momlogic: Why is it important for someone to go on a green pregnancy diet? What are the benefits for baby?
Radha McLean: Eating a green diet during pregnancy is ideal; it protects both mom and baby from toxins added to food that have been proven to be linked with devastating health problems and even death. Specifically, the chemicals used to grow conventionally-grown (non-organic) food has been shown in studies to increase the risk of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Next, the mercury found in all kinds of fish (not only high-mercury fish) is associated with premature birth and autism in the babies of moms who had high mercury levels in their bodies during pregnancy. Lastly, the hormones fed to some non-organic animals grown for meat can cause breast cancer. So, there is no doubt that you and your baby are better off if you eat a green diet. You can even start changing your diet before pregnancy!
ML: Did you follow a green pregnancy diet with your first child? Are you following the diet now that you are pregnant with your second?
Radha McLean: Good question. This book was inspired by the fact that I was not eating an optimal diet when I first found out that I was pregnant with my son, who is now a toddler. I have been a vegetarian for life, so on a basic level I ate "green" since I avoided the hormones in meat and the mercury in fish completely. But I did not eat organic food all the time. Also, part of a green diet is getting the right nutrition. In my first trimester, I didn't know to handle the constant hunger and often pigged out on not-so-healthy comfort/carby foods like pizza and protein bars, most of which are super high in sugar. Without wanting to sound hyperbolic, I realized that I needed to change, and made a complete transformation, almost overnight. Once the knowledge of carrying a baby sunk in, I could not bring myself to buy a single dairy, fruit, or vegetable product that was not organic. I also consulted with several health experts and did a ton of my own research on nutrition. I began taking supplements other than just a prenatal vitamin, and eating foods rich in certain nutrients that a pregnant woman needs more of. I talk about all of this nutritional information in a really simple, accessible way in my book. The changes I made to my diet have been permanent; I could never go back to eating the way I used to.
ML: If someone wants to start eating "green" or creating a non-toxic kitchen, what are a few tips to get them started?
Radha McLean: The first thing you can do is start buying organic food. It sounds so overstated, but it's true. Many people think they cannot afford organic stuff or that it's hard to find. Start with the basics. Organic apples and bananas, for example, cost about the same as the conventionally-grown ones. Dairy is a big one, too. Organic milk can be found in most grocery stores these days. Even if you pick one or two foods to buy organic and spend no more than a few extra dollars, you are making a difference.
For your kitchen, the most important thing you can do, other than recycle and reuse plastic and glass containers, is buy non-toxic (cast-iron or stainless steel) pots and pans. The Teflon, aluminum, and non-stick pans that most people use actually leach toxins into the food you cook. Cast-iron pans have been around for a long time, so they are pretty inexpensive and easy to find. Added bonus: they actually "leach" something good into your food: iron!
"The Green Pregnancy Diet" is available at Amazon.com.
Did you eat "green" during your pregnancy? Why or why not?