Sweet as can be (obvi!) Laurel is one-half of the brains (and beauty) behind Sweet Laurel, our fave healthy treats…hello, pregnancy cravings! Now, from her perfectly pretty home and pregnant with her second, she shares how healing her gut, and autoimmune disease led to getting pregnant without having a period for four years and launching her business.@SweetLaurelBakery @laurelgallucci
Current state of mind?
I was nauseous all day, every day until recently and couldn’t eat my “normal” foods i.e. chocolate, coffee, and coconut for the first 15 weeks! Now I’m back on track and feeling much better and more productive.
What was your path to pregnancy with your first?
Getting pregnant was part of my healing journey. When I was initially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I had lost my period which, at the time I didn’t know if it was related or a complete coincidence. When I first started this process, I had chronic constipation and was severely underweight. Therefore, my goal was to calm my thyroid, get my Hashimoto’s into remission, get my period back, and heal my gut. Of that list, the gut-healing was the first to come back online after following a strict paleo diet with a series of gut-healing protocols. Ironically I was extremely “healthy,” but my body was not absorbing nutrients because I was 40 pounds underweight.
When I addressed the gut-healing, my body started functioning again. I wasn’t constipated, my stomach didn’t hurt, I eventually got to a healthy weight, and my thyroid started evening out. The cherry on the cake (cute.) was that after two years of healing myself, I miraculously got pregnant with Nico, without my period!
Wow! So what did you eat to heal yourself?
In short, I had no grains, no refined sugar, no legumes, and no dairy. I mainly ate veggies and was extremely strict about organic. I began seeing a nutritionist, Margaret Floyd @EatNakedNow, who specializes in infertility and autoimmune disease. She also had me on a crazy shake that helped heal the lining of my gut.
When you’re paleo, you don’t eat a ton of carbs, but I supplemented with sweet potatoes and winter squash as I needed carbs to ovulate. If you’re too low carb, it can become challenging to ovulate. A woman needs between 75 and 100 carbs per day to ovulate, and low carb is considered less than 40 grams per day. Plus, I started to bake more savory bread with ingredients such as almond flour or cassava flour plus and began toying with sweet recipes that I could eat.
Alternative baked goods? Did that inspire Sweet Laurel?
Yes! In July of 2014, I baked my first version of the Sweet Laurel cake. In November of 2014, my current partner tasted my 50th version of the cake, and sparks flew. Finally, in January of 2015, we decided to give it a go and officially launched the site in May 2015. At that point, I had been paleo for about six months.
In addition to my diet, the new business, while stressful, was less nerve-racking than my previous career in teaching. The shift in my career and my passion for Sweet Laurel began to affect my health positively. Plus, I adopted an attitude that food is medicine, and never cheated or veered from my diet. I saw the right ingredients as a way to heal myself. For the first year, I rarely ate out and cooked the majority of my meals at home so that I was in complete control.
After Nico, how did you get pregnant with your second?
Again, getting pregnant with Nico was a major victory for me, especially considering I didn’t have my period for four years straight and struggled with secondary amenorrhea. When I found out I was pregnant I was SO excited, but I was also scared! I couldn’t understand how my body, that didn’t have a period for so long, was going to carry a baby to term. I had lost confidence in my body and my reproductive system. I was terrified of miscarriage and kept the pregnancy a secret for a long time until I felt really safe.
That pregnancy healed me to the next level. My autoimmune disease has been in remission ever since, I carried him to term, breastfed, and after I weaned him, my period returned. Therefore, getting pregnant the second time was simply a matter of deciding. Once we were ready, I got pregnant in a month. After I had Nico, I assumed my period wouldn’t come back and that I’d never have a second kid! Both of my pregnancies have been a miracle!
Fight or flight mode?
I recently read this book about how women working the way we do these days constantly puts us in fight or flight mode. It’s taking a toll on us biologically as we are built to be less masculine and more nurturing. While this sounds super sexist, it’s affecting our fertility. We’re meant to be in a fight or flight situation only three or four times in our entire lives when a lion is approaching. Instead, we’re often in this mode on the daily signaling our body that its unsafe for a baby. It’s no wonder that infertility is at an all-time high right now.
And, how have you felt this pregnancy?
In the beginning, I had general nausea and didn’t want to eat anything except strawberries and lemony green salads. I wasn’t getting my fats in and felt guilty, but hopefully, my body got it from other sources. Fortunately, that has subsided, and I’m back to eating business as usual.
Do you have a birth plan?
I’m planning to stay at home as long as possible once labor starts. With Nico, I was able to stay home for 6 hours after my water broke before we headed to the hospital. The night he was born, my husband wanted this ice cream that was a 2-mile walk from our house and closing in 15 minutes. So, we power-walked to the shop, made it before closing, and my water broke that night followed by a super smooth birth. Hoping for a similar situation with this little one!
Maternity leave then and now?
With Nico, I had zero maternity leave and a very young business. This time around, the company is a little more grown-up, therefore not only am I ready to have a second, my business is too! I want to try the 40-day thing, stay home, rest, and eat good fats.
Do you feel that Sweet Laurel is helping heal other women?
With my background as a teacher, education has always been the cornerstone of what we do at Sweet Laurel. The community that’s formed as a result is powerful; women regularly DM me or pull me aside at workshops to share their story. Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, and so many women are affected because of environmental toxins, our food, and stress. I have gone in and out of my autoimmune disease with some major wins along the way. It’s a big part of my business and such a joy to do something that helps people. While the baked goods speak for themselves, the story paired with that goes a long way.
Top five treats that every pregnant woman needs?
Depending on what it is, there are healing ingredients in most. The macronutrients in our treats far exceed your average slice of cake or cookie. Our carbs are way down, while the protein and good fats are way up. The Collagen Latte is my fave thing on the planet, and our Keto Brownie is a must for all pregnant and non-pregnant mamas! It is a massive brownie with 12 grams of protein from collagen and almonds, four net carbs and under 200 calories. Macronutrient-wise it is better than most protein or snack bars. Some of the stuff is a treat, but other items, like the brownie, are a justifiable snack.
On the entrepreneurial front, build a team and partnerships that can support you in realizing your vision. And, on the mommy front, if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, make the necessary adjustments to your work, wellness, and home life to have that be a reality. I always tell people if you’re going to clean out your diet and pantry when you’re pregnant, keep it that way. Be sure to take care of yourself through food, clean beauty, and peace of mind.