Firstly, we just wanted to say to all of you mums – thank you! Everything we are today, you helped us to be and that is no small feat!!
As a mother of 9 year old twins, I can sit here and say to you, hand on heart, that having infant twins was NOT what I expected! Yes, I admit – I didn’t want to leave the hospital as that actually meant I was officially a ‘mum’. Going home. With twins. Even though this was 9 years ago almost to the day, those sleepless nights, crying babies, and constant hunger pangs are forever etched in my memory. So if this is sounding all too familiar, then hopefully we can help give you some strategies through diet and nutrition that benefit both mum & baby.
At the Perrymount Clinic, there are some common 'new mum’ symptoms that we see:
• Exhaustion, tiredness, sluggishness
• Cannot lose excess ‘baby weight’
• Hormone imbalance and irregularities
• Thyroid issues
• Joint pain
• Digestive problems
• Hair loss
• If breastfeeding, your baby might be colicky
So if you ate poorly when pregnant or later when breast-feeding, your body will give nutrition on from your body to your baby’s body. You will literally be stripped of goodness for the sake of your baby. Clever body! But this is where we, as mums, need to pay close attention to everything we are putting in our mouths. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘eating for two’ but this also must go hand in hand with ‘quality over quantity’. So much research is out now that tells us that ‘food is medicine’.
Let’s start with this... What are you eating? If your answer is a mixture of cereal, toast, cheese sandwiches, pasta, and more toast then let’s roll up our sleeves and get cracking. The problem with those starchy snacks is that they are high carb (no surprises there) but also converts into sugar in your body which then causes your blood sugar to skyrocket and then crash. Eeek! Foods that are wheat-based have been known to increase colic in babies too… Double eeek! However, even if you aren’t breastfeeding, you are doing yourself a major favour by cutting out the refined carbs. We will get to why that is in a bit. Supplements can also help and we should incorporate them in our daily routine, however, they work even better when your diet is in check.
Since we have a total understanding of the need for quick and easy grab-n-go foods, let’s not waste any time. The importance here is also not to overdo any one food. Variety is best. And if you are breastfeeding and suspect that a particular food is causing any discomfort in your baby through breast milk, try removing that food!
New Mum Snack Hacks
• Remove wheat from your diet. As we mentioned above, wheat gluten triggers colic in babies passed on through breastmilk. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, gluten has been shown to contribute to damaging the lining of your gut, creating a ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. This leads to inflammation and kicks off a whole host of auto-immune diseases down the line. Be wary of "gluten free" processed foods on the supermarket shelves too - they are generally made with high glycemic rice and potato flours which also spikes blood sugar. Instead, choose breads like 100% Rye as not only is it very low gluten, but it will keep you fuller for longer. According to Dr. Josh Axe DNM, DC, CNS, a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist in the US, "Rye positively differs from wheat when digested, and it’s been shown to actually suppress body weight gain, as well as significantly lower obesity. Whole grain rye has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower total plasma cholesterol. " (1) Rye bread toasts up fantastically - why not smash some avocado on top or slather some almond butter? Easy peasy!
• Eat more protein. Grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, or wild, oily fish. Protein and fats are the building blocks for your baby’s growth and repair; they are also very filling and satisfying foods which translates into breast milk and a fuller baby. If you are vegan/vegetarian, be sure to note that high protein vegetable foods tend to be the foods that create wind in both adults and babies. We recommend takings notes to see which are the main culprits and therefore then exclude from your diet while breastfeeding.
• Get more Vitamin D3. The best way to get your body Vitamin D3 is to spend 10-15 minutes in the sun at least twice per week with as much skin exposed (no sunscreen!). However, we all know too well that this is somewhat impossible to do in the UK and it’s well known that most of us living on this island are very deficient. How important is D3? Vitamin D deficiency is positively associated with many diseases including cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, heart disease, Diabetes and the list goes on. Every single cell in our body has a receptor for Vitamin D, which means every single cell has a use for it. It does everything from regulate our immune system to aid in healthy brain function. The main building block that makes Vitamin D is cholesterol. Now think about that, it’s made of CHOLESTEROL. This 11 letter word that we have been led to believe is bad for us and to avoid, makes one of the most important substances in our body. We can get cholesterol from eating good fats – see below.
• Watch out for toxins. In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid every single toxin we encounter. One way is to read the labels. Your skin doesn’t have a filter on it so everything you put on your skin goes straight into your blood stream. Toxins even come in the form of E numbers such as E621 – Monosodium Glutamate. Sugar substitutes such as aspartame and saccharin can wreak havoc on your liver. Be sure to read ALL of your labels - chemicals are usually cheaper to use in food manufacturing, but that doesn't mean our bodies know how to digest them! Your skin doesn’t have a filter on it so everything you put on your skin goes straight into your blood stream.
• Omega-3 oils (also known as "Essential Fatty Acids"). In importance of my findings this one is up there with Vitamin D deficiency. I was really shocked at just how low the Omega 3 oils were in new mums' diets because again they are so essential to health. Then I thought about it and it didn’t surprise me at all, because Omega 3 oils mainly come from fish, and the last thing new mums are thinking of preparing, cooking and eating is fish! This oil is so important for a growing baby, and there is a mass of scientific research showing the benefits of this oil for the health and growth of babies. Our brains, nervous system, eyes and in fact every single cell are made from this oil to a degree. It is also the oil that is most often used to help mothers with postnatal depression. If you didn’t consume fish (or another Omega 3 oil source) through pregnancy then your baby will have taken this from you. Since our brain and nervous system require lots of omega-3s, this brings a new understanding to 'baby brain’ … Your baby literally has your brain! Wild salmon and sardines are good sources here as are high-quality fish oil/krill oil supplement.
• Reduce or even better yet, avoid refined sugars. Some great ‘approved’ sugar alternatives are raw honey, stevia (one drop goes a long way), dates, coconut sugar (use as a 1:1 substitute for regular sugar), maple syrup (the darker the better) and blackstrap molasses. Just note these are sugar alternatives and not the same as the non-sugar chemicals we talk about in the toxins section above.
• Feel the love for fruit & veg. What’s easier and quicker to eat than some carrot sticks and hummus? Apple slices with nut butter? Smashed avocado on rye toast? Kale chips? Make sure this category for you isn’t all fruit – veg is the real winner here. You ideally want to manage your blood sugar levels and fruit is high sugar so best to eat some fat and protein with fruit.
If you are struggling with your diet or have any of the symptoms we talked about above, then please come in to see us for a nutritional consultation 01444 410944.