Tag: soy

Eating Healthy After Having a Baby

Chef V pregnant -1

ChefV.com founder, Veronica Wheat, recently gave birth. Before she delivered, she sported a serious belly bump. Actually, it’s more like a bowling ball! At 34 weeks pregnant, her baby was massive! 

But did that stop V from being active? Of course not. She’s was still super active. And did V give into pregnancy cravings? Nope, she ate healthy and has an important message about nutrition for new moms…

(V wrote this article before she gave birth.)

Whew! What an amazing 8-month-long journey this has been. I can hardly believe that my due date is just around the corner! In just a few short weeks, my little bundle of joy will make his grand entrance into the world. 

Make that a huge bundle of joy because right now—I’m 34 weeks as I’m writing this—HE is already huge: over 7 pounds! (Sorry to spoil the gender reveal.)

And he’s only going to get bigger. Starting in week 36, babies gain about half a pound and grow half an inch a week. That means he (naming reveal to be announced later) is on track to be 10 pounds by week 38. I wasn’t all that surprised, considering that on both sides of the family, we’ve got some long, tall genes. 

Despite lugging a bowling bowl around with me everywhere I go,  I’m not one of those pregnant moms with swollen feet propped up on pillows. That’s because I’m been staying super active and eating healthy. 

Look, I know how tempting it is when you’re pregnant to give in to cravings. “I’m carrying around this 10-pound baby and deserve a pint of ice cream!” 

But when you give into temptation during the later part of your pregnancy, you run the risk of…

gestational diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

You can have perfectly normal blood sugar levels but if you get your Ben & Jerry’s on every night, you can develop a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy: Gestational diabetes. 

As if our hormones weren’t challenged enough being ladies without gestating babies. But during pregnancy, shifts in hormone levels can change how our body processes glucose (sugar). With pregnancy, hormones focus on the task at hand, keeping baby healthy—at the expense, however, of making it more difficult for the hormone, insulin, to escort sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. 

With all the built-up sugar in the blood, gestational diabetes can occur. And it usually happens around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. 

Only someone who has given birth, or is about to, can understand the intense desire to eat whatever you want. But the problem with giving in to temptation is that gestational diabetes doesn’t just affect the mama, but also the baby. 

Preeclampsia (high blood pressure), premature birth, macrosomia (a condition in which the baby grows larger than normal), and neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar in the baby after birth) are just a few conditions that are tied to gestational diabetes. 

So even though pre-natal babies and bon bons go hand in hand, I’m not willing to jeopardize my health or that of my baby for a quick sugar fix. If I need something sweet, I’ll go for some fresh organic fruit or make one of my popular smoothies or low-sugar desserts.

Read Real Food For Pregnancy 

I’ve been studying nutrition pretty much my adult life. But when it comes to eating healthy during pregnancy, I wanted to turn to the experts. And one of the best resources I came across was a book called, “Real Food For Pregnancy,” written by the author of Real Food For Diabetes, Lily Nichols, a registered dietitian, and certified diabetes educator. 

On one hand, the importance of consuming nutrient-dense, real foods should apply to everybody, no matter which stage of life you’re in, baby bump or none. But what I found the most valuable from the book is the common misconceptions about prenatal nutrition. For instance, many pregnant women are told to avoid eggs or seafood, due to their cholesterol or mercury content. 

Would you call child protective services on me if I told you I’ve been eating sushi while pregnant? It’s true! As Nichols implies, there’s no reason to be hysterical about eating sushi occasionally. Would I get to-go sushi from a gas station? No. But I’ll go to a high-end sushi joint I’ve been going to for years, and has never made me sick. Why risk it, you might ask? It’s because the cold-water fish used in sushi rolls are one of the best sources of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and one of the best nutrients for your heart and brain. And for a growing baby, too!

However, you definitely want to keep your intake of high-mercury fish like swordfish and canned tuna to a minimum. High-mercury fish tend to be lower in DHA anyway. Try to limit your intake of canned tuna and mahi to 6 oz once a week. 

below, my recipe for Pistachio Coated Salmon.

Is Red Meat Safe For Pregnancy?

I’ve never been a huge meat eater. But I have gotten in touch with my inner caveman because in reading Real Food For Pregnancy, I learned that eating a little meat-on-bone provides essential nutrients such as collagen that you can’t get from a typical burger patty. Still, it’s weird gnawing on chicken bones like I’m a frat boy putting down 20 pieces on wing night at the bar. 

Of course, the quality of meat is super important. I know how insane food prices have shot up. But I’m willing to spend the extra money to support my developing baby. 

below, Chef V's baby shower

Chef V baby shower

Prenatal Vitamins: Are They Worth It?

Of course, certain nutrients are vital for a growing baby such as folic acid. Personally, I think prenatal vitamins are just fine, but the one mistake some expecting mothers make is that they take the vitamins in lieu of getting the nutrients from real food. 

That’s why I’ve been eating more eggs during pregnancy than combined over my whole life. Remember DHA I was just talking about? I eat 3 eggs a day sometimes to make sure I’m getting it straight from the source. But I admit, I’m gonna be so sick of eggs by the time this is over.  

Avoid Green Leafy Veggies Because of Bacteria?

Some expecting mothers are told to avoid green leafy veggies because they may be more susceptible to bacterial contamination. 

But if you’re avoiding dark green leafy veggies because you’re scared of bacteria, well, that’s just crazy. No offense. 

Green leafy veggies are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Why deprive yourself and your growing baby of the vitamins and minerals on the rare chance you’ll become sickened by tainted produce? 

In my opinion, the reward of eating plenty of dark, leafy greens is much greater than the risk. 

I’m also not giving into the warning not to drink unpasteurized juices. At least not when it comes to having Organic Green Drink, which my body is so used to after drinking it for over 10 years. 

Again, the health benefits of raw Green Drink outweigh the risks. The living microorganisms from the 7-certified organic leafy greens in Green Drink nourish my gut microbiome. And, in turn, it will help colonize my baby’s beneficial gut bacteria. 

Now, I don’t want you to think that even while pregnant I don’t eat any junk. But pretty much, my biggest indulgences have been pancakes or waffles. Obviously, with almond flour, not regular white flour, haha. 

pregnant woman by the pool

Staying Active Well Into 3rd Trimester

The impulse to sit on the couch when you’re sweating with a watermelon-sized belly is strong. But not only do you have to get a little movement, the more movement you get, the easier your pregnancy may be. 

That’s why I’m still doing yoga almost every day, going to the gym, playing pickleball 5-6 days a week—yup, even at 34 weeks!—and last, but not least, I’m playing golf 2-3 times a week. All the while still working full-time! I work every day but I also make sure to squeeze in time for fun every day. 

And here’s the crazy thing. Now that I’m just about 6 weeks shy of the due date, my golf game is better than ever. I’m crushing the ball. My drives are 240 yards. That’s 40 yards longer than before I became pregnant! I’m catching up with Brandon’s long game. Still, I have to admit some defeat. I can’t do a whole 18 holes. I’m cutting down to 9. 

You know how in traditional cultures, the moms carry their babies on their backs? Well, I’ll probably be on the links and pickleball court with one of those back slings, haha! 

Stay tuned. I can’t wait to introduce you to…him. 

Chef V and Pickle ball

Soy: Does It Bring A New Mom Joy Or Is It Best To Avoid?

sleep and weight loss

ChefV.com founder, Veronica Wheat, recently gave birth. She avoided soy before and after giving birth. Here, she explains why:

When it comes to soy, I’m not talking about the lab-grown kind that’s in Impossible Burgers. Been there, covered that. I’m also not talking about soy protein powder (here). Now that I’ve got a baby belly for real, I’m curious how regular soy, the kind that’s used to make blocks of tofu, for instance, impacts prenatal health. 

Spoiler alert: it’s not something I’ll be feeding my developing baby. For some people, this news might be surprising because soy is supposed to be a healthy plant-based source of protein. And for women going through menopause, soy is supposed to help balance estrogen levels. 

The thing is that soy, despite its seemingly innocuous squishy nature, has a dark side…

tofu block

Problem With Soy #1: GMOs

Almost all the soy that’s grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. But don’t just take my word for it. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own stats, over 90 percent of soybeans are produced using genetically-engineered varieties. I’ll be stoked if my kid becomes an engineer but there’s no way I want my baby eating GMO foods. 

Think I’m just being paranoid about GMO soy? Then check out the conclusion of this study from Environmental Sciences Europe:

“Serious adverse events of GM consumption include mortality, tumor or cancer, significant low fertility, decreased learning and reaction abilities, and some organ abnormalities.”

Case closed. 

Problem With Soy #2: Pesticides

Is the simple answer to buy organic, non-GMO soy? (FYI: Organic foods are not genetically engineered, so saying organic non-GMO is redundant.) 

This is a bit of a tricky question. On one hand, soy is one of the most heavily-sprayed crops. I previously talked about the potential dangers of the world’s most widely used weedkiller: glyphosate (used in the Monsanto brand, Roundup). 

Organic soy is not sprayed with glyphosate. But that doesn’t mean it won’t contain traces of it. If an organic farm is located close to a non-organic farm that uses glyphosate, the spray can drift to the organic farm. 

Again, it may sound like I’m being a bit kooky worrying about glyphosate drift. But studies have shown that people who live near large farms where herbicides and pesticides are used are at risk. 

And that’s not a risk I’m willing to expose my kid to. In fact, according to a study in Diabetes Care, exposure to glyphosate in the first trimester is linked to a higher risk of gestational diabetes, says pregnancy nutrition expert, Lily Nichols, RDN. 

spraying fields

Problem With Soy #3: Environmental Impact

The next problem with soy is how it affects the environment that my child will walk on, in just a few short months!

It turns out that soy has a huge negative impact on the Earth. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, soy production has more than doubled over the last two decades. While we need more crop yields to feed a growing population, the production of soy is mostly unsustainable and contributes to rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Forests and grasslands are cleared to cultivate soy. The result is that not only are natural habitats destroyed, so are the traditional cultures that rely on them. 

What’s more is that soy isn’t just grown for human consumption. In fact, approximately 80% is used as feed for livestock. And even if you think the environmental impact of cow farts are greatly exaggerated, there’s no denying that soy usurps a huge amount of resources. It requires immense amounts of water and chemicals to cultivate soy. In addition, the clear-cutting of forests to make room for soy changes the natural composition of the soil. 

woman holding sign save our planet

Soy Brings No Joy – Reason #4: Heavy Metals

When soy is cultivated in unhealthy/unnatural soil, the soil becomes eroded and often contains heavy metals like aluminum. If you have an excess amount of aluminum in your body, it creates oxidative stress in the brain, liver and kidney, says a 2022 study in Emerging Medicine International

Conventional soy is often processed in aluminum containers or boxes instead of the traditional Japanese wooden boxes. The aluminum can leach out of the box into the tofu. And if that’s not bad enough, conventional soy can interfere with the absorption of the good minerals you want in your gut like calcium, zinc and magnesium. 

The ultimate reason I’m not going to avoid soy over the next several months? I’ll let the aforementioned Lily Nichols explain. Nichols quotes a study on her website from Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior which concludes:

“Aluminum exposure during pregnancy has potential neurotoxic hazards to the in utero developing fetus brain.”

aluminum sheet, crumpled

Conclusion: Soy Isn’t Totally Evil

There’s no way I’m chugging gallons of soy milk while I’m pregnant or while I’ll be breastfeeding. However, I’m not suggesting that all soy is bad all of the time. I think with soy, the key is moderation and the type. I’m in favor of fermented soy that’s produced via traditional methods.

Miso soup, tempeh and natto are examples of fermented soy that are healthy sources of plant-based protein. Whole organic soybeans can also be your best friend if you’re looking to manage hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, not something I’m not looking forward to.

For now, I’ll enjoy being a new mom, soy-free. 

Chef V, Coco and kale

Impossible Burgers: I tried them, here’s what I found

Chef V, Veronica Wheat

A plant-based fast-food burger with a bloody-red chewy texture that tastes just like a regular hamburger? Sound “Impossible” to you?

Now available at Burger King throughout the U.S. is the Impossible Whopper, a 100% plant-based patty that looks and tastes supposedly exactly just like the beef-patty Whopper. The Impossible Whopper is possible thanks to the brand, Impossible Foods.

But before you hop in your car and run red lights racing to get to your local Burger King, there’s a dark side to the Impossible Whopper.

I have yet to try the Impossible Whopper. I’m not completely ruling out giving it a try. But after the research I just read on it, let’s just say I want be committing any moving violations to sink my teeth into the faux-bloody plant patty.

Impossible Burgers: The Good

Before I share with you why I’m not bursting at the seams to try this plant-based meat alternative (even though I’m a certified nutritional therapist and advocate for a 90%-plus plant-based diet, including daily Green Drinks), let me first say why I give props to the company Impossible Foods.

The company’s heart is in the right place. Eating a plant-based burger instead of a regular beef patty, requires 96% less land, 87% less water, and emits 89% fewer greenhouse gases, according to company statistics.

As John O’Connor, founder of the blog, Gene Food, says in his review of the Impossible Burger, “Raising cattle the way we do does real damage to our planet, and it has to stop, at least at its current trajectory. The industrial farming system is unsustainable, environmentally ruinous, and cruel to both animals and humans alike.”

Anything that gets Americans to consume less factory-farmed meat is a big win-win-win for the planet, consumers and farmers.

Impossible Burgers: The Bad

But as O’Connor points out, the people who created the Impossible Whopper, which is 100% vegan if you hold the mayo and cheese, forgot something crucial. Americans are, by and large, sick because of eating too many highly-processed foods. The Impossible Whopper does contain a few natural ingredients. But most of the ingredients in the vegan burger are processed; a couple of them are cause for alarm (see below).

The Impossible Whopper, though it may be a seemingly perfectly-healthy comfort food, contains two of the most common food allergens: soy and wheat.

Both soy and wheat are highly culpable in the ever-increasing rates of autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders often destroy the mucosal barrier of the gut, which is the body’s first line of immune system protection.

So before you go sinking your teeth into an Impossible Burger, thinking you’re doing your body good, just be aware that they soy and wheat in the plant-based burger may trigger your body’s immune system to go into inflammatory overdrive, eventually attacking itself.

(Modern wheat and processed soy aren’t natural; your body recognizes the particles in these ingredients as harmful.)

What’s In The Impossible Burger?

Impossible Food’s vegan patty also contains coconut and sunflower oils, which constitute the third and fourth-most ingredients in the Impossible Whopper, respectively. (Water and soy protein concentrate are the first two, respectively.)

Here’s the problem with these two oils…

Although coconut oil has been hyped in the natural health world (Guilty as charged: I include it in some of my recipes in Making Cleansing Easier), for some people (especially those with the APOE4 gene) consuming a lot of coconut oil is bad for the heart. As for sunflower oil, it has a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids.

Most Americans consume far too many foods with omega-6s (and not enough omega-3s). The ideal ratio of omega 6’s to 3’s should be no more than 4:1. The typical American diet is roughly 20 times higher in omega-6’s than 3’s. Consuming too many omega-6’s, especially from processed seed oils like sunflower contributes to inflammation.

Impossible Burgers: The Ugly (Soy Leghemoglobin)

In addition to the dangers of PFAS compounds in fast food packaging, I wrote about recently, I have another reason to severely restrict your consumption of fast food. And this reason specifically relates to the Impossible Whopper.

The inventors of the burger knew that in order to sell a lot of plant-based burgers and get a huge chain like Burger King to get behind it, they needed to imitate the dripping red juicy aesthetic of a beef patty.

Enter the most problematic ingredient in the Impossible Whopper: Soy Leghemoglobin (or simply, soy “heme”). Basically, it’s a genetically-modified organism. In other words, it’s lab-produced. Is it safe to eat? The short answer is: maybe. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), soy heme is a GRAS ingredient (Generally Regarded As Safe.)

But the fact is, humans haven’t been eating soy heme long enough to know if it is indeed safe to eat on a long-term scale. And for people who are either allergic or sensitive to soy, it’s most likely not healthy to consume.

An online letter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that the FDA should have done a more thorough job in assessing the safety of soy heme. The letter states that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organization, is concerned that there is “strong evidence that heme contributes to the carcinogenic mechanisms associated with red and processed meats.”

Read my article: PFAS: Why Fast Food is Worse for you than Ever

Soy Burgers & Breast Cancer

I’m especially concerned about the risk of breast cancer because of the soy-based ingredients. Soy products mimic estrogen. If your hormones are out of balance and estrogen dominant, it raises the risk of breast cancer.


So … would you like fries with that?

Oh, and here’s one more problem with the Impossible Whopper…

If you’re vegan or vegetarian be aware that the short-order cook isn’t going to scrub down the grill before your order. In other words, cross-contamination is an all but absolute certainty. (As this article on CNET claims, you can request the Impossible Whopper be cooked not on the broiler.)

Personally, I think you’re better off buying patties from the company, Beyond Meat, and making your own plant-based burger at home.

In conclusion, eat a diet rich in plant-based foods. But in light of the booming popularity of the Impossible Whopper, I feel obligated to revise this recommendation to: eat a diet rich in natural, unprocessed plant-based foods.

–Veronica Kress is a certified nutritional therapist and founder of ChefV.com.

© 2021 Chef V, LLC.