Eating for two - Nutrition for pregnancy
Sometimes eating for two can become a good excuse to eat whatever whenever. Never is there a more important time to eat well than when you are pregnant. However I have noticed a strange phenomenon with many of my clients they seem to revert to eating the kinds of food they ate when they were young. It's like a comfort thing something that makes them feel safe however what they ate when they were young was not always necessarily healthy so it can often be a tough battle to beat the urges.
How to best nourish your growing bub
From a Chinese medical perspective your Spleen Qi (energy) is working very hard during your pregnancy and needs to be supported by your diet. Signs that your Spleen Qi is weak include craving sweets fatigue and low energy swelling haemorrhoids bruising easily cold hands and feet worrying a tendency to prolapses and recurrent miscarriages.
What should I eat?
If you have experienced any of these signs then it is best to follow the Spleen strengthening diet. This includes eating all your food cooked if only slightly and all food eaten warm. Avoid all cold and raw food as this is harder for your body to digest. Soups and stews are pre-digested in the cooking pot and so readily absorbed and devoured by your body. If you are low in iron which many women are during pregnancy then soups made from animal bones as well as their flesh will improve your levels - but they must be made from scratch - no soup stocks off the supermarket shelves okay.
Foods that injure the Spleen Qi include dairy food deep fried food ultra-rich and oily food and food eaten straight out of the fridge such as fruit and salad. Instead of eating fruit raw it's best to eat it slightly cooked with a little water over the stove. Some good examples of Spleen strengthening meals include…
Breaky lunch and dinner options
Breakfast: porridge with stewed fruit toast with hummus and spinach savoury mince on toast beef noodle soup or your regular cereal with warm milk if you can't stomach anything more substantial.
Lunch and dinner: toasted sandwich soup or stew with toast white rice with meat and vegetables as white rice is easier to digest when the Spleen is very weak.
What else can I do to improve my digestion?
It's important for your food to be enjoyed if the Spleen is to benefit. This means no eating on the run or in front of the television. Eating with family and friends is what's required. Eating at regular times is important as is eating a varied diet. If you find yourself eating the same thing every day it's a sure sign your Spleen needs strengthening. It's best to avoid late meals and breakfast can be the biggest meal of the day if you can stomach it.
Your bub enjoys Spleen strengthening food too
Interestingly from a Chinese perspective a Child's Spleen Qi is not fully developed until the age of seven so they too should follow a Spleen diet to ensure they grow up with a strong digestive system. This means all their food should be relatively bland be cooked and served warm have a natural sweet flavour but contain no added sugar consist mainly of vegetables and fruit and grains followed by meat. Broths are wonderful for babies and children especially when you can make the base and then throw different vegetables in and blend it up. Ensuring your child develops a strong Spleen will really put them in a good position as far as their health goes for life. Avoiding sweets will be the biggest challenge but one worth taking on.
Written by Rebecca Mar Young Springday Chinese Medicine Expert
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