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130 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're even thinking about having a baby, this is Required Reading, April 2, 2009
This review is from: Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods (Paperback)
When we last heard from Nina Planck, she was a leader in the crusade for Real Food. Her precepts are, by now, familiar:

--- 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."
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 5, 2009, 2:09:25 PM PDT
AM says:
this confirms my choice to purchase this book - thank you

Posted on May 4, 2011, 5:41:36 AM PDT
R. Saunders says:
me as well, fantastic review - thanks!
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