Balance, Mom Wellness, Nutrition, Self Care

Nourishing Nutrition to Heal the Postpartum Body After Baby

Healing from birthing a baby is necessary for optimum well being postpartum. A part of that healing can heavily rely on the foods that are consumed. The foods you eat can determine how well you feel, how depleted you are, and your risk for postpartum depression.

Because of societal pressures and stigmas, new mothers can find themselves focusing on “bouncing back” and comparing their postpartum bodies to other mothers. As a “Mom Coach”, I am here to encourage you to change your perspective. Healing is not about your size, weight, or what your abdomen looks like. Proper healing comes from within and nourishing nutrition rather than “restrictive dieting” is a key to doing just that. Changing perspective can ease this journey and encourage your body to function at the best it can in that moment.

A few things to focus on to change your perspective…

  • Your body is healing from creating, carrying, and birthing your beautiful new baby.
  • Focus on healing, not the weight.
  • Every BODY is unique and is on their own journey.
  • Allow grace, love, and compassion towards your body.
  • Reward your body with nourishing foods, do not punish it for it’s amazing work.
  • This is a season that requires a different prioritization of self care.
  • Focus on fueling your body for healthy function, rather than aesthetics.
  • Do not waste valuable mental energy on self loathing.

This change in mentality is the release you need to move forward with a healthy mindset. Our mental load is so heavy in the postpartum period, flipping the script can lighten this mental load enough to allow you to focus on what is really needed. Self loathing is a useless energy that can lead you down a despairing rabbit hole. We live in a world that pushes a certain way we should look and feel, so it is tough to be immune to certain feelings. Flipping your script is a practice that gets better with consistency.

Just as I discussed in my last post, 10 Steps to Replenish Your Mind, Body and Soul After Baby, consuming the right foods can help improve postpartum depletion and reduce your risk of postpartum depression. Consuming nutrition that is vitamin and mineral rich can improve mood, which sometimes is what’s needed to not only make it through but thrive through motherhood.

Most mothers don’t seem to struggle with the actual eating the right things but the preparation it can take to understand what your body needs, planning, shopping and making meals. As mothers, we are busy and our mental load is heavy, so the thought of adding in nutrition can seem overwhelming. My main message that I try to convey to all mothers is allow yourself grace. Your nutrition doesn’t have to be perfect to meet your nutrient needs. Life happens and our day is usually driven by our children’s needs so if you have had a sleepless night, and a long day ahead of you, you probably aren’t rushing to make yourself a 4 course balanced meal. If you like creamer in your coffee, enjoy that cup, girl! If you like a glass of wine here and there, drink it! You make the rules and you know your body.

So, what does your postpartum body need? A healthy balance in macro and micro nutrients. It’s important to note that a normal calorie intake varies from person to person but early postpartum is not the time to focus on restricting calories. A person with an average weight, an estimate of 2000 calories is a good place to start but can heavily vary depending on a variety of factors.

Understanding Macronutrients– Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates

Proteins consist of amino acids. Amino acids help build and repair muscle and tissues in the body. Because of this protein is important for postpartum recovery. Protein also helps keep you full longer, which is helpful for busy moms. And that postpartum hair loss, that creates our fly away baby hairs, it can help with that too, since hair is made up of proteins. All in all, it’s important. Proteins come from meat, eggs, and certain plant based proteins such as soy, quinoa, and buckwheat. Striving to eat protein with every meal is a good goal to have.

Fats are an important source of energy for the postpartum body. Fats help regulate hormones which is why they are so important to consume. Fats are a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and supports their absorption in the intestine. Consuming sufficient amounts of fatty foods are essential for proper vitamin absorption which plays a huge role in postpartum depletion. Fat intake should fill 20-35% of your total caloric intake. Some examples of fats to add to your diet are; oily fish, including anchovy, salmon, tuna and mackerel, peanut butter, oils, avocados, nuts, chia seeds, cheese.

Carbohydrates is another good source of energy for the body. There are two types of carbohydrates, complex and simple. Complex are the healthiest form of carbs (unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans) promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. Simple, highly processed, refined foods, include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease. Consistently choosing complex carbohydrates to add to your meal is going to give you the healthy energy you need to keep up with baby.

Wellness starts from within. Eating a diet balanced with these macro nutrients will improve your overall wellness and how you feel.

Important Micro nutrients After Baby

Micro nutrients are vitamins and minerals that are vital for so many different functions and systems of the body. The best way to ensure you are receiving and absorbing micro nutrients is eating a balanced diet filled with wholesome, nourishing, colorful foods. Also taking a multivitamin or prenatal to ensure you are getting enough for your body. Research has shown that nutrient depletion can increase your risk for postpartum depression.

Vitamins and minerals to focus on consuming postpartum…

  • Iron

Due to the loss of blood that happens during delivery it is recommended to eat 18 mg of IRON per day. (most important in the early days after birth). Iron can be found in red meat, beans, lentils, oatmeal, iron fortified cereals.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is used to form collagen (protein found in skin and connective tissue) Important for healing c-section scar, vaginal tearing. Vitamin C can be found in Peppers, citrus fruits, berries, spinach, broccoli, garlic, pumpkin seeds.

  • Fiber

Promotes a healthy GI tract and keeps stool soft. The first urge to poop after baby can be frightening, but with extra fiber you can go with a little more ease! Fruit, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes are good examples of fiber.

  • Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the micro nutrients linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression with a deficiency. It is the key nutrient in bone health, promotes calcium absorption. Sun exposure can help produce vitamin d. If breastfeeding, high levels can enrich breast milk adequately for baby. Foods that contain vitamin d include; cod liver oil, fish, such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon, egg yolk, beef liver, Fortified dairy product.

  • Zinc

Zinc deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression. The body does not produce zinc, zinc comes from consumed foods and supplements. Zinc aides in wound healing, growth and development, decreases inflammation immunity, protein synthesis, etc. Zinc is in a lot of foods including, oysters, crab, mussels, lobster and clams, beef, pork, lamb, bison, turkey chicken, flounder, sardines, salmon, sole, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, oats, quinoa, brown rice, mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus.

Selenium

Research findings suggest that supplementation with selenium during pregnancy might be an effective approach for the prevention of postpartum depression. Selenium is an antioxidant, improves immune function, and thyroid health.Selenium rich foods include eggs, cheese, mushrooms, oats, Brazil nuts, chicken, beef, pork, wheat, tuna, oysters, whole grain rye, salmon, brown rice, turkey, shrimp, soy.

Nutrition for the Breastfeeding mother

All of the above applies to you, but with some extra bullet points to note. It takes your body more energy to produce milk which in turn means you need more food to fuel your body.

  • Add 450-500 extra calories (divided between fats, proteins, carbs) to your diet to make breast milk. Your baby will take in calories and nutrients before you. A Normal range weight would strive for an estimate of a 2500 calorie intake.
  • All of the foods that were off-limits during pregnancy like sushi, certain cheeses, etc, can now be ate! Pathogens like salmonella can still make you sick but won’t pass through breast milk like it does the placenta.
  • Avoid fish with high mercury levels- limit to 6 oz a week. examples include, shark, swordfish, albacore tuna.
  • There are no off limit foods like dairy, unless instructed by your pediatrician. If you notice baby has excessive reflux, fussiness, or blood in the stool, contact the pediatrician immediately.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep up with your milk supply and your own hydration. I always go with the goal to keep your urine light, if it’s dark, drink more.

Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding these are nutrient basics to add to your normal diet. This may seem overwhelming but try to keep it simple and evaluate how you feel as you add in some of these foods. Think of your baby as you nourish yourself. Nourish your body as you want to nourish your baby’s. Treat your body as lovingly as you do your baby. Keeping this mindset establishes a healthy mentality when it comes to your postpartum nutrition.

This is covered in deeper detail in the Ultimate Postpartum Wellness Recovery Online Course launching soon! And if you are interested in a custom postpartum nutrition plan, contact me by email at balancebuilding@brandimills.net.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5104202//

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564601/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc#sources

Nutrition

Coffee Talk

Let’s talk coffee. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning, every morning, and if I am out and about, I like to grab a coffee from Starbucks or local coffee shop. And let’s be honest, I am a mom of a toddler so, need I say more. I also have some of my best memories drinking a morning cup of joe with some of my former coworkers/friends. But let’s talk about how the fun, specialty Starbucks drinks can be loaded with sugar and fat! If you are trying to be healthy or have wellness goals you are trying to meet, these drinks can stand in your way of making real progress. Let’s just break down a couple of the most popular drinks on the menu…

White Chocolate Mocha- Grande w/whole milk and whipped cream

Calories-470

Total Fat-22g

Total Carbs-55g

-Dietary Fiber-0

-Sugars-53g

Protein-14g

 

Vanilla Latte- Grande w/whole milk and whipped cream

Calories- 290

Total Fat-11g

Total Carbs-37g

-Dietary Fiber-0g

-Sugars-35g

Protein-11g

 

Caramel Macchiato-Grande w/whole milk

Calories- 280

Total Fat-11g

Total Carbs-35g

-Dietary Fiber-0g

-Sugars-33g

Protein-10g

 

A couple of red flags stick out when I look at these numbers…

 

#1- there is no dietary fiber, so absolutely no health benefits.

#2- Holy Sh*t, that is a lot of sugar! Just to put a visual out there, 55 grams of sugar equivalates to about 12.6 teaspoons of sugar. Do you know that a Snickers bar has less sugar than all three of these drinks, coming in at 29grams of sugar?! And it has less calories, 271! These are basically like extra-large candy bars!

The World Health Organization guidelines recommends keeping sugar consumption below 10% of total calories and suggests keeping it below 5% for further health benefits. So, based off a 2000 calorie diet 25grams of sugar is at 5%, 50grams is at 10%, which would be the recommended max amount of daily sugar.

#3- The total fat accumulates to about 1/2 to 1/3 of your daily suggested intake of fat based off a 2000 calorie diet. The American Heart Association suggests that healthy adults limit their dietary fat to no more than 20-35% of total daily calories.

#4- There is some protein that comes from the milk, but the other macros are so saturated that it is definitely not considered a healthy protein drink.

After that little break down, you are probably wondering what you can even order. There are plenty of yummy alternative options that will keep you under the recommended guidelines and even not hinder your goals while ordering out.

  • Check out the menu before you go if you can. This will enlighten you on what is really in the drinks.
  • Ask the Barista how to make the drink you want in a lighter version.
  • Ask for an alternative to milk. Milk has a good bit more sugars and carbs than the alternatives.
  • Ask for no cane syrup be added to your drink. Instead use an alternative sweetener.
  • Use sugar free flavorings.
  • If you aren’t into any of that, try out a hot or iced tea instead. Most coffee shops have a variety of different teas.
  • Or bring your own additions.

Drinks I order…

Iced Green Tea

  • NO CANE SYRUP
  • With 2 Splenda or Stevia

Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino

  • NO CANE SYRUP
  • With Almond milk

Blonde (insert your preferred roast) Roast coffee

  • 1 pump sugar free flavoring
  • 2 Splenda or Stevia

Drinks I make at home…

Folgers w/ Sugar free hazelnut or chocolate creamer w/alternative sweetener

  • I usually get these at any grocery store

Folgers w/ Ripple (non dairy) half and half w/alternative sweetener

  • This is a great alternative to anyone with dairy sensitivities or allergies. Ripple brand milk and half and half are derived from pea protein.

Folgers w/MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil and alternative sweetener

  • MCT’s are fats that are digested easily and more easily absorbed and processed by the liver.
  • MCT’s enable a healthy gut, metabolism, balance hormones, and give an energy boost.

Teas (of any kind) can have many health benefits.

Just like food, you should be aware in the drinks you order. They usually contain a lot more sugar than we imagine and can ruin any fitness goals if drank on a consistent basis. With these tips you will still be able to enjoy an outing to your local coffeeshop.

Exercise, Mom Wellness, Nutrition, Self Care, Women's Health

5 Steps I took to go from an Extreme Mindset to Blissfully Balanced

My whole life I have been an extreme, self-competitive, driven, determined, structured, type A individual who can get deep into something I put my heart into. This is great for accomplishing things and with being a former national level figure competitor in bodybuilding, this was great for succeeding in the sport but I didn’t realize I had a lot of healing to do and competing only pushed me further away from myself. Bodybuilding is not to blame, I still love following the sport and love seeing my friends achieve their personal goals with it. I believe that determined mindset is also why I did so well. When I did well and kept improving each show, I was rewarded with my own competitive stage goals, that made me love the stage even more, creating a vicious cycle and an unrealistic expectation of myself in the “off season”. Being so lean on stage created a sense that when not competing and wanting results I felt like…

“I have to do hours of cardio”

“I have to eat the same foods and restrict calories to the extreme.”

“I have to be a slave to the gym.”

This mentality also cycled into…

Binge eating

Insatiable cravings

Fatigue

Feeling like a prisoner to food

Insecurities

Never feeling good enough

Hormonal imbalances

You don’t have to compete to know this cycle. I do believe there are many competitors and non-competitors who have the same mindset and suffer mentally, physically and emotionally from the years of an extreme mindset that causes a multitude of issues that affect wellness. There are so many people feeling this way, but it isn’t talked about because so many do not want to appear “weak”. What I didn’t realize during this rabbit hole I was in, was that these qualities were reactions of feeling out of control of my life, imbalanced, insecurities, past emotional issues and not truly loving myself. That is not weak, that is a serious issue that needs addressed. I hope by speaking about my own journey, it will encourage others silently dealing with the same feelings, to help themselves out of this situation.

I have friends who are competitors and non-competitors who understand this mental state, who have asked me “how did you change that extreme mindset and heal yourself from it because I don’t know how to change?” Everyone’s situation is different and healing looks different for everyone, but these are the first steps I took that started my journey of healing myself.

  1. I started making decisions for my wellbeing.

These decisions look differently for everyone, but I would challenge you to ask yourself, “what is holding me back from being my best self? What is it that is bringing me down?”. After some big realizations, I decided to quit competing and left a toxic relationship. These two decisions were the very first steps to improving my overall wellness and honestly were necessary to my health. My body was so exhausted and needed time to heal from the hormonal damage of extreme dieting for so long. I knew I needed to make decisions that put me in a less anxious, less volatile environment. I needed to focus on me and my mental, physical and emotional well-being.

  1. I hired a coach I trusted.

I hired a coach who helped me come up with a meal and cardio plan. I know what you’re thinking, “How could this be helpful, wouldn’t this put you back into the same situation?” No, this was necessary because if I made my own plan at that time, I would have made things worse. I needed someone to get me started in the right direction and someone that was knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. I was eating the right macros for my body, I was feeling full, I liked the food I was eating and also felt like I had someone who cared about the state of my body, mentally and physically. This helped me get to a point that I could rely on myself and my own awareness which is something I could never do before.

  1. I started listening to my body.

Being on a wholesome, balanced plan sparked enough confidence to start listening to my body, paying attention to my needs and truly taking care of myself. We know our bodies better than anyone but a lot of times we ignore important signs and wait until it’s out of hand. We can prevent a lot of issues just by living more intuitively, quieting the outside noises and extrinsic pressures, and really being real with ourselves.

  1. I started exercising for enjoyment.

I stopped exercising for a competition and started training for fun. I stopped punishing my body with exercise and instead rewarded it with exercise. That was a part of breaking that obsessive habit of only training the way I needed to for the stage and to please judges. I focused on what I liked to do and what made me keep going back. Exploring different kinds of exercise empowered me to break free of the obsessive-compulsive part of my mentality, while maintaining the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

  1. I stopped comparing myself to others.

There is nothing wrong in wanting to improve things about yourself while loving yourself and the process. It becomes negative and the opposite of loving yourself when you compare yourself to others. This is so crucial in our world of social media. Social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life, so you can’t compare your challenges to their best. There is so much behind the scenes that we don’t see and who knows where they are in their journey of life. No one is you and that is a beautiful thing to celebrate.

Healing and changing the way you think is challenging but staying in a toxic mindset is even harder. Time will pass anyway so always prioritize your own happiness and see what unfolds. These 5 steps that started my own journey to a healthy and happy mindset inspired many positive things in my life. I married someone who brings even more joy to my life, I got certified in personal training, fitness nutrition, and Holistic Life Coaching, created The Balancebuilding Philosophy based on my own personal journey, that has helped so many struggling individuals become blissfully balanced as well and most of all I have found my own internal peace and love for myself. If you are someone who struggles with finding a balance with personal goals, health, wellness, loved ones, and/or life in general, start with step one, be real with yourself, and start making decisions to better your well-being. Positive decisions create positive outcomes.

Peace, Love, and Positivity,

Brandi

Nutrition

Accountability with Food Tracking

I talk a lot about intuitive eating and how my hope for my clients is to get to a point that their meal plans end up teaching them portions and macros, enough that they don’t need to follow a plan or track food constantly. But…because balance is ever changing, we can get off track and indulge too much. It happens to even the best of us and what Balancebuilding instills is the empowerment to just get back to the basics and what you know works. Our bodies do let us know when this happens through fat gain, inflammation, skin issues, etc. So, when you need to reel your health back in, I do think it’s important to be honest with yourself and to track what you are consuming. More often than not, we are eating a good bit more calories than we actually think which does make a difference when you are trying to get back on track. Balancebuilding promotes a positive approach to getting healthy and fit that breaks the chains from dieting while keeping things in perspective. This approach allows you to reward your body with nourishing food and movement while your body then rewards you with a healthier, glowing, lighter body. But to get to that, you have to get real and hold yourself accountable for how you are living.

What is the best FREE apps to track your food?

According to Google, these are the best food tracking apps.

Myfitnesspal- I have used this for years! It has a huge food database, macro and calorie counter, meal and exercise tracker. Compatible with most devices.

FatSecret- Meal tracking with image recognition and barcode scanning.

YAZIO- This app offers a personal plan for losing weight, you can create your own meal plans, track calories and daily steps. Syncs up to other fitness apps as well.

MyPlate Calorie Tracker- From the people of Livestrong.com. You can track water, food, macros and create custom goals. Meal reminders can also be set.

Fitbit- mostly known for logging steps but you can log food, water, sleep as well.

Fooducate- Along with calories, the app tracks the quality of them too. It tracks your sleep, mood and hunger levels. It considers any health issues, even allergies.

There are a lot of options to tracking food, if you aren’t into apps you can go the old fashion way by journaling with a piece of paper and pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Happy Tracking!

 

Nutrition

Releasing Toxic Food from your Household

I get asked a lot what toxic free living means. Well, it literally means what it says, living life minus all the junk. There is no way to live 100% toxic/chemical free but there is so much you can control in your own household. Chemicals are not strictly regulated so why not start by taking control of regulating your own household! The average household alone contains an average of 62 toxic chemicals that includes things like food, beauty products, cleaners, soaps, sprays, etc.

Having my son really opened my eyes to how many chemicals I used and consumed on a regular basis. He has a lot of allergies and has frequent eczema flare ups that can be irritated by toxic ingredients such as pesticides in foods, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, tricolsan, QUATS, choline, ammonia, sodium hydroxide, the list goes on. But then I realized it doesn’t just irritate his eczema it actually causes eczema and long term health effects that affect us all. And if I do not want to expose him to these things why would I want to be exposed to them as well?! The long term effects of these toxins can include asthma, cancer, allergies, infertility, hormonal issues, birth defects and more. That is insane! And to think we can prevent so much of this.

I then, educated myself on what was toxic, what wasn’t and how I could switch out my products that I, out of habit, buy and use. A bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. This was a gradual process and now that I have switched I wouldn’t even think of buying the old stuff again! To make the process less overwhelming start with one thing, research and then take action.

Food was the first thing I educated myself on. I have always been aware of what I eat but I took a harder look at food once I realized my son had multiple allergies and I was still breastfeeding. I wanted to make sure I was eating at my best for him.

With foods, you have to worry about the cancer causing pesticides that are used on the crops before you consume them. You might have recently heard about the lawsuit against Monsanto’s Roundup. This has brought the consequences of adding pesticides to food to the forefront. Monsanto and three other companies were found negligent in its handling of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a group of 209 highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Glyphosate being one of them. The glyphosate in Roundup has been linked to infertility and Cancer. Research done in France, out of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, has come out stating that eating organic foods reduce your risk for developing cancer by 25 percent! That is tremendous!

Eating a high intake of organic foods lowers your risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by 73 percent and Postmenopausal breast cancer by 21 percent. Eating organic assures you that the food was not produced using Chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, or GMO’s. Organic food has been tested and contains a higher amount of antioxidants and lower levels of cadmium, a harmful heavy metal.

So yes, organic is more expensive, but statistics prove that it is in fact much healthier in the long run. If you prefer to only buy certain organic foods, definitely switch out the “dirty dozen” foods that are specifically loaded with pesticides. Also, try to buy local and ask about the approach they take with their crops. And no matter if it’s organic or not, wash your fruits and veggies with a nontoxic fruit/veggie wash. I use and trust Young Living’s Thieves Fruit and Veggie wash. It contains no chemicals and uses essential oils to clean your produce.

Dirty Dozen List

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

There is also a clean 15 list which consists of produce that is the least likely to be contaminated by pesticides.

Clean 15 List

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Be proactive, do your homework and decide what is best for your family, even just starting with looking up Glyphosate and seeing which foods tested with the highest levels, it will blow your mind! 75% of the food at the grocery store contains Genetically Modified Organisms which usually contain Glyphosate and the levels keep rising due to the rise of pesticide resistant crops. The levels of pesticides used on crops has doubled since 2001 so things have gotten much worse from when we were raised. A lot of the foods are cereals and breakfast foods our kids are eating! General Mills brand foods, Cheerios, Quaker Oat oatmeal, just to name a few. If anything, we need to change what we consume for our children and their long term health.

Another thing to beware of, a label stating Natural, does not mean Certified Organic, there are extremely loose labeling laws in place so just because it states it is natural, it does not mean it is healthier than something without the word Natural. It could contain one ingredient that is “natural”. Look for the Certified Organic label, words such as, No Antibiotics, grass-fed, USDA Process Verified, Wild-caught, ASC certified, American Humane Certified, Pasture raised. These labels assure reliable claims. Words with misleading claims include, animal welfare review, cage free, free-range, natural, no nitrates added, Omega 3 fortified.

If you are looking for some resourceful websites to get your information from try EWG.org (Environmental Working Group) or even Dr.Axe.com is a well-rounded website with trustworthy information. The FDA.gov and EPA.gov are good places to research what is regulated and what is not.

There is so much more information than this summarized blog about chemicals in food, but I hope it has sparked interest in doing your own research to provide the best options for your family.