I receive questions pretty regularly from women who are pregnant and wanting to go Paleo. They want to know whether or not it’s safe for them to change their diet so drastically in the midst of such a dynamic phase of their lives.
Here’s what I say to people who are pregnant when they ask if they should go Paleo.
I don’t think it’s a bad idea. However, I do think it’s VERY important that you transition slowly and methodically. Your body, as you know, has a delicate balance of hormones, and especially in the beginning of a pregnancy you don’t really want to be messing with that balance too harshly. Going Paleo will affect your thyroid, adrenals, and sex organs, and all of the hormones associated with those. While that’s generally a good thing, any major change will cause a detox effect, which may affect the baby.
I’d recommend you not do an extremely low-carb Paleo diet.
Due to the growing baby’s need for glucose, women naturally need more carbohydrates when they’re pregnant, so this isn’t the time to go super low-carb at all. It’s fine to decrease your carbs if you’re currently on a standard Western (very high carb) diet, but I’d decrease your carbs slowly and watch very carefully for symptoms, fatigue, and any other sign that your body is unhappy.
So in order to not decrease your carb count too drastically, I’d start making a gradual switch to Paleo. Start with going gluten free. Just switch out all your glutenous goods for gluten-free goods for a month and don’t change anything else. Even then, you may experience a little bit of detox, but it won’t be as bad as a full on Paleo detox.
Then after that month, go dairy and gluten free for a month. Then after that month, start subbing out some of your grains for sweet potatoes, fruit, tapioca flour, honey, and other Paleo carbs, but make sure you’re eating enough carbs!
Don’t let yourself get to the point where your blood sugar is very low and you feel fatigued throughout the day (more fatigued than you normally feel being pregnant, that is). A healthy dose of Paleo carbs with every meal, plus a healthy dose of Paleo fats, and a moderate to low amount of protein throughout your pregnancy will be the best way to go with this. According to Chris Kresser, high protein diets (more than 25% of the diet) have been found to be detrimental to the baby during pregnancy, so no power protein shakes alongside a 12 oz steak for you ;)
Basically, the take home here is that in order to maintain as much hormonal homeostasis as you can during this very tumultuous hormonal time, the safest thing to do is ease slowly into Paleo. But that’s just my advice. You can, of course, do whatever you want ;)
Oh, and know that Chris Kresser created a VERY comprehensive program for pregnant women and new moms all about what they should eat and feed their newborns. It’s called the Healthy Baby Code and you can find it here.
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