Spring Pregnancies: How to Stay Fit and Healthy with a Paleo Diet

At this time of year, flowers are in bloom, the vegetable garden is beginning to produce (depending on where you live) and the theme all around us seems to be growth and starting anew, with a fresh approach to eating if you’re new to a Paleo lifestyle.


Now, I’m not only referring to cute, cuddly baby animals when I write about growth and starting anew, I’m also talking about spring pregnancies.


Women often email me asking a range of questions on the general topic of a Paleo diet and pregnancy.  


Is it safe? Will the baby get all the nutrients he or she needs? Will I? Is it ok to follow while breastfeeding?


The answer to all of the above is yes.


Let’s start out with the basics.  How much is too much weight to gain?  We’ve all heard our sisters, friends and colleagues joke that they’re ‘eating for two’, but what’s really the best recommendation?


The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology1 recommends that women at a healthy weight before pregnancy gain between 25–35 pounds.  Of course, there are always exceptions and this should be merely a ballpark figure; be sure to check with your own OB/GYN who knows you and your body well enough to guide you individually through your safe pregnancy.


And what about exercise?


Again, while ACOG offers their own recommendations, they can vary quite a bit from woman to woman, but factoring in one’s baseline is key.  An elite runner who gets pregnant will likely be able to carry on running without harm to the baby far longer into her pregnancy compared to a woman who was just beginning a fitness routine.


In particular, prenatal yoga can help you feel more comfortable, fit, and relaxed during pregnancy.  Prenatal yoga focuses on breathing and safe sequences which can help ease labor and delivery.  Yoga can also help you improve sleep, reduce stress, and bond with other pregnant women as you prepare for childbirth. 2


And now onto the Paleo stuff…. what about what mom-to-be should be eating?  Doesn’t she need milk to help the baby’s bones develop?  And isn’t really just a case of getting down whatever food she can in the event she’s got severe morning sickness?




Not only is a Paleo diet not risky for moms to be, it’s absolutely beneficial!


In fact, there are certain Paleo-friendly foods that also happen to be recommended by some experts in Chinese Medicine that are thought to help with conception!


Of course, Chinese Medicine also recommends some foods that are not Paleo, just for the record, but let’s focus on those the two both recommend.  Interesting to note that all the foods to avoid are also those to avoid on a Paleo diet!   


In particular, I find it interesting to note the reference of bread and dairy being mucous-forming.  


It is believed that the origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine go back more than 5,000 years and even then it was known, according to this theory, that these two ‘foods’ were to be avoided.    


Western Medicine has been around for roughly 250 years.   It tells us we need these mucous forming foods and helps establish guidelines for the USDA. The USDA gets kickbacks from Big Pharma, and Big Pharma would go out of business if we were healthy, generally speaking.   Not that there isn’t a time and place for modern day medicine, but you get the gist!


Below is an overview, from an article in the Examiner


  • Phlegm-Damp foods are mucous forming foods stemming from poor eating habits or poor digestive function. These foods impede smooth flow of Qi or energy and should especially be avoided if one has a history of ovarian cysts. Avoiding these foods are important. Here are examples of foods that fall into this category: fatty foods, dairy products, sweets (especially ice cream) bread and fried foods. 


  • Jing is the Chinese word for essence also known as our genetic makeup. A person’s Jing is established once the egg and the sperm meet. People who are constantly ill or who have high levels of stress have lowered Jing. Examples of foods that replenish the Jing are: royal jelly, seeds and nuts, eggs (birds, fish), oysters, seaweed, artichoke, nettles and avocados. Foods to avoid are alcohol, and the mucous forming foods listed above.


  • Yin foods nourish the internal and moistening aspects of the body. An example of this would be cervical mucous, which helps the sperm to reach the egg. During the menstrual cycle the follicular phase is considered to be the yin phase. Foods that help to nourish yin are:  fish, almond milk, asparagus, dark fruits, duck and pork. Foods that should be avoided are stimulating drinks and foods, coffee, spicy food, and avoid soy unless it is fermented. Additionally, chronic dieting and recreational drugs diminish yin.


  • Yang foods are nutrient and calorie rich foods that provide our body with energy. During the menstrual cycle the luteal phase, which is after ovulation, is considered to be the yang phase. If someone is yang deficient they typically lack sexual desire, have lower sperm count, impotence, etc. Two food groups that are good at increasing energy are proteins, carbohydrates and foods warmer in nature. One must be careful to not over eat warming foods to the point of sweating which actually decreases yang. Other foods that impede the yang are icy cold food and beverages, and raw cold foods.


  • Qi ensures proper circulation and in return nourishes the blood. Proper flow of Qi is important as to avoid obstacles such as sinking Qi, which can lead to miscarriages. Foods that promote Qi circulation are root vegetables, arugula, watercress, onions, garlic, chives, and green tea. Foods you should avoid are the mucous forming foods as mentioned above.


  • Blood foods help to build and nourish the blood. This is especially important to women because of the loss of blood that occurs during the menstrual cycle. If your menses contains clots or is darker in color, eating blood foods will be beneficial. Examples of these foods are organic meats and poultry, stocks of soup from bones, carrots, mushrooms and yams. Foods that should be avoided are sour or astringent in nature.


In addition, some say that eating foods which mimic the shape and color of our female organs, such as eggplants and tomato are also beneficial.  As long as you aren’t following the Paleo diet autoimmune protocol, there’s no harm!


Need a little extra help?   Check out my mom-to-be four-week eating plan.  Easy, fast and 100% Paleoista approved!



[1] Modified from Institute of Medicine (US). Weight gain during pregnancy: reexamining the guidelines. Washington, DC. National Academies Press; 2009. ©2009 National Academy of Sciences


[2] http://www.yogaworks.com/classes/prenatal-yoga