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Real Food for Mother and Baby: A Book Review

I should be drinking whole milk while I’m pregnant?  And better than that is unpasteurized, raw milk?

I should stay away from a low-fat diet? Especially while I’m pregnant?

What is “carbage”?

It’s okay to feed my baby meat?

So, can I or can’t I eat fish while I’m pregnant?

Industrial fats like corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil are making me fat and causing heart disease and diabetes?  You mean butter, coconut oil, and lard are better choices?

What foods are good to introduce to my baby?

You mean babies don’t NEED cereal when they first start eating? Are you crazy?

41wrrks-eal_sl500_aa240_ I recently read Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why based on the recommendation of a friend. Thanks Heather!  She also recommended Planck’s next book, Real Food For Mother and Baby.  When she told me that the book explains why mothers need more than iron and folic acid when they are pregnant and even trying to conceive a baby my interest was piqued.

This book will turn many of your thoughts about food upside down.  Nina is aon a mission to help people understand why it is important to eat “real food”.  Real food is food that people have been eating for thousands of years.  The kind of food that is minimally processed–meaning milk that comes straight from the cow, beef that is fed grass not soybeans and corn, grains that have been soaked, plain yogurt with your own added flavor, poultry that is allowed to roam and eat grass and bugs.  You get the idea.  Planck makes the argument that “industrial foods” are ruining our health.  Soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils are commonly added into our foods.  They are also highly processed and increasing our bad cholesterol.  The information in this book will make your head spin because it demystifies so much of our wrong thinking about food.

This book addresses all those questions I wrote above. The first chapter is basically a summary of her first book Real Food.  I highly recommend reading her first book to get more of the science and information behind her food recommendations. It is eye opening.  Chapters 2 and 3 deal with pregnancy and nutrition during pregnancy.  Chapter 4 covers breastfeeding. This chapter may make your eyes get as big as saucers in some parts but it is interesting all the same.  She covers why breastmilk is best for baby, what she would do if she had trouble nursing her baby, how formula is made, some of the basics of getting baby to breastfeed and even some anthropological implications for why we have to nurse so often.  Chapter 5 covers first foods for your baby.  This chapter has seriously made me rethink how I want to introduce foods to any additional children we may have.

This book, along with her first book, has caused me to reconsider the kind of foods I want our family to eat.  One thing that I really appreciate about her approach is that she recognizes that eating a traditional, REAL FOOD diet can be pricey.  Time magazine just had an article covering the benefits of grass fed beef for farms, farmers, and consumers.  The article showed how it is cheaper to buy  unhealthy, industrial food than healthy, traditional foods. Many of us are on strict budgets and have difficulty paying for free range chicken and grass fed beed for every meal.  She encourages people to pick and choose wisely and get the best that you CAN afford.  Can’t find raw milk?  Then buy organic whole milk.  Can’t afford organic?  Then at least drink whole milk.  She does recommend that we stay away from all foods that come with industrial indredients and not to fall prey to marketing schemes that tell us that processed foods are good for us.

When we get to England I am planning on implementing several things in the books I have been reading in the last few months about food.  One thing I want to do is avoid ALL forms of industrial food: corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, white flours, processed grains, powdered skim milk…you get the idea.  It seems almost impossible but I’d like to try it for at least a week and see how we do.  I figure since we are moving to a different country it might be easier to stop buying some of our industrial food culprits.

Other books I’ve been reading on the topic of Real Food:

The Omnivore’s Dilemna

Nourishing Traditions

Real Food: What to Eat and Why

Have you read this book?  What do you think?  Does the idea of drinking whole (raw) milk freak you out? Eating whole, unprocessed, real, traditional foods has been getting a lot more press recently.  What have you heard?

11 Responses to Real Food for Mother and Baby: A Book Review

  • Comment by Christy
    September 3, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    I have not read the book but definitely agree that we eat way too many processed foods!!! As the daughter of a “farmer” who raises beef, I can tell you that there is a huge difference in the meat we get from the stores and what is traditionally farm raised. (Even the taste is completely different). I love getting meat for Christmas… but let me tell you, it is crazy expensive. I bet you will have an easier time in England getting these types of foods than we do here. Their markets are different than our grocery stores. I’d love to be able to buy fresh from local markets!!! Thanks for the book recommendation… I’ll be checking it out!

  • Comment by Amanda
    September 3, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

    I would be interesting in the what to eat while breastfeeding chapter, since that is what I currently am doing. although, my diet is different now that I am running a lot. I eat a ton of carbs and pasta for running fuel. I can feel a difference in my running diet. Also, I can not enough!! I am so hungry all the time. its weird.

    I have never heard of these books. Thanks for sharing about them!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by FoodRenegade
    September 3, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

    All of these books are perspective altering and well worth the read. Hopefully, they’re also empowering. I’ve been eating traditional foods for about 5 years now (maybe longer), and I’ve never felt better.

    I know a lot of people get overwhelmed when introduced to this way of eating and find it very discouraging to realize just how tainted their everyday, so-called “healthy” food choices are. Nevertheless, you CAN make changes, even if in the tiniest steps. The key is to pick achievable goals and work on them. I’ve got a whole set of “Newbie Tips” written up for the average person just starting to shift their diet to a more traditional, “real food” paradigm. Tackle one at a time, and you’ll be just fine!

    As to drinking raw milk — I LOVE RAW MILK! It is so much creamier, tastier, and refreshing. Plus, it doesn’t cause any of the digestive distress I get when drinking pasteurized milk.

    All the best,
    ~KristenM
    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by BFproblems
    September 4, 2009 @ 6:35 am

    Thanks for sharing. Whole unprocessed foods really do make a difference. I now recently started a diet (British Heart Institute diet) and have been eating mostly raw vegetables…I have been feeling so much healthier and much more energetic.

  • Comment by Sharon M
    September 5, 2009 @ 4:30 am

    So Amelia, does the book suggest COMPLETELY eliminating these “bad” foods? I’m thinking it would be hard to entirely give up white flour; I use 100% whole wheat flour for almost everything (pancakes, pizza dough, etc), but I’ve found it hard to switch to WWF with, say, desserts and cookies. I don’t make them a lot anyway, but it is nice to make cookies once and a while with white flour, especially if I have company coming over and they’re not as nutty as I am :-) Since we’ve moved overseas, we’ve been eating processed foods a lot less. I think being away from a culture that eats out a lot (or resorts mostly to pre-packaged meals) has changed our diet significantly. Also, people don’t eat flavored yogurt here. Similar to Indian food, plain yogurt is served as an accompaniment to most Middle Eastern dishes.

    @Amanda — girl, of COURSE you’re hungry all the time! ;-) You have a 6 month old baby who’s probably close to starting solids, and you’re running everyday. Do you eat the whole wheat pasta? Just curious if you like it or not.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by amelia
    September 5, 2009 @ 11:35 am

    hey sharon,

    good questions. she does recommend cutting out the bad foods–however taking the time to bake your own cookies with processed, white flour is acceptable. most people don’t bake their own desserts and cookies ALL the time–because it is timely. i think indulging in some regular tastey chocolate chip cookies is fine–but try not to use crisco in the recipe. Use butter and natural fats instead. there are so many good desserts in the world to pass up on ALL of them ALL the time. i think most people find that once they eliminate a lot of the “bad” stuff they don’t want it as much.

    i know from my own experience with detoxing from sugar that once i got past the first 2 weeks i didn’t crave it as much–hardly at all in fact. i need to get back on that bandwagon–it is so much easier when we are living in our own house instead of someone else’s where there are so many temptations around.

    i love the fage greek yogurt–it is so creamy and i just add a little honey or maple syrup in it. unfortunately i think parts of europe are following our poor dietary trends and including high fructose corn syrup and other “bad” foods into their grocery store products. i’ll find out for sure in a week.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Jennifer Fleck
    September 7, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

    I’m interested to see the “newbie” and “breastfeeding” sections. I know it will be better for me, and being a former expat in Europe I miss the farmers markets. The States are slowing coming around, but I’d love to see more markets year round. I would also like to see recommendations for those of us who are squeezed for time. Is there “real food” for people on the go?

  • Comment by Sharon M
    September 9, 2009 @ 3:33 am

    Hehe, did I ever tell you I rendered my own lard back in the spring? It was STINKY, but it made the best pie crust I have ever had! As for Crisco, I’ve never even seen it here. I save my (minuscule) bacon fat drippings to make homemade refried beans, and it’s butter (or some of my precious lard) for more savory dishes. It’s important to be careful with buying lard in the States though; if you buy it in the store, it’s often been hydrogenated to prolong shelf life, which makes it about as bad as Crisco. Aye, there’s the rub.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Briane
    September 9, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

    It is definitely a book I am going to look into. I know I would never be able to completely emliminate the ” bad foods” but I do try to buy a lot of organic foods, especially fruits and veggies! There are some sites that tell you what has the most chemicals and to at least buy that organic. I don’t know about the raw milk? We do organic here. But here is a question what about organic packaged foods? Like a favorite her: Annies Mac and Cheese? Is this a considered a bad food? Thoughts?

  • Comment by Amelia
    September 9, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    Sharon-that is cool about rendering your own fat. Planck talks about how to make your own in Real Food.

    Jennifer-I’d love to see more year round markets as well.

    Briane-Organic packaged foods are still “processed” foods as in they are convenient and often have some things added to help promote their shelf life. Real cheddar cheese isn’t powder you add to a sandwich or what you use to make a quesadilla–I think there would probably be a strong argument to stay away from it. If one were to eliminate all of the industrial oils (safflower, sunflower, soybean, canola etc) then on would also end up eliminating most organic packaged foods. But, Annies Mac and Cheese is probably a better choice than your basic Kraft non-organic. I wish Annies used whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. I’d have to look at the list of ingredients to compare though.

    Anyway, I think the rule of thumb is to keep reading labels to see what is in your packaged food–just because it is labeled organic doesn’t mean that it is good for you. There are lots of companies that market to try to sell their food and it is really up to the consumer to read the labels and then decide if that is something you want to eat.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Brianne
    September 11, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    Amelia- I know I wish I could live by if your grandma wouldn’t recongnize it then you probably shouldn’t eat but a quick mac and cheese dinner or lunch is very appealing. Annies does make some with whole wheat. I like to get the organic, whole wheat kind! I don’t even know how to make mac and cheese from scratch. Maybe I should learn!

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