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Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods Paperback – March 31, 2009
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“Far from deprivation, the nutritional plans here for fertility, pregnancy, nursing and young kids propose a wide variety of whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and raw milk and organic animal fats necessary for healthy pregnancies and fetal and childhood development instead of skim milk, “carbage”(junk carbohydrates) and trans-fats... It tastes better and it’s good for you. Plank gives more comprehensive pre-pregnancy and pregnancy diets than those in What to Expect, and her lively, genuine and personal approach makes it easy to absorb a lot essential information.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Nina Planck, author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why and The Farmer's Market Cookbook, is an expert on local and traditional food. I n London, England, she created the first farmers' market, and in New York City she ran the legendary Greenmarkets. She lives in New York City with Rob Kaufelt and their son, Julian. They all eat real food.
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--- Eat foods with a long history in the human diet (peaches, spinach, lard).
--- Eat them in a whole state, or close to it, or produced in a traditional manner.
--- Eat foods that spoil. But eat them before they do.
--- Don't eat anything that's engineered to be something it's not --- low in something or high in something else. That includes orange juice with DHA --- the vital fatty acid found chiefly in fish --- made from algae. God or Nature (as you prefer) made us fish-eaters. You don't find fish in orange juice.
From the perspective of this household, she's one of the smarties, and her book belongs on the alongside the writing of Michael Pollan. Food writing like this comes less from academic study than from life experience, and Planck has of that --- she grew up on an organic farm and headed New York's Greenmarket. So it's hardly surprising that, when she got pregnant, she would soon be writing about a sensible diet for expectant mothers, what to eat after the baby's born, and what to find the little heir or heiress.
It helps to have read her first book. But worry not. In Real Food for Mother and Baby, Planck summarizes her previous writing. And on the strength of her story, she's doing something right: Five months after her son was born, she was wearing her "prepregnancy jeans".
But let's start with getting pregnant, which is easy to do if you're 19 and unmarried, harder to do if you're in your 30s and working hard. Your diet, she says, "can even affect your baby's genes in the womb." So you want to be in shape to be preggers. Planck pushes for an omnivore's diet and emphasizes the importance of fish oil. For better sperm, she suggests that men eat foods rich in vitamins A and E together.
Eating for two? Planck doesn't buy it. Better, she says, to eat well. But she's no nun. A glass of wine now and then does not, she believes, condemn the fetus to a stunted brain. Especially if you're stoking your body with iron --- by which she especially means red meat or liver, ideally from animals that were raised without drugs.
Once the kid is here, life gets easier. If, that is, you're nursing. Milk, she notes, is all a baby needs for six months. That's another reason for you to eat Real Food: "Thirty minutes after you eat an orange, Vitamin C appears in your milk, just like that." That doesn't mean you can't have some wine: "Once you metabolize alcohol, it disappears from your milk."
I had no idea that the baby's brain has remarkable growth in the first three months of life. Again, all the more reason for the mother to eat lots of "brain food". Want your kid, at age four, to leave other children in the dust? Take cod liver oil during pregnancy and the "fourth trimester."
Once the baby can take solid food, you may part company with Planck. "Raw ground beef or lamb with olive oil and salt?" Yikes! I see the logic. But still: yikes! I'm more comfortable reading about a traditional Italian regime for toddlers: grated Parmesan mixed with olive oil.
Whatever your disagreements with Planck, you can't fault her for stinting on her research. And so you pick up helpful tidbits along the way:
-- "Apple peels contain up to 40 percent of the antioxidant flavonoids in an apple and about one-third of the vitamin C."
-- "Unrefined sea salt contains about 80 essential minerals and trace elements."
-- "Statins, the class of drugs that stops your liver from making LDL, deplete your body of the antioxidant coenzyme CoQ10, which the heart muscle depends on."
Of all her advice, though, there's one suggestion that leaps out at me. Not only because of the common-sense wisdom at the heart of it. Even more, I admire her last line: "Stop searching for the new and the fake. Don't read the latest 'nutrition' bulletins. Eat old foods. Don't eat too much. That should leave time for other, satisfying activities --- like reading a novel."
But my qualm with this book is that it is a childrearing book on food very much written from her experience as a mother. Which is of course, valuable!! However, as a mom of 3 kids myself, if I were to write a book about kid eating after my first kid, I would write a completely different one after my second kid, and third kid, etc. Though I really liked the feeding tips, meal ideas, and pregnancy guidelines, I felt the book lacked authority on the subject. I have a hard time recommending this book to friends because of that reason. We have been eating the "Weston price way" for many years and our newest baby just will NOT touch all the food we put in front of him! All amazing home cooked bounty, but no interest at all. Anyway, all that to say. This is a very "one child perspective" or "My kid did it this way and he's a great eater so your kid should too." And, in my opinion, just lacked authority on the subject of child eating and thus, included very little on "what if my kid won't eat salmon roe!?"
So, I applaud the author on writing this book which I'm sure took a ton of time!! But, I can't even really recommend it to friends without a major disclaimer- she writes a child eating book from a very personal - one child perspective - which lacks a lot of authority.
I feel bad even writing a critique but I appreciate honest reviews... So hopefully someone else does too.
Overall I think Nina's recommendations are sound, but there are a few red flags throughout the book that indicate that she doesn't have the firmest grasp on science. Most glaring is a comment she makes about calcium tablets. She maintains that they're unnecessary and that midwives have been known to find whole, undissolved tables--WHOLE PILLS--in the placenta after birth. In case you're not up on your anatomy, let me just say that if you find you are able to pass an entire tablet from your intestines to your bloodstream, through the wall of your uterus and into your placenta, then you should get yourself immediately to an ER to investigate why you have an enormous, gaping hole through several of your major organs.
Because of this remark and a few other dicey ones I consider this book more of an entertaining read than a real resource, and would suggest taking its more controversial assertions with a grain of salt--although as a member of the posteriorly endowed, I enjoyed her claim that women with big butts have smarter children, and truth be told, I didn't thoroughly fact-check this one.