MAMIHOOD

The Hey Mami Approach to Healthy Eating

by: Alejandra Carrasco, M.D. and Christine Maren, D.O.

by: Alejandra Carrasco, M.D. and Christine Maren, D.O.

Physician founders of Hey mami!

A comprehensive and sensible guide to nutrition for preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and mamihood

Nutrition matters!

One of our core values at Hey Mami is to eat real food (as in organic + nutrient-dense), which gives us the best fuel to keep us kicking ass in mami life.

A nutrient-dense diet is your best ally in creating the ideal conditions for a healthy pregnancy, baby, and postpartum recovery. 

For example, research has shown good nutrition can

  • favorably influence fertility and improve outcomes in women with infertility1 and
  • positively impact both mother and baby’s health outcomes.2

And a growing body of evidence suggests the effects of fetal nutrition may even persist into adulthood and across generations (that’s called epigenetics).3 So what you eat during pregnancy can change the health of your baby forever.

The big takeaway is that good nutrition is really important across the spectrum of reproductive health—from preconception to postpartum recovery. Thus, eating a nutrient dense diet throughout mamihood will set the foundation for longevity and good health of mother and child.

Nutrition requirements in each stage of mamihood

Preconception is an important time to stockpile your nutrient reserves, support your egg health, and set the stage for a healthy pregnancy and baby.4

Pregnancy is a time when soon-to-be moms need additional amounts of certain nutrients—such as choline, glycine, DHA, folate, and iron. For women of average weight, you’ll also need about 300 additional healthy calories in the second and third trimesters.5,6

Postpartum and lactation is an important time to eat for healing your body and supporting your growing milk supply. This is a high-demand time when energy requirements increase by 500 calories or more.7

Mamihood is an important time to replace all the nutrients you have invested in growing and feeding your baby(ies). Nutrient depletion is rampant in the postpartum and mamihood years, and an often overlooked aspect of many womens’ health issues.

Short on time? Download this free quick guide!

Here are the basics:

  1. Listen to your body
  2. Choose organic when possible
  3. Aim for a variety of seasonal, whole foods
  4. Load up on nutrient-dense foods
  5. Eat plenty of colorful vegetables with an emphasis on leafy greens and cruciferous veggies
  6. Enjoy healthy fats
  7. Make clean protein a staple at every meal
  8. Make sure your carbohydrates are a good source of fiber
  9. Enjoy moderate amounts of whole fresh fruit
  10. Stay hydrated

Avoid these 10 bad food players:

  1. Foods high in pesticide residues (check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen list for a quick reference)
  2. Highly processed and refined foods
  3. Refined sugar
  4. Fake sugar like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, etc.
  5. Trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and refined vegetable oils
  6. Factory farmed meat
  7. Seafood high in mercury
  8. Food dyes
  9. Sodas and diet sodas
  10. Alcohol on an everyday basis

Now let’s dive into our top 10 nutrition tips for a healthy + happy mamihood…

1. Listen to your body

We believe there is not a singularly perfect diet for everyone (see? we told you this guide was sensible). Here’s why: our genes evolved along different migration patterns creating a variation in genetic and epigenetic (gene modifications or adaptations) expression over hundreds of thousands of years. 

Thus, your individual needs will differ compared to your BFF’s depending on these factors. This is the reason large population studies on nutrition and diets can be confusing and contradictory. 

In our clinical practices, we often look at nutrigenomics to help dial in on these nuances. Nutrigenomics is the study of how foods affect our genes and how genetic differences affect the way we respond to food. Our favorite test for this is Nutrition Genome, which you can order on your own for a helpful nutrition baseline.

In our practices, we also get in depth labs to assess our patients’ nutrition status, allowing us to make more individualized recommendations.

That said, there is great value in following foundational dietary guidelines based on what has been found in the scientific literature, commonsense, and our clinical experience. But we encourage you to listen to your body and do what feels right for you, because if it doesn’t feel right there’s probably a reason for that.

Food sensitivities? These are also highly individualized. If you are struggling with chronic health or digestive issues, then you might want to start with our elimination diet to identify potential food sensitivities like gluten and dairy.

2. Choose organic when possible

We recommend your diet be largely organic, free of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified (GMO) foods throughout your life…not just when you’re pregnant. If financial or other circumstances limit your access to organic foods you can still greatly limit your consumption by avoiding “the dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, and instead focus on eating more of “the clean fifteen” which are less problematic. While these lists are far from perfect, they’re a good start.

3. Aim for a variety of seasonal, whole foods 

The best way to get the most nutrients and support a healthy gut microbiome is to aim for variety and diversity in your diet. 

When available, opt for seasonal and local foods which are fresher and more nutrient dense. We love farmer’s markets and CSA boxes for this reason. Another tip is to pick the smallest sized produce you can find (like baby greens or baby potatoes, for example) as those are also the most nutrient dense.

As a general rule, just eat real food (#jerf is pretty common sense, right?).

This means sticking to foods that are whole and as close to their natural state as possible. We don’t think this means avoiding everything in a package, but it means sticking to ingredients that you might actually find in your pantry as opposed to a lab.

4. Load up on nutrient-dense foods

Research shows that a proportion of women of childbearing age (including those who have fertility challenges), have lower than recommended levels of many nutrients.8,9,10

Eating nutrient-rich foods, high in micronutrients and antioxidants, will help set you up for success. 

Micronutrients are dietary components (also known as vitamins and minerals) which are vital for health and wellbeing. They are not produced in the body and must be derived from your diet. 

Antioxidants are substances found in foods that decrease the adverse effects of free radicals on your body. Free radicals are a big deal because they are produced by so many things (diet, toxins, pollution, etc.), promote inflammation, and have been linked to nearly every type of chronic health issue. Antioxidants are primarily found in fruits and vegetables and are often more concentrated in darker varieties of foods (e.g. blueberries and kale).

A nutrient dense diet plays an essential role in all stages of mamihood—from fertility, to prenatal development, lactation, and beyond—as insufficient micronutrients levels can have an adverse impact on your health. We see this in our clinics on a daily basis and it’s very preventable with a little knowledge and know-how.

Bottom line: micronutrients + antioxidants are biochemical magic for your baby-making/ baby-growing/baby-feeding/ baby-tending body. 

Want a deep dive on the most important nutrients in the mamihood spectrum? Stay tuned for our upcoming article.

5. Eat plenty of colorful vegetables with an emphasis on leafy greens and cruciferous veggies

Veggies are your greatest health defenders

By “eating a rainbow” of vegetables, you ensure you’re getting the wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants your body needs to thrive.  

Veggies provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and protective nutrients like Vitamin K, beta carotene, iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, and antioxidants which are all necessary for a healthy conception, pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and mamihood. Research shows that people who eat more vegetables have lower levels of inflammation,11 which is a key factor in today’s most prevalent health issues. 

Aim for 7-10 servings of colorful veggies a day. We’re talking veggies at every meal and half your plate full when you can.

What types of veggies are best?

We recommend one (or more) servings of dark leafy greens per day, and one (or more) servings of cruciferous AKA brassica vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, etc.) per day. If you don’t care for leafy greens or brassica vegetables, you can take a greens-based supplement or powder. But we’re fans of food first so why not try out some different recipes? For example, kale is delicious in a salad with dried fruit and a bit of parmesan cheese, and collard greens taste completely different when lightly sauteed with garlic and olive oil than they do boiled. You can also blend frozen cauliflower florets into your smoothies for a barely-noticeable nutrient boost.

Also, by adding a daily dose of fermented vegetables (like kimchi, pickled vegetables, or sauerkraut) you will provide healthy probiotic cultures and help increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut (note: look for raw unpasteurized lacto fermented vegetables in the refrigerator section, or make them yourself).

By the way, one of our favorite ways to sneak in some veggies at breakfast is Smoothie Box.

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6. Enjoy healthy fats

Why are fats important during conception, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond?

If you’ve been told to fear fats or have been following a low-fat diet, now is the time to be sensible and embrace some healthy fats (hooray!!). 

Fats are essential to your immune system as they help your body use vitamins A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats play an important role in your ability to conceive, are critical for maternal and fetal health, and help to balance out blood sugar spikes which will help you feel more full and satisfied.

Fats are classified as unsaturated (mono- and polyunsaturated, including Omega-3 fatty acids), saturated, and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature whereas saturated fats are generally solid. 

To keep it simple, just remember that healthy fats mostly come from plants, but also some fish and meats. Quality is key. Here’s what to look for:

Which types of fat are best?

  • DHA and EPA are found in omega-3 fats from wild salmon, sardines, and other cold water, low-mercury fish. Omega-3 fats (especially DHA) support your baby’s brain and eye development and are linked to improved mood for mothers.12 They are also good for your gut.13
  • ALA comes from plant-based omega-3 found in flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. ALA is a precursor to DHA (a precursor is a substance from which another substance is formed), but is far less effective with regard to DHA deposition in the fetal brain than preformed DHA.14 This may be partly due to genetics and reduced conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA in certain individuals (you can learn more about this by testing your nutritigenomics). Nonetheless, ALA is still good for you and your baby.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, olives, avocado oil, avocados, and most other nuts and seeds (such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans). A 2018 study found that women who had higher levels of monounsaturated fats in their serum were more fertile and became pregnant faster than those with low levels.15 Monounsaturated fats also support a healthy mood and can help prevent symptoms of depression.16
  • Plant-based saturated fat from extra virgin coconut oil. Despite what you may have heard, saturated fats are also important for health as they make up much of our cell membranes; which is especially important for a rapidly developing baby. We also think it’s pretty cool that both high-quality coconut oil and human breast milk contain the nutrient monolaurin, which is antimicrobial.
  • Saturated animal fats like grass-fed butter, pastured full fat dairy, and meats can also have a place at your table. Studies have shown that exclusively grass-fed animals have significant levels of omega-3 fatty acids (but you have to be really picky about quality and sourcing). You don’t have to eat saturated animal fat, but moderate amounts may be beneficial.

A few helpful tips on enjoying fats healthfully:

  • Keep oils below their smoke point when cooking. The point where oil smokes signals that the oil has been damaged and free radicals and toxins have formed. If it smokes, pour it out and start again…it’s just not worth it.
  • Opt for high-quality oils in smaller containers with darkened glass bottles. We know it’s tempting to buy the giant plastic container of EVOO at Costco, but monounsaturated oils degrade over time and go rancid…which creates free radicals and completely negates their health value.
  • Store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh and mold-free.
  • You must be picky about animal fats as they can be prime sources of toxins (like pesticides and hormones), so choose grass-fed and pastured animal fats please.

7. Make clean protein a staple at every meal

Why is protein important?

Protein provides the building blocks for tissue repair, regeneration, and growth. It also plays a key role in keeping your blood sugar stable and energy levels even. 

While protein needs vary person to person, our general guideline is about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So if you’re 140 pounds, you’d want to eat about 70 grams (more or less) of protein per day. For pregnancy, protein needs generally go up in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.17

If that seems like a lot, keep in mind that lots of foods contain some protein, like meats, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, oats, and even some fruits and vegetables like bananas, avocados, potatoes, spinach, and peas. 

To ensure you’re getting enough protein, try including a little protein-rich food at every meal and snack and remember to eat that rainbow!

Meats and poultry

Omnivores can rely on a variety of high-quality, organic animal protein like pastured eggs, chicken, grass-fed beef, buffalo, and lamb.

Once again, variety is important. Many Americans tend toward meats high in the amino acid methionine (like chicken breasts). But if that’s all you eat, recent research suggests that too much methionine could disrupt methylation pathways and increase needs for folate and B1218 (who knew?!). 

To create balance, we need more of the amino acid glycine (especially during pregnancy, when your methylation pathways are working harder). Glycine comes from the gelatin and collagen of meats, and slow cooking meat on the bone is a great way to extract that glycine. So grab your Instapot and start stewing, baby.

Here’s another sensible tip: animal foods should come from healthy animals. So choose grass-fed/pasture-raised and organic whenever possible. Research spanning three decades suggests that the meat of animals on grass-based diets have higher omega-3 and antioxidant levels compared to conventionally raised meat.19

Thankfully, you no longer have to drive out to a farm to get this healthier option. Services like Butcher Box will deliver meats straight to your doorstep.

If grass-fed/pasture-raised meats are too expensive, you have some great options. First off, check out www.localharvest.org to find small local farmers who provide Certified Naturally-Grown meats. Small farms choose this standard over acquiring organic certification because it costs them less, the animals are raised in the same manner, and they pass those savings onto you.

You can also look for sales on grass-fed meats at your local grocery or natural foods store, buy in bulk, or cut back on your meat intake in favor of more plant-based protein.

Fish and seafood

If you enjoy eating fish, then be sure to choose wild-caught, sustainably-harvested fish and seafood with low-mercury content and avoid farm-raised. This typically means choosing smaller fish, such as anchovies, clams, flounder, mackerel, oysters, salmon, sardines, scallops, Pacfic sole, and trout.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a guide for safe and sustainably harvested fish. You can also have safe and sustainable seafood delivered to your doorstep through Vital Choice.

Plant-based proteins

Plant-based protein comes from lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains like quinoa and millet. However, people with blood sugar and digestive issues may not tolerate all of these, so listen to your body.

High-quality, pure hemp or pea protein powders are also an option.

If you do well with soy products, be sure they are organic and fermented or cultured—such as tempeh, miso, or tamari (no soy protein isolate which is anything BUT a whole food). Be aware that soy contains plant-derived estrogen known as isoflavones. This is a bit controversial (even in our circles), and may or may not be good for you, depending on your particular health concerns. If you’re unsure, check with your healthcare provider.

8. Make sure your carbohydrates are a good source of fiber

Are all carbs ok to eat? 

Here’s a refreshing bit of commonsense advice: you don’t have to avoid all carbs! It’s the quality of carbs you have to watch.

What kinds of carbs and how many carbs? 

Let’s keep this super-simple: unless you have diabetes, PCOS, or another blood sugar issue, you can enjoy enough healthy, unprocessed carbs to feel satisfied. That doesn’t mean you should go nuts and eat a whole gluten-free cake or mixing-bowl full of whole grain pasta, but use your common sense; enjoy your starches as side-dishes and keep sweets to a dull roar (even all-natural ones).

Another helpful tip is to think of carbs as sources of fiber, because fibrous carbs can actually be very beneficial.

Fiber has loads of healthful properties. It’s great for your gut microbiome, is anti-inflammatory, helps balance hormones, reduces insulin spikes, and even helps us detox.20 , 21

Certain types of carbohydrates, called resistant starch (such as green bananas, plantains, cooked and cooled rice, cooked and cooled sweet potato), stimulate beneficial bacteria in the gut by way of short chain fatty acids and the fatty acid known as butyrate.22

In fact, when you prepare carbohydrates in a way that increases their resistant starch content, such as eating cooked and cooled potatoes, it can actually blunt your blood sugar response and help you lose weight (hot damn!). It’s also been shown to help prevent and control obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.23

So please, enjoy fiber-rich carbs as part of a balanced diet.

Prebiotics are another type of beneficial fiber which promote digestive health by providing essential food for beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics are found in starchy and non-starchy vegetables including: onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas, leeks, potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, chicory, and artichokes.

What kind of carbs are best?

As such, some of our favorite carbs are resistant starch! Leftover (cooked and cooled) potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bananas, plantains, basmati rice, beans and grains offer a simple way to incorporate resistant starch into your diet.

Slow carbs also include starchy vegetables like winter squash, beets, carrots, and parsnips.

We believe that most humans should be able to tolerate legumes and gluten-free grains (like quinoa, basmati rice, and oats). To optimize digestibility and nutrition, we recommend soaking or sprouting all legumes and grains. This nearly lost-culinary art reduce phytates (an anti-nutrient that inhibits nutrient absorption), while improving the bioavailability of zinc and Vitamin C. After sprouting or soaking they will cook up super-fast in an Instapot. 

When prepared in a traditional way, we are fans of moderate amounts of hummus, lentils, and beans (afterall, Dr. Alex is Cuban). The caveat is people with digestive issues may still need to limit these if there are any reactions.

9. Enjoy moderate amounts of whole fresh fruit

Fruits have pros and cons

Whole fruits contain an abundance of essential nutrients and fiber which help nourish you and keep your elimination pathways flowing strong. A 2018 study also linked regular fruit consumption, at least 3 servings per day, with better fertility.24

But, as with all-things-sweet, you can have too much of a good thing; especially if you have blood sugar issues. So stay away from fruit juice, 100% fruit smoothies, and dried fruits which can spike your blood sugar. It’s a great idea to combine fruits with a little protein and fat (i.e. have an apple with almond butter).

One exception: if you have blood sugar issues or PCOS, check with your doctor or practitioner about the appropriate amount of fruit for you.

What types of fruit? 

This is just a short-list of nutrient-dense fruits, the point is to enjoy a variety of whole fruit every day—up to 3 servings. Some of the most nutrient-dense fruits include:

  1. Mangoes—which are rich in immune-boosting Vitamin C.
  2. Berries—contain a wealth of egg-protective nutrients including antioxidants, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, and trace minerals.
  3. Papayas—contain powerful enzymes to help ease digestion and reduce inflammation.
  4. Citrus fruits—are a wonderful source of Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and fertility-friendly folate.
  5. Avocado—is rich in hormone-balancing healthy fats and contains Vitamin K, which is essential for proper calcium absorption.
  6. Bananas—make an awesome snack, plus they’re chock-full of hormonal balancing nutrients like magnesium, potassium, folate, and even a little plant-based protein and fat.
  7. Fresh figs—an often underappreciated fruit, figs have been used as a folk remedy to increase fertility since ancient times. Plus they’re loaded with essential nutrients like hormone-balancing magnesium and blood-nourishing iron.

10. Stay hydrated

If you’re not hydrating regularly it can make you feel very tired. Dehydration causes a drop in blood volume, which makes your heart work harder to deliver oxygen to your muscles and skin. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration of just two percent can cause people to feel unfocused, fatigued, and anxious. 25

For optimal hydration, aim for 6-8 glasses of filtered water every day and make sure you are hydrating regularly if you are on the go. Carry a glass or stainless steel water bottle with you so you always have something to sip on.

If you want to excite your palate a bit more and get some extra antioxidants and phytonutrients, infuse your water with lemon, oranges, cucumber, or mint or sip on some herbal tea (our favorite is Pique Tea, which is triple screened for toxins).

Now go ahead, grab your water bottle… we’ll be here when you come back.

What foods to avoid

And now for the bad players. There are 10 things we’d ask you to avoid…here’s why:

1. Foods high in pesticide residues

Many commercial pesticides used in conventionally-grown or raised foods are carcinogenic, laced with heavy metals, and are known endocrine-disruptors.

2. Highly processed and refined foods

Highly processed foods are bad for everyone…especially mamis-to-be, since they can make it harder to conceive! For example, an Australian study of over 5600 women linked regular fast food consumption in women of child-bearing age to a two-fold increase in infertility,26 and trans fats have been shown to negatively impact egg and sperm quality.27

These are just two examples of many studies correlating the negative effects of highly processed foods on reproductive health in men and women.

3. Refined sugar

Too much sugar causes insulin to spike, creates inflammation, and messes with your hormones. Say no to high fructose corn syrup and be careful with other high sugar foods, even if they are natural—like fruit juice and dried fruits.

Think of sugar as a treat (commonsense, right?), not a staple.

For everyday cooking and baking, we prefer these natural sugars and sweeteners:

  • Stevia
  • Raw honey
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Date sugar

4. Fake sugar like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin

Artificial sweeteners are one of the most bogus, misleading, and dangerous food-like-products to ever hit the market. No matter what name they go by, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, etc. they’re bad news for your neurological system, digestive system, and reproductive health.

We’ll write an entire article on this at some point, but regular artificial sweeteners have been linked to everything from

  • obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome28
  • to infertility,29
  • and an increased risk of asthma in children whose mothers consumed them during pregnancy.30

Bottom line: just say NO to all zero-calorie sweeteners except stevia which is (truly) from the stevia plant.

5. Trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and vegetable oils

Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated oil, and have been banned in many cities. Generally, you’ll find these in low quality restaurants and fryers. Stay away! 

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is no longer “generally recognized as safe” and should be phased out of the food supply. 31

And while great strides have been made, trans fats are still lurking around—especially in highly processed foods.

Now, here’s a lesser known fat-fact: most vegetable and seed oils contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids which can be highly inflammatory.32

Here’s a list of the vegetable oils you want to avoid as much as possible:

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Canola
  • Cottonseed
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Peanut

6. Factory farmed meat

Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are fed an unnatural diet of soy and corn and given a lot of hormones and antibiotics.

The CDC acknowledges that the hormones in surface waters around CAFOs alter the reproductive habits of fish, including a significant decrease in the fertility of female fish. 33

So we think it’s more than reasonable to conclude that these hormone effects aren’t good for us, either.

And the use of antimicrobials in animals has been linked to drug-resistant infections. 34

For example, a recent study showed workers at pig farms are six times more likely to carry multi-drug resistant MRSA than those without exposure to CAFO pigs 35 and carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriacea (CRE), a bacteria resistant to the class of antibiotics called carbapenems, have now been detected in a U.S. pig farm. 36

How can you tell if a meat has been factory-farmed? If it doesn’t say: “grass-fed”, “organic”, or “certified naturally grown” then it’s most likely been raised in a CAFO.

7. Seafood high in mercury

No doubt seafood is very nutritious and has been enjoyed by people for centuries. However, due to increasing levels of heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants in our oceans and streams, you have to be savvy when choosing what seafood to eat.

The presence of mercury in fish and seafood is especially concerning for pregnant and nursing women (and women wishing to become pregnant). So, if you’re in this boat it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of certain fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, tuna, marlin, and orange roughy. 37

Even if you’re not pregnant…we recommend avoiding heavy metals as much as possible as they can mess with your mitochondrial function and wreak havoc on your hormones. 38

Plus, they have neurotoxic properties which is not good for your brain.

For a helpful guide to choosing safer fish and seafood, check out The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s guide for safe and sustainably harvested fish and seafood.

8. Food dyes

The effects of food dyes on children’s development and behavior has been well-documented. And while the research on how these artificial additives can affect pregnant women and their unborn babies is still young, animal studies have shown the following:

  • Dyes can cause DNA damage in unborn rats,39
  • They can also disrupt endocrine function,40
  • And Red 40 is a known carcinogen (yep, and it’s still on the shelves and in children’s foods),41
  • While Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 all contain benzidene, another known-carcinogen.

So, for the health of YOU, your children, and your future children just say no to artificial colorings.

9. Sodas and diet sodas

It’s not news that sodas are unhealthy, but for women they’re particularly bad across the mamihood spectrum for 4 big reasons:

  • Sugar-free and sugar-full sodas both wreak havoc on your blood sugar, which contributes to metabolic syndrome AKA hormonal imbalance-mania!
  • Sugar-free and sugar-full sodas have both been linked to weight-gain and obesity.42
  • Both types of sodas have been linked to infertility in men and women.43
  • Sodas, specifically cola, have been shown to degrade bone health 44 …which you’ll really start caring about in a few years.

10. Alcohol on an everyday basis

It goes without saying that drinking alcohol during pregnancy isn’t recommended…so if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, now would be a great time to change that up. 45

BUT if you’re already a mami not looking to conceive, we don’t believe you should have to abandon all sources of fun, and that enjoying a drink with friends might actually be good for your health.

Now, we don’t advocate for a glass of wine every single night, but red wine has been shown to have some health benefits. The trick is to choose a clean wine that doesn’t contain a ton of unnatural additives and pesticides. We like Spanish or Italian wine for this reason, or you can find organic biodynamic wines that won’t give you a headache.

Beyond wine, you can keep-it-clean by choosing clear liquors and skipping the drink mixes which are just LOADED with sugar, dyes, and other artificial ingredients (our favorite is kombucha or mineral water mixed with tequila or gin).

And remember: everything in moderation. 

If you’re prego, check out our favorite non-alcoholic concoction called Seedlips for a fun mocktail.

A note on common food sensitivities

The impacts of a true food allergy, such as immediate hives, rash etc. are usually obvious. However, the symptoms of food sensitivities can be much more subtle.

You can read all about food sensitivities in our upcoming article, but in a nutshell a food sensitivity is an IgG reaction which causes inflammation in your body. This could take the form of a runny nose after eating dairy products, bloating after eating pasta, or even chronic skin conditions.

The most common food sensitivities we see in our clinical practices are gluten, dairy, sugar – and (we hate to say it!) even eggs. These sensitivities are most common among people with digestive issues, leaky gut, autoimmune disease, or other chronic conditions.

If you struggle with mysterious symptoms, chronic health concerns and/or if this information is turning on some light bulbs, then an elimination diet (where you eliminate common trigger foods, such as those listed above, for 4-6 weeks then re-introduce them one at a time) is a great way to figure out if you are reacting to certain foods.

The silver-lining in all of this is, if you are sensitive to a particular food that sensitivity may disappear once you address any underlying digestive issues. 

Healthy diet for women’s health

Congrats for making it to the end of this article!  We’ve just unpacked a ton of info in here that can feel overwhelming, especially if some of this information is new to you.  

Just to to recap:

  • Eat real, nutrient-dense, whole foods.
  • Eat lots of veggies, at least 1 serving of leafy greens and brassicas, and 3 servings of fresh fruit per day.
  • Enjoy healthy fats, and avoid unhealthy pro-inflammatory fats.
  • Eat clean protein at every meal (and avoid factory farmed meat and high-mercury fish & seafood).
  • Choose carbs which are a good source of fiber.   
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered or mineral water daily (12 glasses for breastfeeding mamis please)
  • Avoid “the bad food players”
  • Listen to your body (because no two bodies are alike)
  • Become aware of how food affects you/food sensitivities

Be sure to download our nutrition tips in this free quick guide! This one page cheat sheet is designed to post to your fridge as a daily reminder for self care and nutrition.

Hey Mami is here to support you through preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and mamihood. To learn more, check out all the articles and resources available at: www.heymami.com

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17978119
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12069403
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26395341
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/
  6. https://www.acog.org/-/media/Womens-Health/nutrition-in-pregnancy.pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235579/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6480978/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11838885
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2882916/
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  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28675945
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Our Bio

We are doctors Alejandra Carrasco M.D. and Christine Maren D.O. We’re board-certified through the American Board of Family Medicine, and certified in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine. We’re on a mission to support women as they navigate mamihood—from preconception through pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. As mamis of 3 (each!), we got you.

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