fbpx

Category: Uncategorized

How well do you know your menstrual cycle?

swan at the round pond

This isn’t a trick question!

 

There are a few signs that tell you it’s worth becoming more familiar with your menstrual cycle.

 

Are you surprised every month when your period arrives? Do you get hit like a brick with PMS every month, feeling like it’s come out of nowhere? Do you track your period by when you get PMS symptoms?

 

Ladies, there is a better way!

 

Knowing more about your menstrual cycle and embracing it can benefit you in so many ways.

 

Firstly, I encourage you to download one of the many period tracker apps out there and start tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms. At the very least, you won’t be surprised when your period arrives every month #whitejeansallyear

 

After a few months, you start to get a sense of the length of your cycle. And it’s really important to know  that not every woman has a 28 day cycle. Some women’s cycles can be as short as 21 days and as long as 35 days. Every woman’s cycle is different so don’t compare yourself or your cycle to your friends.

 

Once you know when your period is scheduled to arrive, you can then start tackling your PMS. Many women get PMS in the 7 days before their periods, with symptoms like bloating, anger, irritability, brain fog, weepiness, pain and acne. PMS is a sign that something is wrong, so please don’t accept it as normal!

 

But your cycle isn’t just about when you get your period. Did you know that you have four phases to your cycle, where each of your sex hormones will peak or decrease depending on the phase?  This is why you might have more or less physical and emotional energy at certain times of your cycle or your libido might be higher or lower. It’s all connected to your hormones.

 

Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle can help you manage it better, get to grips with PMS, period pain, heavy bleeding and emotional ups and downs.

 

Do you need help understanding your cycle and your hormones? Book in for a free 20 minute Hormone Health Review!

SaveSave

Stories I loved this week.

Happy weekend! I can’t wait to hang out with my husband and son and relax this weekend.  And it’s Bonfire Night on Saturday! We’re going to check out our local Guy Fawkes fireworks display and let J have a few sparklers  – can’t wait!

What are you up to this weekend?

How it feels when your friends have babies. (Refinery 29)

What to eat when you have no idea what to cook. (The Pool)

I learned how to sharpen knives on Leiths knife skills course last year and it has been a revelation for my food prep. (Lucky Peach)

I love this idea of fine dining club for young children and their parents. I was a part of one when I was on maternity leave and it was incredible to be able to try some of the top restaurants in London with my son with me. (Bon Appetit)

The woman is incredible – doing so much, with a little toddler by her side. (Motherly)

How to choose a probiotic that will actually work. (Well + Good)

This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. (Nplusone)

In case you missed it earlier on the blog…

I made chestnut pancakes and they were sooo good.

I’ve been wondering why we don’t talk about nutritious eating more.

Intentions not resolutions: how to create good habits in 2016

fireworks

It’s almost 2016 (eep!) and it’s that time of the year when the best of 2015 and 2016 to do lists come rolling out.

Do you make resolutions at the beginning of the year?

I don’t. Controversial, I know.

I prefer to set intentions. Ahem, you ask, how are those different to resolutions?

Intentions are about setting the focus for the year and aren’t as vague as resolutions. Intentions are about creating new habits and breaking bad habits. They’re much much more focused and specific, taking into consideration personality traits (i.e. are you a Questioner or an Obliger? An Abstainer or a Moderator?). Research shows that it takes at least 10 weeks to build a new habit, good or bad.

So rather than just resolving to lose weight in 2016, a more intentional approach would be to identify a realistic (to you!) and consistent plan of action (i.e. a green smoothie  with protein for breakfast each morning, putting 3-4 workouts or classes in the diary each week, going to bed by 10:30pm each night, etc) with each part of the plan helping to establish good habits and remove bad habits. A few checkpoints, be they monthly or quarterly, will help to course correct if the plan isn’t working.

The main thing is that your plan needs to be specific to your needs and wants, not something cookie cutter from an off the shelf programme. Only you know if you are the type of person that responds to outward or inward motivation, that needs to abstain from certain food or activities or can indulge every once in a while.

What are my intentions for 2016?

Time: My biggest intention is to be more aware of how I spend my time. I find myself drifting back into spending a lot of time surfing the web, reading trashy gossip sites. I want to be more intentional with my time, focusing on the things I need to do, like my coursework and research and use books (including the Kindle app on my iPhone) not the internet to unwind. My plan is to give myself 20-30 minutes each day to web surf and after that, any internet time needs to be focused and productive.

Exercise: I want to continue my habit of exercising 4-5 times a week, with a scheduled (and booked!) spin class on Mondays and 4 at-home resistance training sessions. I’ve just started Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide 2.0, which is nicely split into 4 workouts per week, running a total of 12 weeks. Getting from week 13 to week 24 is a good target for me, especially knowing that I was able to finish weeks 1 – 12 of Kayla’s guide with good progress.

Writing: I want to post at least 3 times a week on this blog – a mix of recipes, nutrition information based on what I’m currently studying and other wellness / self-improvement posts. I’ve finally made 2 posts a week a habit and want to experiment with 3 posts for the next three months.

What are your intentions for 2016?

Photo by kazuend

What happens after baby led weaning?

Photo by leonie wise

When my son was three months old and I felt that we really had a handle on breastfeeding, I started to think about the next step – introducing him to solid food. My plan was to start giving him solids at six months, the age NHS recommends and the age when baby’s gut lining becomes less permeable and they have have a more mature, closed gut.

At five and a half months, all the signs of food readiness were there:

  • J could sit up without support
  • He had lost the tongue thrust reflex and was not pushing things out of his mouth with his tongue
  • He was trying to chew
  • He had a pincer grasp and could pick things up between his thumb and forefinger
  • He was grabbing food from my plate and seemed genuinely curious about trying what we were eating

So one day, I gave him some avocado, he seemed to enjoy eating and playing with it and we started to introduce more food slowly from there.

Anecdotally, many parents expect breastfeeding to reduce when they introduce solids. I can personally attest to the fact that this is not always the case. At seven months, J was still breastfeeding 5 times during the day and at least three times at night. It was only at 8-9 months when M and I started giving him three meals and two snacks a day, did the breastfeeding cut down to three times in the day and a few times at night.

Now that J is 17 months old, past the baby led weaning stage and no longer breastfeeding, what do we give him to eat? I started to think about this properly today after receiving the latest NHS email (which I find very informative). This email included a link to a Netmums page with lots of toddler recipe ideas, which got me thinking.

There is no doubt that feeding a toddler can be tricky.

They go through food fads, they refuse to eat when they’re tired, timing is key when you want them to try new things and they’re prone to throwing food all over the kitchen if they don’t like something. But the thing is, they’re capable of eating a lot more than we think and we need to trust them when they tell us they’re full – when J starts throwing food, the meal is over and I take him out of his high chair.

I’ve never really understood the recommendation to give babies and toddlers bland food. How will they develop a complex palate if they’re only exposed to mushy purées with no seasoning from the time they start solids? The same applies to toddlers. They are capable of trying and eating a much wider range of food that we seem to give them credit for.

Image courtesy of Maya Picture at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Maya Picture at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Think of the Koreans, who give their babies and toddlers kimchi, gradually increasing the spiciness until they’re capable of eating the same kimchi as their parents. The same goes for Indian and Pakistani parents who start their kids off with a mild daal, increasing the spiciness as they get older.

My personal experience of this comes from my Bahamian mother, who loves the spicy food from her native country and other surrounding Caribbean countries and would think nothing of giving my brother and I a spicy conch salad or rice and peas when we were toddlers, because she knew it was good for our palates and that we had to build up a tolerance to spiciness over time.

I try to apply these principles to my son J, who loves his food and generally loves to try new things. When M and I go out to eat, he’ll typically eat what we eat – steak, fish, bunless burgers, chicken, fish, curries, roasts, etc. M and I aren’t fussy eaters and enjoy trying new things, so J will generally eat from our plates as I’m not a massive fan of ordering from kid’s menus in restaurants.

At home, a typical day of food might look like this for J:

Breakfast: Omelettes, scrambled eggs or oatmeal with fruit

Lunch: Quiche, savoury tarts, stews, couscous with veg and hummus

Snacks: Banana, sweet potato, cheese, raspberries or blueberries, chorizo, fruit pouches (we like Ella’s Kitchen and Plum Baby)

Dinner: Leftovers from our dinner the night before. J eats his dinner a lot earlier than us so we typically eat something different to him and I make enough for him to eat the next day.

We definitely haven’t cracked it. Someday J eats a lot and will eat everything we offer and will do so with a fork or spoon. And then I do my happy mom dance!

Other days, he’s in discomfort from molars cutting through, sick, distracted or just plain tired, he doesn’t want to try anything new or eat much at all. What I’ve learned is that you just have to roll with it, not take it personally and know that they’ll probably eat more the next meal.  If you look at what they eat over a week, it all balances out.

Operation rebuild the gut bacteria!

During the summer, M had some trouble with his nose and his doctor put him on two four week courses of really strong antibiotics. You all know the story… the antibiotics managed to clear up the nose problem, but killed all the good bacteria in his stomach.

He was prescribed some probiotics to take with the antibiotics, but forgot to take them. Cue the last two months of upset stomachs, colds and general fatigue and grittiness. After M went to bed at 9pm the other night with an upset stomach, he finally decided to look at ‘alternative’ medicine to help heal his gut bacteria and get him back on the right track. I’m hoping that this becomes a slow route to paleo eating, but we’ll see as I’m dealing with quite the cynic over here!

After throwing quite a lot of good research on how many bacterial cells there are in our bodies – there are over 100,000,000,000,000 microorganisms and over 400 known bacterial species –  at him, I went over to my local branch of As Nature Intended and had a long chat with the store’s in house nutritionists about the best way forward.

I ended up buying some kimchi and sauerkraut, but I would be completely amazed if M actually ate any of it, as he can be a bit picky about his food choices. As you can see from the photo below, I also got some coconut kefir and some probiotic capsules.

I’m personally very intrigued at how this little experiment is going to go, as it’s better to try these things out, rather than suffer, right? After all, the stomach isn’t just for food – there’s a huge gut – brain connection that we’re only just scratching the surface of. I’ve been listening to Underground Wellness’ most recent podcast on digestive health and I’m super excited to check out The Digestion Sessions to go deeper into this fascinating topic!

I completed the #whole30!

And here it is, 30 days later and I’ve completed my first Whole 30. What did I learn (because I always have to be learning something)?

1. My craving for wine was so very real and only really left me after day 20.

A glass of nice red wine with dinner and one after dinner used to be my ritual. When you have a baby and a new freelance gig, rituals and routines are important for a sense of stability. It was so very hard to break this habit. Even tonight, I had a brief hankering for a glass.

2. I am an emotional snacker

My venture back into the world of work has started with a nice freelance gig, which means I’m back to being a desk jockey for more of the day. My stress levels have also increased, which has corresponded with an increase in snacking on fruit, mainly mangos. I reached peak snacking last week when I ate a whole tub of mango in one sitting. I realised that I need to be much more mindful about the way I eat in between mealtimes and really ask myself the ‘Am I hungry / thirsty?’ question.

3. I am stronger than I think

My new normal is moving an 11kg baby around, so it took me a while to realise that this was contributing to an increase in muscle. Then I started a 30 day push-up challenge and went from being able to competently do 20 modified push-ups to as of yesterday, doing 25 ‘real’ push-ups! I’m so very excited about this as this has been a long time goal of mine.

4. Once you’re in the swing of things, eating strict Paleo isn’t too hard.

I’ve been eating primally off and on for the past two years, so going into the Whole 30 wasn’t a huge transition for me. Ordering in restaurants can sometimes be a bit tricky, but generally wait staff tend to more au fait with off menu ordering than they used to be.

5. I struggle not to weigh myself.

My weight has gone up and down my whole life, so it’s been really, really hard not to weigh myself on my fancy digital scales each morning. My jean size has gone from a 31-32” to a 29-30”, which I’m so very happy about – I’ll take that #nonscalevictory!

My body is still settling down, hormonally, after stopping breastfeeding, so I’m going to go for a Whole45 and maybe even a Whole 60. This will really give my body a break and allow my hormones to return to some sort of equilibrium.

Should I give my son cow’s milk?

Photo by Sonja Langford

My son has just turned one.

One is great – he’s an older baby, not yet a toddler, and still has that squishy cuteness I love.

We’ve been doing baby-led weaning with him since he was 5.5 months old, which for the most part, has been very successful. He controls how much he eats and generally eats most of the food we offer him. He LOVES fruit, especially bananas, dates, flat peaches and blueberries – long may this continue.

Turning one also means that he can start having whole milk. Hmmm. I’ve always been a bit skeptical about milk, mainly because I have a slight intolerance to lactose and too much of it sends me running to the nearest loo. So recently, as baby J has been dropping breastmilk feeds, going from constant all-day nursing, to just one, before bed, I’ve been getting some pressure to start him on whole milk as a replacement.

According to the NHS, children between the ages of one and three need to have around 350mg of calcium a day and about 300ml of milk (just over half a pint) would provide this. 300ml is about two small Medela bottles of milk – a lot of liquid to give to a baby that’s already drinking lots of water and eating a very diverse diet! Let’s not even get into how you get all that liquid into them when the NHS recommendation is to cut out bottles around age 1. To contrast, the US recommendation for infants age 1 is 500-700mg of calcium a day!

My view has always been that plant and seed based calcium is much more bio-available that calcium from milk. The calcium in dairy products is not as well absorbed as that in many dark green leafy vegetables – calcium absorbability from kale is considerably higher than that from cow’s milk. But we’ve been suckered into thinking that milk is the best source of calcium by some clever folks at the Milk Marketing board. Everyone knows the famous got milk? campaign, in which a very smart tagline and celebrities were used to sell the benefits of drinking milk. Ever since my teenage flirtation with vegetarianism / veganism, I’ve always wondered why we drink so much milk from another species. We’re the only mammal that does this!

And now that I have a child, I’m really resistant to the idea of giving him cups and cups of whole milk as an easy source of calcium. When I’ve discussed this with M, his question back to me has always been, “But will it harm baby J to have milk?”. My answer is yes. I can’t always guarantee that he will have organic whole milk, free from antibiotics and hormones, especially at nursery. What I can guarantee is that J eats a varied, nutritious diet.

What’s also really important is that I make sure that J gets enough vitamin D to help absorb calcium. With the amazing summer that we’ve had, we can make vitamin D from sunlight on our skin and during the winter, I need to make sure J eats a lot of oily fish and egg yolks.

So what foods have I been giving J to make sure he gets enough calcium each day?

1. Chia seed puddings

These are so easy to make and J loves them!

2. Kale in smoothies

I’ve been blessed with a baby that loves fruit and (some) veg. I whack some kale into a fruit smoothie and J drinks it down!

3. Dates, dates, dates

J loves dates and usually eats at least two a day. He also loves the almond date bars I make – a bonus!

4. Cheese and yoghurt

I only organic cheese and focus on giving J the really rich tasting, complex cheeses, to help develop his palate. He loves strength 7 cheddar, Camembert, mozzarella, goat’s cheese, amongst many, many others. If I give J yoghurt, I only give him greek yoghurt or goat’s milk yoghurt.

Here’s a handy little chart of calcium-rich non-dairy foods.

image

Spicy tuna cakes!

I’ve been obsessed with nomnompaleo‘s cookbook since I bought it a few weeks ago. And like any good cook, I often add my own twists and adaptations to the original recipes.

This afternoon, while baby J was sleeping, I decided to try out the Spicy Tuna Cakes recipe, as I had eyed it last week and made sure I added some nice albacore tuna to my Ocado order.

I changed things up from the original recipe by adding red peppers, garlic and onions for some crunch and colour and ground coriander and smoked paprika to give it an additional depth of flavour.

If you haven’t invested in these silicone muffin cases, I highly recommend doing so. They are so easy, environmentally friendly and no-fuss! After they cooled, the fish cakes slipped right out of the cases and on to the plate.

What’s the verdict? Well, I’ll definitely make them again, but…next time, I’ll use more seasoning and reduce the amount of mashed sweet potato, as the fish cakes were a little too wet for my liking.

The added red pepper, onion and garlic was good for the extra texture and next time, I’ll probably add some shredded carrot as well for even more crunch!

Paleo granola for the non-paleo

My husband has always loved granola and for years, a bowl of Jordan’s granola with milk was his go-to breakfast. For the last few months, I’ve been really conscious about getting him to think about what’s in the packaged food he likes to eat. When I mentioned the gut-busting 12.4g of sugar in a 45g bowl of his favourite Crunchy Oat Granola with Raisin and Almond, he finally seemed interested in trying paleo and primal alternatives.

I made my first batch of primal / paleo granola a few weeks ago and it was a really big hit. We finally ran out on Friday, so I decided to make a fresh batch this afternoon after a tough night with a poorly bub. I find cooking so therapeutic and relaxing; the perfect thing to do (other than nap, which I also found time for this afternoon!) when the baby’s napping.

After feedback that the last batch had a little too much coconut oil in it and not enough honey, I made some tweaks to this batch. In my trusty Mason Cash bowl, I mixed:

  • 400g flaked almonds
  • 200g pecan nuts
  • 100g macadamia nuts
  • 200g walnuts
  • 100g dessicated coconut
  • 100g currants
  • 100g chopped dates

Then I added 1.5 tablespoons of ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg and mixed it all together. I upped the cinnamon and nutmeg to the entire recipe because I reckoned that it would add the sweet flavour that my husband wanted without creating a massive insulin response.

In a small pot, I then blended 100g of coconut oil, 50g of raw honey and another tablespoon each of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg under a low heat for two minutes.

Once you’re happy, you can store the granola in big Tupperware containers and should last for a week or two, depending on how many people you need to feed in the morning.

Et voila! Enjoy!

Subscribe to weekly notes from our founder, Le’Nise!