Weight Loss Dieting vs Healing Nutrition

Finally, you’ve given birth YAY!! and got your body back to yourself. It’s very tempting (I know, I’ve been there) to assume ‘situation normal’ and treat your body as you would have done a year ago. Gained some extra weight? (as is to be expected) then surely now is the time to hit the weight loss dieting hard, right? WRONG!! Take your eyes off what you see on the outside for a moment and give a thought to what’s going on under your skin right now;

Recovery, Repair, Healing

No matter how straightforward your pregnancy and birth may have been, there is repair work going on, especially within your abdominal and pelvic tissues. Ignore it and your recovery will be prolonged.

Support and Nurture

My two key words for the postnatal body (movement and exercise are key here too, they’ll have their turn another time….). Your body needs a steady supply of the building blocks for repair from your diet. It needn’t be complicated either, just normal, wholesome food. There are 4 key players to watch for;

Water

You are around 65% water. Drink regularly, avoid becoming thirsty.

Protein

Healing, regeneration, growth – they all depend on it and your body needs more than normal so supply it with healthy sources at every meal (I’m not talking nitrate-loaded bacon and sausages here).

Veg

Plenty of it and a good variety.

Essential Fatty Acids

The clue’s in the name. Oily fish, nuts and seeds are excellent sources.

Get your energy from starchy food (potato, rice, pasta), keeping the refined sugar as low as possible. This is thoughtful, supportive eating. Living off rice cakes just won’t do the job.

So, turn away from the unrealistic, unhealthy images in celebrity magazines and the like (don’t get me started) and look within. If your body could speak, what would it ask for? See above.

Forward Head Posture in Pregnancy

As you’re reading this where is your head? To be more precise, where are your ears? Directly above your shoulders where they should be? Unless you are a ballet dancer or seriously into sport then probably not. Thanks to our sedentary, computer-dependant world most people, from their early teens have a less than perfect upper body posture.

The adult head weighs on average 12lb (5.5Kg). For every inch the head protrudes forward, an extra 10lb of load is added. So if the head is 2 inches forward, that’s a whopping 14.5Kg!! In order to keep the body from toppling forwards, the muscular system has to rearrange the whole posture. Muscles become locked tight and painful, others stretched and weak. There are many long-term health implications if this is allowed to continue; cervical disc herniation, nerve compression, fat deposits at the back of the neck, headaches…

If you are or have recently been pregnant, then this may well be a significant problem for you (in case you haven’t got enough of those already!). As pregnancy progresses, the body is continually adapting and compensating to maintain it’s balance. The head moves forwards, the muscles across the chest tighten, pulling the shoulders towards the front causing the classic pain across the rear shoulders and neck. Further down, the pelvis tilts, compressing the lumbar vertebrae resulting in chronic pain. As we all know, following birth the body won’t just ping back to it’s pre-pregnant position. To put it another way, the whole support system is thrown out of whack and could use some help!

The key to successfully realigning the postnatal body isn’t just in knowing which muscles to strengthen and which to release or stretch. It’s also knowing the order in which to do all of this and how, in a way that is best suited to the unique you.

And posture also affects the function of the stabilising, supportive core. If the pelvis is tipping excessively forwards, then all the muscles attached to it will be pulled out of line too. I’m talking abdominals and pelvic floor muscles, that’s half of the deep core system, but that’s for another time…

The bottom line is (literally!) posture matters. Now and for your future health.

Early Motherhood – stressful isn’t it?!

What’s it like being a new mum then? No doubt plenty of adjectives spring to mind. If you’d asked me 9 years ago “stressful” would have been on my list. The complete lifestyle upheaval, responsibility, lack of sleep… all compounded by an imbalance of mood regulating hormones. No wonder looking after a new-born is ranked as one of the hardest jobs in the world. So do we just have to grin and bear it? Well, there are some easy, practical ways to make life a bit easier. Here are are few ideas:

Don’t compare yourself to other mums

This was a big failing of mine. I remember one time I felt totally inadequate as a new mum. After struggling over what seemed like several hours get myself and son to a local shopping mall, I met a neighbour who had just returned from taking her baby alone on a trip abroad. Only years later did I discover that she hadn’t been coping nearly as well as her outward image had me believe. Just focus on yourself and your family.

Ask for help

Decide what really matters and do those things to the best of your ability. Let the rest go or delegate. People like being asked to help out, it shows you trust and respect them.

Have some ‘me’ time (without any guilt)

It’s essential in every job to take time out every so often, motherhood is no different. It will do you both good to spend some time apart. Arrange child care and do something you genuinely enjoy. It will re-charge your emotional batteries.

Socialise

Humans are social animals. Staying in all day alone with your baby is unlikely to lift your mood. Get out there, surround yourself with people who you find uplifting, empathetic and comfortable to be with.

Sunlight

The brain releases the mood-boosting hormone serotonin in response to sunlight hitting the retina. Even when cloudy, it is well worth getting outside every day for at least 10 minutes. Also, UV light on the skin is our main source of vitamin D to which the brain is also highly responsive.

Nutrition

You are what you eat and the brain is highly responsive to the nutrients (or lack of them) in your diet.

Zinc

Prolonged zinc deficiency has been linked to emotional disorders including depression. Sources of zinc are red meat, shellfish, dairy foods, pumpkin seeds. hemp seeds, almonds, cashew and brazil nuts. Zinc is also a key element in every phase of the wound healing process.

Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for correct brain function, their use as a treatment for several types of depression is well established. Studies have shown that depression is less common in people who live in countries where oily fish forms a significant part of the diet. Top sources include mackerel, sardines, pilchards, herring, salmon, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts.

Carbohydrate

Numerous studies have concluded that fluctuating blood sugar levels produced by consuming refined carbohydrates worsen symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. Eating complex carbohydrates ie. starchy, slow energy-release foods such as rice, potatoes, pasta and oatmeal will help to keep your mood steady.

Cortisol

Released in response to stress, the hormone cortisol has a direct impact on your physical health as it interferes with the wound healing processes. Caffeine and refined sugar increase cortisol secretion as does dehydration. Probiotic yoghurt, oatmeal, fruit and vegetable fibre can help to reduce cortisol levels.

Regular aerobic exercise

Suitable exercise (a different blog, another time!), at an intensity to get your heart rate up will cause the release of endorphins, our natural feel-good chemicals.

Fancy a deeper look at this subject? My (free) Mood Boosters for Mums ebook is yours to download; http://bit.ly/2EQZIa3

And finally, feeling some stress is entirely normal. If you are concerned that your health is being adversely affected or that you may be suffering from symptoms of depression, do please discuss it with your G.P. There is plenty of help for you out there.