I have been inspired to approach my pregnancy and parenthood by a wonderful organisation that I came across last year, who celebrate traditional diets and have helped in my recovery from Candida. Following my diagnosis last year with Candida Albicans and embarking on a detox and overhaul of my diet to regain my health, I was told about the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).
I’ve been through so many ‘foodie phases’ since my Uni days: eating lots of Asian food; exploring ‘health’ foods; buying organic, then local; being obsessed by buying recipe books and watching cooking programmes; growing my own (which has stuck), and many others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
Raw French butter
Looking back on this I see how lost and confused I was in this vast world of food opportunities and how I was just desperately seeking something that clicked for me. A way of eating and cooking that just felt right, and natural.
When I started to read about the WAPF everything just seemed to fall into place for me. Here was this organisation encouraging and teaching all about traditional foods and cooking – it was like someone had designed a guide based on what I was feeling inside about food. In a funny sort of way it just seemed so much simpler and less complicated than all the other food ways I’d experimented with before.
And I trusted it. I didn’t worry that in a few months, or years, I’d be told “sorry, that advice we gave you to eat that, well it’s wrong, stop eating it.”
Soaked and dehydrated nuts for yoghurt topping
Last year Mr Rigg and I had been talking about starting a family, but I’d just been feeling so unwell in myself that it wasn’t until I started to heal the effects of my Candida that I thought I could really consider it.
I was seeing fantastic benefits from the detox I was doing, but I was concerned that I was cutting out some major food groups that I felt I needed to be eating in order to be getting a balanced diet. I just didn’t feel it would be right to try and get pregnant as I currently was.
Me and Mr Rigg
I saw all the benefits of detoxing and cleansing my body, or allowing it a chance to heal, but I desperately felt I needed things like dairy back into my diet in order to be in a positive place for my body to create and grow a baby.
It was through meeting Rob and Sally at Aspen House B&B that I found out about WAPF. One of the key things that the WAPF promotes is drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk, and other raw dairy products. Like me, Rob had suffered from Candida, but had discovered that although he was sensitive to standard cows milk, that he wasn’t to raw milk.
Raw milk from rarebreed shorthorn cattle in Lancashire
I started to try these things out for myself and discovered the same results. From raw milk, I moved on to include raw butter and yoghurt, I started making my own kefir, I began taking fermented cod liver oil every day, and even started cooking with traditional fats like lard and dripping.
Organic grass-fed sausages, locally grown salad, goose fat potatoes and fermented vegetables
One of my initial concerns was that I was going to put on weight quickly, eating large amounts of butter and full fat milk each day, and cooking with generous lumps of lard and dripping. I had slimmed down to a healthy looking (and feeling) me through my few months of cutting out the foods that were making me ill, and I felt a bit sad to think that I might ‘plump’ back up.
Cooking with traditional fats like goose fat
I didn’t. And never did. I couldn’t almost believe it, but now I’m in a place where I’ve read enough and experienced enough to feel that these traditional, natural fats really are good for us. They also make things taste incredibly delicious – no more roasting potatoes or frying eggs in olive oil, potatoes belong with beef dripping or goose fat, and fried eggs with butter (I’ve learnt frying eggs in lard makes them stick to the pan). Extra virgin olive oil is kept mainly for salads now.
Homemade beef dripping chips
WAPF also has lots of information on how traditional cultures prepared for pregnancy, and I learnt about pre-conception diets. Working in the world of weddings I know that some of us spend 18 months to two years planning our wedding, yet we don’t spend the same amount of time planning a baby. When I thought about this I felt a bit embarrassed, and decided I wanted to invest time before getting pregnant.
‘Nourishing Traditions’ and the baby and child care version
I’m not going to detail the full guidelines that the WAPF have for their pre-conception and pregnancy diet (you can find it here), but I did try my best to use these as a guide. It might look like a bit of an alien list to some people, it sounded pretty odd to me at first, and it certainly wouldn’t be recommended by your midwife to eat some of these things!
But we all have a choice, for me I like to do my research, weigh up the risks, and make the right decision for me. I also want to point out that it’s not just a whimsical, randomly thrown together list of foods. For me, once I’d found out why these things are recommended, it made sense.
We found out we were expecting a baby on New Year’s Day, and the months leading up to that point I had been feeding my body the most nutrient dense foods I could find. I ate tons of homemade chicken liver pate thick with raw butter, I took fermented cod liver oil everyday, I ate lots of raw butter on everything, we started making out own stocks and were delighted when they would set into a thick jelly by the next day (bone broths and gelatine are full of good minerals).
Homemade chicken stock
I made my own kefir and even went on a workshop to make my own fermented vegetables, I drank copious amounts of raw milk, and swapped breakfast cereals for two eggs. I am still trying my best to eat this way now that I’m pregnant, which may have some of you horrified that I’m drinking unpasteurised milk, but these are my choices that I’ve made carefully and I’m entitled to them.
Homemade soaked granola with raw milk
When people ask me how my pregnancy has been, I have to tell them it’s been pretty good so far. It seems people mainly ask if you suffered from morning sickness, which I didn’t, I only felt mildly queasy occasionally. Usually I’m then told how lucky I was, or I feel compelled to comment that I was lucky.
Traditionally fermented vegetables
In no way do I wish to come across as rude, especially to those who have suffered from morning sickness, but I don’t want to have to say “wasn’t I lucky” any longer – I feel like I tried really hard to make my body for pregnancy, I spent many nights spraying on magnesium oil or drinking vile cups of fizzing magnesium in an attempt to ward off morning sickness (magnesium deficiency has been linked to morning sickness).
I would love to be able to say these things to people but I’m too afraid that I will get a frosty response, like I’m saying I’m better than other women, or that I’ll just be dismissed as being a bit barmy. I even feel worried saying it here! Maybe if I do say it and share the things I did to try and avoid/alleviate any symptoms, maybe it will inspire other women to look into it to.
Adding grass-fed gelatin to soups
Well here I am at 30 weeks pregnant, and feeling pretty well. I had a bit of a blip with my Candida around Easter (triggered by stress and food I think) but seem to be on the mend again – I’m doing my best to cut out pasteurised cows dairy of any kind as this seems to cause a miserable red rash on my face.
My baby bump at 29 weeks
I still try my best to feed my body these good foods, especially the ones I know are rich in nutrients, although like many women experience some things just don’t appeal at the moment. Perhaps most importantly, I feel like I’ve done my absolute best for me and my baby, in the way that I feel is ‘the best’.
To anyone interested in traditional foods, check out the WAPF website www.westonaprice.org or get yourself a copy of ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and/or ‘The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Card’.