Monday, 30 January 2012

Nutrition Tips for Mummies

I wrote this article for Lagos Mums last year, and decided to repost here :)

During and after pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through many changes. The fathers' bodies go through
similar physical changes (‘sympathy weight gain’) during this period but that’s another post on its
own ;)

We all know the dramatic and miraculous weight loss that Hollywood celebrities go through is just unrealistic. It’s best to stay away from their stories and focus on the more accessible and sensible ways to get back in shape post-childbirth.

It is preferable if you aim to live a healthy lifestyle – good nutrition and exercise - before, during and after childbirth. This way, it won’t be too much of a challenge after you have had your baby. Exercise and healthy nutrition are important but during the first few weeks, it’s expected that as a new mother, you might not have, or want to take, the time away from your baby to exercise. You can start off with short walks with your baby snuggled in his or her pram.

If you are breastfeeding, you might find that you have an increased appetite as you’re producing all that milk so you need the nutrients and calories. As long as you boil, roast or grill your food instead of frying and eat the right variety of foods (proteins, vegetables, grains, fruits, etc), you will lose your baby weight because breastfeeding uses up a lot of energy/calories. Make sure you’re eating enough to help provide you with energy and your baby with the right nutrients. Avoid going on a weight loss diet right after childbirth.

As a new mum, you also want to gradually shed the baby weight, improve your self-confidence and

Here are five tips that will help you along the way:

  • Increase your fluid intake
    You don’t have to drink 4 x 1.5 litre bottles of water, just ensure you stay hydrated. Drink water every time you’re thirsty, which you will be often as a nursing mother. Remember
    – although water is the best source of hydration, drinks and many foods have high water content.

    Some of these foods include fruit (e.g. watermelons, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple), vegetables (e.g. spinach, lettuce, cucumber), soups (e.g. peppersoup), ogi (pap), etc

  • Reduce your salt intake
    Some side effects of having too much salt in your diet are high blood pressure, dehydration and feeling bloated. An easy way to help reduce salt intake is to cook with either maggi/knorr OR salt, and not both. Why? Read This Post -->
    This is not intended to scare you but there is a high risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women and new mums, so it is best to do whatever is in your control to reduce this risk.

  • Eat foods that are high in protein Sources of protein include meat, fish*, chicken, chicken, egg, yoghurt, nuts and seeds, legumes – for example, beans, peas and lentils.

     *Fish contains mercury which can be harmful to your baby both during and after pregnancy. I would suggest cutting them out from your diet. Fish to completely avoid include mackerel, sea bass and tuna. Some can be limited to a maximum of once a month e.g. catfish, salmon, tilapia, crayfish, trout, monkfish.
  • Always have healthy snacks readily available
    This is where most mistakes are made, you barely have time to take care of yourself so it’s easy to snack on anything that is available. Many snacks, including those advertised as ‘healthy’, ‘low fat’, are very high in empty calories , which means they have little or no nutritional value. Make sure your snacks are nutritious, unrefined and as fresh as possible.
    Examples include:
    - an apple
    - a banana
    - 2 slices of pineapple
    - half an avocado
    - fruit salad
    - fruit and/or veggie smoothie

    Protein is great as a snack because it fills you up quickly:
    - a hard boiled egg
    - a small pot of yoghurt
    - a handful of nuts
    - a protein bar (eg 9 bar, Nak’d bar, Bounce balls)
    - a piece of chicken or meat

  • Eat regularly Eating little and often ensures your blood sugar levels stay moderate all through the day. If you leave too many hours between meals, you’ll have blood sugar lows which result in fatigue and find that you will crave foods high in sugar. Aim to eat every three hours – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner.

    Give this a try one day this week:

    Breakfast: 1 slice of wholemeal bread, an omelette (tomatoes and any vegetables you like) and a large glass of lemon & water.
    Snack: A handful of cashew nuts
    Lunch: Boiled (or roasted) plantain and Efo, with meat
    Snack: An apple (and some nuts if you feel a little hungry)
    Dinner: Chicken Salad (instead of salad dressing, try chopping half an avocado into it)
Congratulations and Good Luck!

Photo Credit:

Friday, 27 January 2012

Workout/Spin Track of The Week

WEEK #15

'Pass at Me' by Timbaland feat. Pitbull & David Guetta

It's so funny, I've had this track on my iPod for a while an only just got round to listening to it yesterday when I was trying to compile a playlist for my spin class last night!

I like it and I think the class liked it too :)

I searched for the video on youtube and it was full of half naked girl, of course so I've embedded one that's definitely safe for work (just the not-so-great  lyrics).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Currently Loving...

Spinach Omelette

Nice way to include a portion of green veggies :)

My friend, Matt (of Fitter London) has mentioned them a few times so I decided to try this out a few weeks ago and ... YUM! :)

Add as much spinach as you like as heat shrinks it up a little. --> Omelette recipe <-- (replaced mixed veg with spinach). For this I used: 2 organic eggs, 2 handfuls of spinach (this wasn't organic but I washed them in water & a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar), 1 tablespoon f coconut oil and a carrot (to garnish).


Totally unrelated, from kitchen to umm, feminine needs? :p
Look out for a post on Natracare Tampons in the next few weeks, which I finally got today (thanks Keris!) after weeks of leaving it in my amazon shopping basket. Click on the image to read more.

They are organic & natural and chemical & additive free! 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Your Hair or Your Health?

I had to put up this post after a conversation I had with my friend, T. I asked her to take part in my Sunday class here in Lagos and her reply was "No I can't, I don't want to mess up my hair!".

I'll give her some credit because she attended the class the week before but only because it was right before her visit to hair salon.

This isn't a first, and neither will it be a last. I've been told by many ladies that they don't want to mess up their hair... I can, kind of, relate because I've had relaxed hair and I've had a weave (only once, haha). Friends tell me I'm lucky my hair is natural because it seems I can do anything without worrying about my hair. I've started swimming lessons and it is true - it's easy because I just wet my hair and get in the pool.

Another friend A, who is very into exercise (and lives in Lagos), didn't want her hair to affect her workout routine so now she usually  has her hair in braids. With braids, you can't mess up the style and you can actually rinse/wash your hair and know it will be okay once it's dry.

The easiest thing I'd suggest is to get your hair in braids (extensions) if you don't want to deal with your hair (natural or relaxed) after a workout. It works for A and I'm sure it'll work for you :)

Natural Hair?

If you wear your natural hair 'out' or in twists/braids, like I do:
  • Try conditioner washing or rinsing your hair at least once a week. Also shampoo wash once every 1-2 weeks, preferably with a sulphate free shampoo to prevent drying.
    One thing I learned the hard way years ago is - sweat can dry out your hair! Do not go weeks without cleaning your hair especially if you live a very active lifestyle.
  • Post-workout, lightly spritz your hair with a spray moisturiser and seal in the moisture with a butter (eg shea) or an oil.
  • Don't comb your dry natural hair, it's really coily and is best manipulated when it's loaded with conditioner and/or wet.

If your hair's in Extensions (Braids/Twists):
  • When you wash your hair, make sure you dilute your shampoo. Apply it to your scalp only and the length of your hair will be cleaned as you rinse it off. 
  • The best way to dry your braids is under a hood dryer or with a blow dryer. This way you ensure your hair isn't damp for a long time before it dries. 
  • Always moisturise your hair with a liquid/spray moisturiser, this will help avoid product build up which you can get from cream moisturisers when used on braids/twists.
Is your hair relaxed?

I used to exercise regularly when my hair was relaxed, I sent these tips to someone last year:

I washed and deep conditioned my hair at least once a week (still do).
I sweat a lot on my scalp so a tip I read somewhere about wrapping my hair then laying down with a scarf resulted in very wet, sweaty hair = NEVER again.

Next thing I tried which totally worked for me was - putting my hair in a very high (and loose) ponytail ensuring my ends didn't touch my neck (to avoid them getting sweaty and then drying out). My scalp was sweaty ofcourse but 3/4s of my hair still stayed nice and dry. Right after my workout, before my shower - I'd take my hair down from the ponytail and moisturise *very* lightly (make sure your moisturiser doesn't have glycerine as the 1st few ingredients) especially on the ends, I used elasta qp mango butter but now I use organic shea butter mixed with oils and then put my hair back up in the loose ponytail before showering. One thing I didn't like was sweating on my scalp because of my body temp still regulating after my workout + my hair being covered with a shower cap.

This technique worked on my hair even when I was 4 months post relaxer and I straightened my hair, it stayed straight for a whole week until I washed it.
Sometimes when I couldn't salvage the hairstyle, I put my hair up in a bun (I have so many hair accessories).


Remember - if anything is important to you, you will make the time and necessary changes to ensure you can do it.

Your health should be important to you so try to find what hairstyle works for you to make sure you get your exercise on ;)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Workout/Spin Track of The Week

WEEK #14

'Where Have You Been' by Rihanna

I'll admit I'm not a Rihanna fan, I don't 'love' her voice but she does have some good songs! My brother in law hooked me up with Rihanna's album and there are a handful of catchy tracks including this one. I love it and of course I've played it in 2 spin classes already ;)

Enjoy your weekend :)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Reader's Questions: Dealing with Cravings

Question: When I see fattening food, it's hard to resist. How do I fight that??

Welcome to my world - I've dealt with this dilemma for years!

The easiest (and annoyingly obvious) answer is to stay away from fatty foods. As you know, that's easier said than done.

But once you form healthier eating habits, everything seems to fall into place. This doesn't mean life's perfect and the thought of eating anything unhealthy never crosses your mind but you find it to be less challenging.

Tips on dealing with cravings:
  • Plan your meals in advance - A lot of people say they don't have time to do this but you have to make time for something that's important to you. Cook for the week on Sundays, decide where you'll have lunch during the week, always go for the healthier options in the canteen at work, have fruit and nuts at your desk at work, there are so many things you can do to make healthy eating easier :)
  • Avoid fast food restaurants - I won't call out any companies but you know them ;)
    Aim for sit down meals BUT If you HAVE to eat 'fast food', opt for grilled chicken with salads, burgers without buns and dressing on the side.
    Nandos (UK) - 1/4 or half chicken with mixed salad, sweetcorn, ratatouille or mushy peas... yum! Burgers without the buns, wraps without the creamy dressing (eg. mayo)
    Barcelos (Nigeria) - flame grilled chicken with garden salad or a pita with no dressing or order a burger without the bun.
    Jimmy Johns (USA) - My sister took me here over my Xmas break, I had an unwich and I loved it! An unwich is a sandwich/wrap without the bread. The usual contents of a sandwich are wrapped in lettuce leaves... loved it! Yet another reason I want to live in the States! Check out their website here --->
  • Avoid getting to the point where you feel you're 'starving' - This is when you usually crave a quick sugar fix so make sure your meals are regular and filling. Remember protein is very filling so you can double you serving of fish, meat or chicken. Also bulk up meals with veggies.
  • Sweet Tooth? - Pacify this with sugar free chewing gum, a serving (small) of sweet fruit eg grapes, apples, strawberries, pineapples or dark (70+ %) chocolate. Dark chocolate contains much less sugar than regular chocolates
  • Don't deprive yourself completely - What's worked for me, and a lot of people I know, is to eat healthy 5-6 days a week and relax 1-2 days. On your 'treat' days, do not overdo it. Just because you haven't had pizza for 5 days, doesn't mean you should inhale a large pizza in one go ;)
    Doing everything in moderation is key.
If you have any questions, as always please ask. :)

Photo Credit: Scientific American

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pan-Fried Ginger Fish

As promised, here's another quick and easy healthy fish recipe :)

This is best done with fish cut along it's length not across, with 1/4 inch widths. The fish will be cooked through quicker.

This is one of the easiest things to cook - honestly!

  • Season the fish with ginger and salt. I also added about a tablespoon of herbs.
  • Chop up half an onion.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil (coconut or sunflower) to a pan and bring to heat (4 out of 5)
  • Add the fish to the pan and fry one side for 2-3 minutes
  • Turn and repeat on the other side
  • Reduce heat to medium (2-3 out of 5) and fry each side again for another 2-3 minutes each.
  • Done
I love fish, it's so easy to cook :)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday Brunch: Omelette

Happy Sunday! This month is flying by already, I can't believe we're halfway through it!

I had a nice long lie-in after going to bed really late last night... I woke up at *SHOCK* 2.30pm! Needless to say, I was hungry and I wanted a very quick fix for breakfast.

Luckily I had some leftover boiled sweet potatoes from yesterday and chopped carrots in the fridge. I usually make my omelettes (See Recipe Here) but I didn't have the patience ;)

Preparation time: 5 mins.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mackerel Stew

I love fish! Apart from it's nutritional benefits including protein and omega-3, I love that fish cooks in less than half the time of meat or chicken.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know I like quick recipes so I was so happy when I discovered Passata (thanks to my friend Busola). I always have a couple of bottles in my fridge! I use this when I don't have the patience to blend tomatoes, onions and peppers, which is very often now.
Ingredients: Organic Tomatoes & Salt

My friend told me he looked through my recipes and wondered why I didn't have any fish recipes - that's going to change :)

This is a recipe from last year, the picture below was taken with my camera phone.

2 Whole Mackerel
1/2 a bottle of Passata (350g)
Half an onion
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of ground chilli
Seasoning: Herbs, spices and just a pinch of salt.

Mackerel Stew
  • Clean and soak the mackerel in a bowl of water. Add herbs, spices and salt to the fish and allow to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a pot and allow to heat up.
  • Slice the onions and add to the oil, leave them to brown for a few minutes.
  • Add the passata, season lightly and add the chilli. Cook for no more than 5 minutes (if you're using fresh blended tomatoes, increase the time to at least 10-12 minutes)
  • Add the fish, cover the pot and cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce to low-medium heat and cook for 7-10 minutes.
  • Serve.
  • Canola or Sunflower Oil instead of Coconut Oil
  • Any fish of your choice (but remember if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should limit your intake of fish. speak to your doctor about this)
  • If you're using blended fresh tomatoes, onions and pepper, you'll have to add a little more salt.
Serving Options
  • I ate mine with steamed carrots because I had eaten more than enough that weekend ;)
    To keep it healthy, eat with:
    - sweet potatoes
    - 2 thin slices of yam
    - plantain
    - 1-2 serving spoons of fried (basmati, jasmine or brown) rice 
Photo Credit: MySupermarket

Thursday, 5 January 2012

So you over-indulged over Christmas...?

You're not alone! And you shouldn't dwell on it! It's in the past and it's what you do from today that counts... I have to admit this post is, kind of, inspired by my many Christmas treats and directed at me ;)

This post by Keris of Fitter London is a great place to start: The Best Way to Kickstart 2012!

I just started a a 5 day cleanse which is detailed in the above Fitter London link:
Breakfast: 2 scoops of shake
Lunch: 2 scoops of shake
Dinner: Fish and Vegetables

I'll also be having green vegetables throughout the day and Essential Greens.

I know it doesn't look like fun but it's only for 5 days and after all the cr*p I put in my body, I need to reset and start with a clean slate.

If the above is too drastic a change for you, try this for a week:
  • Green veggies in at least one (aim for 2-3) meal per day eg efo, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, etc
  • Fish instead of meat or chicken
  • Cut out the obvious baddies - biscuits, chocolate, cake, etc
  • Cut out the usual starchy foods - white rice, eba, yam, etc... And quoting Keris here: "sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice or starchy vegetables like butternut squash, celeriac and parsnips ". More accessible (for those living in Nigeria) - Sweet potato, brown rice and plantain.
  • Drink water only, no fizzy or sugary drinks. Try cold water and lemon/lime (I love this now) throughout the day and another thing I like is hot water and lemon first thing in the morning.
Once the week is over, don't throw everything out the window. Apply as much as you can to your everyday life and relax a little over the weekend... that's what I do and it works for me :)