When a new baby comes home there is often a significant shift in home dynamics and the focus becomes one of supporting the baby’s needs. As a consequence, the needs of parents often come second to baby. Disrupted sleep patterns and eating on the run (whilst juggling a number of competing demands) often leads to a lack of vitality and fatigue. Parents may end up feeling incredibly exhausted and as though they have no time to take care of their own needs and requirements.
It is important for parents to be eating well, especially breastfeeding mothers who require extra energy for the production of breast milk. This extra energy is about 2000 kJ (500 cal) per day. This can be achieved easily via a few simple additions to the diet. The key is to eat 3 meals each day and have 2-3 healthy snacks. Being mindful of hunger cues, thirst and fullness can help guide your needs.
Creating Balanced Meals
To create balanced meals with good levels of nutrition you can use your plate to help structure all your meals. Follow these four simple steps.
1. Use half the plate to serve plant foods such as non-starchy vegetables (or fruit). This half of the plate will provide loads of nutrition including good levels of vitamins, minerals and beneficial antioxidants. Foods such as broccoli, berries, mushrooms and tomatoes belong here.
2. Use one quarter of the plate for a variety of lean protein sources. This section of the plate will help with satiety and can be provided via lean meat, seafood, dairy, eggs or legumes. Include a variety of protein sources throughout the week. Try and include two serves of seafood and one main meal that is vegetarian each week.
3. Use the other quarter of the plate for low GI carbohydrates, these will provide the body with a steady stream of energy to cope with daily demands. Go for wholegrain, wholemeal breads and cereals, carb rich grains, and vegetables such as corn, quinoa and oats.
4. Include healthy fat as part of each meal from sources such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, oily fish and seeds.
For those who require a more structured approach the following table is an example of how good nutrition and extra kilojoules can be incorporated into the diet.
Sample Meal Plan for New Mums and Dads
*NOTE: Bold indicates additional energy requirements for new Mothers
Wholegrain breakfast cereal
1 banana or ½ cup berries
1TBS natural yoghurt
1 tsp nuts/seeds
+ 1 slice of wholegrain toast with a smear of avocado
1 pear + 1 handful of almonds
1 cup salad greens, grated carrot, tomato, beetroot
Thinly sliced chicken
1 tbs hummus or some olive oil spread
+ 1 tall glass of skim milk
1 low fat yoghurt + 1 sliced banana
Served with quinoa, barley or brown rice
1 cup non-starchy vege (baby spinach, steamed carrots, yellow squash, mushrooms)
+ 1 cob of corn
New mothers can often become constipated, so it’s important to remain hydrated throughout the day. NHMRC recommend women have 9 cups of water to support lactation. Fibre from breads, cereals, legumes, oats, fruit and vegetables will also help with constipation.
Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
Drugs, alcohol and tobacco can all affect the quality of breast milk. When a mother consumes alcohol during lactation it is passed quickly into her breastmilk. According to Ho et al (2001) it takes a 60kg female about 2 to 3 hours to eliminate alcohol from the body after one serving of beer or wine. It is important for a mother to plan all her drinking ‘occasions’ after breastfeeding the baby.
Amir et al (2002) state that nicotine levels in breast milk of women who smoke are between 1.5 and 3 times higher than the level in the mother’s blood so it is important for a woman to quit or reduce her smoking habits, especially during the hour prior to breastfeeding. The benefits of a mother’s breast milk however (even when smoking) are of higher nutritional value to the baby than bottle feeding and smoking (Brown 2008). Breast milk is the ‘gold standard’.
Looking after yourself
During challenging times when the baby is particularly distressed, it is important to have measures in place so that you are consuming good nutrition to maintain your vitality.
Here are a few tips.
· Have ready-made meals prepared and frozen ahead of time; casseroles, soups and hot pots are particularly useful.
· Have a supermarket roast chicken and salad mix on hand that is already prewashed and prepared for a fast, no fuss meal. Remove the chicken skin and make good use of the lean meat.
· Have quick meals in mind such as boiled eggs or baked beans on wholegrain toast, with a side of vege/salad for those times when you need a meal but have little time.
· Put roughly chopped vegetables and lean meat/chickpeas into a slow cooker early in the day with some stock or tinned tomatoes for a warm meal ready by night.
· Create meals like frittatas that can be eaten hot or cold, or can be packed into transportable lunchboxes for outings.
· Keep your fruit basket well stocked and have yoghurt, nuts, vege sticks and hummus on hand for healthy snacks during the day.
Amir, LH & Donath, SM (2002), ‘Does maternal smoking have a negative physiological effect on breastfeeding? The epidemiological evidence’, Birth vol. 29, pp.112-23
Brown, JE (2008), ‘Nutrition Through the Lifecycle’ 3rd ed’n, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, Belmont CA.
NHMRC Nutrient Reference Guides: http://www.nrv.gov.au/
Jenelle Croatto APD
After an influx of referrals last week for clients wanting advice on following a Candida Diet to prevent and/or treat thrush, I only thought it was appropriate to discuss the science surrounding this idea.
The theory that by following a ‘yeast free’ diet will prevent excessive growth of candida was particularly popular during the 1980’s and was commonly recommended. However it gradually faded as a form of treatment in orthodox medical circles following a study which was released in 1990, and subsequent research into the area.
One reason that the idea of a ‘yeast free’ diet gained traction is because some women with intolerances to natural food chemicals (most commonly, salicylates) will often experience vaginal irritation and mouth ulcers, sometimes with tongue coating. Based on clinical presentation only, many medical practitioners have come to the misdiagnoses of thrush. To properly diagnose thrush a swab needs to be conducted. If candida has been identified then it is treatable with an anti-fungal agent. However, if the result is negative then diet may be explored as a possible cause of symptoms.
Another area of confusion surrounds that of allergy testing. Individuals who present with a positive skin prick test (SPT) to yeast/candida may be lead to think that they are allergic. In fact this is only indicative of exposure, which is universal, and not a clinical diagnosis of an allergy, or a valid reason to commence a ‘yeast free’ diet.
At times the line between food and clinical symptoms can be quite blurred, and I can appreciate that it can be tricky to pin point what may be causing issues. For this reason, if anyone is suspecting that they may have some form of sensitivity to food I strongly encourage involvement with a medical practitioner and Dietitian who are experienced in the area of food sensitivities. Following a restrictive diet without the guidance of a Dietitian may lead to a diet that is nutritionally inadequate and inappropriate.
 A RANDOMISED, DOUBLE-BLIND TRIAL OF NYSTATIN THERAPY FOR THE CANDIDIASIS HYPERSENTIVITY SYNDROME. N Engl J Med (1990); 323:1717-23
Over the last 20 years people have worked themselves into a frenzy over carbohydrates. The term ‘carbophobe’ was coined to describe those people convinced that carbohydrates are some sort of physique destroyer! Let’s take a closer look at carbs to better understand their role; specifically why we need them for optimal nutrition, what occurs when our body is carb-depleted and how to choose the right kinds of carbohydrates for maximum benefits.
I cannot deny that a diet that omits or severely limits carbs will certainly trigger an initial drop in weight… This weight loss, however, is attributed to a loss of glycogen in the muscles, a drop in the body’s normal water content and a loss of some lean muscle tissue. This initial weight loss leads to a feeling of success and people naturally feel as though they are onto a good thing; that cutting carbs is the secret to weight loss. However, the body is clever at adapting and balancing things out and before you know it the lost weight usually returns and is often accompanied by a few extra kilos.
Carbohydrates are essential for a well-balanced diet and healthy body. They provide the only fuel source for many vital organs including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys. So without carbohydrates certain organs and systems suffer. Carbohydrates are broken down during digestion into glucose and the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin to help transport the glucose from the blood into the cells. Without glucose our body becomes lethargic, our brain fails to concentrate and dizziness and nausea can set in. It is clear to see that carbs are essential and that by cutting them out, our overall health and vitality is impaired.
Research and population studies around restricting carbs have revealed some rather concerning findings. Very low-carb diets rarely lead to long-term weight loss and if carbs have been substituted with saturated fats (e.g. muesli for fried bacon) than this may lead to some very serious health problems. An increased likelihood of heart disease and bowel cancer are two frightening examples. With a build up of saturated fat in the arteries and a lack of fibre rich wholegrains to keep our bowel moving nicely, opting for low-carb and high saturated fat is not a winning combination.
Carbohydrates are critical when it comes to training and sports performance. It is the preferred source of energy for the muscle cells and for those wanting to increase muscle bulk, it’s the carbohydrates that promote protein retention and synthesis. A lack of sufficient carbohydrates makes exercise more difficult; this is because the muscle glycogen is depleted. By cutting carbs you are more likely to tire faster, your endurance will decrease and you are less likely to engage in regular, daily physical activity. It’s often people who follow low carb trends that fail to return to the gym after a few months of yo-yoing success, because they feel extreme fatigue.
A lack of carbohydrate over time causes the body to become carb-deplete and the body is forced to rely on other sources of fuel such as fat. Now this may sound like a winning scenario, but it can actually lead to the development of ketones in the body, which can make the body acidic. This can lead to metabolic changes, which can be seriously dangerous for some people with diabetes. Carbohydrates have the ability to stabilise our blood glucose levels, or they can send a person through a dangerous series of peaks and troughs. It’s important to know that not all carbs are the same and it’s important to maintain a steady stream of slowly released carbohydrates into the body rather than rapid influxes which overload the system.
The key for maintaining a healthy balance (and sensible weight-loss) is to choose the right carbs, those ‘smart’ carbs. You want to choose carbohydrates that are the least processed - unrefined and closest to their natural state. They include many wholegrains, such as oats, barley, legumes (beans and lentils), buckwheat and quinoa, and wholegrain products such as wholegrain breads and wraps. Many other carbohydrate foods are also slowly released, due to certain characteristics of the food, which slows the process of digestion and absorption eg pasta, dairy products, fruit and certain types of rice. Look for high fibre options and products labeled low GI (these will be released slowly).
If you have been wearing that ‘carbophobe hat’ since 1996, than it is time rethink your motives for doing so. The right kinds of carbs can set you on a path to be the best version of you. Your body will benefit form a diet high in fibre and a steady flow of glucose into your bloodstream will minimize those peaks and troughs in energy. The intensity of your training sessions will improve and as an added bonus your brain will be thinking clearer. For too long carbohydrates have been solely blamed a global increase in waistlines. Instead of cutting carbs completely, opt for minimally processed carbs and wholegrains and ditch the highly refined carbs. Carbohydrates play and important role and should be part of a balanced diet rich in plant foods, lean protein and healthy fat. Incorporate ‘smart’ carbohydrates and feel your vitality soar!
I love quinoa and I love porridge... So it won't be a surprise that Quinoa Porridge is regular breakfast for me.
I love it because it tastes great and has all the nutritional 'checks' I need.
With my dietary requirements, it's a sure fire winner. Plus it keeps me satisfied for hours. Each seed of quinoa contains smart carbs and protein... So this little seed has a strong nutritional punch. It's a winner amongst those wanting a 'Paleo' style diet and those who require a gluten free diet.
What you see above is my breakfast this morning. Warm, creamy porridge with some lovely fresh peach, blueberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon. You can top it with whatever you have on hand. Here are just a few ideas :
My husband thought it looked great... but being my resident 'Heston' he came up with his own version below. A smooth porridge using ground quinoa. He used the coffee grinder to make the quinoa 'fine' before cooking it. It looked a little like a thick yoghurt and we think it would make great baby food!
For those that don't like the texture of quinoa, the ground version might be worth a try!
Before I pass on his tips let me explain how to make basic quinoa porridge on the stove top or in the microwave. You can tailor this recipe for your own dietary requirements or tastes using any type of milk... Skim, soy, coconut, almond, oat, rice or just water. So when I refer to 'milk' it can be any type of milk or even water.
STOVE TOP: MAKES 3-4 SERVES
Combine 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups milk. Boil gently and let simmer for about 20-25 mins, stirring occasionally to check that it hasn't burned or boiled dry. You will know when it is cooked because it will be translucent and form little tails. Serve with your desired topping.
MICROWAVE: MAKES 3-4 SERVES
Combine 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups milk. Cook on high for 2-3 mins. Stir and then cook on low for 15mins. You will know when it is cooked because it will be translucent and form little tails. Serve with your desired topping. All microwaves are different, so first time round, keep watch for that translucent look.
SMOOTH QUINOA: Heston Husband Tips! :)
So, have a play! Quinoa is such a great little seed and we love it. It is a versatile cooking ingredient (just see my recipe page) and it's very nutritious.
Share with me your favourite quinoa recipes and tips on Twitter @lise_simpson
Live, love, life...
Made from just the starchy inner part of the grain with all the fibre and many nutrients removed this is the least nutritious bread. It almost always has a high GI meaning the carbs are absorbed almost as quickly as if you drank pure glucose in water! This gives you big rise in blood glucose levels and needs a lot of insulin to be dealt with. Not good news for heart health, weight control or reducing risk of or controlling diabetes. However there are now a few low GI white breads on the market. These are a step in the right direction if you must eat white bread. Sourdough white is also much better having a lower GI. Many also have fibre added but these are still not the same as eating a wholegrain bread.
These are the best types of bread as the grain is processed intact. Usually these have a lower GI, all the fibre and most of the nutrients preserved from the intact grain.
It’s important to recognise the difference between wholemeal and wholegrain. Wholemeal are more processed – often the fibre component is added back, making them more nutritious than white bread, however the GI is often still high.
Multigrain bread is often white bread in disguise, dressed up with a few seeds and grains thrown in! Take a bite of a multigrain slice and feel it dissolve in your mouth. It is rapidly absorbed, just like white bread. Go for wholegrain rather than ‘multigrain’.
Joanna loves Mountain bread and Sorj bread – no preservatives and literally just flour water and salt. Joanna uses Tannour bread for making homemade pizza for the kids – made by Old Time Bakery Pty Ltd and described as “first made by Ancient Phoenicians”. There has been a real move back to these kind of old fashioned breads. Good old wholemeal pita is also good and tends to be low GI.
Longer dough fermentation aids in restoring the function of the digestive tract and supporting the immune system. Sourdough bread is a low GI food. This has been proven to provide many health benefits for medical conditions such as diabetes while also assisting in weight control by improving appetite control and delaying hunger. These breads are best eaten cut fresh, rather than as a sandwich later in the day. Sourdough doesn’t hold together as well over time.
How to Make a Healthy Wrap!
Bursting with colour, fibre, low GI carbs, lean protein and a dash of healthy fat this wrap will keep the hunger under control and provide loads of nutrition.
1 wholegrain Mountain bread
1 grated carrot
1 generous handful of baby spinach
1 thinly sliced tomato
+ any other salad vegetables you enjoy
100g thinly sliced chicken breast
¼ avocado used as healthy spread
Cracked pepper to taste
Slice up all salad vegetables and place on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. In doing so this will stop your wrap going soggy by lunchtime!
Arrange your ingredients down one end of the Mountain bread to allow a tight and easy roll. Roll with care and to be environmentally friendly, wrap in some aluminium foil, as it can be recycled.
Enjoy, Lisa xo
Fitness, Energy, Education & Diet