The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.


4 Foods That Are Toxic For Trying or Expecting Mamas

I recently shared this article with Rodale News and wanted to pass it along all you kind lifers.

Most women think of pregnancy as a total departure from normal life, like it’s some kind of 9-month-long excuse to wear fat pants. But all those pints of ice cream and pepperoni pizzas will probably come with a side of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, swollen feet, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

That’s because filling your diet with nasty foods is the quickest way to derail the balance in your body. If your system is busy doing damage control after mealtimes, then it’ll be too short staffed to get to the really important stuff like making a cleaner, safer, healthier place for your baby to live.

Meat, dairy, and processed foods are tracking toxic sludge through your baby house. They’re clogging your arteries, raising your blood pressure, and pumping you full of cholesterol, toxins, hormones, and antibiotics that you don’t need.

Nasty Food #1: Meat
Unlike true carnivores (think big jungle cats with huge pointy teeth), whose short intestinal tracts allow for much faster input-output, when we humans eat meat, it gets to spend time on the 98.6-degree-Fahrenheit lazy river of our insides—up to 72 hours, to be exact. And what’s it doing in those 72 hours? It’s rotting. That’s 3 days that a decomposing piece of flesh is sharing a bunk bed with your baby! Yes, it’s being dealt with by your digestive system, but while that meat is taking days and days to break down, it’s leaching a noxious cocktail of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, pollutants, bacteria, and viruses into your body.

Fish isn’t much better. The tons of garbage floating in the ocean slowly breaks down into snack-size particles for little plankton-eating fish. And when those little fish become dinner for the big fish—which we in turn eat—they’re passing on not only mercury but also organochlorines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other environmental toxins that are known to be major offenders in fertility, increasing the risk oendometriosis and altering hormonal function.

Yes, omega-3 fatty acids (found in some fish) are good at lowering the risk of heart disease, improving blood vessel function, and improving the overall health of people with diabetes, but we can also get these health benefits from omega-3-rich sources like walnuts, chia, hemp, and flaxseeds, without any of the fishy stuff.

Nasty Food #2: Dairy
Dairy, like meat, is full of unwanted surprises. With the approval of the FDA and USDA, many farmers use growth hormones to rev up milk production and antibiotics to treat the frequent infections cows get from being tethered to milking machines three times a day with no fresh air, and feed them livestock grains that are doused with any number of purposely life-killing compounds.

I know milk seems like a healthy staple of our diet—I mean, most of us grew up drinking a glass with dinner. But the truth is, most humans never tasted any milk besides breast milk for almost all of human history. Cow’s milk is a fairly recent addition to a majority of our diets, thanks to industrial production. Besides, no other mammal quenches its thirst on the milk of another species.

Nasty Food #3: Sugar
Sugar is bad for the baby house and bad for you. It causes inflammation, makes you fat, can lead to diabetes, and is linked to cancer. But let’s think about the most obvious point of all: Sugar makes you feel like garbage.

If you’re caught in the sugar-craving hamster wheel, consider this: Refined sugar is really bad for the baby house. The Nurses’ Health Study found that eating too many simple carbohydrates can lower your chance of getting pregnant. And if you do manage to get pregnant, according to a Norwegian study, continuing to consume large amounts of refined sugar puts you at an increased risk for high blood pressure, which can endanger the baby.

Plants are not without their unprocessed sweet rewards, and after you give your poor taste buds a break from the white sugar assault, you won’t believe how utterly satisfying something as simple as a bowl of ripe berries can be.

Nasty Food #4: Processed Food
Believe me, I know the allure of a quick-and-easy meal or snack snapped off the grocery store shelf. But food that comes in a box or bag, that has a mile-long list of ingredients, and that can sit unrefrigerated for days is not the “kind food” we’re talking about.

Yes, there might be whole grains or even kale listed on the side of the box. But chances are, during its factory-processed life, those good bits were souped up with hidden sugars and fats and a scary mix of preservatives and additives that are suspected to be carcinogenic, contributors to obesity and heart disease, and seriously detrimental to the health of your developing baby.

If you’ve gotten to the end of this article and are freaking out about a lifetime spent eating of these foods take a deep breath, deliciousness awaits you – trust me!! The human body is incredibly resilient. It wants to heal and be healthy! By beginning to make cleaner, kinder choices now, you can give your body the opportunity to be the amazing little machine it was meant to be. 

Check out The Kind Mama for more information & seriously delicious recipes


  • Shannon

    “Most women think of pregnancy as a total departure from normal life, like it’s some kind of 9-month-long excuse to wear fat pants.” That’s rude and condescending. You’re just feeding into the idea that it’s okay to fat shame people. As a fat vegan it’s crap like this that make people feel entitled to demand that I justify how I can be fat and vegan. Remember when you were called Fat Girl instead of Bat Girl? Felt good didn’t it. I would have expected more from someone who’s been publicly shamed for their weight.

  • shira levy

    Great info for everyone! Thank you…

  • Tutors, Inc.

    I kind of agree with the the sugar and processed foods part although I don’t think sugar “makes you feel like garbage” especially when you are craving it so bad, you can’t stand still. I believe in everything in moderation during pregnancy. If you are banning yourself from eating French fries every once in a while, the stress can actually affect you and the baby in extreme ways. I am not saying eat 5 supersized burgers at MacDonald’s. I am saying, if you feel like fries while you are out and about, get yourself some fries. It’s ok.
    I don’t agree with the statements about meat and dairy. Cheese is awesome and great for you. Meat helps balance your iron levels naturally without having to take pills (which are terrible by the way because they make you constipated and in constant pain). Basically from what you have written, I get the following: don’t eat meat full of antibiotics, milk full of hormones, limit your intake of fish (doh!), avoid processed foods and sugars. In other words, EAT CLEAN (my grandma knows that). Depriving yourself of foods you are craving during pregnancy is as harmful to you and the baby, as stuffing yourself with Twinkies or icecream. So listen to your body and try to be stress free. Don’t overeat. But try (keyword is “try” here – one or two bites) of anything you crave. You’ll be much more happy than constantly stressing about everything you eat. Balance is key, not extremes.

    • Danae

      It’s called having self control it’s really not hard. If you actually know how to eat right you won’t have to worry about having those kinds of cravings in the first place. Maybe you should try putting the french fries and cheese down and see how you feel.

  • Chuck

    Only processed foods contain bad sugar. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with good sugar. Also some people think that complex carbs are better for health than simple carbs. This is another way of saying that unripe fruits are healthier than ripe fruits. Also there is no salt in foods that are not processed. Salt is much deadlier than refined sugar. If you put 4 ounces of salt in a pint of water and drink it, you will die of hypernatremia (too much sodium). WebMD says that you can improve health by starting to smoke cigarettes and stopping consuming salt.

    Because animals are higher on the food chain they have much higher amounts of pesticides, fungicides and other toxins (like mercury) in them because they have been concentrated. Fish get all of their omega-3 from eating algae.

  • Leila

    Should pregnant women be avoiding raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey? I’ve read a lot about not eating unpasteurized foods, but it contradicts what the fact that these 2 foods are excellent for your health and boosting your immune system.

  • Camila

    So to help my unborn baby developing strong and healthy bones what would be another source of calcium as in a glass of milk?! I’m a vegetarian myself and dairy is not a big part of my diet other then cottage cheese and Greek yogurt but now that I’m 3 months pregnant my family is questioning my calcium intake for my baby development.

  • Ardea

    Of course your body “decomposes” food. Your body decomposes food in order to absorb it through the villi in your small intestines as small molecules in order to use those molecules in constructing your own cells and tissues. Why else are you eating? The absurdity of the #1 Nasty Food: Meat paragraph makes me wish that biology were taught along side reading and writing from kindergarten on.