Many people have asked me what to eat if you’re pregnant on raw food. Here are my top 5 favorite ‘power foods’ to include, as well as 8 foods to avoid.
When I was pregnant I had no idea that there were foods to avoid so I ate everything in the list below – I hadn’t discovered raw food yet – and both children were fine, but that isn’t the case for everyone, so do read on and make your own informed decision. If I had it to do over again, I’d be pregnant on raw for sure…and I’d follow my own advice!
For sure I would eat loads of gorgeous salads like this one in the picture!
What foods to avoid
Basically you want to avoid any foods that carry a high risk of contamination. A lot of you won’t be eating some of these foods, but I wanted to include the full list here in case some of you do still eat them.
So here they are:
- Raw meat of any kind. Lots of bacteria here that you and your baby are better off without.
- Raw eggs. No salmonella please.
- Raw shellfish and other fish. Especially avoid fish that is high in mercury. To find out more about mercury levels in fish, here’s an article you’ll find helpful.
- Unpasteurized milk or cheese. These can contain a bacteria called listeria which can cause miscarriage. The pasteurized equivalents aren’t good for you, but better to choose them if you really feel you must have dairy of some kind.
- Refrigerated pate or meat spreads. These too can contain listeria. Canned spreads don’t carry this risk…but who would want to eat those?
- Unwashed vegetables or sprouts. In the UK sprouts are on the list of foods to avoid, because they could become contaminated from the way they are grown. You’ll have to use your own judgement on this one because some people would say that if you’ve been eating sprouts regularly anyway then you’re probably used to the bacteria, but you may want to be extra careful.
- Caffeine. This is the only one I did avoid, simply because I haven’t had caffeine in many years – apart from the small amount in raw cacao. I would avoid tea as well personally, even though it’s not on the list. If I have one cup of tea I get a headache the next day, so the tannin wasn’t doing me any favors…and I can’t imagine your baby would like it either.
- Alcohol. Well this one’s a no-brainer – alcohol kills brain cells, and your fetus needs them, as do you! This goes for red wine too, by the way. If you want your resveratrol (an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes), get it from good ol’ raw red grapes!
If you want to read more about what to avoid and why, my main source is this article here.
So what should you eat?
Below are my top 5 recommendations.
These are all widely known to be useful in pregnancy whether you’re pregnant on raw or not, though you will want to consult your doctor and/or herbalist for guidance on how much to use if some of these are new to you, and of course they are to be used sparingly as part of a balanced diet of many other fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables:
- Ashwagandha Also known as Indian ginseng, this herb has been used in India for over 4000 years. Ashwagandha does lots of things, but for our purposes here you’ll want to know that it is known for helping women with strength in pregnancy…and afterwards too. It also is said to help with calming the nerves, relief from insomnia, the building of healthy tissue and supporting the immune system. Definitely a must in your pregnancy cocktail! You can buy the dried root and make tea with it, or buy the powder to add to smoothies or sauces. If you are in Europe you can get it from the supplier that I use here.
- Chlorella Chlorella contains 10% chlorophyll – that’s more than most plants – and in addition to being a very healthy source of protein, gives you loads of vitamins and minerals: A, D, E, K1, beta carotene, lutein, B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc). Whew! It can also help detoxify your body of heavy metals, and can provide excellent support to your immune system. I put 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of chlorella in our morning smoothie, or in a soup, sprinkled on a salad… basically I put it wherever I can sneak it into my family members! For a great resource on chlorella and a fascinating study done with pregnant women, go here. Europeans can purchase chlorella from my supplier here.
- Eucommia bark The bark of the ‘Chinese rubber tree’, eucommia bark is traditionally used in Chinese medicine as a kidney tonic, but also is said to be beneficial for lower back pain, strengthening sinews and bones, and for fighting fatigue. You can find eucommia bark in Asian stores, herbalists or from a practitioner of Chinese medicine. The usual dosage is 10-15 grams prepared as a tea. You can read more about eucommia bark and its amazing properties here.
- Sea vegetables Sea vegetables (kelp, nori, wakame etc) are useful for their iodine content which is said to help the foetus’ thyroid development…and it’s good for yours too! Iodine also helps to increase assimilation of calcium and silica. HOWEVER too much iodine is not good either in pregnancy, so do eat some to get all those brain-rich minerals, but don’t overdo it. One tablespoon of wakame or one sheet of nori will give you all you need daily, according to this source. Kelp is much more concentrated though and you would only need 1/2 a tablespoon to get the same amount of iodine.
- Spirulina Spirulina is another very good source of high-quality protein and minerals. It has many vitamins including B12 which vegans and vegetarians often lack. It also contains 3% chlorophyll and 7-8% phycocyanin. What’s phycocyanin? It’s the blue pigment in algae which helps us produce stem cells. What are stem cells? They’re our ‘mother cells’ that have the potential to become any other type of cell in the body: heart, skin, brain…whatever we need. So baby needs them, and so do we:-) To readmore about spirulina in pregnancy, go here. To purchase spirulina (UK source), I get mine here.
Whew! Lots of information!
If you’re feeling like your brain has hit overload, get up and drink a huge glass of water…this will literally help your brain absorb the information.
Then walk around for a bit or go outside if you can – fresh air also helps recharge our batteries.
I don’t know about you, but my brain definitely needs to recharge now!
Time for some of these ‘power foods’!