Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog break

Just checking in real quick to say I probably won't be adding any new blog posts in the immediate future (I will be keeping up with Facebook, though). I might be back next week, or maybe in a month. It all depends. Right now I am adjusting to life with a newborn and having lots of fun with my baby girl!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby is here!

Baby sleeping peacefully. Born Monday, October 24th at 10:54pm.
7 pounds, 5 ounces.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Figuring out your food sensitivies

One of the cool things about the paleo diet is that it can help people zero in on their personal food sensitivities. So, even if you don't intend to follow paleo long term, a 30-day trial (for example) can really go a long way toward improving health. The idea is this: by eliminating all processed foods, grains, legumes, sugar and dairy for a period of time and then slowly adding them back in (preferably one at a time), you'll learn how your body reacts to each "food group." Then, you can decide for yourself what you want to incorporate into or leave out of your diet.  

I think this is extremely beneficial for anyone who intends to get pregnant. Just think how much better someone would feel throughout pregnancy if she were able to stay away from things she knew her body did not like! It can be tough to figure these things out while following a Standard American Diet because the SAD contains so many toxins. How would someone know the root cause of the problem? Or that there is even a problem at all (a lot of people don't even realize that they aren't feeling great because we are all so used to feeling terrible, and as a result terrible just feels normal)?

I've long known that I'm sensitive or allergic to soy, many types of fish (including salmon and all shellfish), milk (not dairy in general -- just milk), oats, raw hazelnuts, MSG, most food additives/chemicals and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame). Since starting paleo, I've also learned that rice is not my friend, that wheat is to blame for my headaches/sinus problems and that too much sugar leaves me feeling hungover. And I've determined that some non-paleo foods, like corn and quinoa, don't bother me at all.

I don't have any suggestions on how to conduct an elimination diet properly, but there are definitely tons of resources out there! Robb Wolf's book, The Paleo Solution, is a good place to start.

Another thing I want to mention real quick before I get back to sitting around waiting for the baby to be born: some people are sensitive/allergic to certain paleo foods as well. Eggs, nightshades (this includes bell peppers and tomatoes) and nuts are common culprits.

What are your thoughts on this? Did paleo or an elimination diet help you figure out your food sensitives?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Favorite parenting blogs

I've created a short list of a few blogs about parenting and motherhood that I really enjoy ... blogs I've been reading regularly for the past several months.
I like these blogs because they offer each offer a practical and positive perspective. And, since I've been acquainted with all three bloggers through an online writer's forum for years, I know they are very real and very trustworthy. I love their insight! 

Do you have any favorite parenting blogs?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My experience with pregnancy symptoms and paleo

I am 10 days from my due date and have yet to experience an onslaught of what many women refer to as "pregnancy symptoms." I think it is safe to say -- at this point -- that I won't. And on a side note, I am not a fan of associating the word 'symptom' with pregnancy. To me, 'symptom' implies disease or affliction. Pregnancy is neither. But this is a topic for another time.

So anyway, I've been thinking back over the past nine months and the sort of random and very minor discomforts I have experienced, and how (for the most part) I can attribute them to either a choice I've made or something that seems only loosely connected to pregnancy. Here are my observations:

Morning sickness: In the very beginning, I did feel a bit queasy. The queasiness is what sent me to the store for a home pregnancy test, actually. I do vaguely remember feeling icky enough on a couple of occasions that I just decided to write off the entire day, opting to relax on the couch and drink ginger tea instead of doing whatever it was I had planned. I also put tiny drops of spearmint essential oil on my pillow at night which, according to something I read in a book on essential oils, is known to cure morning sickness. I'm pretty sure it helped, and it also made my hair smell like spearmint! I never threw up from morning sickness, though, and the queasiness didn't last long.

Cravings: I never experienced pregnancy cravings. Sure, there were times when something just sounded good or that I really wanted a monkey muffin from Grand Central Bakery or Mexican food or whatever. But to me, this is totally normal. Everyone experiences this sort of thing, pregnant or not pregnant. I don't think it is the same as wanting/needing/obsessing over a food or beverage to the point where you MUST HAVE IT RIGHT NOW, and sending your husband out in the middle of the night to pick up a gallon of ice cream or a fast food chicken sandwich or something (I know this happens all the time and I know it is even considered socially acceptable -- but I would never ask that of Carl).

Food aversions/preferences: I definitely experienced food aversions, off and on for quite some time. Beef, chicken and cooked vegetables were the main culprits. It was really no big deal, though, because I could easily avoid these things. I just ate the things that didn't gross me out. Eggs, applesauce and carrots have been staples throughout my pregnancy (and these are things I eat a lot of normally, anyway).

Vomiting: I have thrown up exactly once in the past nine months. It happened a few minutes after I ate a potato. At first, I associated it with the potato. Later, though, I realized that I had taken my prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach that morning. Mystery solved.

Fatigue: I've been extra sleepy and have taken naps most days throughout my entire pregnancy. Lately my naps have been longer and longer, too. Some might consider this a pregnancy "symptom" and, well, maybe it is -- but the fatigue isn't a nuisance or anything. I feel quite fortunate that I am able to take naps whenever I need naps and I am grateful that I have a supportive husband who encourages me to rest whenever I need to rest.

Headaches: I've had a few headaches (one that lasted five days -- ugh), but not nearly the amount of headaches I used to get pre-paleo and pre-pregnancy. My headaches always seem to be accompanied with sinus congestion and always seem to follow a string of non-paleo days. Days involving bread and/or cake. Interesting.

Swelling: I totally freaked out a few months ago when I noticed my feet getting bigger! For one thing, it did not feel good. Plus, I was not even remotely interested in shopping for bigger shoes. I wondered if my love for salt had something to do with the swelling, so I quickly and significantly reduced the amount of sodium in my diet. The swelling disappeared right away. 

General physical discomfort: Aside from a very difficult week in early July and some annoying nighttime hip pain a few weeks ago, general physical discomfort has not been much of an issue. I am not waddling and I am still wearing heals. Is this a paleo thing? Maybe a little (the Standard American Diet promotes inflammation and inflammation promotes physical discomfort). More so, though, it is a physical fitness thing. I'm not saying that I am Ms. Super Fit or that anyone who goes to the gym consistently before and during pregnancy is going to sail through with no discomfort. It is all individual. In my case, though, I have spent the past five years working very hard on improving my fitness and the functionality of my body (I was so, so tired of my knees, back and feet constantly hurting and I knew that in order to get rid of the pain I needed to really dedicate myself). This has involved physical therapy, personal training and lots and lots of and lots of effort/commitment. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has had a lot do with my incredibly positive pregnancy experience, and I am 100% sure that if I had gotten pregnant back in 2006 (when we originally hoped/intended to have a baby) that my experience would have been a lot different.

With all of that that said, now that I am nearing the end of my pregnancy the extra weight is starting to take a toll on my body. My knees hurt when I walk up the stairs at night and there a few things that are difficult to do, like sweeping the floor, tying my shoes or sitting in the car or in a non-reclining chair for long periods of time (long meaning 10 minutes). I'll be glad when the pregnancy is behind me so I can (first and foremost) hold my baby in my arms, but also so that I can get back walking up stairs and sweeping the floor without limitations!

So, I guess that pretty much sums it up for now. I would love to hear about other paleo pregnancy experiences, though! How has paleo has impacted your experience? Do you think it reduced/eliminated pregnancy "symptoms?"

Monday, October 10, 2011

The latest

Tuesday, October 4th
  • My due date is coming up fast. At this point I'm just pretty much waiting around. I know just about everyone says this, but we're hoping she arrives early. This week would be nice!
  • I'm still working out, but I only plan to go twice this week. I'm not sure if I'll do anything else (like walking) ... I'm pretty active around the house doing chores and projects so I think I'm getting plenty of exercise. 
  • Last time I checked (Saturday) I had gained 29 pounds. People keep comparing my belly to a basketball, but to me it feels more like a bowling ball. A heavy bowling ball. 
  • I'm sleeping a lot better these days, and the hip pain I complained about a few weeks ago is totally gone (yay!).
  • At my midwife appointment last week, I was measuring between 35 and 36 weeks. Since I was 37 weeks at the time, the midwife mentioned the growth ultrasound thing again. She said we would wait and see how things are progressing at my next appointment (which is tomorrow). I'm not even remotely concerned and I'm not even sure I would consent to an ultrasound. Carl and I were discussing it, and we think that the whole "your measurement should be 37 because you are 37 weeks pregnant" is just about as ridiculous as saying that every person who weighs a certain weight should have the exact same measurements. It just doesn't add up.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Please, please, please get a flu shot

I am a proponent of flu shots. I used to avoid them, but after doing extensive research (for personal and professional purposes), I did a complete 180. If you are pregnant, the flu shot is particularly important because the flu is very dangerous to pregnant women and their babies. I realize some people never seem to get the flu, or believe they are healthy enough to handle it, etc. The thing is, the flu shot is not just about the individual receiving the shot -- it is about protecting the population at large. Especially those who are extra vulnerable like the elderly and the immune compromised (such as people fighting cancer or people who have had organ transplants). In my opinion, there are really no valid reasons to turn the flu shot down. With that said, I understand that people have a lot of concerns about the safety of the shot itself and I sympathize with those concerns. Many of the concerns, however, are based on myth rather than fact. Below is an article I wrote last year for that explains/dispels some of the myths surrounding the flu shot. If you are a flu shot naysayer, I hope you'll read it and reconsider your stance.

Vaccination fabrication
The truth about the flu shot
By Dawn Weinberger

Mythology didn’t begin and end with the ancient Greeks. Tall tales and false fables run rampant even today, and health-related topics like the flu vaccine are hardly, um, immune. But don’t worry, you won’t have to embark on a personal odyssey in order to separate flu fact from flu fiction. We’ve got the low-down for you right here.

Flu shot myth: Pregnant women should not get the flu shot.
Flu shot fact: Not only is the flu shot safe for pregnant women, it is recommended for pregnant women by health care providers, says Ilhem Messaoudi, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Oregon Health and Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. In fact, many distinguished organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Academy of Pediatrics urge mothers-to-be to get the vaccination — passing it up is dangerous because coming down with the flu while pregnant can lead to all sorts of complications, such as preterm labor. Plus, a mother’s flu shot may even offer protection for the baby once he or she enters the world.

Flu shot myth:
The flu shot contains mercury.
Flu shot fact: Twenty yeas ago, this was true. Today? Not so much. Vaccines for children are now mercury free. And while vaccines for adults do contain trace amounts of a preservative /stabilizing agent called thimersol, which is 49 percent ethylmercury, there is no scientific evidence that this causes harm, Messaoudi says.

“This is how we can store and transport it safely,” she says.

Flu shot myth:
You can get sick from the flu shot because it contains live flu culture.
Flu shot fact: You cannot, I repeat, cannot get sick from the flu shot. The vaccine is what Messaoudi calls attenuated. In other words, an inactive virus that is unable to multiply and replicate. If you get the flu a few days after you receiving your vaccination, it is not the shot’s fault — it is because you were exposed to a virus prior to receiving your vaccination, Messaoudi explains.

“The vaccine offers protection two weeks after,” she says. “That is how long it takes to generate a response. It is not instantaneous.”

Flu shot myth: Experts are just guessing which strain of the flu it will cover.
Flu shot fact: Well, this myth is true, sort of. Messaoudi calls it an educated guess — a very educated guess. Doctors and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control, she says, study influenza year round and are extremely cognizant of influenza patterns and the types of viruses that are emerging. Plus, even though flu season peaks in January and February, there are always low levels of the virus around so they don’t have to wait for a full-on outbreak to do their research.

“Most of the time, they are pretty right on,” she says.

Flu shot myth: Everyone else is getting it, so I don’t need it.
Flu shot fact: The idea that person A doesn’t need the shot because persons B, C and D received it is just wrong, wrong, wrong, Messaoudi says. Everyone needs the vaccination so we can stop the virus in its track and avoid spreading it to those with weakened immune systems (such as infants, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions).

“It’s called herd immunity,” she says. “It only works if everyone gets it.”

And what if you’re young and healthy? Yep, this applies to you, too. Anyone can get the flu, and anyone can die from the flu (the virus kills 36,000 each year). Plus, think of it this way: by getting the flu shot, you are minimizing the risk to your elderly or immune-compromised loved ones.

Flu shot myth:
If I don’t get vaccinated by Thanksgiving, so there’s no point.
Flu shot fact: While earlier is ideal, don’t throw in the towel if you haven’t made it to the flu shot clinic by the time the turkey is carved. As mentioned earlier, flu season peaks in January and February, so you’ve still got time, Messaoudi says. 

What do you think about the flu shot? Do you get one each year? Why or why not?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quick paleo dessert: Chocolate/Almond Butter Cake

I came across a quick little recipe today for Chocolate/Peanut Butter Cake (on Glamour Magazine's Vitamin G blog) and thought it sounded really delicious. But, like most desserts, it isn't paleo -- this particular dessert contains whole wheat flour, peanut butter and brown sugar. So, I decided to change it up a bit. I replaced the brown sugar with maple syrup, the peanut butter with almond butter and the whole wheat flour with coconut flour (using the exact same ratios). I skipped the chocolate chips, but only because I didn't have any on hand.

While it certainly is not the best chocolate cake in the world (in my opinion, it is impossible to make a truly mouth-watering cake without real sugar and real cake flour), it is sweet and satisfying and a near-perfect paleo treat! Maybe a tad dry, but I think adding (dark) chocolate chips would fix this. Or, serve it with a small scoop of homemade coconut ice cream. You could even spread a touch of grass-fed butter on the cake as well.