Before becoming a Mummy I had often heard the saying that “Breast is Best.” As a breastfeeding Mum, I take great pride in the fact that I am able to give my little boy Ollie the very best start to life. What I didn’t realise was just how much the quality of my breast milk could vary depending on the quality of my diet.
What I did know was just how much developing a baby does during their first 12 months of life and I wanted to enrich that development as much as possible.
So I hit the books again! Below are my top 5 tips for all women (breastfeeding or not). These tips will ensure that you nourish both yourself and your baby; giving you both the fuel that he/she needs to flourish and yourself the nutrients that you require to recover from pregnancy, birth and all the changes that come with it.
Good fats are your friend
I understand how scary this can be, especially if you grew up in the height of the fat will make you fat and kill you era. But let me assure you: fat will not make you fatand it is essential for every single cell and hormone in your body. It makes up 60% of your brain (and your babies) and 60% of your baby’s brain development happens in their first 12 months, so getting enough fat is crucial to good health! So, it’s time to throw out your green top milk Mumma and indulge in the good stuff! Good fats are found in coconut products, egg yolks, pasture raised meat and poultry, full fat dairy, avocados, some oils, nuts and seeds.
Eat real food
As close to its natural state as possible. Real food is food that goes off if you don’t eat it. Real food adds to your health, it nourishes your body and has a whole heap of nutrients that are essential for you and bubs to thrive. Focusing on eating real food ensures that you aren’t eating foods that contain toxins and are known to cause health problems.
A good tip: “If your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise it, then it probably isn’t real food.
Love your gut
You have probably all heard the saying “You are what you eat,” but more accurately“You are what you digest.” Whilst gut health essential for your digestion, it also forms 75% of your (and your babies) immune system and helps protect against infection. Plus, it helps regulate your metabolism, helps with appetite and weight control, is linked to mood and intelligence AND it protects your baby from developing allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases… that’s a long list of important things!
Along with eating real food, good bacteria are one of the major determinants of gut health. So do your tummy a favour and buy yourself a good quality probiotic or include lots of fermented foods e.g. sauerkraut (which is super easy to make) on a daily basis.
Introducing …the weekly ritual
Being a Mummy is the most rewarding job ever, but it also one of the most time-consuming! One of the best ways I have found to save time and ensure I have healthy food ready to go is to incorporate the “weekly ritual".
This is where, once a week (for me it’s usually a Sunday) I plan the menu for the week ahead, do the shopping and then prepare some meals in advance. I chop up some veggies and put them in containers, I make a couple of meals such as a casserole or a batch of meatballs. I may also do a roast that night and cook a few extra root veggies so that we have some extras for during the week. Now that Ollie has started solids I also make up some more simple meals for him at the same time based on what we are eating.
This ritual has saved my sanity on more than one occasion. It saves me time and energy, but more importantly I know that we will always have something healthy in the fridge or freezer that is easy to prepare.
Treat yourself every now and then
“It’s about progress, not perfection!” Stressing yourself out about eating the ‘perfect diet’ isn’t going to do you or your baby any good.
Live by the 80/20 rule… where 80% of the time you eat only real food that is nutrient dense and 20% of the time you can do whatever you want. Be sensible about this, if you have celiac disease, then eating gluten isn’t going to do you any favors.
Remember: ‘Self-care is not selfish it is essential!’ So do something nice for yourself every once in a while. You are probably going to be breastfeeding for a while (especially if you have more than one child) and I believe that it’s important to feel good about you at the same time.
One of the best things I brought for myself after Ollie’s arrival was a gorgeous breastfeeding bra; instantly I felt like a million bucks. So go on, treat yourself to a new bra – you deserve it, just make sure it’s from Hotmilk of course!
Dr Tammy knows first hand how to fit a lot into your day and still have energy to spare at the end of it! A passionate speaker and writer on all things health and wellbeing, she loves empowering women (and their families) to transform their health so that they can live healthy and happy lives that are filled with energy. Together with her husband Peter she owns Vital Chiropractic, the hub for vibrant health in Central and Eastern Auckland. To find out more about Tammy & Vital Chiropractic go to www.vitalchiropractic.co.nz or to follow her on Facebook.