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Lifestyle

How I create a healthy sleep environment in the home

Mattress protector

Lets talk about sleep baby, let’s talk about sleep….

As parents we try our best to assist our children in anyway we can to have good naps and a good night’s sleep.

Noah mattress protector

The problem is, there can be soooo many factors that affect a good nights sleep, especially when it comes to our precious children.  From my own personal experience of having a child who is what you would call ‘not a great sleeper’, I’ve had to assess every facet of her sleeping environment to try and improve her sleep.

Unfortunately, Grace our daughter who is nearly 4.5 years suffers from very sensitive skin, eczema and rhinitis and Noah, who is nearly six months has recently developed eczema too.   Grace recently had allergy testing and I was convinced that she had a dust mite allergy as she had all the symptoms, but it came back negative!  Although the testing came back negative, I’m still trying to minimise the amount of dust mites that might be lurking in our home for good measure. 

Mattress protectors

I’ve recently taken some proactive steps to try and create a more healthy sleep environment in our home, this is what I have done:

    • Regularly vacuum the carpets and dust surfaces
    • Yearly dust mite extraction on all mattresses
    • Placed a Dyson air purifier in the master bedroom where the air quality was captured as the worst
    • Infuse oils in both bedrooms for naps and bedtime (I love Lavender Peace by DoTerra)
  • Protect our beds with Protect-a-bed mattress protectors 

I was recently gifted Protect-a-bed mattress protectors for our bed, Gracie’s single bed and Noah’s cot.  It was a no brainer to try their TENCEL® Signature range as we’ve been using this brand for years already as they’re such good quality.   What I love is that they are designed to protect against dust mites present in mattresses.  They’re also approved by the National Asthma Council Australia Sensitive Choice Program and the Eczema Association as Sensitive Skin Tried and Tested.

As we always try and buy the best mattresses we can afford, I always try and buy the best protectors, especially now we have children.  These protectors do an amazing job in shielding them from accidents, spills and bacteria!  They’re also fitted with a ‘miracle layer’ that provides the ultimate waterproof, silent and breathable skin.

What are your tips for creating a healthy sleep environment in your home?

protect-a-bed mattress protectors

Please note:  I was gifted the Protect-a-bed mattress protectors, however all opinions are of my own.

Lifestyle

Meal Preparation tips

Sarina of Fit Family Sydney, is mum to two beautiful children, her family own JAI Martial Arts in Maroubra, Sydney and at the weekend’s Sarina runs their Kinder Kicks classes.  She is also a fantastic cook and a ninja at meal preparation!

Recently I was chatting to Sarina about my concerns of being able to feed everyone once the baby is born, I’ve never been into meal preparation but I feel like this might need to change very soon!!

Sarina has kindly offered to share her amazing meal preparation tips:

One of the things that new mum’s worry about with the arrival of a new baby is the overwhelming feeling of meal times! I have to say that because of my experience with my son who was a very unsettled newborn for the first few months, I remember thinking during my second pregnancy “What am I going to do if my daughter is like that too?” How am I going to manage to prepare meals for my family if I have a rather unsettled newborn again?!?!”

My 1st born would cry non stop from around 1pm- 9pm every single day. My second didn’t cry as much however still wanted to be carried constantly. You can guess how I was cooking most days! She was in the baby bjorn carrier! I learn’t after that first week, something has to give and so I became quite proficient in meal preparation and years on, it has become second nature to me.

If you are reading this thinking how do I get started? My first advice is this: Now is not the time to create new recipes, to experiment or get pulled into this whole “healthy diet” strategies because you want to loose weight. There is one word I want you to focus on: “Wholesome” keep it BASIC and SIMPLE. I am going to share with you my top 10 tips that will hopefully help you to feed the family in the least amount of time and also help to inspire you, just remember you totally GOT THIS!

 

Lasagne

Sarina’s famous lasagne

  1. Before the baby is born get food into your freezer. My top ideas would be sauces, broths, crumbed meats and meatballs/veggie balls. If you can fit some ready made meals like pies, cooked lentils and bean soups that will be useful. As you batch cook, replenish your freezer stock.
  2. Work out a weekly schedule with your partner and practice tag teaming. I remember my husband cutting back on training and some private classes initially to help me re-group both times round.  Don’t feel guilty asking your partner for assistance, home life is a full time 15 hour a day job in itself and stay at home Mum’s need some help. When he was home on a Sunday, he would look after the kid’s whilst I batch cooked 2-3 dishes. We would always order takeaway on a Sunday night too, that way I didn’t have to worry about dinner on that day.  It actually became a bit of a ritual, as I was nearly finished with all the cooking he would go out and get me coffee and a cup cake and I knew he would organise dinner for us. It was my silver lining every Sunday and I urge you all to do something similar! Least you know the food you prepare will take you all the way to Thursday!
  3. Avoid meals that involve having to prepare different elements or where you need to chop up so many different vegetables. As nice as taco nights and poke bowls are give them a miss for now. When I had to baby wear, cutting up a lot of vegetables with a crying baby attached to me was not much fun.  Remember, you are looking for simplicity in the beginning, dishes like, roast meat with roughly cut up veg, one pot pasta, cottage pie with either meat or legumes are all big winners and leave a lot of left overs for future meals! But best of all is one pot/pan meals!
  4. Cook today for tomorrow! Get in the habit of whenever you roast meat, to roast double the amount! So don’t roast only 1 whole chicken, get 2 into the oven! So many things can be done with the left overs. Think a quick chicken soup with that handy broth you have in the freezer, chicken wraps or chicken stir-fry.
  5. Invest in a slow cooker.  What I love about slow cookers is all the beautiful soups and stews you can prepare and just leave it be!  If you can get into the habit of cooking soup you have to blend, you don’t have to worry about how you chop the veggies! WINNING! Think tomato, pumpkin, potato, parsnip and spinach and lentil soup!Veggies
  6. Use aluminium roasting trays, now before anyone says “It is not environmentally friendly” I totally agree BUT hear me out, I am 100% into reusable cookware however reducing your workload is a priority at the moment. New mum’s would agree if you have a newborn that needs to be cuddled a lot, that cluster feeds etc, washing up and scrubbing roasting trays is so tedious. I remember leaving them to soak and then dealing with all that grease in the morning. Second time around I used  aluminium trays for all those tedious dishes like pork shoulder, pasta and rice bakes, lasagna – basically food you know that will stick to the tray! Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for cutting corners initially, this is short term only so don’t beat yourself up.
  7. Online shop! Gosh I have said this to so many people it isn’t funny! With some stores, you have to kind of get over the whole delivery in plastic bags for the sake of your sanity. Ladies who have had a caesarian that care for their child with no unassisted help would benefit from home delivery services. I always say that mental health is the most important thing and at the end of the day this is all temporary. Some stores like Harris Farm do place all your items in a box for you which is great, but if they don’t, they don’t. Ease your stress levels and just do it!
  8. Ok so we know the advice “Eat the Rainbow” when it comes to fruit and veg consumption. Sometimes I feel it actually puts pressure on families that they need to eat this huge variety of veggies every day, so this advice might challenge that a little. When you have a newborn, you are stripping everything back to basics! For example lets not worry about filling your fridge with: Kale, English Spinach, Silverbeet, Chard, Mustard Greens etc etc etc,  you know where I am going with this. Every week decide on a few veg of each colour you are going to have in the kitchen. One week you may focus on some Asian Greens, the next week you may select some mediterranean ones.  Just keep them rotating so you are consuming a nice variety throughout the week, but don’t feel like every single day you need new vegetables.
  9. Canned veggies and frozen veggies are ok to use! Don’t feel guilty if you make a pasta bake with canned peas and corn, it still has nutrients, it is still good to use. If you are worried about BPA, there are actually a few brands on the market that are BPA free too. Again, do your research and stock up before bubs arrives.
  10. It is ok to eat takeaway! Pick up a roast chicken and have it with a simple salad, there are so many great options for takeaway nowadays. Even stores like Harris Farm have such great ready made meals. You are no less of a Mum for buying pre crumbed chicken, good quality fish fingers or ready made lasagna. My biggest advice is to make the best decision based on the nutritional panel of WHAT there is AVAILABLE.  Take note of any non ‘whole food’ ingredients, salt and sugar content and again make the best decision of what there is.

Bringing your baby home is such a life changing moment. It is especially more dauting when you bring a 2nd or 3rd baby home as unlike a 1st baby, you do have to feed and care for your older children too.  Honestly if you just want to make cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches with some avocado and spinach inside for everyone DO IT. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are cutting corners or not doing the best you can. The important things is getting full tummies! especially your’s Mum!

 

 

 

Sarina Kinder Kicks

Miss Sarina in action at her Kinder Kicks class

 

Socials:

Fit Family Sydney Instagram

www.fitfamilysydney.com

JAI Martial Arts Instagram

www.jaimartialarts.com

 

 

Health

What I’ve packed in my hospital bag

Hospital Bag packing

I actually can’t remember the details of what I packed last-time in my hospital bag, but I’m pretty sure I packed things that I didn’t actually use or that weren’t helpful!  I’m a notoriously bad packer, extremely indecisive and I end up taking way too much.

This time around I don’t want to take so many unnecessary things, I’m also going to deliver in a public hospital so I will need to take a few extra things that I didn’t need last-time.

I’ve compiled a list of the key things I’m taking and the brands that I love to use.  I would love to hear what else you packed in your bag and if you think I’m missing anything.

What I’m taking:

Weleda Nursing Tea

With Gracie I had a lot of issues with my milk supply due to my medical complications and I was never able to establish a decent supply, despite all my efforts.  This time around I’m hoping that I won’t have anywhere near the same issues and want to encourage the supply as much as I can.  I’ve got a few packs ready to go of this beautiful nursing tea and will be taking a packet with me in my bag.

Weleda Nipple Care Cream

This cream is great as you don’t need to wipe off to breastfeed.

Petit Kiddo 

I’ve been using this on Gracie for years, fantastic for sensitive skin and an alternative to wipes if you find them drying on your babies bum.

Toms Maternity Pads 

I’ve stocked up on a whole load of these, they had fantastic reviews and soft and gentle on your private bits!!

Bodywise Birthwise Cord Care antiseptic herbal powder spray

So happy that I’ve recently come across Kristin’s beautiful products.  How cool does this cord spray sound.  It contains antiseptic and healing herbs to help dry, disinfect and protect baby’s cord as it heals!

Bodywise Birthwise Peri-heaven postnatal herbal spray

Never even thought to use one of these last time, I’ve already popped mine in the fridge for afterwards!

Weleda Products

I love my Weleda mothering products!

 

Bodywise Birthwise Mama’s after pains relief

This is a really interesting product, it’s a tincture that’s meant to help with the after pains after giving birth.  I will be taking this straight after giving birth to help!

Lynne Mckenzie Hall’s number (Lactation consultant)

I recently saw Lynne to talk all things breastfeeding.  I had a terrible breastfeeding journey last-time due to my medical complications so I’m taking Lynne’s number with me incase I need her help during my hospital stay and beyond.

Ecorginal Nappies

We’ve a history of eczema and hives in our family I wanted to be more careful what nappies I used this time around so I’ve done some research and got some Ecoriginal Nappies as they’re free from odour blockers, Dioxins, Phthalates, Lotions, Fragrances.

 

 

What else:

 

 

 

 

 

Health

Kimmy Smith of Fit Mummy Project

Kimmy Smith

Kimmy Smith is fitness blogger, former professional netballer and corporate lawyer and more importantly mother to two gorgeous girls and pregnant with her third!

I recently caught up with Kimmy to chat all things motherhood, fitness and health!

Can you tell us a little more about your story?

I feel like I have had two lives! I spent a large portion of my life before children playing professional sport. I played professional netball for 11 years, finishing my career with 5 years at the NSW Swifts, I was also a member of the Australian netball squad. At that time, I was also working as a corporate lawyer, so my life was pretty crazy! I ended up burnt out and completely exhausted. So I retired from netball, quit law and started working with a local group fitness business in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I loved it and it really helped me to transition from elite sport. I fell pregnant with Allegra in 2012 and because I owned a group fitness business, I trained every day. I ran up until around 25 weeks and I literally counted down the days till I could exercise after I gave birth. 

Allegra was a big baby – 4.3KG and I shouldn’t had rushed back into exercise and ended up with a pelvic organ prolapse as well as some other complications from birthing such a big baby. Perhaps because high intensity was all I knew, I was determined to get back into running and high intensity training. I also identified myself as someone who was ‘fit’. I had built my netball career around being the fittest player on the court, so I pushed my body to the limit to return to that level of fitness my ego needed! 

When I fell pregnant with Samara, I knew that I wanted to do it different. I wanted to care for my body and I wanted to create a new way of moving that embraced all the changes that were happening to me. Not just physically, but mentally. This was the beginning of the creation of the Fit Mummy Project – although at that time it was just a seed of an idea! 

What led you to focus on pre and post natal fitness?

When I had Samara, I tried to take it easy and allow my body time to repair.  I did a lot of research into postnatal fitness and exercise options and found a lot of generic information. After Samara I was also struggling with incontinence. I couldn’t find information that didn’t make me feel like something was fundamentally wrong with me. 

I was a healthy woman. Yes, I had suffered some postnatal complications and yes my body needed extra support, but I was still healthy. And I definitely wasn’t elderly! I also noticed that a lot of the messages around ‘bouncing back’. I didn’t want to bounce back. I had worked really hard to embrace the changes that had happened to my body. I wanted to create a new ‘strong and healthy’ body rather than giving birth and then doing my best to look like I’d never been pregnant. 

It was this that led me to my focus on pre and postnatal fitness. I created the Fit Mummy Project with the view to:

  • Supporting women to create a strong and healthy body after baby. 
  • Providing positive and safe workouts that would embrace the changes to their lives and their bodies. 
  • Providing the ability to do high quality strength, fitness, barre or yoga workouts from the comfort of their own homes in just 15 minutes a day.
  • Creating a way of moving that embraced mindfulness and a holistic approach to postnatal fitness.  

My focus started with postpartum and as the Fit Mummy Project has grown and evolved, I am now beginning to include prenatal workouts and exercises. 

 You’re currently pregnant with your third baby, congratulations!  What has been your biggest challenge so far this pregnancy?

Thank you! I’ve had a lot of challenges with this pregnancy. I had quite bad morning sickness which I really struggled with. My incontinence has been a lot worse this pregnancy which is a combination of pregnancy hormones, a weak pelvic floor and everything just being so stretched already! 

But I think my main challenge has been taking care of my own health this pregnancy. Before I fell pregnant, I had the intention of really enjoying this pregnancy. But that just hasn’t happened. I think taking care of the girls, running a business and just generally trying to juggle our lives means that I get to the end of each day absolutely exhausted! So it’s been a real challenge to slow down and nurture myself during this pregnancy. 

 

Kimmy Smith

 

What advice would you give to a pregnant woman looking to keep fit during their pregnancy?

My main advice is always to listen to your body. When we are pregnant, we develop this incredible intuition. Listen to the signals your body is sending you and begin to move in a way that makes you feel good. One day this might be a gentle restorative yoga class, another day it might be a higher intensity strength workout. When you listen to your body, you will begin to move in a much more mindful way. 

Secondly – the aim during pregnancy is to feel healthy and strong. It isn’t to get fitter. So don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion. Find exercise that makes you feel energsied and strong, but that still leaves you with enough energy to go about the rest of your day! Your body is already working overtime to grow a whole human! 

Thirdly – go and see a Women’s Health Physio and learn how to properly engage your pelvic floor and transversus abdominis (your deepest abdominal muscles). Learning how to properly engage your core will help to protect your back during pregnancy, can help you to avoid some common pregnancy complaints like pubis symphysis pain and can also help you to birth your baby. It will also help with your postpartum recovery. 

You have developed a wonderful app called the Fit Mummy Project app. Can you tell us a bit more about the app?

Thank you! I have combined everything I spoke about above into the Fit Mummy Project App, so I’m really proud of it. The Fit Mummy Project App is the complete postnatal fitness + yoga App for Mums. It has over 35 workouts that Mums can do from home in just 15 minutes a day. It includes early postnatal, strength, fitness, yoga, barre workouts as well as guided meditations. You can start the workouts from 6 weeks with the early post natal and keep using it all the way up to 4-5 years (and beyond!). It has a range of different level workouts for all fitness levels and really provides a holistic approach to postnatal wellbeing.

Since I launched it last year, I have been amazed at how much Mums have embraced this App! I think because it delivers high quality workouts direct to your phone and it’s all aimed at Mums. I also wanted to make it accessible and affordable to everyone, so I think Mums really appreciate that it’s a once off cost, rather than an ongoing fee. 

As Mothers we are all incredibly busy and tend to put our needs last.  What are your top 3 tips to help women include exercise within their day?

My tips for including exercise into your day are: 

  • Try to do it first thing in the morning. If your baby / kids are sleeping through the night, set your alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier. I use the Fit Mummy Project App to do a quick workout and meditation combination which helps me to feel energised and calm for the rest of the day. 
  • Make exercise a priority. I add my workouts to my diary and try to do them first thing. I know that if I get started with work or housework, exercise often gets missed. I try to do it as soon as I drop the girls at school / kindy or as soon as I put them down for a nap. 
  • Include your little ones in your workouts! Try the Fit Mummy Project App Pram Workouts and include a workout into your daily walk. If you’re meeting a friend or a group for a play date, make it an active one. Go for a walk together (try the circuit above). Take the kids to a park where you can work out while they run around. All chip in to hire a nanny so you can exercise while someone is keeping the kids under control.

What’s next for Kimmy?

I’m currently working on the Nourished Mummy Project with Alice Bingham from @aliceinhealthyland and Gina Ulrich from @nutrititonbyginarose. The Nourished Mummy Project will be a complete nutrition App for pregnancy, postpartum through to baby food and family friendly recipes. 

I’m also working on a new prenatal fitness + yoga App which will have safe prenatal workouts for each trimester! And then hopefully have a healthy baby in the middle of the year! 

Kimmy’s Socials

Website:  www.kimmysmithfit.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kimmysmithfit

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/fitmummyproject

Health

Alexx Stuart – Low Tox Life Interview

Alexx Stuart Of Low Tox Life

I’m so excited to share this interview with the amazing Alexx Stuart of Low Tox Life.  I’ve personally followed Alexx for many years and absolutely adore listening to her podcasts.

Alexx has helped empower and educate thousands of people over the years, helping them to lower their toxic load and discover real food.  In this interview Alexx discusses more about herself, tips in transitioning to a low tox life and more.

I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I did!

You can find more about Alexx and Low Tox Life here.

Lifestyle

The Wholesome Child – Interview with Mandy Sacher

Mandy Sacher

Mandy Sacher is the creator of Wholesome Child, she’s a Paediatric Nutritionist and SOS Feeding Consultant and mother of two based in Sydney, Australia.  Through her private clinical practice and seminars she has helped thousands of families improve their health and wellbeing.  She’s launched her first book ‘The Wholesome Child Nutrition Guide and Recipe Book’ which is available now.

I recently caught up with Mandy to find out more about herself and her new fantastic new book.

Fun question to start with!  What couldn’t you live without in your pantry?

The Wholesome Child Gluten Free Mix is my staple!!  It is used to prepare all the gluten-free recipes in the Wholesome Child Book.

What does a day on your plate look like?

  • Breakfast: Shakshuka with chia seeds and goat cheese, Snack: Turmeric and Ginger Smoothie
  • Lunch : Big mixed salad with either salmon or poached chicken with extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar Mid afternoon: Wholesome Child Flaxseed crackers with cashew cheese
  • Dinner: Shepherd’s Pie with parsnip and cauliflower mash, steamed vegetables and garden salad.

What’s your top 3 tips for parents with fussy eaters?

  1. Family meals. Have family meals together and make it a goal to have as many meals together as often as possible.
  2. Desensitisation. Encourage your little ones to touch, smell and engage with their food. This starts right from shopping for groceries. Can they help take items off the shelves? Encourage them to pick up a carrot, an apple or a zucchini from the shelf and place it in the basket or trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food. Can they put the dish or new veggie onto the table for the family? Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new food the first time it’s offered – stay positive, freeze what is not eaten and offer it again.
  3. Repetition: Make new foods familiar by repeatedly offering them in a calm, familial environment. A child will not go to a stranger the first time they meet them, but after a few visits they generally feel more comfortable to sit with them. The same goes for new foods. Repeated exposure aids the process of engaging with new tastes and flavours. You can also try offering these same foods in different ways – cut into fun shapes, laid out in colour patterns, steamed veggies rather than raw.

What’s your opinion on introducing solids earlier to babies to help prevent allergies?

I am all for introducing solids earlier and there is plenty of research which shows that it may help to prevent allergies. Allergenic foods can be introduced at 4-6 months of age to all infants, the basis for this new recommendation is that there is no evidence for delaying the introduction of allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months.   However, each parent has to follow their instinct and introduce solids when they are ready and when their child is ready.  Some babies are not ready at 4 months but are far more interested and equipped with the necessary skills closer to 5.5 or 6 months.  I see many mothers feeling pressurised to introduce solids at exactly 4 months and this is counter-productive as babies feed off their mother’s emotions. When it comes to offering a baby their first experience of solid foods it needs to be in a relaxed and calm environment.

What’s your children’s favourite meal?

Home-made fish nuggets with home-made wedges.

You’ve just launched your first book which is very exciting!  What drove you to create this book?

I wrote Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook  to provide answers to the many questions parents have around kids’ nutrition, while offering strategies that really work.  My philosophy is simple: encourage children to enjoy nutritionally beneficial foods from a young age to ensure optimal development and establish lifelong healthy eating behaviours. The book incorporates lessons I have learned over the past 22 years in the health and wellness industry – plus my  own hands-on experiences feeding my two young children.  The book provides meaningful answers and proven solutions to the questions and challenges that are raised time and time again in my workshops, in parenting forums and by my clients and friends. The book also contains over 140 simple and delicious nutrient packed recipes that the whole family can enjoy. My goals for the book is to provide parents with an invaluable companion that will help support their family’s health journey while bringing the fun and enjoyment back to meal times.

For more information about Wholesome Child go here

Mandy has kindly shared with us her delicious Shepherds Pie below.

 

Wholesome Child's Shepherd's pie

SHEPHERDS PIE

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • For the mash:
  • 3 cups cauliflower (about 500-600g), roughly chopped
  • 1 cup white sweet potato (about 250-300g), peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsnip (about 100-150g), peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbs coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/2 tbs arrowroot powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • For the mince:
  • 1-2 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 500g beef or lamb mince
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tbs mixed herbs
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2-3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock

Instructions

1

Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Add cauliflower, sweet potato and parsnip and cook vegetables for about 10-15 mins or until they are soft. Drain, rinse and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place all vegetables and coconut oil into a food processor and process until smooth. Add arrowroot powder and salt and process for another minute. Set aside.

2

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a large pan and cook onion, leek, garlic, carrot and celery for 3 mins or until they are soft. Transfer into a measurement jar or bowl and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Set aside.

3

In the same pan, cook the mince for 5-10 mins, or until browned.

4

Add vegetable mix, cumin, herbs, salt, tomato paste, tamari sauce and beef stock and let simmer for another 10 mins.

5

Preheat oven to 180oC.

6

Place the mince mixture into a deep baking dish, then top with the cauliflower mash and bake for 20 minutes (it won’t brown on top).

Notes

Serving and storing leftovers: Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Tip: If your children don’t mind chunky meals, you can leave out the step where you blend the onion, leek, garlic, carrot and celery and simply add them to the browned beef. You can also replace vegetable mash with potato or a combination of potato and cauliflower.

Health

Chronic Constipation you’re giving me the S^%$*

Chronic Constipation

I understand this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea to read, but when you become a parent things that never crossed your mind sometimes end up being your day to day worries with your child – cue my life right now!

I’ve not really mentioned this openly over on my social media accounts,  but the past few weeks have been very, very difficult at our home.   After Grace had a 24 hour gastro bug which was horrific in itself, she’s not been the same since.

Unfortunately when a child who already has a sensitive gut like Grace gets Gastro, it completely upsets their system and we are still feeling it weeks afterwards.  I feel like we’ve gone completely backwards with treating her chronic constipation, every couple of days she’s becoming blocked and it’s affecting everything, including her sleep (which we didn’t think could get any worst!) and eating.

As I mentioned in previous posts, Grace is on supplementation twice a day as well as a small amounts of laxatives for this. Everyday I monitor her bowel movements to try and see if I need to give her more or less.  At the moment I’m trying to get her supplementation and laxative amount just right, which is becoming a near impossible task.

The older she gets, the more I’m starting to notice the psychological aspect of all this,  and the vicious cycle it’s all becoming.  She gets a flare up of constipation which obviously makes her uncomfortable and sore from straining and basically holds it in for the fear of being in more pain, which of course only makes matters worse.

When we first started our journey to sort out her issues it was really obvious that food intolerances were the root cause.  However nearly two years down the line I’m starting to question everything as I don’t understand why she is still suffering with it, especially as we’re so careful with her diet.

We’re seeing her Integrative Paediatrician next month, which really can’t come soon enough.  Initially when we first started seeing our current doctor she said we could test her gut flora. We decided to wait and see if we saw improvements, which we did,  but even before the gastro hit we had started to plateau – I now think this will be an essential thing for her to get tested.

All we can do now is hope and pray that her gut starts to settle down with the help of the prebiotic food I give her and the supplementation….. and roll on May!

I’m really interested in connecting with other parents whose child/children suffer from chronic constipation and the reasons why.  So if that’s you please send me a private message or comment below so we can connect.

Mel x

Lifestyle

Allergy Families Interview

Vivian is a Doctor originally from the UK and has recently relocated with her family to the States.  Both Vivian’s children have suffered from severe allergies which has lead to the creation of her fantastic Blog ‘Allergy Families‘ which is an amazing resource for families who have allergies and food intolerances.

I recently caught up with Vivian to find out more about herself and her blog.

What made you start your blog?

I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time now…. but just never found the time juggling being a GP and mum to two young kids.

It is incredible how unaware the general public and medical professionals can be with allergy. They don’t take it seriously and many medical professionals miss the diagnosis because symptoms can be so subtle and there are just no good tests for some allergies. My daughter was hospitalised and tube fed at 8 weeks of age because no doctor (including myself) recognised her symptoms as being caused by milk allergy. People thought she had reflux, then behavioural issues, because she just stopped feeding. She would cry with hunger, drink a little bit of milk then push the bottle away, arch her back and turn her head. She cried all the time and I was desperate and sleep deprived. It wasn’t until I did my own research and found a dietician with expertise in the area that she got the help she needed. Thankfully it is probably more widely recognised now, but if it was so hard for a doctor to help her own children with allergies, I can’t imagine what it is like for non-health professionals.

Since I started researching and learning about allergies, I have been able to be an advocate for my patients, friends whose children have blaringly obvious food allergies (to me anyway) but undiagnosed by their own doctors.

That’s why I started my blog – I didn’t want my help to be restricted to those who knew me. I knew that if I started a blog my reach could be much wider, and I would be able to help more people. I wanted to share my journey, tips and useful medical information I learnt along the way.

There are many things which I found out that are helpful for kids with allergies which my allergists never told me. Things like probiotics – which a lot of allergists still insist has no good evidence but I believe gut health is key to children outgrowing allergies.

Do you think being a Doctor made the process to get a diagnoses and treatment plan easier?

Yes and No. To this day I still have massive mother guilt for missing the diagnosis in my own daughter. But I had access to a network of top healthcare professionals and I’m sure my daughter’s diagnosis would be even more delayed had it not for my own contacts.

Treatment plan is another matter – I was in desperate search for things that would help my daughter outgrow her allergies. Maybe I was in denial, maybe I just did not want to spend the rest of my life constantly worrying about accidental ingestion and walking on eggshells. This was where I felt like I was up against a brick wall. No one gave me any answers. Everyone told me to just avoid the food and hope they outgrew their allergies. But I did not want to do that. So I did my own research and reading, attended all the allergy lectures to gain a better understanding. In a way, being a doctor has helped because I knew where to look for reliable information, and I had access to all the allergy training events.

What advice would you give parents who suspect their child has a food allergy or intolerance?

Trust your gut instincts – you really do know your child best. Read my blog post on subtle symptoms of allergy (http://allergyfamilies.com/food-allergies/how-to-know-my-child-has-a-food-allergy/) – it is not all lip swelling/rash/wheezing. The symptoms can be so subtle: constipation, abdominal pains, aversive feeding, diarrhoea. If you suspect your child might have an allergy – don’t stop looking for a doctor who takes you seriously! Western tests are good at picking up IgE mediated allergies (but these are really easy to spot anyway, you don’t need a test when someone’s lips swell up after eating something). But it is the non IgE allergies which are being missed all the time and it is a shame that children and their parents are suffering unnecessarily because doctors are not trained to spot these. Just because a skin prick test or blood test is negative, does not mean your child is not allergic to a food. Elimination is actually the gold standard but this should not be done without consulting a healthcare professional first.

How are your children now?

My daughter is 8 and she was allergic to milk, egg and peanut. She has outgrown all these now. My son is 6, and was allergic to milk, egg, wheat, kiwi, peanut, walnut, pecan, cod, lemons and now ‘just’ allergic to milk, peanut, walnut, pecans.  He is currently on the milk ladder where I am introducing boiled milk at small increments to see if he can tolerate it, and he appears to be starting to grow out of his milk allergy too (touch wood)!

What’s been your biggest learning curve?

Broadening my mind and horizon to what I didn’t know. Before my kids, I was a pretty narrow minded doctor who would laugh at anything holistic or complementary (e.g. homeopathy) because the scientific evidence for these are weak. However, mainstream medicine failed me when I needed it. I was not able to help my daughter and it was so frustrating for me as a doctor. The more I read, the more I realised that the gut is central to a lot of diseases. And actually, focusing on ‘allergy’ without assessing gut health is treating surface symptoms without the root cause, I became more open minded through my own research and reading; I realised that, actually, integrative medicine is the best way to practise medicine. Now I use nutrition and natural remedies in combination with mainstream medicine.

What are you favourite gut boosting foods?

  • Fermented foods because they contain enzymes to help us digest the food, probiotics and prebiotics
  • Probiotics supplement
  • Bone broth – there is a reason why this gem is found in culinary traditions around the world – it contains amino acids and collagen which is healing for the gut.
  • Fibre – a high fibre diet supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and if probiotic supplement is not supported by a high fibre intake, the expensive bacteria wouldn’t survive in your gut anyway. Children do need calories to grow, however, so be careful to balance this as most high fibre foods are not calorific.

Find out more about Vivian and her blog here (sign-up to her newsletter to receive her weekly tips): www.allergyfamilies.com

 

A doctor and allergy mum's journey to help her severely allergic children grow out of their allergies. If you're interested in functional medicine this is a must read.

Viv's Healing Bone Broth

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lb (1.3Kg) marrow bones (grass fed beef preferably)
  • 18 cups water
  • 5 pieces of cloves
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 inch segment of ginger

Instructions

1

In an oven or over a grill, char the onion, bulb of garlic and ginger - I normally put it on a top rack in the oven and put on full heat grill. The onion and garlic will char first - remove these, and let the ginger char slightly. Let it cool down, and remove the completely burnt bits.

2

In a pan, roast the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, black peppercorns - low heat, this brings out their flavor. When cooled, place into a spice bag (you can get these in asian supermarkets, or make them yourself from muslin/cheese cloth. If you don't mind the odd bit of peppercorn in your soup, you can also just drop these loose into the pan.

3

Parboil the bones - in a pan, put the bones in and cover with just enough water, and bring to boil with lid on. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain and wash all the impurities that have come out in the boil with water.

4

Put parboiled, cleaned bones back in the pan, put in 18 cups of water. add the spice bag (or just drop the spices in loose).

5

Bring back to boil. Then switch to low heat and leave on stove for at least 8 but up to 24 hours ( I normally do 10, by that time you really start to see the broth turning cloudy which indicates all the amino acids, collagen being boiled into the soup).

Notes

You can make bone broth using any vegetables but I like to add herbs that are good for the digestion/gut to give it even more goodness: Cloves - great for digestion, and rich in antioxidants (fights tissue and free radical damage) Black peppercorn - again fabulous for digestion and also increases bioavailability of lots of nutrients, helping the body to absorb them Star anise - anti fungal, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant Cinnamon - anti-inflammatory (helps body repair any inflamed or damaged tissue), improves insulin sensitivity, reduces heart disease

Lifestyle

Petit Kiddo Interview

Petit Kiddo

As a parent whose child suffers from eczema and sensitive skin, I’m always looking for products that fit the bill.  Although Gracie’s eczema has virtually cleared she is prone to terrible nappy rashes so I was very excited last year to stumble across Petit Kiddo.

Petit Kiddo is a natural alternative to baby wipes which has been created by two French born, Bondi friends, Canelle and Morgan who have six kids in total between them.

I thought it was only apt that I interviewed the two ladies to find out more about them and their fab product.

Fun question to start with! What book are you reading at the moment?

Canelle: I’ve just opened “Les Chaussures Italiennes” by Henning Mankell a thriller. But the more I read it, the more I realise that I’ve read this book already, probably 2 or 3 years ago. This is the first time I done this, I can’t remember any of it except that I’ve read it though! I like to read in French my mother tongue but used to read in English when I was living in France.

Morgan:  I am currently reading a trilogy written by Italian author Elena Ferrante. A book depicting wonderfully the life of 2 girls in the Napoli of the 1950’s till today.  I always read in French because for me, reading is a time for evasion and should not require any effort!

With six children between you, how do you try and achieve a balanced life?

Canelle: So we have 3 children each, I “only” take care of mine and their many friends and activities. We have absolutely no family around but we have lots of friends here for support but they all have kids and busy lives. We miss the mix of generations that we could have had if we were living where our families live, you know, the elderly, the youngest etc….We do it all.

Launching a business doesn’t make it easy. Let’s be honest, it’s a juggling act, pretty much unbalanced for me…it is getting better, my youngest is 4 and every week is getting a tiny bit more easier.

Morgan:  My first is 10 and youngest 6 so it got easier compared to when I was still in nappy days. It is all about being flexible in the working hours, evenings and days. I am also relying a lot on my husband. And the kids helps when need be to!

How did Petit Kiddo come about?

Canelle: I had this idea of doing a local version of this very specific French Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment when my first bub was born, 10 years ago. Then, 2 others babies were added to the fam bam, we moved around a bit, changed jobs etc….so it was on the back burner.

Canelle and Morgan

Canelle & Morgan at Bondi Markets

Then my youngest was growing older, I was still thinking about this idea and I didn’t enjoy the job I had. I talked about it with Morgan when we met for a holiday in southern France 3 years ago. Back then, she was living in Italy with her family.

I started it on my own, super interesting, overwhelming and challenging. After 6 months I realised I would do better with a partner. I wanted someone I knew well and someone who knew the product as well as I did. Morgan joined in, we worked on Skype for months and then she relocated to Sydney!

MorganWhen Canelle proposed to join in, I was excited to jump on board with an idea and a project I always believed in. I was also interested in the challenge of developing a business, and even more to develop a product that I believed will make the difference to carers and parents in Australia.

What is the difference between Petit Kiddo and using baby wipes?  

Canelle: Well, wipes will clean your baby’s bum. That’s it, then comes, the nappy cream, and sometimes even powder. Depending on the brand you are using, wipes can really irritate your baby’s skin because of their ingredients; some will also irritate it because they leave the skin too wet.

Our Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment will cleanse your baby’s bum very thoroughly, but will also moisturise it and protect it from the next wee/poo that will happen very shortly after. It is based on an ancient French recipe and specially formulated to balance the pH of the skin. It is a 3 in 1 product. The more you use it the better the skin is.

Morgan:  Firstly it is an all natural product that is really healthy for your baby skin. Most wipes irritate the skin and require in addition a moisturiser or baby barrier.

The beauty of Petit Kiddo baby bum cleanser is that it relies within the fact that you only need one product and a support ( cotton or washcloths). It does it all.  

Finally it is a product in line with today’s awareness towards the place we live in and need to respect: the earth and our environment. Using petit kiddo is helping reduce pollution unlike wipes.

What’s your favourite go to family meal?

Canelle: We have 2 at the moment: Tacos, I prepared a big batch of meat/veggies kind of chili pot and then freeze some for the following week. My kids love it as they can do it “themselves”. They add avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated cheese, I love it as I can hide heaps of veggies in the dish. Dumplings: When we are brave and have time we make some – I found a great recipe on the Red Tent’s website – but we mainly get the frozen pack from Harris Farm 😉  My 10 year is starting to enjoy cooking, so she searches through cookbooks.

Morgan:  Having lived the past 4 years in Rome, pasta is definitely our favourite dish. Arguments go around the amatriciana or the carbonara …Otherwise homemade crepes and risotto of chicken and zucchinis.

If you’d like to find out more information about Petit Kiddo head to their website

Health

What we use and why

Supplements

Since starting our journey to get Gracie’s gut and skin issues better I’m often asked what we use and why, even more since documenting on Instagram and connecting with other families in similar situations as to our own.  So I thought I would give an overview of what we currently use.

Skin:

  • Ancient Mineral Magnesium Bath Flakes – we use this almost every night, around 1/2 a cup of flakes.  This is to assist with her chronic constipation.
  • Weleda Calendula Cream – applied morning and night to moisturise her skin
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil into the bath – helps get rid of the bacteria on the skin that eczema sufferers’ tend to have

Supplements:

  • Probiotics – to support gut health
  • Vitamin C – helps with softening bowel motions
  • Magnesium – for muscle relaxation can aid constipation
  • Vitamin D (in winter months) –  support for the maintenance of healthy skeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems
  • B12 spray – to support the nervous system
  • Zinc drops – Zinc can improve frustration tolerance, boost the immune system and improve appetite
  • Fish Oil – reduces inflammation/assists Eczema sufferers

 

As I mentioned, Gracie’s eczema has basically cleared up since eliminating the foods that had came up on her food intolerance testing and giving her these supplements.  Her gut still isn’t 100% and she is still reliant on a small amount of laxative, but compared to what she started off on it’s nothing.  My aim this year is to get her off the laxative completely and to reduce her supplement intake as much as we can.  I also want to get her food intolerances re-tested and to then be able to slowly re-introduce more foods back into her diet.

 

Please note, this post is not intended as medical advice.  If you have health concerns about your child please seek medical advice.