Category: Healthy Living

Pregnant Cross Fit Controversy

Image

I love how this one photo has sparked so much debate. What started off as an edgy alternative to the typical cutesy pregnancy pics, has gone viral across the globe! From LA to London, to China, Germany and New Zealand. It seems like everyone has something to say on the matter. Cross Fit’s Facebook page, where the photo was originally posted, has received over 16.5K ‘likes’ and 1.7K comments! Lea-Ann Ellison is now at the center of a media frenzy. She is being interviewed for newspapers and magazines (such as the Huffington Post, In Touch magazine, the London Metro and the Daily Mail to name a few) all over to tell her story and to give her thoughts on exercising whilst pregnant. She hopes that all this hype will bring attention to an important health issue. In her own words, “I can’t believe this photo has caused this much stir, but it makes me hopeful that it will inspire other strong healthy moms to continue on doing what they love.” (And, her midwives concur)!!

 

Photo by Nick Stern

 

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Nutritional Window

I learnt something very interesting today, which I had never considered before. The window of opportunity for introducing new foods to infants is limited. It best time usually ranges from around 4-6 months to around 12-14 months. This, interestingly, corresponds to the time at which they begin to sit up with support to when the begin walking and running around freely on their own. This is an evolutionary protective mechanism so that once kids are up and running all over the place they become suspicious of unfamiliar fruits, vegetables and meats. This is a good thing because, lets face it-we can’t keep an eye on our kids every second of the day. This protective mechanism is designed so that if we were still ‘in the wild’, it would (hopefully) protect our kids from picking up and eating something which could potentially be poisonous. As this time frame is limited, it is so important to introduce infants to a wide range of colorful foods. According to Dr Greene, ‘if you let them sample something enough times…they can more easily acquire a taste for it than at any other period in life’. It is important to make the most of this nutritional window. Introducing infants to a rainbow of colorful tasty fruits and vegetables, whole grains and varied textures, rather than bland processed flavors, will set them on the right path for healthy eating through in to adult life.

Meet Your Holistic Practitioner for the Week…SARAH UNKAP

Healthy Fats

As a follow on from my earlier post (Pregnancy Myth Buster) you should be aware by now that not all fats are equal. It will not do your body any good to avoid all sources of fat. Certain types of fat are extremely valuable, and essential to our bodies, despite common myth! Not getting enough fat in our diets can result in any number of the following conditions: Dry scaly skin, hair loss, poor immune function-leading to lower resistance to infection, low body weight, cold intolerance, bruising, poor growth, poor wound healing and loss of menstruation.

Sources of Heathy Fats

 

Meat and Dairy From Grass-Fed Animals

Coconut Oil

Avocado

Olive Oil

Pumpkin Seeds

Cashew Nuts

Organic Milk Fats

Oily Fish

(Salmon, Sardines, Herring, Trout, Tuna)

Flax Oil

Peanuts

Organic Butter

Sesame Oil

Hazelnuts

Sunflower Seeds

Tofu

Hemp Seeds

Walnuts

Almonds

Peanut Butter

Olives

Help Please!

Hi Everyone!

I need some help!! In the build up to World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th Aug) I would love to collect as many photos as possible of all you beautiful breastfeeding mamas and babies to add on here!!
Does anyone have any good ones which they wouldn’t mind sharing?

Email me at sarah.unkap@gmail.com

Thanks for your help!

Top Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

  • Avoid heavily processed foods-often contain huge amounts of fat, salt and sugar
  • Eat organic, locally produced foods-these contain the highest amounts of nutrients and least pesticides
  • Enjoy foods in their natural state-for example, eat fresh fruit, rather than frozen or canned
  • Eat a rainbow of foods-a variety of colors, types, and textures, to get a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals
  • Eat little and often-this helps to balance your blood sugar, and may prevent nausea
  • Drink at least 2-3Ls of water a day-your body needs water to function, plus dehydration can lead to premature labor
  • Try to exercise a little every day-brisk walking is an excellent form of exercise, yoga, swimming & cycling are also great
  • Do not diet or detox during your pregnancy
  • Find healthy alternatives to your cravings*-this is usually your body’s way of telling you something is missing from your diet.

*Eg, If you do find yourself drawn to the giant golden arches of McDonald’s desperate for a big juicy burger, your body is probably in need of some iron, why not try cooking a steak at home-a healthier alternative to a big greasy burger with plastic cheese.

If you crave huge bowlfuls of Ben & Jerrys Cookies and Cream, maybe your body needs the calcium, why not try home-made milk shakes, with your favorite fruits and whole organic milk.

Be aware though, if you are craving sugar, try not to give in. Craving sugar is usually a sign you are in need of protein (strange as this may sound). This is usually your body telling you to eat more frequently and that your blood sugar is low. Protein helps to sustain and stabilize blood sugar levels to prevent this from happening. Don’t go more that 2-3 hours without eating something. Try carrying bite size snacks in your purse so that you never are without!

Eating Habits Programmed During Infancy-Healthy Child Healthy World

Pregnancy Myth Buster

During pregnancy it is not uncommon to find yourself as a human magnet. You will find that without realizing it, you have entered in to a new ‘members only’ club. Women of all ages will smile at you in the street, random people will stare at your belly in awe, doors will be held open for you, and total strangers will feel the need to put their hands on your bump. People love to tell you all sorts of things when you are pregnant. They will relish in telling you the joys, the horrors, the hells, the triumphs of their pregnancy and birth experiences. People will tell you ‘you should never do this’, and ‘definitely do that’, whether you ask for their opinion or not! You will hear things from your mother, your mother in law, your aunty, your cousin, your best friend, your boss’s wife, the elderly lady down the street, people on the bus, mom’s in the park, and it is likely that they are all saying completely different things. All this advice can become overwhelming and confusing, and is often not based on anything more than old wives tales. So I wanted to set a couple of common pregnancy myths straight.

The common pregnancy myth about ‘eating for two’, is just that-a myth. Although you want to nourish yourself during your pregnancy, you do not want to over eat. In reality, we only require an additional 100 calories in the first trimester, and 300 extra calories during the second and third, which when you think about it really isn’t a lot. During pregnancy your body becomes more efficient at absorbing nutrients from the foods you eat. Eating twice as much does not double your chances of having a healthy baby. Have you ever wondered why pregnant women are so prone to constipation? Unfortunately, constipation affects approximately half of all women at some point during their pregnancy. Although it may be annoying, it does have its purpose. The passage of food through the gut is slowed down due to the effects of pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin. The hormones relax the muscles of the intestines, which takes the body longer to move food along. The longer the food sits within the intestines, the more time the body has to absorb its nutrients needed to grow a healthy baby. Unfortunately, this can lead to constipation. The best ways to avoid constipation is by increasing your fiber intake, drinking plenty of water (around 2-3Ls a day) and by doing regular exercise.

Make healthy choices during your pregnancy. Your baby’s health is directly related to what you eat before, during and after pregnancy. Nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy and birth and is the biggest and most valuable tool you have for avoiding discomforts and complications, such as nausea and vomiting, heartburn, leg cramps, high blood pressure and swelling. Overall, healthy moms have healthy babies.

Think quality over quantity. Nutrition is one of the only things you have complete control over. So make every bite count. Eat nutrient rich, organic whole foods whenever possible. Avoid processed and refined foods, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. This is important throughout, but especially during the first trimester, as many women will experience ‘morning sickness’, (which by the way is another myth, morning sickness can occur at ANY time of the day!) where it may be difficult stomach a lot of food. If you are throwing up, you want to be sure that the food you are getting is the best it can be, and full of all the vitamins and minerals you need for your baby.

It is normal to gain between 25-35lbs during pregnancy, but remember that weight gain is individual. If you start off with a BMI (body mass index) slightly lower than average, you may find your put on a little extra weight-don’t be alarmed! We put on weight for a reason, and it is normal. Do not try to diet or loose weight whilst pregnant. It is dangerous and can lead to a number of complications. Also, don’t expect the weight to just fall off once you’ve given birth. Although breastfeeding does help to loose some of the weight put on during pregnancy, our body does still need additional calories and weight whilst nursing. Be kind to yourself. Remember that the pregnancy weight took 9 months to put on, and it is perfectly acceptable for it to take 9 months, if not longer, for you to return to your normal weight again. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t just ping back in to shape the moment we give birth. Don’t be put off by stories of celebrities or even friends, returning to their pre-pregnancy skinny jeans 3 days after stepping foot outside of the hospital doors! This is not a reality, and we should not adopt these unrealistic expectations. It is not healthy for anyone!

Myth number 2 ‘fats will make you fat’ is another common misconception, not just in pregnancy but in general too. Avoiding fats will not stop you from gaining weight. Gaining weight is inevitable during pregnancy. In fact eating the right kinds of fats will actually help you burn fat, control your moods, and fight fatigue.

For years nutritionists and doctors have preached from the low-fat bible, claiming that cutting fats will aid weight loss, prevent heart disease and manage cholesterol. But eliminating fats entirely from our diets is not the answer. In our culture we are obsessed with fat-free, dairy-free and low-fat alternatives, we forget that certain amounts of fat are essential for our bodies to function effectively. Fats are crucial for the nervous system and the development of the baby’s brain. It is not about the total amount of fat in our diet, it is about the type of fat that we eat. We have to remember that not all fats are equal.

A walk through the aisles of Albertsons or Ralphs provides us with many supposedly ‘guilt free’ alternatives: Fat free ice cream, low fat candies, cookie and cakes. When you come to browse the shelves for milk, for example, it is pretty hard to come across a carton of whole, or full fat milk. The array of low-fat and fat-free alternatives are all around us, but they do not take the importance of essential milk fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins (A & D) in to consideration. Today most people think they are doing a good thing by drinking low-fat milk, but most of these commercial milk products are completely deficient of these vital nutrients. These products are marketed to our nation’s insecurities surrounding body image and weight gain. The low-fat label is a marketing tool, and a good one at that. One that’s had us fooled for many decades. If you think about it another way, 2% milk still has a very low fat content-2%-that’s 98% fat free!

The truth is, pregnancy is not the time to be doing fat-free anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating bingeing on nothing but cheesey fries with lashings of ranch dressing, Twinkies and chocolate sundaes, but the key is seeking out the ‘good’ fats. Ones which really are healthy for us. It is about cutting out the bad fats and replacing them with healthier choices to promote optimum health.

Remember what your mother always told you, ‘You are what you eat’.

 

Click here for my Top Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

‘Pre-pregnancy diet affects health of future offspring’-Science Daily, July 4th 2011

Eating Habits Programmed During Infancy-Healthy Child Healthy World

Nutrition is Key

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”Hippocrates, ancient Greek physician

We have all heard the phrase, ‘You are what you eat’, but now according to an article in Time magazine, ‘We are also what our mothers eat’!

Your baby’s health is directly related to what you eat before, during and after pregnancy. ‘Healthy Mothers have healthy babies’, as Robin Lim states in her book, ‘Eating for Two’. Nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy and birth and is the biggest and best tool you have for avoiding discomforts and complications, such as…

  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids (Piles)
  • Leg Cramps
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling
  • Pre-term labor
  • Anemia (Low Iron)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lactation problems

Since around 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, living a healthy, eco-conscious lifestyle may be the best thing you can do to prepare your body for having children, planned or not.

It is important to focus on good nutrition as soon as you can. Eat wholesome organic foods whenever possible. Remember that good nutrition is like an investment-You have to pay upfront to get the desired result. The majority of birth defects occur in the first three weeks of pregnancy, often before many women know they are pregnant. It is therefore important that you already have your nutrient reserves boosted. If you are currently trying to conceive, now is the perfect time to make changes to your diet, to ensure you are getting the essential nutrients for your pregnancy. Often perceived ‘infertility’ can be resolved through dietary changes and/or alternative therapies, such as Acupuncture. Start taking a prenatal multivitamin (even if you are not pregnant yet). This acts as an ‘insurance policy’ for anything you may be lacking in your diet. In our modern world, unhealthy farming practices, such as spraying crops with chemical fungicides and insecticides, rob our soil and therefore our foods of vital nutrients, which is why I would recommend taking a prenatal vitamin, even if you already have a healthy diet. However, simply taking a multi-vitamin, is not enough by itself. Supplementation should not take the place of food. It is always better to get nutrients direct from food sources rather than from a synthetic source, as your body will be able to digest and absorb them more readily.

If you are already pregnant, don’t worry-it is never too late. You may find completing a food diary helpful. Jot down everything you are eating over the course of a week (and be honest). It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you will find you pay more attention to what you’re eating, and you’ll be more cautious about your food choices when you know you have to write it down. Show it to your healthcare provider, to see if they have a recommendations. It is also important to remember that the benefits of eating wisely during pregnancy are not just confined to the womb, it lays a strong foundation for our children’s future health and their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

As some of you may already realize, Folic Acid, or Folate,  is one of the important nutrients a woman needs during pregnancy (especially in the first 3 months) to prevent against Neural Tube Disorders, such as Spina Bifida, but how many of you know that Folic Acid is great to take PRE-pregnancy too? Folic Acid can be depleted by oral contraceptives and is helpful for enhancing fertility in both men and women. Think, leafy greens, nuts, green beans, asparagus, legumes, lima beans, wholegrains and oranges for healthy sources of Folic Acid.

Below are my 2 favorite Prenatal Multi Vitamins. There are both organic whole food based supplements, rather than synthetic versions.  This means the nutrients are more easily broken down, processed and absorbed by the body (bio-available), and you are highly unlikely to get any allergic reactions or unpleasant side effects.

New Chapter Organics-Perfect Prenatal

Rainbow Light-Certified Organic Prenatal Vitamin

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Related Article – ‘Ten tips to prepare for your pregnancy’ – Healthy Child, Healthy World

Women Who Start Prenatal Vitamins Early Less Likely to Have a Child With Autism

Have you ever wondered if taking all those prenatal vitamins is really worth the effort?

Well, researchers from the University of California Davis have produced a study, to be published in July in the online edition of Epidemiology, which found that women who took their prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant or during the first month of pregnancy were half as likely to give birth to an autistic child, but moms who didn’t start taking the pills until they were two months pregnant didn’t receive any benefits when it came to warding off the developmental disorder, the Los Angeles Times reports. In other words, the sooner you start taking them, the better.

Researcher comments on the findings,

“The good news is that if this finding is replicated, it will provide an inexpensive, relatively simple evidence-based action that women can take to reduce risks for their child, which is to take prenatal vitamins as early as possible in a pregnancy and even when planning for pregnancy”,  Hertz-Picciotto – Co-Author of study.

Coconut Water-An Essential Item for the Birth Bag

Coconut water has become a new addition to my birth bag. I believe every laboring woman should keep this little trick up her sleeve. Everybody knows that labor is hard work-hence the name. Unfortunately there is no getting away form that point. BUT, don’t panic. Help is at hand. Let me ask you a question. What would you find if you were to rummage through Usain Bolt, Serena Williams or Tiger Woods’ sports bag? Any guesses?? ….Gatorade! And why? Because it claims it’s ‘proven to keep athletes hydrated and performing at their best’. But besides clever advertising, what does it have to offer? What is Gatorade’s secret formula? In simple terms, it is a concoction of water, artificial sugars and sweeteners, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, artificial colorings, preservatives and emulsifiers. It seems obvious to mention that when you exercise it is important to replace the fluids lost through the body from sweat. But what most people don’t realize is that when you sweat you also loose valuable electrolytes, which also need to be replaced to enhance performance and aid recovery. However much water you drink after exercise it will not replace the electrolytes lost. This is why the market has boomed in recent years with various sports drinks-Lucozade, Powerade, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, all claiming to aid endurance and performance.

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What does all that have to do with my birth bag, I hear you cry? Well…I believe laboring women can get all the benefits of Gatorade, or any other sports drink that takes your preference, from coconut water. Not only does it taste great, but it is a 100% natural alternative to all those artificial colors, sweeteners and chemical additives. Now doesn’t that sound good?

It is very important to keep well hydrated during labor, yet often women become so involved they tend to forget about drinking. We often don’t consider labor to be physical exercise, but as any woman who’s been through it will tell you-it is! Our bodies are performing one of the biggest tasks it will ever have to go through, and in order to do that, it has to be refueled frequently. You wouldn’t consider running a marathon without taking in fluids, and going through labor is just the same. (Labor Tip: Try to eat small amounts high-energy foods, such as carbohydrates, in early labor as this will help give you some energy. In the later stages of labor try to eat foods that will provide quick bursts of energy, such as fruit, juices and honey). Often when labor becomes intense, women will not feel like eating due to feelings of nausea, and that’s ok. But it is essential to keep drinking (even if you throw it back up again). If you are dehydrated, water alone without any electrolytes, will not rehydrate you. In fact it will only further dilute the electrolytes you have left in your bloodstream, which can cause a serious deficiency. Becoming dehydrated in labor is bad news, as it makes muscles less efficient, making contractions less efficient, in turn slowing down your labor-which is not something any woman wishes for.

Coconut water offers a superior option to commercial sports drinks for laboring women, as it contains a greater variety of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and sulfate, plus trace minerals zinc and selenium, and antioxidants. Plus the natural sugars help to boost much-needed energy levels. As a homebirth Midwife, transferring a woman to hospital because of dehydration is something you want to avoid if possible. That is why you will always find a couple of cartons of coconut water stashed in my birth bag, ready for action!