another day. Nonetheless, if you're only eating carbs and no protein, then you're getting hungry faster and lacking many vital nutrients. Pair a protein with each carb., and stick to the healthy carbs. Carbs give you quick energy, while protein gives you sustained energy. Ever eaten an apple and then felt so hungry 30 minutes later? That's the lack of protein. Pair some nuts or organic/natural peanut butter with that apple! This doesn't even cover the complexities of things like birth control, lack of being outside, or big box stores and their impact on our reproductive health and our health as a world in general – but focusing on eating the rainbow is an incredible start. If you factor poor nutrition into all the other negative impacts of our modern society, you have some pretty significant things working against you and your future.
Documentaries worth your viewing time! These are only a few, and while I don't endorse *every* perspective in these documentaries, there is a huge amount of information to be learned... and many other documentaries with much more information that you aren't even aware of... because for most people, they don't even realize that what they are buying as "food" is anything but...