Note: This chapter deals mainly with general issues relating to food and diet as appropriate to women, men, and children of all ages. More detailed and contextual topics are included elsewhere
· Diet as Affecting Conception Difficulties - Chapter 3, page 144.
· Diet During Pregnancy - Chapter 4, page 203.
· Diet for the Breastfeeding Mother - Chapter 6, page 356.
· Baby's Diet Beyond Weaning - Chapter 6, page 366
Understanding food and being able to create a well balanced diet is important, not only for the health of adults and young children, but also for the health of our unborn children. This is what commonsense tells us and this is now what all the latest research shows(1). Everyone under-stands from an intellectual point of view that they should eat a balanced diet, but making this a practical reality can be very difficult. It is one thing to say - "Eat well" - but it is another to re-educate oneself and one's family into a better food regime.
In this chapter, I deal with food and health in general, as applies to everybody and have included the most important topics which can help you identify the problem areas in your food life and also suggested practical solutions to help you improve old eating attitudes and habits. In later chapters I discuss the specific dietary needs of pregnancy and afterwards.
The procuring of food, either by purchase or growing, and then the preparation of it into meals, does take up a lot of our time. Due to busy lifestyles, most people try desperately to reduce the time they spend dealing with food. Eating out, take away foods, frozen pre-cooked foods, snack foods at home, microwave food, or just going without a meal because you're in a hurry - all of this has reduced the emphasis on creating quality meals and quality food. Couple that need to save time with the modern emphasis on a having a trim body, and a person can end up pretty ignorant about how to buy, prepare and eat good food. This food ignorance also carries over into cooking for a family, new or otherwise. Approaching motherhood is an ideal time to reappraise your attitude to food and implement some better practices which will in turn then be passed onto your children. Mothers are usually their
children's first food gurus (although Ronald McDonald is fast assuming that role nowadays).
For a woman with desires to become preg-nant, the first thing she should consider for that child is advanced health preparation of her own body. The times of pregnancy, labour and new motherhood are extremely taxing on all parts of the physiology and mind. There are so many unique chemical considerations to pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the longest lead time should be considered. Years of nutritional deficiencies, years of emotional eating patterns or years of dissatisfied body image cannot be rectified in 9 short months. It is not just a matter of thinking - "Now I'm pregnant I'd better go and get some hints about dietary supplements and breathing exercises for labour". The sooner you start on all these things the better. A woman planning to be a mother, should consider the whole of her post-pubescent life as pre-natal preparation. Years of dietary neglect will eventually catch up during pregnancy. As you approach and especially during pregnancy, it is vital that you are eating a fully balanced diet. Pregnancy should not be a time of "catching up" on nutrients which may have been neglected previously.
In addition to creating a good diet for your own body before and during pregnancy, after the birth you will be feeding someone far more fussy in tastes and needs than you can begin to imagine! Following weening, both you and your young child will need to have a good diet too. Even after having been through 6 pregnancies, I am still amazed at just how much energy one needs to sustain the mothering life and how much a part good food can help in this area. It is certainly not just a bit of extra strength one needs for 9 months and a few months afterwards whilst breastfeeding, but also the sustenance one needs for the years of physical and mental tiredness which can come from a household with kids. Also, the normalisation of body chemistry following birth can take quite a long time but it is certainly made much easier by a good diet.
Self education about food and self understand-ing through yoga can help every woman examine frustrations and negativity she may have towards her body. Addressing one's attitudes to food and creating a positive body image assists in accepting the changes that your body will go through during pregnancy and afterwards.