The New Mummy Diet

HELP! I want to get my body back.

You have a new baby.

You are shattered.

You feel less than blooming.

Your pre-pregnancy wardrobe is neither practical (especially if you are breast feeding) nor flattering – that’s if it even goes over your hips. And you are just all a bit jiggly. Plus to top it all off you have neither time nor energy to shop/eat/cook/all of the above.

So how do you get your pre-pregnancy body back?

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NEWSFLASH: You won’t. That’s not to say you can’t have a body that you love but it will always be different. A scar here or (down) there; wrinkles on your tummy; or stretch marks on your boobs (which may also have gone down there). But it’s okay. You’re a mum.

Wear your baby badges with pride.

GETTING THIN AGAIN: Please please please know that this is the least important thing right now. Until your baby is letting you sleep for a good seven hour stretch and you have stopped lactating, it is not the time to consider cutting calories or dieting for the way you look. And I promise you, there’ll be a time in the very near future when you are so busy running around after your toddler that eating at all will become a challenge.

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THE NEW MUMMY DIET

So here’s the good news. My new mummy diet is what you really need to consider eating and drinking to cope with the now. To enable your body to cope with the demands of being a new mummy and perhaps feeding a new baby. And as luck would have it, a diet to cater for the above, is just the sort of diet your body needs to lose fat – so these are some good habits to get into.

What do you really need from your diet?

  • You need energy;
  • You need good quality sleep in the patches that you get it;
  • You need fuel to heal, repair and produce milk that satisfies your baby;
  • You need foods that help to stabilise your energy levels (and with that your emotional state); and
  • You need nutrients to keep your immune system high and pass that on to baby.

So what are my recommendations for THE NEW MUMMY DIET?

1. CUT OUT REFINED SUGAR AND REFINED CARBS

Yes this means chocolate, bread, sweets and cakes.

It sounds impossible, especially when you’re sleep deprived and you feel like you need a quick pick me up. But sugar highs will lead to massive sugar lows, which can affect your energy levels, milk supply, hormone balance and emotions. It’s also pretty bad for your health.

If going cold turkey feels like too much, start by cutting back. Your tummy fat will start to reduce in days if you cut out refined carbs.

2. CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE

If you’re breastfeeding this probably goes without saying but did you know that caffeine has a seven hour half life? So if you need to sleep when baby sleeps keep your coffee to the morning.

Evidence suggests that drinking more than three cups of coffee in a day massively reduces your sensitivity to caffeine, so you won’t feel the benefit anyway.

Stick to one caffeinated drink only.

3. SLEEP/REST

This is a toughie when you have a new baby. You just need to do what you can. If day naps are a challenge, try to at least rest.

When you miss out on quality sleep, your hormones are affected and can make you crave sweet foods.

So rest whenever you can and call in the troupes to help you get sleep if you have some available.

4. EAT PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL/SNACK

When we pick at foods, good quality protein sources can be the first thing we lose from our diets.

Protein is essential, especially when you are healing and perhaps feeding a new life.

The easiest way to ensure that we get enough is to include it with every meal or snack. This will also help keep your energy levels stable. So an egg at breakfast, some nuts with a piece of fruit, some humous on toast and a piece of fish or meat with your lunch will all help you to feel fuller and more energise.

5. EAT A PINT OF GREEN VEG

To ensure you get your vegetables in, visualise how many it would take to fill a pint glass. Try and eat this amount throughout the day.

You could invest in a high quality blender to get your greens in that way. Greens are important for your health, will help keep your vitamin levels high and are great for your digestion.]

Oh and drink loads (of water that is).

These are just guidelines for what to put into your mouth. Yes I’d recommend post natal specific exercise too but if all you can do is eat well, that’s a great start and is absolutely something daddy or friends/family can help you with.

Be flexible and realistic though. Don’t be hard on yourself for eating a biscuit (or two) but know if you are hungry, tired and grumpy and hour later, that’s why.

If you’d like more information like this on post natal health, read my most popular blog all about post natal recovery: The Princess, the bump, your body

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist.

Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.

Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.

Read the latest Fit School newsletter here: Fit School News

TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

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Black Eyed Bean Chilli (Vegetarian)

WHILST I’m a confirmed meat eater I’ve recently been dabbling with vegetarian meals. When we’ve had an excess of meat or rich foods, we like to have the odd non-meat dinner. We’re also aware that whilst we are happy omnivores, not everyone is.

So here’s my latest veggie recipe. It appealed to me because I had some ripe plantains, so wanted a rice and bean dish to go with it but Chris’ mum’s African black eyed beans we had lurking in the freezer were way too spicy for my palate. This is sooooo quick (literally ten minutes to prepare and less than 30 minutes to cook) that it makes a great store cupboard, easy dinner and only requires a chopping board, knife and a tin opener. Plus the black eyed beans are really meaty. I used beef stock to meat it up (obviously veggies can use a non-meat equivalent).

We aren’t dieticans or nutritionists so would always recommend if you are following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s really important for you to seek the advice of a nutritionist to ensure you are still getting enough amino acids, protein and fats into your diet.

BLACK EYED BEAN CHILLI

(serves 3 hungry people or 2 with leftovers for lunch)

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tin chopped or plum tomatoes
  • 1 dessert spoon tomato puree
  • 1 450g tin black eyed beans
  • 1/2 tin chickpeas (optional)
  • 100mls water and stock cube (I used a Knorr beef stock pot)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Fry the chopped onions in a pan with a slug of olive oil (be generous to add fats to this recipe) until soft and slightly coloured. Then add the chopped garlic and fry for a few minutes taking care not to catch the garlic.

Make a space in the pan and add the tomato puree, cook it off then incorporate.

Add all the dry spices (to your taste) and cook for another few minutes.

Add the tomatoes and stock cube plus a little water (rinse out the tomato tin) then bring to a simmer. Season well with salt and lots of black pepper.

Add the beans and chickpeas if using and cook for around 20 minutes, or until the beans are looking a little soft.

You can add more water if it’s a little dry for you.

Once you’ve finished cooking add the balsamic vinegar to taste. It brings out the flavour.

Serve for dinner with steamed rice, fried plantains and a green salad with avocado (extra fats) or this is also great for lunch with a baked sweet potato.

5 Good Health Habits

It’s that time of year when media bombards us with health crazes, detoxes, diets and food fads (and fallacies).

So rather than confuse you further, I’m here to simplify life with some easy to adopt, good health habits which should perk up any sluggish system:

1. Start each day with a Morning Zing. Either fresh lemon or lime juice in hot water or half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water. Both will help start your body in an alkaline way, which is great for health, fat burning and just making you feel good.

2. Take a 20-minute brisk walk every day, ideally before midday to catch as much daylight as possible. This will rev up your metabolism and (especially if you’ve been stuck at your desk or at home) give your eyes and brain a break. Walking is low impact but will get your joints moving.

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3. Have protein and two portions of vegetables with every meal. This is a tough one but both your body and your mind will benefit from this good health habit. Your brain needs protein, especially in the winter months, in order to synthesise happy hormones. Vegetables help to alkalise your body and are packed full of vitamins and protein will keep you full between meals.

4. Avoid snacks between meals. There was a time when health sciences taught grazing for health but in the past few years this has been turned on its head. If you are keen to drop some Christmas lard, shape up for an event or just regulate your hormones, going cold turkey between meals is best. This will automatically cut out ‘extra’ calories from your diet and you’ll have to meal plan to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients in your main meals.

5. Drink at least two litres of water every day. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard it before but hydration is key for optimum health. You might be omming your way through yoga or clocking up the marathon miles but without enough water on board you’ll be under performing.

And finally (the bonus ball) … get your zzzzzz’s. At least seven hours beauty sleep a night. No TV’s or technology at least 30 minutes before bed and in as dark a room as possible.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Sugar Detox: Starts this Sunday, 5th January

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a great Christmas, with a chance to relax, unwind and spend quality time with friends and family.

Seasonal excesses can leave many of us feeling a little bloated and lethargic. Not just because of too much turkey and Christmas pudding. Did you know that for the majority of us, a month of eating differently and a change in routine can alter the nutrient balance in our bodies. That, coupled with winter’s lack of daylight and less exercise, is a recipe for sluggish systems and often low moods.

So the Fit School team have created a Sugar Detox plan. It’s a 10 day, online plan and it starts this coming Sunday, 5th January (Sunday will be a bit of a preparation day so you can hit the ground running on Monday, 6th). It costs £15 for Fit School members and £20 for non members.

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Over the course of the 10 days, the plan will help wean your body and mind from the sugar hit over the last couple of weeks. For some, the increase in sugar started as early as December! So here’s why we have created a Sugar Detox.

The three main nutrient groups in our diet are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

We consume these nutrients in varying ratios. Here are some common sources:

Carbohydrates

  • Fruit;
  • Vegetables;
  • Cereals;
  • Grains;
  • Milk;
  • Alcohol (see note below *); and
  • Anything containing sugar.

 Carbohydrates can be further broken down into the following:

  • Starch;
  • Sugar; and
  • Fibre.

*Alcohol is a separate group all to itself. You get all the calorific effects of a carbohydrate (the side effects of simple sugars) and none of the benefits (despite some blood thinning properties – although you can get these from other sources).

Here is a breakdown of how one Fit School member’s diet changed over the festive period.

Pre-Christmas Average December December with drinks/sugar
Carbs 45% 63% 62%
Protein 30% 12% 8%
Fats 20% 25% 30%

So the big change is increased carbs in the form of sugars, less protein (except Christmas day) and more saturated fats (from processed foods).

The calories in the three examples were roughly the same but to explain why counting calories isn’t always beneficial, below you can see the calories just from food.

  • Pre Christmas – 2000
  • Average December – 1750
  • + drinks and sugar – 1400

Even though the calories were roughly the same, up to 600 calories were now being consumed in the form of refined sugars or alcohol which you can’t readily use. In our experience, this kind of nutrient change tends to result in little actual weight gain you might grow a muffin top and feel generally flabby. If the ratios change as they have above and you consume more calories, you will put on weight as well.

We generally exercise less in the winter, since we are less motivated. So unless you adjust what you eat, you will put on weight. Christmas then compounds the issue. You’re feeling lethargic and your clothes are tighter by January.

So this detox is to get your body back to a point where you are looking and feeling great. It will require some will power and also some support. That is why doing it in a group will help you keep going. Our golden rule with trying to create a new habit is you must not take something out of your lifestyle without putting something back in. No doubt you derived some pleasure from eating or drinking the things that you did over the festive period. So it is essential that you replace the pleasurable part of these activities with healthier alternatives. For example, drinking nothing but water for a few days is probably okay, but by day three, you’ll find that every fizzy drink you walk past will be talking to you!

We will provide:

  • Low sugar recipes;
  • Protein rich meals;
  • Healthy carb recipes; and
  • Exercise guidance.

These will all be posted daily in our Facebook group. If you have any questions, we will also do our best to answer them so you understand what we are trying to do.

Want to sign up? All you need to do is email us at fitschoolessex@gmail.com and pay £15 (for members) and £20 for non-members before Sunday via our PayPal account: fitschoolessex@gmail.com.

See you there!

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Ease back to health: Clear out the junk

So I’m going to admit it. My diet for the past month or so has got pretty rubbish. I like to think that I operate on an 80/20 rule, where 80% of my diet is good quality protein, fruit, vegetables and oils and 20% is enough of the naughty stuff to make me normal.  However, the past few months have seen lots more toast, biscuits and crisps on the diet plan than is good for me.  And whilst I’ve not got fat, my mood, my energy levels, my skin and my digestive system have suffered.

Hopefully you don’t think I’m some awful fitness fraudster for admitting this. Just a working mum who has been putting her own wellbeing last for a little too long.

So day one (which accidentally started with marmalade on home made toasted buttermilk bread) is about cutting out the junk.  No drastic fasting or dieting but an absolute ban on rubbish.  I’ve already noticed that usually, after getting back from my morning class with Isaac, starving hungry (me, not him) that I would grab a digestive biscuit and then forget lunch. So today we lunched together on scrambled eggs, toast, olive oil and tomatoes.

Anything shop bought or processed is bound to be full of sugars and trans fats that clog up the system, so they have to be the first things to go.  And as soon as you decide to eat better you quickly notice what triggers you to reach for processed snacks.

My triggers are:

  • Not planning my meals;
  • Skipping meals;
  • Not eating enough good quality protein;
  • Sugar;
  • Tiredness; and
  • Lack of structured exercise.

Do these ring any bells with you?

Tomorrow we’ll hit the activity trail but for now I’ll leave you to enjoy your lunch and some Vitamin D time!

Sticky chicken thighs with roasted veggies and cherry tomatoes.

I’ve always been a fan of the humble chicken thigh. They’re full of flavour which lends them perfectly to curries and strong flavours; they’re great in the slow cooker; they’re deliciously juicy simply roasted – and to my mind far superior to the humble drumstick which can be a bit sinewy; they are toddler friendly because they become so soft after slow cooking; and, in these budget conscious times they are way cheaper than breast meat.

Hubby, Isaac and I do our best to eat together where possible, especially our evening meal. This one pot meal (an adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe) suits all our tastes. Isaac can nibble away at all the things he likes and of course, it’s totally adaptable to what you like or indeed what you have in the fridge! Think of it like a nutritious box of Quality Street. Everyone has their favourite bits.

Boost the nutrients in this dish by including lots of sweet potato, beetroot, carrots and tomatoes.

Sticky chicken thighs with root vegetables and cherry tomatoes (baby and toddler friendly).

Serves 2 and a bit with leftovers for lunch the next day (depending how hungry you are)

Handful of new potatoes, scrubbed

1 large or two small sweet potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into chunks

2 or 3 cooked beetroot in natural juices, cut into wedges

A packet of cherry tomatoes, preferably skinned

Oregano (fresh or dried)

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar (balsamic works too)

6-8 chicken thigh fillets (chopped into finger sized pieces – you can use whole thighs too)

Salt and pepper to taste (you can add salt later if you have little mouths to feed)

Method:

Boil the potatoes for around 10 minutes, if you’re using sweet potatoes too you can add these to the spuds.

Put the chicken thigh fillets in an ovenproof/hobproof casserole and cook them over a medium heat until they’re sealed and nearly cooked.

Add all the remaining vegetables and potatoes to the pan and toss around in the chicken juices.

Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a good splash of the vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper. Then give all the ingredients another mix.

Put the casserole dish (lid off) in a pre-heated oven (200 degrees, Gas Mark 6) for 40 minutes until cooked through and golden.

Serve with a big bunch of watercress on the side x

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Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

Here’s definitely one for the weekend – one of my favourite desserts, which also happens to be packed with protein and lots of yummy dark chocolate. But is it a cake or a mousse? You decide.

What this hybrid mousse cake lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste. And although it’s not sugar free, the protein punch from the eggs means that a little goes a long way (take note hubby). It’s also gluten free.

It’s adapted from a James Martin recipe.

Ingredients

300g good quality dark chocolate (I use Green & Blacks cooks chocolate)

15og unsalted butter

5og unrefined caster sugar

6 large free-range eggs, separated.

1 tsp vanilla extract

(Grease and line a deep, 9″ round cake tin)

(Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 4, 18o degrees)

Method

Slowly melt chocolate and butter together and then add the vanilla extract

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until stiff.

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar for 30 seconds.

Allow the melted chocolate mixture to cool slightly before mixing with the yolk mixture. You’ll need to work quickly now since the cooling chocolate will start to go stiff.

Mix 1/3 of the egg whites with the chocolate mixture to loosen it before carefully folding in the remaining egg white. Make sure you incorporate all the sticky chocolatey bits from the bottom of the bowl.

Pop the mixture in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Once cooked, allow to cool for a while in the tin before turning out to a cooling rack. Do not be alarmed. It will look beautifully cake like on removal from the oven but soon sinks in the middle.

Eat this cake at room temperature, just don’t put it in the fridge or it will go stiff. I tend to make it at lunchtime for an evening dinner.

Et voila! The resulting cake is heavenly with chantilly cream or some lightly sweetened mascarpone.

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