My thoughts on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting and life.

why I believe in whole foods

By Suzanne Brown on August 13, 2013 in health, nutrition tags: , , ,

Birth Boot Camp advocates a “whole foods diet with emphasis on protein.” Actually, that’s just a really great way to eat, even if you’re not pregnant. Whole foods are “unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed.” (source) An easy way to think of this is that the item’s name is also its ingredient list. For example, margarine has a bunch of different ingredients, but butter is just…butter. (Okay, okay. If you look at the ingredient list, actually it will say sweet cream. It may also have salt but that’s it – hopefully no artificial coloring or flavoring. If you had to add flavor to butter you did something wrong, butter is delicious.)

I was going to put a picture here of a butter ingredient label. It is surprisingly difficult to find one from real butter on Google images. I took one of my own but it was blurry, so just imagine it here. It says, “SWEET CREAM, SALT.”

Another way to think of is to do the majority of your grocery shopping on the store’s periphery – produce, meat, dairy, etc. I used to not buy into the “organic” thing because I thought it was a marketing gimmick and I just can’t afford to spend 3 times as much on produce, but ever since I’ve been purchasing my own groceries I’ve been getting free range eggs. I do believe that the way an animal is raised affects its products. I still wasn’t sure it made a difference, it just made me feel better to think of a happy hen laying eggs somewhere than some poor, scrawny, miserable fowl being fed little pellets and stuck on a nest turning out eggs all day, sitting in poop. Then, a few years ago, we were on WIC for a while and WIC only provides regular store eggs. I usually eat a lot of eggs though so after we used our egg allowance I got the free-range ones again. (In case you’re wondering, I can get free-range eggs for a little over $2 a dozen so it’s not like I was breaking the bank while on WIC. Just to clarify.) Anyway so one day I made egg-in-a-hole and used the last one from a WIC set and the other was free range. I saw something like this:

The top one is a free-range egg with the rich golden color; the bottom is a regular egg from a caged, grain-fed hen and is pale yellow. Which do you think is more nutritious?

Let’s go back to butter for a moment. I think it’s good to look at things like eggs and butter where you can see the difference, as opposed to meat where it may look the same but have very different nutrients.

The left is “regular” butter, the right is grass-fed butter. And, I can’t speak for that particular “regular” butter, but pretty much all of them have artificial coloring. Isn’t that sad?! They put artificial color in it and it still can’t come close to the color of what it should look like. And the taste…you will notice a difference in the taste. The first time I bought Kerrygold butter, I made cookies with it. My husband asked if I used a new recipe because they tasted so different (by which he meant, better). Grass-fed butter has a lot of beta carotene in it, which is why it is that rich golden color. Your rule of thumb is: rich golden color = awesome, pale yellow = not awesome. Except when you’re talking about something that’s a different color entirely, such as tomatoes:

On the left is a ruby-red organic tomato; on the right is a pale conventionally grown one.

On the left is a ruby-red organic tomato; on the right is a pale conventionally grown one.

So, as it turns out, things grown the way God intended as opposed to a science experiment actually ARE better for you and not just a marketing gimmick. Now I can’t afford to buy all organic, all the time, but I am trying to change my thinking. When you buy food, you are buying your family’s nourishment. If the food you buy doesn’t actually nourish then you’re kind of wasting money. Purchase the best quality you can afford. For me, right now, eating whole foods means cooking from scratch. I really try to avoid prepackaged stuff and stick to buying foodstuffs that need to be prepared. As we are able, I buy things that are “better,” either fresher or less processed if we can’t afford organic. I can usually get a better quality of the smaller, cheaper things like eggs and butter. Eventually I hope to be buying meats and other animal products directly from a farmer but for now, only 2 or 3 years into my whole foods journey, I just try to make sure that the vast majority of what my family eats was prepared in my own kitchen.

how I got here

By Suzanne Brown on May 19, 2013 in About

To kick off this new venture in my life, I thought I’d recap what brought me to natural birth and why I wanted to become a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

When I got pregnant with my son, I was living in France and had the language skills of a 2-year-old. This is, by the way, not the ideal situation in which to navigate a foreign medical system. The French are veeeerrrrryyyy into pharmaceuticals and I am not so much, mostly because years down the road they discover this supposed miracle drug causes cancer, or deformities, or death, or all of the above. Anyway I’d always known that when I had kids I would want an unmedicated delivery because it just seemed better. I guess I knew this instinctively because Lord knows I’d never heard anyone share anything positive about childbirth. I had to change doctors a few times (one told me, “I don’t actually deliver babies”…yes, she was an OB), and changed hospitals at 8 months, in order to find a place that was welcoming to natural birth and would allow me to have a translator. I spent a lot of time researching online and reading while I was pregnant and felt like I was as prepared as I could be under the circumstances (without access to a birth class in my language). I was able to achieve an unmedicated delivery but felt like I had to put up a fight to get it.

After we moved back to the States and I got pregnant again (so relieved to have access to midwifery care), I found out in a roundabout way about Birth Boot Camp. It had just launched so my husband and I took the online classes. I was very impressed with how comprehensive the curriculum was and wished it had been around about 2 years earlier. My daughter was born in a birth center, very peaceful and uneventful. A few months later I realized I had been fielding questions from friends and acquaintances about birth, breastfeeding, and babies ever since I had my son and I decided I may as well get certified to give some weight to my (informed) opinions. So, here I am!