Every year thousands of people make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight/get fit/be more healthy or all of the above. Plenty of these New Year’s Resolutions fail and are forgotten until the next year begins and all the same resolutions are made yet again. However – if this year you want it to be different and you want to make a difference to your long-term health, then read below our Top Tips for sticking with your healthy plans:
Set yourself goals
Small steps are the best way to a big success. Breaking down your ultimate goal into small, achievable targets can help you keep on track in the long run. Additionally, try not to be too focused on simply ‘losing weight’ – instead try more general, health oriented goals such as reducing sugar in tea, including more vegetables in the evening meal or reducing your crisps to just once a week. Setting smaller goals each week or month or even each day will help you to move at a steady pace towards your ultimate goal and allow you to become accustomed to a new healthy lifestyle.
Always accept failure
Failure is part of human nature, so always be aware that it is expected and OK to slip up and make mistakes. The important part is how you deal with those mistakes – throwing the towel in and giving up is not the way. If you have had a bad day or a bad week and eaten too much cake or chocolate, don’t focus on these negative aspects; instead think about why you slipped up and how to avoid repeating it. Use each mistake as part of a learning curve to ensure that you know how to continue with your positive eating behaviours and towards your ultimate goal. There are always setbacks on the way to success – don’t beat yourself up about it. Never give up!
Use small reminders
We all have our own reason for wanting to be healthy, so try to keep something which helps you to remember why you want to make these positive changes. This may be a photo of you when you were younger, a letter from your doctor, a picture of your children or any other aide-memoir that is specific to you. When you feel like giving up, just reflect back on this reminder and remember that you are doing it for all the right reasons.
Support from family and friends is vital to helping you continue with your long-term healthy resolutions. Talk to your loved ones about the reasons why you want to make changes and discuss in detail the ways in which you are going to do this. Involve them in your new goals by seeing how they can help you to achieve them. It may be that they want to make the changes with you. Just remember that communication between family and friends is key to ensure that positive changes can be maintained!
Ask yourself questions
On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you want to change? Write down the answer. Ask yourself how you would feel in a year’s time if you had achieved your ultimate goal? Write down your answer. Now ask yourself how you would feel in a year’s time if you hadn’t met your goal and you were in exactly the same position as you are now. Write down the answer and refer back to these whenever you feel you can’t reach your goal.
Get some advice
Don’t be afraid to ask for honest advice from a health professional and, at all costs, steer clear of crash/faddy diets which promise unrealistic results!
Contact us for further help and support this New Year 🙂
Safe weight loss during breastfeeding…
Breastfeeding helps you use up fat stores placed down during pregnancy. However, you can try and lose a little extra weight when breastfeeding, if you do it sensibly! Losing weight too quickly can be dangerous, especially at this time when you need your energy and health in order to care for your baby. If you want to lose weight, aim for no more that 1-2lbs/week, and make sure you start slowly as your body is recovering from giving birth. The best way to lose weight is to make sure you are eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, exercising and cutting down on foods high in fat and/or sugar.
Eat regular meals and snacks
Opt for nutrient-dense foods such as fruit and vegetables.
Introduce exercise slowly– start with walking and build up to more intense exercise as you get stronger.
Eat no less that 1,800kcal/day.
Make homemade foods whenever possible and freeze big batches to save time
Be patient and remember to put yours and baby’s health first.
Eating Well During Breastfeeding…
Did you know breastfeeding helps your body return to its pre-pregnancy weight? Just another one of its many great benefits. However, although this is an important time to support and protect your baby’s growth, it is also an important time to look after yourself and keep your own health in check!
What food should I avoid..?
There are many old wives’ tales surrounding foods eaten when breastfeeding but actually, the simple answer is that you can eat anything in moderation.
If this is the case you could try cutting down on these foods and see if there is any improvement. However, before cutting out any foods completely it is best to get advice from your midwife or health visitor.
During breastfeeding there are no specific foods that should be eaten or avoided. However, you may find that certain foods such as cow’s milk or strong smelling foods may unsettle your baby.
Breastfeeding mums are recommended to reduce consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks as these can pass through breast milk to your baby. Drink these fluids only in small amounts (no more than 1-2 units of alcohol 1 or 2 times a week) and opt for water, milk and unsweetened 100% fruit juices instead.
Do I need extra portions..?
Although increased appetite and thirst is common when breastfeeding, your body will become extremely efficient at utilising your energy and nutrient stores to ensure that breast milk comes first. So if your diet is less than perfect– the only person who will suffer will be an already exhausted new mum! The general advice is for mums to drink when thirsty and eat when hungry. Having regular meals can help control appetite and ensuring you have a glass of water when breastfeeding helps to maintain fluid levels and quench thirst.
In most cases 10micrograms of vitamin D is the only supplement needed when breastfeeding to ensure baby is getting enough in breastmilk. Make sure you check regularly with your health visitor to guarantee you are getting enough of other nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamin A.
SR Nutrition’s cheap and easy pasta…
1 onion chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tin of kidney beans (tinned in water)
1 small tin of sweetcorn (tinned in water)
2 tbsp tomato puree
Mixed herbs (add to taste)
Chilli powder (optional and to taste)
350-400g Wholewheat spaghetti
Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic, cooking until soft and slightly browned.
Add the chopped tomatoes and kidney beans and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the sweetcorn, tomato puree and mixed herbs/chilli powder to taste. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile start cooking the whole-wheat spaghetti by following the instructions on the pack (adding to boiling water and cooking for around 10-15 minutes)
Drain the pasta and dish it out, adding the sauce on top along with some basil leaves and a sprinkling of grated cheese.
Nutrition During Pregnancy…
Having a baby can be a rather overwhelming experience and above all else you want to make the right decisions that will allow healthy growth from bump to baby. Eating healthily is especially important when you are pregnant because the food you eat will provide the nutrients your baby needs.
Healthy eating advice during pregnancy is very similar to healthy eating advice for the general population – only with a few more specific requirements. Making long-term dietary changes can additionally help improve your overall health and the health of the whole family!
Should I be eating for two?
The whole “eating for two” is a bit of a myth and actually, throughout the first six months of pregnancy the energy requirements of mums-to-be do not increase. This is because your body will adapt and become much more efficient at utilising the energy and nutrients from the food you eat. However, during the last three months you may need an extra 200 calories or so – equivalent to just 2 slices of bread, 1 slice of cheese on toast or 2 bananas.
You may find that your appetite fluctuates during pregnancy, but it is still important not to eat too much – as this will lead to weight gain, and not to attempt to diet or lose weight during your pregnancy. Either of these can affect the health of you and your baby.
Gaining weight gradually during your pregnancy is important and although the amount of weight gain will vary amongst individuals, it is likely to be minimal during the first trimester and then increase gradually over the next two. Therefore you will gain most of your weight in the third trimester. Overall weight gain is likely to be around 10-12.5kg.
Eating regularly is important to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she needs, and so three main meals and two or three healthy snacks are recommended per day. However, some women find it beneficial to eat smaller meals more frequently to keep appetite stable and reduce those food cravings.
What should I be eating?
During pregnancy you should be eating a varied diet to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she (and you) need to be healthy. This means basing the foods you eat on the four main foods groups described in Table 1 below in more detail.
What should I be avoiding?
There are quite a few foods that you should be avoiding during your pregnancy because they may harm your baby. Below is a list of these foods. Make sure you take note of these foods and be a little cautious about what is in the foods you are eating as well as how foods are cooked and prepared.
Certain cheeses – such as mould-ripened cheese (e.g. brie or camembert) or blue veined cheeses (e.g. stilton). This is because these cheeses may contain bacteria called listeria which may be harmful to your baby. Other hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan or mozzarella are fine to eat and will help you and your baby to top up on calcium.
Undercooked foods – especially eggs, meats and any ready meals. These foods all need to be cooked thoroughly and warm all the way through. Make sure eggs are hard boiled and avoid food products that contain raw eggs such as mayonnaise.
Unpasteurised goat’s, sheep and cow’s milk
Raw shellfish e.g. oysters – due to risks of food poisoning.
Shark, swordfish or marlin – additionally you should limit your intake of tuna (and other oily fish) to no more than 4 medium sized cans or 2 fresh tuna steaks/week due to unsafe levels of mercury which may be harmful to a baby’s nervous system.
Liver and liver products – such as pate or liver sausage. This is because these foods are naturally high in vitamin A which can be toxic in high doses.
Alcohol – current advice is to avoid alcohol throughout pregnancy and especially at the beginning but if you choose to drink you should have no more than two units of alcohol per week and never get drunk.
Caffeine intakes – too much caffeine can increase the risks of having a miscarriage although a small amount is not harmful. Try to drink no more than two mugs of coffee or 4 cups of tea during a whole day.
Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt – these foods provide only “empty calories” to your body and your baby so try and keep these foods to a minimum during pregnancy and even after – for long-term improvements to your own health!
Ensure good hygiene habits such as washing your hands before and after preparing foods and make sure you wash all fruits, vegetables and salads to remove any soil traces to prevent the transfer of bacteria from them to your baby.
What about supplements?
Be careful not to take too many supplements or you may end up overdosing on some vitamins. For example you shouldn’t be taking supplements which contain vitamin A as this can be toxic for your baby in high doses.
Generally eating well is all you need to get the right levels of nutrients and to maintain a healthy and well balanced diet however, during pregnancy, because life just isn’t perfect, it is important to take some supplements as a safeguard and to ensure the healthy growth of your baby.
Supplements that you should take during your pregnancy are:
Folic Acid – ideally you should take a 400mg supplement from the moment you decide to have a baby until the 12th week of your pregnancy. This will reduce the risks of your baby being born with neural tube defects (a deformed spine).
Vitamin D – taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily throughout your pregnancy is important as pregnant and breastfeeding women are often at risk of being deficient in this nutrient.
Your health professional will regularly measure your iron stores during the gestation period and may tell you that you should start taking an iron supplement if they feel you need it.
Taking a pregnancy multivitamin that contains folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium may also be beneficial throughout your pregnancy.
What food group?
Breads, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
These foods give us energy, B vitamins and plenty of fibre. Opt for wholemeal varieties.
Try to have these at every main meal and in one or two snacks during the day.
Fruits and vegetables
These contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help with every aspect of baby’s growth.
Aim for FIVE or more portions a day.
Milk and Dairy
These foods contain protein and calcium for healthy bone development for mum and baby.
We should be trying to eat three portions of these foods every day e.g. a glass of milk or a small pot of yoghurt/chunk of cheese.
Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
These foods contain protein, Iron and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for healthy blood and heart and nerve development for mum and baby.
Aim to have two or three portions of these foods daily (opt for three if you are vegetarian and choose lentils, beans and pulses). Aim to eat two portions of fish a week, including one oily fish but no more than two oily fish portions a week!
Oily fish reduces allergy risk in pregnancy…
New research published in the Journal of Physiology has found that expectant mothers who are eating a diet rich in oily fish and nuts may reduce the risk of their child developing food allergies. Read the abstract here: http://jp.physoc.org/content/589/17/4341.abstract.
This is research in its early stages but foods such as nuts and fish are really important for pregnant mothers and foods that are often mistakenly avoided during pregnancy. However, there are some types of fish you should avoid during pregnancy such as shark, marlin and swordfish and additionally, don’t eat more than 2 portions of oily fish a week.
Weight advice needed for pregnant women…
In the UK there are currently no clear guidelines around weight gain during pregnancy although this advice is needed urgently as weight gain before pregnancy and too much during pregnancy can lead to health risks for mother and baby.
Gaining weight gradually during your pregnancy is important and although the amount of weight gain will vary amongst individuals, it is likely to be minimal during the first trimester and then increase gradually over the next two. Therefore you will gain most of your weight in the third trimester. Overall weight gain is likely to be around 10-12.5kg however, it is important to recognise that this varies between individuals and to continue to go for check ups with your doctor/health visitor to ensure you and baby are growing well.
Importantly, it is not recommended to try and diet or lose weight DURING pregnancy, although eating a healthy, well balanced diet can help keep you and baby well and can also help you to return to your pre pregnancy weight sooner.
Heavy mothers risk to baby…
The Pediatric Research Journal has published a study which suggests that the Body Mass Index (BMI) of Mothers has a direct impact on the body weight of their baby. They also suggested that mothers with a high BMI during pregnancy could lead to long-term metabolic problems for the child.
It is important not just to access parents after they have given birth but to communicate the importance of eating well from a young age so that when the time comes and women decide they want to have a baby they are ready and prepared for it in every way possible. A BMI of 30kg/m² and over (obese) is linked with many health problems for mother and baby, from an increased risk of having a miscarriage to birth defects as well as this recent finding. The best way to avoid these risks is to lose weight BEFORE you become pregnant. It is important to remember that weight loss is not a quick fix. Faddy diets, skipping meals and cutting out whole food groups can result in your health and even your weight being worse in the long run and certainly won’t improve the chances of you having a baby.
For more information see here: http://www.mindfulmum.co.uk/news/heavy-babies-linked-to-high-mum-bmi/
Risks of caffeine levels too high for pregnant women…
New research published by the University of Glasgow suggests that the variations in the amount of caffeine in each coffee served in high street stores could pose risks to pregnant women. Read the detailed article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-15968515
In small amounts caffeine is not harmful but too much can have detrimental effects on your baby. The Department of Health recommend drinking no more than two mugs of regular coffee per day which makes this new research particularly worrying. Many other foods and medications also contain caffeine and so it is easy to see how someone may exceed their recommended 200mg/day limits (especially in light of this new research).
The best advice is to always ask about the caffeine content of a specific beverage before you buy from coffee shops. If the amount is unknown it is probably best to avoid. As this study points out, there is huge variation between brands and different types of coffee and it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Easy Label Reading
Food labelling is always a tricky one. Manufactures, ultimately, want to sell you their products and this can be difficult when they contain ingredients such as saturated fat and sugar which are not desirable for the consumer. Therefore, labels are sometimes very confusing to interpret and often misleading.
Here are some top tips to help you become label savvy:
Your first step is to have a good look at the list of ingredients. These are listed in order of weight with the first ingredient listed making up the majority of the product and the last ingredient listed making up the least of the product. If sugar, saturated fat and salt are your first ingredients it may suggest that this is not a healthy option…
Next you need to have a look at the nutrition panel on the back of the packet. Here, it is important to always look at the 100g column and NOT the per portion column. The reason for this is that different products provide a wide range of “portion sizes” and it is therefore almost impossible to make comparisons between different foods. For example, one breakfast cereal may have the amount of sugar listed per 35gram portion of the product whilst another cereal may have the amount of sugar listed per 45g portion with added milk.
Then all you need is to be able to tell if a food is high in all those ingredients you are trying to avoid (fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt). To do this have a look at the table below which can tell you if a particular product is high or low in one of 6 major ingredients. Why not print out this table and slip it into your purse or wallet for the next time you are out shopping .
Initially, it may take you a while when checking your food items but after a short time you will learn exactly what to look out for!
A Quick Guide to Food Labelling
Per 100 grams
What is a little?
What is a lot?
Living Well: A Whole World Approach…
The current food demands of Western countries is resulting in the world’s biodiversity being seriously under threat. Water is also in short supply as a huge amount of this is going towards feeding cereal crops, of which around 70% will be fed to livestock. Livestock makes a huge contribution to greenhouse gasses and at the same time needs a huge about of food (70% of growing crops) which would be better placed to help the 1.2 billion or so people suffering from malnutrition and hunger worldwide.
The typical Western diet – high in meat, dairy and processed food – has been linked to an increase in Western diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This same Western diet is having a detrimental impact on animal welfare, the biodiversity of our planet, the climate and our ecosystem.
Eating a healthier diet – consisting of more plant based foods, a smaller amount of well-chosen meat and less processed foods would not only improve the health and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases but would also move us towards more sustainable eating habits which support our world’s agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem.
For more information please see the WWF’s document: Livewell – a balance of healthy and sustainable food choices.