If you believe that you are what you eat, this book will certainly strike a chord. Michaelis is a mother of three who was converted to the cause of good nutrition when she started to think about what to feed her children. Having her first baby gave Michaelis the opportunity to reflect that the foods she prepared for her family were more than mere fuel.
Kristen Michaelis is perfectly upfront about the fact that she is not a qualified nutritionist. Nor is she a professional scientist or midwife. She is, however, extremely well read on the subject and as such her writing seems well supported by various studies from around the world.
Michaelis deals first with the pre-conception period when a couple are considering trying for a baby. What should they be eating? What kind of balance should their diet have? She draws on some interesting studies from all around the world and notes that from Eskimo to African cultures, societies have been recommending a diet rich in dairy products, fat and seafood for thousands of years if you want to have a baby. The exact foods consumed of course vary depending on where you are, but the idea of a pre-conception diet seems prevalent across the globe.
During pregnancy, Michaelis recommends that you keep a careful eye on what you eat, but readers may be shocked at the way in which she tears up the rulebook of the foods that are “forbidden” to the modern mother to be.
The writer believes that by choosing certain foods, not only can you avoid birth defects, but you can make your baby have good eyesight, high cheekbones and straight teeth. This may be where the a little more scientific balance and research could have been needed. If you are a reader whose child has crooked teeth and poor eyesight, it may not be welcome reading!
This is one of the first books about diet and childbearing that claims that breast may not always be best. Of course, Michaelis acknowledges that breast milk is by far the best thing for infants. She does however cite examples of how vegans or nutritionally impaired mothers may do better to use formula, which is a refreshing departure from the accepted orthodoxy which is usually found in pregnancy books.
After breastfeeding, Michaelis gives sound advice on how to feed your growing family well. If there is any criticism that could be made of this book, it could be that a vegetarian will not find much of interest. Michaelis bases much of her advice on the advantages of meat bone broths, which are hearty for carnivores but unacceptable for veggies!
So often with such books the reader nods along with the diet advice, only to find a list of weird and wonderful ingredients which are not only difficult to find, but once found, unaffordable. However, Michaelis does not fall unto this category. There is a useful section at the end of the book which gives hints and tips about feeding your family well on a tight budget, and how to prioritise.
Whilst there are plenty of books on the market about diet in pregnancy, this one is worth a look because the ideas are fresh and the recipes are achievable.