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Anyone who has tossed and turned in bed even for one night understands how debilitating a night of poor sleep can be. We really need to have our 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night in order for our bodies to rest and repair and without it we can quickly become ill.

 

After all, sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique! Any parents out there in internet-land know what I’m saying?

When helping improve someone’s sleep, I like to take a three-phase approach – with improvements often seen after only the first one or two phases.

1. Improve your ‘Sleep Hygeine’

What I mean by this is work on kicking any habits you may have that interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. You then replace these snooze-barriers with healthier sleep habits, resulting in better rest almost instantly for most people.

Here’s how you do it:

CUT OUT CAFFEINE

(or at least significantly reduce it if you’re a coffee fiend!)
Caffeine can have a pronounced effect on sleep, causing insomnia and restlessness. In addition to coffee, tea and soft drinks look for hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate. One lovely cup of (organic) coffee or caffeinated tea in the morning is generally not a problem; it’s when you’re consuming it throughout the day (and in particular in the afternoon) that it can affect sleep. Same goes for that row of chocolate after dinner.

Try herbal teas like chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower or valerian instead as these help induce sleep.

WATCH THE SWEET STUFF

Too much sugar before bed can cause uneven blood sugar levels and the drop later in the evening can wake you up. It is important to have your blood glucose tested if you think this may be the reason you are waking through the night, just to be safe. B vitamins, chromium and Magnesium can help improve sugar metabolism. You could also try having a small, protein-rich snack before bed.

EAT SLEEPY FOOD

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that your body needs in order to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining a proper sleep cycle. Foods high in L-tryptophan that would make a great sleep-inducing dinner include fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines and cod contain the most), poultry, nuts and seeds and legumes.

See – all the foods your naturopath tells you to eat!

LIGHTS OUT

Our human brains are wired to start producing sleep hormones once the sun goes down, so our modern lives with artificial lights from televisions, smartphones, laptops and clock radios can really mess with our wiring.

Bright lights and stimulation like this INCREASE cortisol and BLOCK melatonin – which means we are left wide awake feeling stressed!

Same goes for video games. Kids and Teens should not be allowed to play video games of an evening, let alone late into the night. It’s going to mess with the wiring of their brains and nervous systems, keeping them in the fight or flight response. They need their sleep even more than us adults as they are growing.

Half an hour before bed, turn off the TV and put all your gadgets down! Have a relaxing bath by candlelight, listen to some peaceful music, do some gentle yoga or meditation or chat to your partner or family. I like to only turn on lamps of an evening at home (or candles) – I don’t use the bright overhead lights at all. It creates a nice ambience and sets the scene for a restful night’s sleep.

If you must work late at night on your computer, try some blue-light blocking glasses (you can find them online) so that your brain has half a chance of producing some Melatonin.

GET OILY

The scent of the essential oil of Lavender has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep. Research is starting to confirm lavender’s sedative qualities. It’s been found to lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and make people feel refreshed in the morning. It appears to work better for women, possibly because women tend to have a more acute sense of smell.

The good thing about lavender is that it begins to work quickly. Try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow or place one to two drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief. Or add several drops of lavender oil to a bath — the drop in body temperature after a warm bath also helps with sleep. Other aromatherapy oils believed to help with sleep are chamomile and ylang ylang.

2. Deal with daily stress and anxiety

If the above tips haven’t quite got you blissfully snoozing between the sheets, we may need to up the ante a bit.

One of the most common causes of insomnia is stress throughout the day. Our subconscious mind is very powerful and daily anxieties can keep us awake in the night. By supporting yourself during the day with specific herbal medicines and nutrition (plus things like exercise and meditation), you may find that your sleep improves dramatically.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

GET ALL ZEN

There are some wonderful online resources for meditation – and many of them don’t follow the ‘zen monk’ style having you sitting uncomfortably on the floor for hours at a time. Try to find a guided meditation download that you can do each day (even just for 2 minutes, seriously that can be all you need!) and you’ll quickly see the benefits of slowing your mind on a regular basis.

Yoga is my form of meditation – it’s a moving meditation where the physical poses help to quiet the mind (you’re so focused on getting the pose right – or not falling over – that you find your mind calms naturally).

Again, there are some wonderful online yoga classes if you can’t find a local one to suit your schedule. Try yogagholics.com.au as they have a 10 day free trial and then it’s only $12 month for unlimited classes – and it’s Australian, run by a nice guy.

MOVE IT

You’ve likely already heard that exercise is beneficial for stress reduction and a happier mood. Ensuring that you move your body most days will help to work off stressful energy and bring your body and mind into balance.

Seriously, if you don’t want to start moving your body more then just stop reading here. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet & lifestyle – these things are the core to good health and better sleep and they are NON-NEGOTIABLE!

As a side note, daily movement will also help your… ahem, daily movements. So if your digestion is a little sluggish, then go do some exercise!

MEGA MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is a natural sedative and is a beautiful supplement for anxiety and stress. Sometimes, it is the only thing needed to improve sleep. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. It has also been used for people with restless leg syndrome for its role in muscle relaxation.

When we are stressed, our body quickly uses up our magnesium stores, so it is a vicious cycle that can result in further deficiency.

Foods rich in magnesium are dark leafy green vegetables, cacao, almonds, legumes and seeds, cashews, blackstrap molasses and brewer’s yeast.

There are some terrific magnesium supplements on the market too – the best absorbed are those bound to proteins (as in amino acid chelates) and tissue salts.

VITAMIN C

In an anxious and stressed state our adrenal glands take quite a hiding and need to be nurtured. Vitamin C is found in highest concentration in the adrenals and it fast becomes depleted if we’re constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode. It’s one of the reasons stress can lead to more frequent colds and flus.

A good vitamin C will have flavanoids to aid absorption. Start with food sources including berries (such as blueberries, acai, goji, raspberries), citrus fruits and rosehip.

3. Natural Sleep Remedies

If all else fails, or if you’re just desperate to get some rest, there are some wonderful herbal medicines for sleep. They don’t leave people groggy the next morning like synthetic sleeping pills and instead you wake up refreshed and energized, as they are nurturing for the nervous system.

Passionflower is a mild sedative that works well alongside other herbs like Zizyphus, Lavender, Hops and Skullcap in a sleep mix. Withania is specific for people who wake through the night and cannot go back to sleep – it’s great for sleep maintenance.

Try these herbs first as herbal teas, to make a lovely nightcap! You could add in some Lemon Balm and Licorice for a nice flavour (and both these herbs also have calming, de-stressing effects).

If you need something stronger, get in touch with me and we can look further into what’s going on for you. As a clinical naturopath and nutritionist in Newcastle, I help uncover the underlying cause for your poor sleep. Sometimes hormonal influences can affect sleep, as can imbalances with our neurotransmitters. We can come up with a plan to get you making zzzzzzzz in no time!

For a FREE 15 minute Sleep Strategy Session, call the clinic on (02) 4965 4881 and make a time to chat.

 

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Category: Featured Sleep
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When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed from another wonderful night’s sleep?

No? Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Then you need to read this blog post because I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.

And I feel like so many of you ‘know’ this – but perhaps don’t fully appreciate just how important sleep is to your overall health and wellbeing.

People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

I see so many of my clients exercising like demons and eating well, but because they’re surviving on 6 hours of sleep, they aren’t seeing any results.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”. Dreams are a huge part of this, being our subconscious mind’s way of processing through our day.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. You probably know yourself what your magic number is… for me, it’s 8 hours. A night or two on less is manageable, but I’m not my best without that 8 hours of Z-time.

So how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Don’t worry if it’s less than 8, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below!

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means doing all you can to get that 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Seven. Days. A. Week! Sleep experts say that going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day (weekends included) is best. Obviously, there’s some flexibility here – I work out 3 mornings a week so I am up at 5:20am… so those nights I make sure I am in bed a little earlier and I also try to trade sleep ins with hubby on the weekend (best happy marriage advice right there!)
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat. I have lots of other blog posts on nutrition and healthy diets – so check out HERE and HERE for more advice.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimising. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!)
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before you go to bed (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, turning off the TV, laptop, phone etc and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Those bright lights mess with our sleep hormone, Melatonin, and make our brains think it’s still daytime. I really doubt people had as much sleep troubles before electricity was invented!

There are 5 key pillars to health… and while we are all unique beings, these still apply to EVERYONE! And it’s these 5 pillars that, as a Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath here in Newcastle, I am helping you with.

You’ve likely guessed that SLEEP is one of these pillars. If you’re not sleeping well, alarm bells go off in my brain and I make sure we fix that asap!! Often, I’ll send people off with a plan (and natural medicines) to get them having a rejuvenating 8 hours of quality sleep EVERY NIGHT so they wake feeling refreshed and amazing. Then, once the sleep is sorted, we work on all the other stuff – which has often improved just because they are now sleeping so well!

 

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

 

Recipe (for your afternoon “coffee break” also yummy as an after-dinner cuppa):

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

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Category: Featured
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If you’ve been listening to me for a while now (and certainly if you’re one of my clients), you will know that I love saying “ditch the scales!”

You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you? When it comes to health, what you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

That’s why in my clinic, we use the Bodystat Quadscan device to measure MORE than just how much you weigh on the scales – we look at BODY COMPOSITION – which is so much more useful.

Something else that is VITAL to assessing health and weight loss is your waist circumference…

Otherwise known as “belly fat” or if you want to get technical, “visceral adiposity” 😉

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is more round around the tummy and the pear shape is where fat is carried more around the hip, butt and thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

So why does waist circumference matter?

Well, one of the fruit shapes is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)…

Which one? Yup – that apple!

Carrying weight around the abdomen is not a good thing.

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see, where your fat is stored is more important from a health perspective that how much you weigh.

How to measure your Waist Circumference

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. I do this in my clinic and you can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 80cm or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course!

(And… clinical tip here: sometimes bloating around your period or from digestive upsets can make your waist appear larger. I always take this into consideration based on the person standing in front of me.)

For men the number is 90cm or more.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool, it’s just a marker we use to predict risk. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.

 

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fibre. Fibre can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fibre foods are vegetables, flax and chia seeds and berries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Ditch added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice). They convert to belly fat faster than you can say “sweet tooth”!
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

Recipe (High fibre side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves 4

8-10 brussel sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)

2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

dash salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 200 celcius.

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.

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Category: Weight Loss
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And is this the reason you can’t lose weight?

You may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow. Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?

And, more importantly – can you do anything about it?

What can slow your metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”! In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

These are the most common reasons I see in my clinic.

Examples of underlying reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone (especially poor conversion of T4 to T3, or too much reverse T3)
  • a history of dieting (nothing slows metabolism faster than starving yourself for long periods)
  • your size and body composition (more fat and less muscle tends to mean slower metabolism)
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep
  • nutritional deficiencies (the nutrients that are key to make energy)

We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”!

 

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism. When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium), as well as chronic stress for example.

Tip: It’s well worth having your thyroid hormones tested (but you’ll need more than just TSH checked. You need a full work up including TSH, free T4, free T3 and reverse T3 at the least in order to gain an insight. But that’s a whole blog topic on its own! ps – I can order all these tests for my clients)

A history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down. This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have. As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

This is why people often put on even more weight after going on a diet.

Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it. Never skip meals and don’t think starving yourself is the secret to losing weight – it’s the worst thing you can do!

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates. This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. However, your body composition is a really important factor here – as two people who way the same can have very different metabolisms. Someone with more muscle mass is going to have a higher metabolic rate than someone who has more fat mass.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat. This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass. That way, you are literally burning fat while you sleep (how efficient is that!?)

I tell my clients to focus on building the BIG muscle groups as these are our furnaces… so think bums and thighs, ladies!

Which leads us to…

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up. Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. Also, exercise regularly. And remember that bit earlier about building muscle mass… so combine cardio with weights, resistance training or functional movement training.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Go for 8, and you’re happily in the middle 😉

Nutritional Deficiencies

So many factors can affect our nutritional status. The quality of the food we eat, how it is prepared and also how well our digestive system can absorb it.

For the purposes of this article, let’s just take a look at the main nutrients that help our body to create energy and fire our metobolism… and they are:

  • B Vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • CoQ10
  • Iodine & Selenium
  • Iron

If you are lacking in any of these babies, then you won’t be effectively creating energy. There are, of course, many other nutrients at play however these are the big ones that I see the best results with in clinic.

*please don’t self-prescribe. See a qualified nutrition professional to determine what (and how much) YOU need!

 

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

½ cup Brazil nuts

2 cups water

nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)

½ cup chia seeds

¼ cup raw cacao powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or stevia if you’re watching your glucose intake)

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk. If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

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Category: Featured
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I read an article when I was pregnant with my second baby that really resonated with me. In fact, it immediately inspired a new focus in my work with women. The fact that it was written by a doctor in my local area was spooky, and his clinic is in the same town as where I birthed that baby!

The doctor’s name is Dr Oscar Serrallach, an Integrative GP on the Far North Coast of NSW. I’d heard of Oscar before as he was well respected in the area and several of my clients had also been to see him. When I read his article describing the myriad of physical, emotional and mental symptoms mothers often present with, a shiver of recognition went up my spine. I’d experienced most of these myself after I had my first child AND so many of my female clients were going through similar things.

Symptoms like extreme fatigue, foggy thinking, thinning hair or falling out in clumps, insomnia, anxiety, depression, general crankiness and irritability, crazy hormones, weight gain, thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases

All things that started (or got worse) once these women became mothers.

So many modern mothers are struggling to regain their health and vitality post-baby – physically, emotionally and mentally.

These aren’t just new mums, either. Often, it’s women with kids in upper primary school who suddenly fall to pieces after years running on nothing more than the whiff of an oily rag.

What society may say is ‘just what happens when you become a mother’, Dr Serrallach (and ME!) understands is NOT normal but rather is the result of massive nutritional deficiencies and not enough rest.

Thing is, chronic nutrient deficiencies and too much stress can build up over time and manifest as Thyroid problems, Adrenal Fatigue, Autoimmune conditions…

The pressures us modern mamas are under has never been seen before in human evolution.

Here’s my take on the matter:

1. We come into motherhood already depleted:

Our food is not as nutritionally dense as it once was, due to farming methods, long storage conditions, supermarket shelves full of lifeless food etc. Medications like the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) deplete our stores of B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Most of us don’t get enough Omega 3 fats, or important minerals like Iodine. We eat on the run, sometimes skipping meals altogether, crave sweets to keep us going and probably rely a bit too heavily on coffee.

Many women have poor digestive health, so they aren’t absorbing their nutrients. And stress depletes our nutrient stores too.

Then, we fall pregnant and whatever precious nutrient stores we have go into growing a baby. Good news for baby, not for mum! Breastfeeding requires even more good nutrition, and so many mothers I see in clinic don’t eat enough, or miss out on the right foods, to keep up their stores.

Most of the pre-natal multivitamins in supermarkets and pharmacies are completely inadequate too, by the way. They tend to use cheaper forms of nutrients that are poorly absorbed and give women a false sense of security. It’s going to take way more than one or two little tablets a day to turn around your health.

2. We push ourselves to ‘bounce back’ too quickly:

If I see one more silly article about ‘getting your body back’ post baby, I think I will scream! Too much pressure is put on women to bounce back – and none of it actually talks about good nutrition, it’s all about firm bums and thigh gaps – when really we could be celebrating the miracle that our body grew another human. One who doesn’t care that we no longer look 22.

We stress about returning to work, how to cope with very little sleep, how to keep up with our work deadlines, daycare drop offs and interstate travel. We feel pressure to keep pushing ourselves in our careers and don’t take enough time (if any at all) for nurture and nourishment.

And often this is a financial necessity, it’s not like we WANT to punish ourselves like this.

The World Health Organisation recommends a mother breastfeeds her infant for 2 years. Yet our paid parental leave in Australia is for 18 weeks. Dads get 2 weeks, but they don’t have boobs.

Anyone who has returned to work and tried to express milk once or twice in work hours knows how fun that is.

There is such an incredible disconnect between what we know is good for a mother and baby’s health and what our society demands of us.

Given that so many of us go into motherhood already undernourished and adrenally exhausted,  what hope is there for mothers to regain energy without good nutrition and rest?

And which organ needs nutrition and rest the most… our brain! Stress is so damaging to our noggins.

I would often use the expression, ‘sorry, baby brain!’ as a funny way to excuse my vague behaviour from time to time. What Dr Serrallach is suggesting, however, is that this ‘baby brain’ phenomenon should only be a temporary thing – and may not need to happen at all if we nourish ourselves before, during and after pregnancy.

So, what’s the answer for all the mothers out there feeling overwhelmed and undernourished?

In my Naturopathy and Nutrition practice here in Newcastle, I most love working with mamas who come to me overweight, overwhelmed and totally worn out. I’ve been there and I know how to help them get out of it.

I use a very similar protocol to Dr Serrallach’s – tweaked a bit to my own experience as a mother who recovered.

It’s all about NOURISHING your body, mind and soul. You need a wholesome, nutrient-dense diet, with quality supplements (like THESE incredible ones) and natural medicines to help get those stores up fast, you need to stress less, improve digestion, sort out any niggling health complaints and you need SUPPORT.

That’s my job :)

If you would like my help to regain your energy, vitality and health, then please call the clinic today to book in a FREE 15 Minute chat to see if I can help you: (02) 4965 4881. Skype consults are available too :)

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Category: Featured

What if everything you think you know about healthy eating is wrong and it’s making you fat and tired??

Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere, isn’t it?

It’s coming at us from celebrity chefs, personal trainers, online gurus who’ve healed themselves so they think now they can heal everyone else. Even brands are publishing health advice from their ‘in house nutrition experts’.

Government bodies are mostly still touting outdated guidelines and bad advice.

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.

More than ever, you really want to be picky about where you get your nutrition advice from!

One of my clients called me her ‘nutrition curator’ the other day. When I asked her what she meant, she said:

“I know that you’re super qualified and experienced on all things nutrition and natural health. You’ve done the study and have lots of experience helping other women like me. You filter out the rubbish so that I only get the parts that are relevant to me. I don’t feel confused anymore and know that what you tell me to do is what will work.”

Yay! Job done!

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on HOW MUCH you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.

 

Let’s take a look not at HOW MUCH you eat…. but at WHAT

Calories are not all there is to it. If a biscuit and an apple have the same calories, does that mean they are equally as healthy?

This is the main reason I detest all those weight loss programs based on points systems. It’s teaching you nothing about healthy eating or metabolism.

Besides, the “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. HOW MUCH you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that are far more important. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to ensure we don’t eat excessive amounts of calories – it’s just that its simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.

You also need to pay attention to WHAT you eat…

 

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible. This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you aim for:

  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and powerful phytonutrients in veggies for every cell in your body. Sometimes I have clients who tell me they “don’t like vegetables” and I get very tough love with them and say “learn to love them or suffer the consequences later in life”. Simple as that.
  • Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids and eating some form of protein at every meal and snack (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your food. Oh, and for like EVERY CELL MEMBRANE IN YOUR BODY! Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, avocado, eat your organic egg yolks cooked but still runny, enjoy oily fish, flaxseed oils, walnuts and get grass-fed meats when possible. And if you do eat something packaged, check the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t say ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘canola oil’ – unless otherwise stated, these will be refined and hydrogenated which makes them toxic to your body. They last longer on the shelves which improves company profit, but it doesn’t prolong your life!

And have you ever considered HOW you eat and drink?

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you inhale your food?

(My dog does. But he has much stronger stomach acid than me and way less stress in his life.)

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating” – I have a whole blog on this HERE

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

 

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.

Don’t get me wrong, a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.

And don’t gulp it down too fast! Sip, sip, sip it.

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fibre like ground flax or chia seeds.

So in summary…

Consider not only HOW MUCH you eat but also WHAT and HOW you eat it!

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie

Serves 1

handful spinach

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 banana

1 chopped peach

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fibre and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein. If only they didn’t get stuck in your teeth for days…

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Category: Weight Loss
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