Myself and the other half oohed and aahed when my free copy of Zita West’s new book Eat Yourself Pregnant arrived in the post. It is a beautiful book jam-packed with gorgeous photos of the most tantalising and drool-inducing recipes. Everything looks absolutely delicious.
We were just back from a carb, sugar and maybe a little alcohol overload on our holidays and both of our (reasonably) healthy bodies were crying out for a bit of a nutritious cleanse. So the contents of this book were looking all the more appealing than they normally would.
The recipes themselves are created by Christine Bailey but the accompanying text and inspiration comes from midwife and fertility expert Zita West who provides a very succinct and informative introduction to the importance and influence of nutrition on trying to conceive. If you’re a first timer and haven’t filled your library with a bunch of fertility books yet, this one has a huge amount of important and relevant information on all aspects of fertility and trying to conceive that will more than do you. It was an easy, simple read that placed equal emphasis on both women and men preparing their bodies to have a baby and covers wider topics like getting to know your cycle, making healthy sperm, lifestyle factors, alcohol and drugs and looking after your mental health.
The bit that really caught my eye was Zita’s suggestion that a five day detox is a great way to kickstart your body for long term healthy eating habits as you prepare to have a baby. I was feeling bloaty and heavy after my summer of overindulgence so in a fit of madness – and of course for the benefit of you, dear reader – I said, feck it, I’m going to give this five day detox a go!
The book lays out a simple eating plan for you for the five days which includes all three meals and snacks if you need them. Two of the five days are liquid days and you’re back on the solids for the final day of the detox. The five days, including the two liquid days, was easier than I expected and apart from the crankiness of caffeine withdrawal I never felt hungry, weak or dizzy like you often do with other detox regimes.
Ignoring all of the sensible woman’s advice to start on a Thursday, I instead landed in feet first on a Monday. This was mainly because there is quite the shopping list required and a fair amount of preparation. I found myself on the Sunday making homemade granola and Sicilian quinoa salad to help me get through the week’s lunch planning.
Speaking of shopping, the five day detox and indeed the recommended eating regime suggested by Zita is not for the budget conscious. I was giving this a lash for five days and conservatively shopped for ingredients that could be included in multiple recipes and ideally be all used up. My wallet cried when I handed over €15 for a jar of spirulina. It wept when I had to fork out for flaxseed (€8.50), various nuts, fruits and seeds at eye-watering prices and €10.50 for flax oil, which I had never heard of. Have you heard of flax oil? It gets treated better than most children, was harvested at dawn by naked virgins and must be stored in darkness and hushed tones. I jumped for joy when I found a litre of coconut water in Tesco for €4.49 compared to the offensively priced €6.99 in the local health shop (and that was the “cheap” stuff!)
Moral of the story, this way of eating is NOT CHEAP. It is also very time consuming. The book does say that many of the recipes are easy to prepare and they are easy, but Christ they’ve a lot of ingredients and it does take a bit of time. The breakfast smoothies all say they take five minutes, but they’re the five minutes you think you have in the morning before you leave for the bus and you need up missing not only that bus but the next bus too.
I did put it to myself however, that if I was trying to conceive my first child and there was a suggestion of perhaps some fertility assistance on the horizon, then the time and financial investment in following Eat Yourself Pregnant would be well worth it. I could easily see pre-baby me embracing this book with two big welcoming arms. It’s informative, sensible, reassuring and certainly gives you a sense of proactivity.
But most importantly, it makes you feel a) amazing and b) smug as smug can be. Like mega-smug. I had a breakfast smoothie every day in the morning. They all had spinach, celery and cucumber in them. Sometimes they had the aforementioned spirulina, sometimes the coconut water, along with other ingredients. They tasted incredible and made me feel, you guessed it, smug. Sicilian quinoa salad was not only delicious, it also felt like it was literally scrubbing my arteries as it went down. Smug.
High protein homemade granola had goji berries, brazil nuts, almonds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apple, dates, cacao nips (I know) and maple syrup in it. Served with full fat natural yoghurt, it was so delicious I have since made it twice. The recipe has 8 servings and lasts in an airtight container for two weeks. Breakfast frittata was deliciously simple and tasty. I never got around to making any, but there is a chapter at the end for desserts that look sinful but obviously aren’t. If you’re looking for extra smug points, these sound like your man.
I have to say I loved all the recipes. Yes the ingredients are pricey and I would think not sustainable in the long term if you’re on a budget but boy have I eaten well. I’ve incorporated both the daily breakfast shakes, the odd quinoa salad and the granola as a treat into my regular diet. The quick fixer in me was disappointed that I didn’t lose a ton of weight but that’s not the objective really. Mr Mind The Baby gave a huge thumbs up to everything and he’s a guy who knows more than his onions when it comes to eating well and good food.
A final point to note is that following these recipes is impossible without a blender. It gave me a good excuse to finally replace the one that I burnt the arse off five years ago in an alcohol-fueled haze while making pink clouds* at a cocktail party (you see where my priorities lie). I got the Tefal Maxiforce Maxi if anyone is interested, because I wanted one that can blend ice. It is AMAZEBALLS. You’ll need it for blending fruit and veg, nuts, salad dressings, loads of things. In fact you’ll probably struggle to find any recipes that don’t call for some class of a blend.
I’m going to give Eat Yourself Pregnant a big thumbs up. If you’re trying for a baby – particularly if you haven’t had one yet – even if it does nothing else for you, you’ll feel great, smug, and you’ll have a project to focus on while you’re waiting for your double pink lines.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Eat Yourself Pregnant for the purpose of reviewing it however all opinions are my own.
*I know you’re dying to know. 1 shot of vanilla vodka, 1 shots of Bailey’s, a handful of fresh strawberries and a handful of ice. Blend, blend, blend; drink, drink, drink. Best served with a straw and half a strawberry on the side.