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Beating the Jelly Doughnut

Jelly Donut

How could I ever have found this guy attractive?

It’s been about two months now since I started following my strict anti-inflammatory diet. The biggest challenge to this new way of eating is my monstrous sweet tooth, which has only gotten more insistent as this kid inside me grows.

During my last pregnancy, I subsisted mainly on chocolate croissants, sugary cereal and jelly doughnuts (which I usually find completely disgusting). Despite the huge, everything-you-could-possibly-want cafeteria spanning the entire first floor of the Fortune 50 company I worked for at the time, I recall leaving the building to drive to Dunkin Donuts and buy a jelly doughnut. More than once.

Eating whatever I wanted was how I got through my first pregnancy. When I felt crappy, I ate. When I was scared or tired or fed up with being pregnant, I ate.

This time around, I’m missing both the amazing smorgasbord of food all hours of the day and my sugar-laden support group. So you can imagine how excited I was yesterday to have something akin to a treat: homemade granola.

Homemade Granola

Store-bought granola doesn’t hold a candle to this stuff

The recipe I followed is from the beautiful cookbook, “The Sprouted Kitchen,” by Sara Forte, and it’s been republished on the blog, Delightful Crumb. The recipe was simple and so much healthier than the store-bought stuff — not to mention much, much tastier. I don’t care for raisins so I substituted dried cherries (with no added sugar) and decreased the amount of maple syrup called for in the recipe. I also found mine was plenty brown after 25 minutes, rather than the recommended 35-45.

Another perk of making your own granola is having more than one serving — as long as you can keep yourself from eating the entire batch warm out of the oven. (It was not easy.) This morning, I made Angela Liddon’s Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal from her amazing blog, Oh She Glows. (If you’ve never visited this blog, you must do so immediately. Her recipes are mostly free of meat, dairy, gluten, soy and processed foods, and everything I’ve made has been delicious.) I topped it off with some of the granola and it was pure heaven.

If you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet, don’t mistake this stuff for the perfect food. Although the ingredients are all pretty wholesome (oats, pumpkin, spices, olive oil, etc.), I’m still careful not to eat it on an empty stomach. I start every meal with protein — especially first thing in the morning — and save anything that’s higher in sugar or carbs for after I’ve eaten something more substantial. This prevents a rapid rise in blood sugar, which is widely considered to be pro-inflammatory.

Since I’ve been following this dramatically healthier diet, I’ve made some crazy discoveries. I’ve been shocked to find that my taste buds are rapidly expanding and widening their world view. Whereas I used to just melt cheese over everything I ate, now I’m seasoning my food with interesting spices and flavors from nature. Foods I didn’t like before — such as pumpkin! — are suddenly tasting wonderful to me. I’m loving ginger (a great anti-inflammatory food) and can’t get enough spicy mustard. Is it possible my tastes are finally growing up?

And those jelly doughnuts? They’re kind of like that boyfriend you used to think was so hot, but now you cringe when you see old photos of the two of you. This time around, I haven’t thought about eating a jelly doughnut for a single instant. At least I hadn’t before I started writing this …

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Here We Go Again

Baby On The Way

Hello, world!

Friends, the bump is back. Baby #2 is on the way, due December 2!

Now that all the initial feelings of fear, anxiety and nausea have (mostly) passed, I feel incredibly blessed to be expecting again. My son will have a brother or sister, and I know from experience that’s a wonderful thing.­

The first few weeks of this pregnancy were tough, which is why I’ve been underground for a little while. I’ve been dealing with a couple health issues, one of which is an autoimmune disorder and both of which cause fatigue and general malaise. Adding pregnancy exhaustion on top of that left me feeling pretty awful overall.

In those early weeks, I ignored what my body was trying to tell me and went into full indulgence mode. Like the first time around, I completely abandoned my healthy eating plan and started stuffing my face with whatever sounded delicious: cereal, toast, ice cream, waffles, pasta, butter, bread, sugar, bread, sugar, sugar, sugar …

As a result, I started feeling worse and worse. I was dragging myself around the house, barely functioning and not at all being the fun, attentive mom I wanted to be. I found myself feeling pretty negative about the whole pregnancy experience.

When life gets hard, nothing soothes the soul like a conversation with a good friend. For me, a simple phone call from a friend turned out to be a beacon of light in my time of need.

My friend reminded me that I can’t take care of this baby without taking care of myself. My autoimmune disease means that I have inflammation throughout my body, which flares up when I’m not following a healthy lifestyle. The most reliable trigger is unhealthy eating and — although I’ve been following an anti-inflammatory diet for the past couple years — I finally had to admit that I never fully committed to it.

Most importantly, I learned that my autoimmune disease can have a serious impact on the baby. That was enough to make me turn things around for good.

The morning after my friend’s pep talk, I went back to the anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been casually following, but this time with a vengeance. No wheat, no dairy, no rice, no corn, no sugar (!), no pasta, no cereal, no bread, crackers or cookies and only a limited amount of lean, organic meat. Processed foods, snack foods and even gluten-free substitutes are out. And, hardest of all: no coffee.

Despite the difficulty of coming off more than 15 years of unconditional love for coffee, I felt instantly better after quitting cold turkey. After feeling bad for such a long time, it was like coming out of a dark cave into the light.

This is not to say that pregnancy is all light and joy, of course. I’m not a terribly disciplined person and I fall off the wagon from time to time. I’m haven’t completely figured out which foods are best to include or exclude from my complicated diet, and my energy level is still pretty low. But there’s no question that I’m doing better than I was, and that makes it all worth it.

So you may be wondering after all this, what do I eat? Lots of fruit and veggies, beans, quinoa, green smoothies, salads, goat cheese and many cups of tea. I’ve found some incredible cookbooks and food blogs that have helped me and I’ll share the recipes I like over the next few weeks.

Hopefully I’ll continue to feel pretty good. Maybe I’ll even stay within the recommended weight gain this time around instead of blowing right past it. Just the other day my husband told me how good I look, cheerfully remarking, “You don’t even look pregnant from the front or the side. Just from the back.”

Friends, you win some, you lose some.

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