by kerryfarriss | Jun 19, 2017 | Mama Health, Pregnancy, Whole foods
Being a mama is a blessing and a joy. Blah, blah, blah!
We’re all living the experience of motherhood so we know how blessed and lucky we are. We feel the surges of love, pride and awe as we watch our little people navigating their way in the world. But we also know that motherhood can bring times of stress and anxiety that our own mothers may have mentioned never goes away…
Anxiety during pregnancy is also common as it is an exciting time but full of stressful aspects like hormonal changes, body aches and pains, the worry about the growing fetus, your own health and the small issue of the birth and raising a child!
If you know you are prone to feelings of anxiety there are various ways you can help yourself control and manage these feelings.
FOODS TO ENJOY
- Fish – high in Omega-3’s and great for reducing inflammation and lifting moods. Contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes serotonin production, our happy hormone. Best to find well-sourced, sustainable options like mackerel, sardines and wild caught salmon.
- Seaweed – rich in nutrients, it also contains magnesium, a calming mineral in the body, and tryptophan.
- Whole grains like quinoa, whole grain oats and brown rice for their high magnesium content. Eating complex carbs like these will also help tryptophan from foods like fish, seaweed, avo, eggs, tofu and poultry be more effectively absorbed in the body for the production of serotonin.
- Asparagus for folic acid known to help regulate mood. Keep in mind it can give your pee a funky smell but no need to STRESS about it!
- Blueberries and peaches are both high in vitamins and phytonutrients but also known to be packed with antioxidants beneficial for relieving stress. A great dessert or snack with natural Greek or coconut yoghurt.
- Almonds and seeds for zinc, iron and healthy fats. Anxiety may develop with an imbalance of copper to zinc in the body (possibly due to taking birth control pills high in copper). If you enjoy oysters, they are also great to increase zinc levels too.
- Chocolate for reducing cortisol levels and improving mood. Just make sure you are enjoying a pure, dark form of chocolate not overly processed, laden with sugar and milk varieties!
- Maca Root found in powdered form or capsules in health food shops. This adaptogenic herb is actually a pleasant tasting root that is highly nutritious with more calcium than milk. It helps hormone balance, improves mood, energy and sexual appetite. Add it to meals, smoothies or desserts. (There is not a great deal of research into Maca root for pregnant women so avoid if you are pregnant).
FOODS TO AVOID
- Caffeine (or at least reduce it in times of anxiety or stress) as it releases the stress hormone cortisol.
- Diet drinks as artificial sweeteners like aspartame are known to decrease the happy hormone, serotonin. Try sparkling water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime instead.
- Fried foods/processed foods/refined carbs and sugary snacks as the trans fats used in these products have been shown to impair blood flow throughout the body and to the brain, which affects mood. Refined carbs like pasta and white bread and sugary foods also cause blood sugar spikes and crashes affecting mood too.
- Alcohol, which can provide an initial feeling of calmness but is a depressant, so over time can cause feelings of anxiety. It also can disrupt sleep patterns, which can influence how you feel throughout the day.
- MSG added to foods and listed as a number starting with ‘6’ like 621-625. MSG is added to many packaged foods and many Asian foods – even sushi rolls unfortunately! MSG increases levels of glutamate, an excitatory hormone in the brain, which in turn increases anxiety and stress.
OTHER LIFESTYLE TIPS
- Drink more good quality water
- Sip on chamomile tea throughout the day for its’ calming qualities
- Put lavender oil drops on your pillow or in the bath
- Exercise for at least 21 minutes to reliably decrease anxiety according to studies.
- Passionflower supplements can help feelings of anxiety but should only be used short term.
- Ensure you get enough sleep (or make it as good in quality as possible if you are still up with your baby or kids. See my grown up sleep routine guide).
- Get outside for sunshine and Vitamin D as most of us are deficient. Getting hot and sweating helps rid your body of toxins also.
- Walk barefoot in nature on soil, grass or sand. Also called ‘earthing’ it helps us draw electrons from the earth and has been scientifically shown to have numerous health benefits including lifting mood.
- Breathing exercises like Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing can help calm the nervous system. Exhale completely through the mouth, inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat 4 times.
Times of stress and anxiety can be very taxing so making some diet and lifestyle changes could really help you manage and cope with these periods when they appear. Of course, if your feelings are deeper and you are really not coping or concerned about your thoughts and feelings, you should reach out for the support of family, friends and your choice of heath practitioner. Don’t suffer in silence. Support is there. You just have to ask for it.
by kerryfarriss | Feb 15, 2017 | Mama Health, Pregnancy
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes it may throw you into a state of shock and confusion, especially if you’ve been eating a nutritious diet during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is time of constantly changing hormones so try to be gentle on yourself and calm yourself with the knowledge that there are a few natural steps you can take to ensure the health of you and your growing bub.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are usually mild but complications to mum and bub can occur so it’s important to take advice from you doctor. A doctor may prescribe insulin therapy if required.
As the chance of both mother and baby developing Type II diabetes is increased after gestational diabetes, these steps could be important in the prevention of future problems.
Like many health issues in our modern world, a lack of nutrients combined with the over-consumption of highly processed non-foods with no nutritional value will be a major contributing factor.
After consulting with your healthcare professional, follow these guidelines and listen to your body.
- Eat regularly. Consume nutritious food every 2-3 hours.
A major cause of all types of diabetes is irregular eating when the body learns to expect a hit of sugar and calories but is then subjected to long periods with no nutrients. This can negatively affect insulin receptors and mess with your metabolism.
- Eliminate sugar and refined grains. Get rid of the white stuff like biscuits, lollies, cakes, ice cream, white bread, flour and rice. A well-balanced diet of wholefoods will be of great benefit to you and your growing baby.
- Consume carbohydrates with protein and good fats. Carbs are what affect your blood sugar so if you can limit them to vegetables, fruit and if you can tolerate it, whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, you will avoid sugar spikes.
- Eat small portions of carbs with the majority consumed at lunch instead of breakfast or dinner. Consider good quality protein sources and good fats your friends – protein especially will benefit the growth and development of your bub.
- Increase fibre in your diet by adding ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to smoothies, salads and meals. Fibre can balance levels of insulin and is important for all pregnancy diets whether gestational diabetes has been identified or not.
- Exercise if possible for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking, pilates, yoga and swimming are fantastic during pregnancy. Listen to your body so you don’t overdo it.
- Supplementation – with Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Chromium. Vitamin D helps you absorb other nutrients like calcium, iron and magnesium so it is vital for processes in the body. Enjoy safe sun exposure to ensure adequate levels.
There is a direct link between Vitamin C deficiency and gestational diabetes so increasing your levels of Vitamin C will likely reduce symptoms and lower the risk of developing Type II diabetes down the track.
Chromium is an important trace mineral that many of us are lacking. Chromium in pregnant women can become deficient due to the fetus draining levels so supplementation of a wholefoods source of 200-1000mcg per day could be beneficial. Studies show that supplementation with chromium can normalize blood sugar in some people and that it also plays a role in fat metabolism. It can help alleviate sugar cravings and appetite in general.
Remember to love yourself enough to put great nutrition into your body. Enjoy your pregnancy!
- This information is for information purposes only and shouldn’t replace the advice of your doctor or natural healthcare advisor.
Katherine Tarr & Tony Isaacs (Natural News)
by kerryfarriss | Jan 25, 2017 | Fitness for mums, Mama Health, Pregnancy, Self care
As a new mum (or any kind of mum) it’s so important to energise yourself with nutritious food and an active lifestyle incorporating self care but it’s often the hardest thing to achieve.
Your life has changed dramatically and suddenly you are responsible for another human life – a pretty helpless and needy one!
A severe lack of sleep night after night can lead to extreme exhaustion which combined with hormonal changes can lead to food cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
For your own health and the health of your bub though, your body and your baby require a steady supply of vitamins and minerals to recover and fuel you through the busy months (and years) ahead.
So here are some tips for keeping on top of YOUR health so you can be the mummy your bub needs you to be.
- Hydration – drink plenty of good quality water. Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks aren’t great choices. (If you are deeply attached to your caffeine hit, try to enjoy it in the morning in a relaxed setting). Breastfeeding is thirsty work. As well as plenty of water include raspberry and nettle tea to aid your recovery and aid lactation.
- Attempt to eat with 2 free hands. I deeply believe in close contact with your bub but where possible eating while not holding your bub is preferable. The first few weeks and months can be so engulfing but being present and mindful when eating will help your health and digestion.
- Make a wholesome brekkie a priority to the start the day well. Avoid sugary, processed cereals and opt for organic eggs, sautéed kale and spinach, wild mushrooms, nitrate free bacon and avocado. If you’re rushing to get out of the door a wholesome shake can be a great quick option. You can include things like leafy greens, berries, fruit, chia seeds, flaxseeds, maca root or whatever tastes great and makes you feel great too.
- For lunch and dinner choose foods like GREENS, GREENS, GREENS, sweet potato, organic chicken, wild caught salmon, vegetables and seaweed. If grains work for your body go for quinoa, brown rice, oats, amaranth and millet or buckwheat. Eat lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed, chia seeds and olive oil (unheated). Bone broth (chick, lamb, beef) is so nutritious and healing for the gut. Make your own. Use herbs and spices like cumin cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint and fennel seeds. Activated or raw nuts and seeds are great for snacks as are berries.
- When breastfeeding the following foods are best to avoid: dairy, citrus fruits, peanuts, spicy foods, beef, raw garlic and onion, soy products, wheat/gluten and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
- Fitness – Often new mums want to lose the baby weight quickly but being a new mum is a time to rest, recover and to nurture yourself and the new person in your life. My advice would be to have your midwife, doctor or women’s health physio check you for abdominal separation and/or pelvic floor weakness. Your core muscles will need to be strengthened after the pregnancy and birth so physio Pilates can be very beneficial.
- Walking is the best way to get moving in the early days after having a baby. Ensure your wrists are in line with your hands when pushing a pram or use a baby carrier that distributes the weight evenly you’re your hips to prevent injuries. Running should only be introduced at 4 months post partum if no pelvic floor weakness is present.
- Finally, while your whole life has changed and you are totally consumed by your new angel, don’t forget to make time to care for yourself as well. YOU are a top priority too. Remember, your baby will do well if you are doing well.
by Diga Patel | Mar 15, 2016 | Fitness for mums, Mama Health, Natural living, Self care
It takes time and effort to take care of your body. It’s incredibly important to find time to exercise because the benefits of exercise are too important to ignore.
Yet most of us are too busy to even make time for what we WANT to do, let alone find time to create new, healthy habits. It’s not exactly relaxing to start a new exercise routine when you’re already exhausted from work.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to fit exercise in without having to go to the gym every single day. Doing the same thing day in and day out can get boring, and habits we find boring aren’t habits we’re likely to keep up forever.
Here are six great ways to sneak exercise into your daily routine. Each tip is tested for sustainability, and will make exercise a lot more fun than those one-size-fits-all routines you’ve probably tried in the past.
1. Rethink your seating. At your workplace, do you sit in a normal office chair? If so, consider shifting to a standing desk, which exercises your leg muscles much more actively than if you sit passively. Even sitting on an exercise ball forces your core muscles to activate, helping your body exercise to keep stable. It may not seem like much, but those efforts stack up to greater muscular strength over time.
2. Rethink your commute. If you’re in a position where you can walk or bike to work, that can be a start to your day that’s both active and relaxing. You’ll walk into the office centered from the movement and time spent listening to your own thoughts. Even doing exercises based around sitting can add up. Some shoulder flexion action during the morning traffic jam can go a long way toward preventing stiffness and tightness in the body.
3. Do what you’re a fan of. Love watching Dancing With The Stars? Take up ballroom dancing or even Zumba. Like watching sports? Try a few drills that the players are doing next time you’re at the park. By building upon what you already love, you’re setting the stage to have a lot more fun than doing exercise you “have” to do.
4. Recruit your friends. Ever hear the saying, “The more, the merrier?” It applies to fitness, too! Grab a friend or two for a hike, jog, bike ride, or leisurely stroll. You’ll find that the time flies – and you might even find yourself looking forward to your next excursion!
5. Don’t punish yourself for low activity. The body adapts to activity levels, but it also loves resting. Even if you just stretch your body during commercial breaks, keeping your body from growing sedentary is a very good thing. So keep it going to see benefits! You’ll never regret exercising, even if it feels like “not enough.”
6. Join a competition. Do you consider yourself to be a competitive person? Then joining a competition could be the perfect option for you! Even if you don’t have the skills to compete in a league for your activity of choice, you can still challenge your friends or yourself to up your game.
How do you make sure you get enough exercise? How do you make your exercise work in your routine? Share your experience in the comments!
by Diga Patel | Feb 5, 2016 | Family life, Mama Health, Natural living, Self care
Photo Credit: Pic Jumbo
Are you doomed to slower reflexes and poor memory as you age?
Science says, “Not necessarily!”
Every person’s brain, like their body, is uniquely different. Not everyone is subject to the slowing down of mental faculties that tends to come with aging.
The Benefits of Brain Exercises
Like every muscle, the brain needs stimulation and exercise to sustain its function. Exercising the brain has as many benefits as exercising the body: You’ll be able to remember things later on in life, you won’t forget as many details about other people, and you won’t have as many ‘senior moments’ as perhaps you may fear.
But brain training isn’t limited to those who are approaching their golden years. Experiments with multiple sclerosis patients with cognitive damage have shown that doing activities specifically tied to brain training can help the brain develop stronger connections. Their brains literally became stronger through the power of exercise. There’s also a suggestion that doing brain exercises early in life can expand the amount of cognitive reserve you have later in life (i.e. how much your brain can bounce back as you age).
Some Brain Exercises You Can Complete On Your Own
Not all brain exercises need a machine or website to provide benefits to their users. Neuronation and Lumosity have become popular in recent years, and have proven very popular but these activities still help give your brain a boost:
1. Reading. What’s the last full book you read? The more you stimulate your brain by learning, the harder and longer your brain will be able to work.
2. Protecting your head. Wear a helmet when riding and take proper precautions if you think you may have a risk of a concussion. This endangers your brain health more than anything else.
3. Staying in touch with friends. Maintaining social ties is extremely important. Having people around to talk to and challenge you keeps your brain working in a way that it wouldn’t ever work when you’re by yourself.
4. Talk about problems. Holding on to problems is much more troublesome to your health than just annoying you in the moment. It can lead to serious stress, and can even impair your brain’s abilities later in life. So, if you’re feeling depressed or have a mental problem you want to address, bring it up sooner rather than later. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and potential harm to your brain.
5. Try new things. Force your brain to be creative, whether by building something in your backyard, learning a language or playing a game of squash for the first time. It’ll do your brain good!
6. Quit smoking. This decision benefits many parts of your body, but the fact that your brain will potentially reverse deterioration is a very good benefit!
7. Sleep more. Sleep doesn’t just restore your body. Your mind also benefits from having enough time to rest through the night.
Do you do brain exercises? If so, what have you found benefits you most?
Share your story in the comments!