The general consensus among doctors is that if you worked out before you got pregnant, you can keep doing whatever you were doing while you are pregnant. I’ve been completely honest about this, back in December, when I got pregnant, I was way off track. The most exercise I was doing was lifting non-Paleo cookies to my mouth and eating them. That’s not awesome for me, and certainly not awesome for the tiny human I’m growing. I’ve cleaned up my eating habits quite a bit since then. (I’m not going to lie, though, I’m human, and sometimes I eat crap that I know isn’t going to make me feel my best). Now that the snow and ice have also melted, I’ve started walking again. Now, I wasn’t doing this before I got pregnant, but my doctor gave me the green light. They don’t advise going from couch surfing all the time to crossfit or running marathons during pregnancy, but taking some walks is pretty safe. So, I try to get out as often as I can for a walk. I plop our little one in her stroller, and we go. It’s nice because she loves it just as much as I do. We’ve taken walks together since I got the okay from my doctors after having her, so she’s used to be outside and getting some fresh air. I love it, too, because not only do I feel like I’m taking care of myself, and the new baby, but I feel like I’m teaching her healthy habits from the start.
So, as I mentioned in the MIA post, hubby and I have taken a “let’s do us” approach to the eating and cooking situation lately. Asisde from the fact that I’ve still got pretty bad morning sickness, I’m starting to feel much better. I no longer feel like I’m running on empty. I don’t need a nap every single day, and I am sleeping better at night. My pain has been greatly reduced and the symptoms from my IC are starting to lessen. I’ll take it. Hubby has been feeling better, too. We’re still struggling to get the little one to each much other than fruit, but I’m sure that if I just keep offering it to her, we’ll have a little paleo kiddo in no time. (That’s what I keep telling myself anyway….)
So, I’d seen this recipe for Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie on the PaleOMG blog. Then I saw some tweets about it. Then it kept popping up over and over and over again in my instagram feed. So, finally, I decided to see what the fuss was about. I made the recipe, adding a diced green pepper, a handful of diced pepperoni (Applegate Farms makes a fairly junk free one). I also mixed some shredded mozzarella in before I baked it, because we eat dairy. I didn’t measure it, but I’d guess that I used about a cup in the spaghetti and then another 1/4 cup sprinkled on top.
As this was baking, the family started lurking around the kitchen. We were eating pretty late, so I figured that they had all already eaten. Much to my surprise, however, they not only hadn’t eaten, but they wanted to eat something that I made. I let it bake for just over an hour, but it probably needed a little bit longer. I couldn’t take it any more though, and pulled it out of the oven, and set it on the counter to rest. I went to check on the baby, and when I came back downstairs, they had all decided to dig right in. Uh, okay. What is awesome, though, is that everyone loved it. It was so, so, so good. So good, in fact, that my husband wanted it again the next night. (There weren’t any left overs though). They all had seconds. My brother in law with the health issues had thirds. It was one of the first times since his diagnosis where he could eat as much as he wanted. He didn’t go to bed unsatisfied or hungry. That, for me, is the best part.
While we are back in New England, we are still very much in a transitional state. We are living with family at the moment, which means that we don’t have our own kitchen. With that said, comes my confession….we have been eating like garbage. There has been more coffee than water. More fast food than real food, and far more processed junk. If I wasn’t committed to Paleo before this lapse, I would be now. I feel terrible. I am in pain from my bladder condition every single day. I am not sleeping well, but I am exhausted all of the time. This is clearly my body telling me that something needs to change. Before we went Paleo, I didn’t know that I could feel better. I didn’t know that I could ease my symptoms and enjoy life more, but now I do. The proof is there, right in front of me, and it’s time to get back on track…
Well, this hiatus has been quite a bit longer than I had anticipated. I had expected to get back to the east coast, get settled in fairly quickly, and be back to blogging in a timely fashion. That has not been the case. We haven’t settled in, most of our belongings are still packed, and, aside from the baby, we’re still living out of suitcases at the moment. I had also hoped that we’d be able to maintain some degree of healthy eating during the move. That has also not been the case. Our eating habits have not been good, and I can feel it. I’m not sleeping well, am tired all of the time, and the symptoms from my health stuff are starting to resurface. The dust is starting to settle, however, and I hope to be eating well and back blogging more regularly soon.
Thank you all for being here, and for sticking it out with me during this transition! I appreciate it so much!
Way back in one of my first posts, I talked about my inability to breast feed, and what I do instead. Well, the formula that I make is supposed to be made fresh every day, or every other day. That’s not going to be possible to do while we’re driving across country during our move. One of my biggest concerns, of course, is how to feed the baby along the way, without compromising the quality of her food. So, I’ve been making extra formula, and freezing it in breast milk storage bags. I’ve laid the bags flat, thinking that they will take up less space in the cooler that way. Each bag has about one bottle’s worth of formula. What you can’t see, is that there is another stack behind this one. In all, this is about 10 days worth of food for the baby. My hope is that with enough ice, this will work for the entire trip. I’ve heard from other mothers who have done this while traveling, but not from anyone who has done it during an entire cross country move. We’ll see what happens. We do have an overnight stop planned around the half way point, where I’ll be able to reassess the situation if need be, and I can make more formula if I have to, but right now, this is the plan.
This post isn’t pretty, but I want to share with you a bit more about my Paleo journey. I have already talked about the dramatic improvements to my health in my first post. Those improvements to my health are why I tried paleo, and why it has become a lifestyle for me. It’s not a diet, or a temporary thing, this is how I live, and it’s because I feel better, and my husband feels better. It’s because I was able to stop taking 17 pills a day, and start participating in my life. With that said, I would be foolish not to acknowledge that there have been physical improvements as well. So, here goes…..
This picture was probably taken around my heaviest. There aren’t many pictures of me at this weight, but I was close to 200lbs at one point. At this point, I didn’t drink soda, and we ate a diet pretty close to what doctor’s recommend. We were eating whole grains, and watching portions, but in hindsight, I’m sure we weren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t gaining any weight at this time, but I wasn’t losing any either. I was far from healthy.
In this picture, I was the thinnest that I had ever been as an adult. I was about 170lbs. I was eating 1200 calories a day, obsessing over my food choices, working full time, and working out twice a day. While I certainly looked better, I didn’t feel better.
This was taken about two months before we started eating paleo. At this time, I was taking 17 pills a day, never ventured far from home, just in case my health took a turn for the worst, and while I was working out almost daily, that was about all I was managing to do. I was spending a lot of my time in bed, or laying on the couch, resting.
This picture was taken 2 weeks after I had the baby. Not working out, not counting calories, and, more importantly, not taking any medications. I weigh less now than I ever have as an adult, and I finally feel like I’m participating in my life. I understand that Paleo isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. Yes, paleo changed my appearance, but more importantly, paleo changed the quality of my life in some really great ways.
That’s silly. Everyone can breast feed. You just need to try harder…..
That’s really what I thought. Turns out, some people can’t breast feed. Apparently, you need to process water in order to make breast milk. Sounds pretty obvious, but it had never occurred to me. Ever. I had just assumed that I would breast feed, and that it would be wonderful. Breast milk is, after all, the most nutritious food you can feed your baby, and I was trying to start her off as healthy as possible.
Here’s where my frustration starts. Not one of my doctors (and I have lots of doctors as a sick kid) ever mentioned the possibility that my diabetes insipidus might affect my ability to produce milk. If they had, I would have still tried, but it probably would have saved me an incredible amount of guilt over the issue. It also would have caused me to start researching alternatives much earlier than I did.
Soon after delivering the baby, I was told that she had a pretty severe tongue tie. Right away, we had difficulties latching, and she was immediately given commercial formula to supplement. We were kept in the hospital a few extra days, to make sure that we had a proper feeding plan. I worked with several lactation consultants in the hospital, and a home visit was scheduled for a few days later. We worked to fix the latch issue, but the baby was always hungry, so I continued to supplement with formula, as well as pump to try and increase my milk supply. The idea with breast feeding, and pumping is that the more milk you use, through feeding or pumping, the more milk your body will produce. It’s basic supply and demand. Well, for me, it seemed like the more I pumped or fed her, the less milk I was producing. So, I looked for ways to increase my supply. I ate foods that are supposed to increase supply, took supplements, tried to feed her from the breast first at every feeding, before offering her formula, and pumped every two hours around the clock. At this time, my husband was still working overseas, so I was exhausted all the time. I kept telling myself though, if I keep trying my milk will come in, and it will get easier. It didn’t. I thought that maybe the tongue tie was causing some of the problems, so we met with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, who preformed a small procedure to correct the tongue tie. Great, I thought, now we’ll be able to nurse, and my milk will come in. It didn’t. So, I continued the supplements, the foods, the around the clock pumping. I kept meeting with lactation consultants, who lent me a commercial grade pump. This has to help, I thought. It didn’t.
Through all of this, the baby was getting most of her nutrition from commercial formula. I knew that this wasn’t idea. The ingredients in commercial formula are not ideal. I certainly wouldn’t put those things in my body, so putting them in my baby’s body was disheartening to say the least. Here are the ingredients in the formula that I was feeding her: Nonfat Milk, Lactose, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, Galactooligosaccharides, Whey Protein Concentrate. Less than 2% of the Following: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Choline Bitartrate, Choline Chloride, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Salt, Taurine, m-Inositol, Zinc Sulfate, Mixed Tocopherols, d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Hydroxide, and Nucleotides (Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate, Cytidine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate).
Contains milk and soy ingredients.
Why on earth would a baby need nonfat milk? Don’t babies need fat? Breast milk certainly isn’t non fat. And soy? (Here is a great post about why the ingredients in formula are less than ideal.) The ingredients on the organic formulas weren’t any better. However, I kept telling myself that it was just going to be temporary, until my milk came in. After about two months, and several heart to heart conversations with the lactation consultant, it became clear that my milk just wasn’t going to come in. I was devastated. As a woman, you are designed for this, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give my baby the best nutrition possible. Her health was being compromised because of me. I felt like a failure.
Still not pleased with what I was feeding my baby, I started to research to see if there were other alternatives. There had to be something better out there for her. That’s when I found this article by the Weston A. Price Foundation. This article points out that pituitary function (mine doesn’t work) affects a woman’s ability to make breast milk. That article also referenced home made formula. A little more research led me to this article, with the recipe for formula. Now, this is controversial. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to feeding your baby, even if you can’t breast feed. You can use donor milk, which some people will argue is the next best thing. I wasn’t comfortable with that. Personally, I couldn’t trust a complete stranger with my child’s life, and while some people will argue that a woman’s diet doesn’t affect the quality of her breast milk, I wasn’t convinced. At the end of the day, you have to make choices that you are comfortable with, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. So, I ordered a kit from Radiant Life with all of the ingredients to make the formula and started making my own. The price of this kit looks expensive, but when you break it down, ounce for ounce, it was slightly cheaper than commercial formula. When you add in the cost of milk, cream, and whey, it does end up being slightly more expensive, but I was comfortable paying a bit more to be in control of the quality of my child’s nutrition. Again, you have to make decisions for your family that you are comfortable with. This formula calls for raw milk. That is another controversial topic. Raw milk is legal in my state (it isn’t in some states), but I’m sure you always substitute with the highest quality milk you can find. If it’s something you are considering, I’d encourage you to do your own research on the issue. You will need to be comfortable with your own decision, and you may need to defend those decisions to other people. Our first pediatrician, for example, was not so encouraging about this choice. I was able to find a pediatrician, however, who fully supports my decision to feed my daughter formula that I make. The process takes maybe 15 minutes a day to make, and while it looks complicated at first, after a few days, it becomes second nature. After switching my daughter to this formula, I noticed some intimidate changes in her. She started sleeping better, her skin cleared up, she no longer had diaper rashes (I change her very frequently, but she had been getting rashes on occasion), and she seemed more alert. This formula works for us. While I still hate the fact that I wasn’t able to breast feed her, the fact that I am able to offer her something more nutritious than commercial formula has allowed me to let go of some of the guilt.
With that said, this was a personal decision. It’s not for everyone. If you can breast feed, great. If you use donor milk, great. If you use commercial formula, great. At the end of the day, you need to feed your baby. How and what you choose to feed them, is your choice. You need to live with it, and be comfortable with it. I’m not here to judge anyone, or make anyone feel like their choices are wrong. I’m just here to share my story.
As I mentioned in the post about my medical conditions, my husband and I didn’t think we were going to have the chance to be parents. I had a miscarriage once before. It’s was probably 2005, and I miscarried the day we found out that we were expecting. We hadn’t even had a chance to wrap our heads around it yet, and it was gone. After that, it just didn’t happen for us. We weren’t necessarily “trying,” but we weren’t trying not to have a baby either. My health wasn’t good, and was getting worse, so we decided not to push the issue. After all, you probably need to have water in your body to grow a baby, and I wasn’t doing so well in that area. If it was meant to be, it would be.
We started eating Paleo in July 2010. The following January, I slowly stopped taking my medications. I was starting to feel better, and look better. I was losing weight. I had enough energy to work out regularly, and was enjoying life more. By February 2012, my period returned. (I stopped having it regularly shortly before I was diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus) By April 2012, I was pregnant. Almost all of the medications that I was taking are medications that should not be used during pregnancy and all of my doctors were relieved that I wasn’t on them when I conceived.
My pregnancy was rough. I had violent morning sickness until month 7. I could barely keep any food down at all. The frequency of going to the bathroom increased and I was sleeping very little. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, although I’m not sure that I actually had it. (I tested my blood sugars three times a day every day, and never had a result that was outside of normal, regardless of what I ate). There were concerns about if the baby was growing enough, and concerns that I wasn’t growing enough. (I actually delivered the baby weighing 4 pounds less than I weighed when I got pregnant.) Around month 5, hubby left for work overseas, and wouldn’t be home again until the baby was about 4 months old. I lived in constant fear that something would go wrong. We told very few people about the pregnancy until after the 1st trimester was over, and even then, I struggled to believe that things were going to be okay. How could the baby be healthy if I didn’t process water properly? How could the baby be healthy if I wasn’t? I was terrified. Luckily, she is healthy. Labor was rough, but I had some amazing girlfriends in the delivery room with me (my family is 3000 miles away), and the hospital staff was amazing. We were able to Skype with my husband right after she was born, too, which was wonderful. I can’t say that Primal living is what helped me get pregnant or not (there is a ton of evidence to support the idea that paleo improves fertility), but I do believe that I would not be a mother to a healthy baby without the improvements I’ve made to my health.
Let me preface this with the statement that I hate the term “Diet.” You will often hear about the Paleo Diet or the Primal Diet. Diets to me sound temporary, and this isn’t temporary. This is a lifestyle. After seeing the drastic improvements in my health, I will never go back to the way we were eating before. Diets also sound like something you do to lose weight. I never did this to lose weight. At all. Did I lose weight? Yes. Am I thankful for that? Absolutely, but my objective was to see if my health would improve. It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose doing something if it makes your health worse. It’s not good.
I also want to state that we are human. I would be a bold faced liar if I said that we eat this way 100% of the time. We don’t. We do the best we can, as often as we can, and if we sometimes end up eating a pizza for dinner, so be it. That’s life. I don’t beat myself up over it. I don’t feel guilty about it. I accept it, enjoy it, and move on. Obsessing over food wouldn’t be very Paleo, after all, now would it?
We tend to identify a bit more with the Primal Lifestyle, because we do include dairy. It doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on our bodies, so we include it. In addition, there are some other elements to this lifestyle that are important to note. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of them. Your body isn’t ever going to function at it’s best if it doesn’t have a period of time where it can rest and reset itself. (This one has been very difficult in the past 7 months since we welcomed our baby into the world, but we’re doing the best we can.) Movement is also big with this lifestyle. We try to do something active every day. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood with the baby in her carrier or the stroller, yoga, or a kettlebell workout, being active allows me a few minutes each day to refocus my energies, and to take care of my own needs. As a mother, this is so important, and so often neglected. Primal living also emphasizes play. This is an easy one with a new baby around, but I still struggle with just playing. Our society is so focused on technology and staying connected that it’s easy to be updating twitter or facebook or checking my bank balance while I’m anywhere. So, lately, a big part of my focus has been on making the conscious decision to just play. When my daughter is awake, it’s time to put the phone aside, turn the laptop off, and just play. It sounds simple enough, right?
I’m going to start this blogging adventure with some dry posts about my health. It’s important to me to start there because it lays the foundation for why I eat primal, and how it’s helped me. I have two conditions: interstitial cystitis and diabetes insipidus. The interstitial cystitis was diagnosed in 2004, although I’ve probably had it my entire life. The diabetes insipidus was diagnosed in 2009, and seemingly came out of nowhere, with no known cause. So what do these conditions mean??
According to the Mayo Clinic “Interstitial cystitis (in-tur-STISH-ul sis-TI-tis) is a chronic condition characterized by a combination of uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pain in your pelvis, which can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe pain.”
My case is more severe than that. Basically, the pressure and pain is caused by a lack of elasticity in your bladder lining. As a normal bladder starts to fill, it stretches to make room. Mine doesn’t. Mine, tears. So, it hurts. A lot. In addition, the foods or drinks that I consume, affect the acidity of my urine, and that affects the level of pain. For example, if I drink a refreshing glass of lemonade, that acid from the lemons gets into those little tears along my bladder walls. The pain from that is similar to when you get salt into an open cut on your finger, and it also causes muscle spasms in and around the bladder. It’s not fun, and usually I end up back in bed with pain medication and a heating pad until things calm down again. For the most part, I’ve learned which foods and drinks to avoid to minimize that aspect, but some days, my bladder just has what we call a flare anyway, and there’s not much I can do about it. This condition also means that my bladder doesn’t hold as much as other people’s do. So, I pee a lot more than your average Joe. All day, and all night. This part, I just deal with. I can spot a public restroom a mile away. I can tell you which gas stations tend to have the cleanest restrooms (Shell and Chevron), which mall stores or restaurants tend to have dirty restrooms (JC Penny and Chilis) and on a road trip, I will always make sure you get to stretch your legs plenty. 🙂 It’s just my reality. I accept it, and do the best I can to reduce the negative impact that it has on my life.
I know what you’re thinking….I know what diabetes is. This isn’t your typical diabetes though. According to the Mayo Clinic “Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone.” Basically, my pituitary gland doesn’t produce the hormone that helps my body regulate water absorption, so instead of my body processing the fluids I drink, they just get flushed out. I imagine that would suck on it’s own, but paired with my bladder, it’s not a good time at all. It also means that I tend to be dehydrated more often than not.
So…how do they treat that stuff?
Drugs. Lots of lots of drugs. I used to be on 17 pills a day, with no sign of ever getting off the medications. My day literally revolved around taking medications. (Which ones can be taken with food, which ones have to be taken on an empty stomach, which ones need to be taken X minutes before I eat….) It was exhausting. I’ve also had lots of physical therapy for the pain from the interstitial cystitis, and to re-train all of the muscles in my core to work properly. I’ve had surgeries where they try to manually stretch the bladder out for me while I’m asleep, numbing medications injected directly into my bladder, and botox injections to deaden the nerves in my bladder to reduce the pain. My doctors have always said that I have one of the worst cases of IC that they have ever seen, and that was before the complications caused by the DI.
A few years ago, one of my husband’s friends introduced him to Paleo. At first, we both scoffed at the idea. “I can’t live without bread,” I said. I thought that if I gave up grains, dairy, sugar, and beans I would starve. We kept our minds open, though, and after my husband started to read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, we decided that there might be something to this lifestyle. We had always thought that we ate healthy: low fat foods, lots of whole grains, and lean meats. However, I realized that I was eating grains (and lots of them) at every single meal. Cereal for breakfast, some sort of pasta, soup, or sandwhich at lunch, and dinner always involved pasta or rice of some kind. So, we made the choice to start replacing some of those of grains with more vegetables. “Eating more vegetables will be good for us anyway,” I thought. Little did I know just how good. I’m not going to sit here and say that Paleo cured me, because it didn’t. It did, however, give me my life back. I am off all of my medications, I haven’t had surgery in years, I have more energy, and the number of days where I am bed-ridden due to pain has been drastically reduced. I’ve also lost weight, and had a baby, which we had thought wasn’t going to happen for us, because of my health. So, as it turns out, I can live without bread, and it’s better.