By Jing Chen, L.Ac., DAOM, FABORM
There are many articles out there about what to eat when you are pregnant. In this blog, I will be discussing what to eat when you are pregnant from a holistic Chinese Medicine approach.
Pregnancy is a special and precious time in a mother’s life. Now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on nurturing and self-care. Creating a new human uses up a big portion of your body’s energy, so it’s essential to nourish yourself with the right pregnancy foods. What you eat will have a great impact on how you feel during and after your pregnancy, and will be essential to support the health of your developing baby.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, a woman’s Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang all get diverted to warm the uterus and nourish the developing fetus. These all need to be replaced through the diet. Keeping the digestive system healthy is key to ensure nutrient absorption.
Eat mostly warm and well-cooked foods to support the Qi and enhance healthy digestion and therefore the body’s ability to nourish itself and the baby. Examples of good pregnancy foods are soups, stews, braised and slow-cooked vegetables and meats.
Reduce cold and raw foods like ice cream, iced drinks, and raw salads. These can be damaging to your Yang energy and digestive fire. Make sure to avoid undercooked meats or eggs, unpasteurized juices or dairy products, and raw vegetables that haven’t been washed thoroughly, as you and the baby are more vulnerable to listeria and other harmful pathogens.
Try to eat protein with each meal, as it supports Qi and Blood production, and keeps your energy up. Good sources of protein include organic and pasture raised eggs, poultry, and meats. You can also have up to 2 servings of seafood per week. Choose low-mercury sources such as salmon and shrimp. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, lentils, nuts, hummus, and yogurt.
Good fats support the Yin energy and improve your mood and mental capacity while supporting your developing baby’s brain. Try some avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish oil.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to help prevent constipation and provide needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Dark green vegetables are especially good, as they contain lots of folic acids.
Drink plenty of water and fluids to support the increased amount of Yin and Blood your body needs to make during your pregnancy.
Avoid caffeine and overly spicy foods with hot peppers and chilis. These are too stimulating and move the Qi and Blood too strongly. Excess caffeine is associated with higher miscarriage rates.
Reduce refined sugars, which damage the Qi, cause inflammation and can contribute to gestational diabetes. Naturally sweet foods like fruits are a good choice, as well as small amounts of unrefined sugars such as molasses, honey, and maple syrup.
Finally, to support optimal digestion and avoid nausea, eat small and frequent meals. Try not to eat in a hurry, and enjoy your food.
This is in no way a complete list of what to eat when you are pregnant, but it’s a great start! If you are curious about individualized nutrition programs, I would be happy to help! Just book an appointment with me and let’s get you on the right track!