I was thinking about what all we eat in Japan yesterday, especially as it related to diets, not necessarily diets for losing weight. It reminded me of a diet I was on right after Takumi was born. We are talking about the dark ages here but it was an unusual time in my life that's for sure.
When I was a young mother I was adamant that I was going to breast feed my babies. While I was pregnant I read up on it and thought that if I just didn't take the easy formula way out I would have no problems. This is what generations of mothers had done since time began!
But, it wasn't that easy. The hospital Takumi was born at automatically gave babies formula. When we went home a week later there I was with a screaming baby latched onto me 24/7 and I ended up giving him more and more formula which I hated. By "chance" I met a mother in the park and mentioned that I really had wanted to breast feed but it wasn't working out and she gave me the number of a mid-wife nearby that specialized in helping mothers breast feed. She also claimed that her methods would cure eczema in babies.
For the next year I went daily to this mid wife's clinic and met with many babies and their mothers. The daily visit was for breast massage to stimulate breast milk but besides that the midwife put all the mothers on strict diets. STRICT!
"If you aren't willing to follow my advice then you don't need to come back!"
The diet was thus: For the first month the new mothers ate only white rice, daikon and seaweed. Yep. That's it. Supposedly this was supposed to improve breast milk flavor (so that the babies went at it with more gusto) and remove impurities. This is where the eczema treatments came in. It also was necessary to improve milk flow. Each time Takumi and I went the breast milk was tested and he was observed and gradually new foods were introduced into the diet. Mothers were required to keep a diary of all foods consumed, the amounts and the eating times and the midwife would advise daily.
Tetsu let me do what I wanted to do. Even back then he wasn't around much so he ate separately. I ate rice, daikon and seaweed. My American friends especially told me I was crazy, that I was in danger of ruining my health and that the midwife was running a scam. Everyone was telling me to accept the available formula and stop such foolishness.
"Tanya, that's ridiculous! Think of all the cultures in the world that don't even eat daikon and seaweed!"
The interesting thing was that though my weight plummeted, healthwise I was very fine, the breast milk began to flow and even in the other babies that had come with such terrible eczema I could see a miraculous improvement daily! The midwife might be running a controversial clinic but she did seem to be getting results!
I can remember the great day when the midwife added raw scallops to my diet, the first addition after a month of seaweed and radishes. I fairly skipped to the supermarket to buy this delicacy and thereafter foods were added gradually, other vegetables, soy products, fish, meat and finally noodles. I don't think I was allowed to eat eggs or dairy products for the whole year that I commuted to and from the clinic.
Takumi successfully breastfed until he took his first step, the "time best suited to wean a baby since his world has suddenly broadened". After all my problems getting started breast feeding I couldn't believe that now we were going to try to wean this baby so suddenly. Impossible! That child couldn't live without me pulling up my shirt every few hours! But the day came, I went to the clinic. The midwife painted two funny faces on my breasts in felt pen. The next time Takumi came toddling up and I peeled back my shirt, he took a look at the funny faces, gave a laugh and never again showed an interest in breast feeding. That midwife knew her stuff!
I went through a similar routine with Leiya too but all in all was successful the second time around too. Tetsu has held my breast feeding sacrifices and diet over my kids' heads all their lives and he fully believes that my efforts resulted in two very healthy children.
"You thank your mother for all she went through to give you kids a good start in life!"
I still love raw scallops and whenever I eat them I remember Takumi's first year of life.
I also wonder why I can't stick to a diet now when I could that long ago year... (pictures from the Internet)