Friday, September 18, 2009
Remembering pregnancy cravings
Many of us -- pregnant or not -- try hard to follow diets that we believe are healthy or ideal, all the while denying what we deeply long for. I was following a vegetarian diet for the most part during my pregnancy, but my body drove me on a few occasions to break my own rules.
One day I smelled bacon that was being cooked at a street cart, and I promptly went and purchased a package of bacon, cooked most of it, and ate several strips. I still wasn't satisfied, though, until I realized what I really wanted was the liquid fat in the frying pan! After eating many spoonfuls I felt much better. Several months later I learned about the profound need for vitamin D and fat during pregnancy and realized that what my body really wanted was good old-fashioned bacon fat (also known as lard!) which has traditionally been high in vitamin D (animals raised outside in the sunshine will store lots of vitamin D in their fat). During my pregnancy I ate in a way that I believed was very healthy, but I now see how what I was eating -- and not eating -- was closely linked to the issues I faced, including hypothyroidism, extreme foot swelling, strong cravings for starches and fried foods, and, worst of all, my inability to dilate during labor which resulted in a c-section. (More on this later, but I should just mention that swelling and cravings for processed carbs like white bread and pasta are both signs of protein deficiency. Too many processed foods and sugars, too much soy, and too few high-quality fats in the diet are linked to thyroid dysfunction.)
There was also the occasion where I walked a mile in the dark and cold to buy fast food fried chicken! I shudder as I remember this, but I was absolutely DRIVEN! I only wish that I had known then what I know now, because I would have definitely been able to feed myself and Oliver far better, and would have had a happier time of it.
After the birth, though I still wanted to remain a (sometimes cheating) vegetarian, I asked my mother to make me steak every day for lunch for a week. I found out several days later that I was very anemic, but I really didn't need a blood test to know that I could not deny my need for meat -- I was incredibly weak and utterly exhausted, and the meat definitely helped. The beef that I ate was standard grocery-store fare, which makes me wonder: if I had known how much more satisfying grass-fed meat is at that time, perhaps I would have made sure I got this instead, and maybe the cravings for it would not have lasted as long as they did. It's interesting to consider.