My Pregnancy Week 6: Food in My World

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As an ayurvedic practitioner and public health consultant, I know that eating well during pregnancy is important. However, I think very few of us, including myself before my last pregnancy, understand what that actually means. I remember searching for hours to understand what actually made sense to eat during pregnancy. Please keep in mind, that is also my personality. I like to understand and research everything that is out there. Luckily, during my public health studies, and after I gave birth to my son, I was able to spend some serious time researching what western nutrition and Ayurveda have to offer during pregnancy. What I found helped me to both relax, because I was already doing a great job, and to understand the components that are most important, even when feeling crummy. I personally found a lot of balance and reassurance by comparing Western research with Ayurvedic science. I learned that both sciences recommend eating frequently, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eating lots of high quality fat, lots of good quality carbohydrates and lots of dairy. What Ayurveda offered me that went beyond basic western nutrition, was a better sense of how to tailor my diet based on the trimester, and my specific imbalances.

Now, I will admit that eating well during these first few weeks/months is tough. AND I know that eating something is better than eating nothing at all, so that means I'm trying to make the healthiest choices I can from what sounds ‘eatable’ in my pregnant, morning sick world.

In my case, from an Ayurvedic perspective, I know that my Pitta, or the heat in my system is slightly elevated. I am experiencing morning sickness, irritability, and mild indigestion.  It also happens to be 100 degrees right now in Texas, which is making me even hotter! This means I need to be particularly good about avoiding spicy or fried foods, because they are extremely aggravating to my Pitta dosha. Instead I need to favor those cooling foods to honor my Pitta dosha, and juicy, liquidy foods to nourish rasa and rakta dhatus during these first few months.

So what am I able to eat? The most nourishing foods are cooling milks, sweet grains, puddings, juicy fruits, oatmeal and soups. I am also eating lots of good quality hard cheese and crackers, cottage cheese, and sprouted spelt bread with cream cheese. While these foods may not be ideal, I also don’t think they are horrible, and they seem to take care of the nausea when I need something to eat fast. Yes, I am currently eating some high quality humane meat, because it tastes good to get some more protein.

While they might not seem like a big deal, I am learning that avoiding spicy foods is really important for me. I can usually get away with a spicy Indian meal once in a while, but not right now. The other night I ate some spicy Indian food, and not surprisingly, I had indigestion all night. So back to simple foods, and lots of liquids.

As always I would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy and What Ayurveda Has to Say

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As women, one of the most powerful actions we can take during pregnancy is to provide ourselves and others with love and support. I believe that no matter how much one prepares to bring a child into the world, or ‘understands’ the progression of pregnancy, it’s still a unique journey every time a woman embarks on it. One that carries with it a tremendous amount of vulnerability, and exciting but also scary ‘unknowns.’ “Will I be okay, is this little cramp a big deal, does this headache mean something, is the baby okay” etc. As you may already know, one of our biggest goals through Mam?yurveda is to provide you with support, understanding, and nourishment for your journey. In that vein, I have decided to write about my personal experience during pregnancy.

Yes, I’m pregnant! My little munchkin is currently about 10 weeks old (12th week of pregnancy), but since I have been away for these last few months,  I wanted to share some of what I have already experienced and then move forward with my pregnancy. I hope to share with you some of my personal experiences, what has worked, and what Ayurveda suggests during different stages of care. I have already noticed that even though this is my second pregnancy, it requires the same amount of vulnerability and surrender to all that may unfold. I would love for you to share your comments and experiences, and hopefully we can create a fun, supportive dialogue and online community!

Thanks for reading!

With love, Kerry

Summer Eating: Tips and Recipes

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There is more heat, humidity, and sunlight in the summer. So what does this mean for our internal body? During summer there is naturally a greater presence of fire and water (Pitta dosha), and its associated qualities including hot, sharp, penetrating, light, liquid, and oily. An excess of these qualities can lead to rashes, acne, burning eyes, rosacea, hot flashes, heavy sweating, hyperacidity, diarrhea, headaches, indigestion, heart burn etc. While mitigating severe heat imbalances requires a detailed personal consultation, there are some basic foods that everyone can incorporate to stay cooler. Luckily nature provides us with most of those foods during the summertime!

Which foods heat the body?

  • Eating hot, spicy, or oily foods including tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppers, onions, garlic, hot sauces, and more
  • Drinking coffee or alcohol

How can we pacify the additional heat that summer brings?

  1. Favor cooling, hydrating, sweet, bitter, and astringent foods in the summer. Sweet foods include most grains, maple syrup, milk, and licorice. Bitter foods include aloe vera, dandelion root, sandalwood, turmeric root, bitter melon. Astringent foods include pomegranate, green beans, peas, okra, alfalfa sprouts, most raw vegetables, goldenseal, neem, chickpeas. Cooling drinks such as coconut water, limeade or hibiscus tea are helpful.
  2. Avoid coffee and alcohol. If you enjoy alcohol, favor something more cooling like beer (especially IPA), punch, or white wine
  3. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Favor early morning or late evening sun and wear a hat if you must be in the midday sun.

Recipes

Hibiscus Cooler

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger
  • ½ cup dried hibiscus
  • Maple syrup
Instructions:
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add cinnamon, ginger, and hibiscus.
  • Cover and reduce heat to low.
  • Let simmer 10 minutes.
  • Strain and serve, sweeten with 1 tsp maple syrup per cup or to taste.

Cucumber Pumpkin Seed Salad

Salad

  • 5 cups chopped cucumberCucumber on White
  • 1 cup shredded carrot

Dressing (makes ~ 1 cup)

  • ½ bunch cilantro (1/2- 1cup chopped)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 2 ½ Tbsp lime juice (fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Combine ingredients together and shake.  You can also blend all ingredients together for a creamier dressing.

Fresh Cilantro Sauce: Great on rice, salad, just about anything! This was a favorite while we were in Ayurvedic school.

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantrocilantro
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp organic yogurt (substitute coconut milk if pitta is high, or goat cheese if kapha is high)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Put all the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a blender.  Blend until smooth.
  • Step 2: Pulse in salt and pepper.

 

Solutions for Pregnancy Discomforts!

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Though it's an exciting time, being pregnant doesn't always feel blissful or easy. Fatigue, constipation, nausea, and insomnia can get the better of us. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.However, ?yurveda does have wonderful, safe remedies that can help. As always, foundational diet and lifestyle is the most important piece– we cover this material in our immersions and workshops.

pregnantbelly_20wksConstipation - Foods: Prepare your foods in a v?ta supporting- warm and cooked foods served with some ghee or other high quality oil. Avoid drying foods like chips, crackers, dried fruits (unless you stew them first) and raw veggies.

Supplements: If you're taking iron supplements, make sure they aren't the cause. Switch to Floradix or another food-based iron and strictly avoid ferrous sulfate.

Remedies: Lubricant method: 1 cup warm cow's milk w/ 1 tsp ghee before bed Bulk Promoting method: Psyllium seed powder mixed in large amount of water or milk that has been boiled and then cooled.

Nausea -

nauseaThe strong cocktail of hormones is the main cause of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. These hormones are in the realm of pitta dosha, a dosha which is activated and often rises during pregnancy. Another cause is blood sugar drops due to not eating enough calories or protein.

Foods: Favor Pitta reducing foods, eat every 4 hours, focus on protein (60-90 grams per day)! Protein Sources: Eggs, soaked and peeled almonds; plain or spiced cow's milk, almond or hemp (avoid diary in extreme nausea), yellow mung dal with rice, protein shakes with sprouted grain proteins or hemp hearts, and poultry.

Supplements: A deficiency of B vitamins, especially B6 can exacerbate nausea. Since B vitamins should be taken in combination, incorporate a B complex vitamin in addition to prenatals.

Pr?n?yama & Meditation: For those familiar with pranayama and meditation these specific practices can be helpful - shitali or shitkari pr?n?yama, gentle alternate nostril breathing, and So-Hum meditation.

Remedies:  Shatavari Kalpa - A sautéed blend of shatavari, sugar and spices, can be really helpful. (Because this recipe requires specific instructions, we provide during our workshops and immersion.) A Morning sickness remedy from Dr. Lad  - 1 tsp raw sugar (sucanat, rapadura, coconut sugar) w/ 2 drops sandalwood oil Chew a piece of fresh ginger root or lemon peel - If the nausea is severe, up to 250 mg of ginger can be taken in capsule form up to 4 times per day. *Larger amounts of ginger can be emmenagogue (stimulate blood flow to the uterus and bring on miscarriage). Homeopathy - Excellent homeopathic remedies such as ipecacuanha and nux vomica are available for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. We usually recommend a 30C potency. See your local homeopath or midwife to find the right one for you. Homeopathy is something we highly recommend to treat pregnancy ailments as it's safe, effective, and there are no side effects or drug interactions.

Fatigue - In addition to proper nutrition and supplementation, adjusting one's lifestyle is the best way to combat fatigue. Rest, and take little walks even when you feel really tired. Just a short 10 minute walk will help to oxygenate your system and relieve mild fatigue. If you're exhausted from working a lot or a busy lifestyle, then simply rest, rest, rest.

Pr?n?yama and meditation - Yoga Nidra, guided meditations, and gentle pranayama are excellent. For recordings we recommend Rod Stryker's yoga nidra, or Genevieve Yellin's short meditations and yoga nidra, which can be found here.

Insomnia -

preg_insomniaLifestyle: A bedtime routine can be extremely helpful. Go to bed at the same time each night before 10:00. Stop screen time at least one hour before bed, to allow your body's natural clock to release more melatonin. If sleep is really difficult, try taking a warm (not hot) bath with lavender essential oil, or doing some gentle pranayama.

If your pregnancy is advanced and physical discomfort is an issue, use props. A body pillow strategically placed with a smaller pillow or two can make a big difference. If you don't have a body pillow, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees.

Remedies:  Nighttime milks: milk boiled 5 minutes w/ a pinch each of nutmeg and poppyseed OR Garlic milk - boil a cup of milk with a clove of raw peeled garlic for 5 minutes, add ghee if desired; use almond milk if you don't take dairy. Wish Garden Sleepy Nights for pregnancy tincture 

Note: in the suggestions above we mention milk several times. Milk should be non-homogenized (cream top) and low-heat pasteurized, always in the whole milk form and always organic. To make it digestible, we recommend that you heat it just to the boiling point and then cool it to taste or desired temperature, but never cold.