What To Eat After Giving Birth

Byline: Julia Jones

Pregnancy is a time of wonder, hope and anticipation. But after that little bundle of joy arrives many mothers find themselves struggling. Postnatal depression and divorce rates are high, and breastfeeding rates are low.  Over 80% of new mothers say they feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

But before I scare you away I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this. After giving birth women have very special physical and emotional needs, recognised by hundreds of different cultures for thousands of years. Anthropologists Stern and Kruckman found that cultures with low incidence of postpartum mood disorders share a range of protective social structures that provide support and care for new mothers.

Similarly, anthropologist Dr. Dana Raphael studied how humans have managed to keep their babies alive for so long when breastfeeding seems so hard. She found the same pattern occurring in nearly 200 cultures around the world. Ancient communities appreciate a new mother’s needs, not the least of which is your need to be nurtured and loved and cared for in the same way that you nurture and love and care for your baby.

Why hospital food is the worst thing you can eat after birth. And what to eat instead.

One of the key universal features of postpartum care around the world is warm, nourishing comfort foods. Soups, stews and puddings feature on international postpartum menus and are always cooked for the mother, not by her. Different cultures have variations in detail. I cook Ayurvedic food for my clients, based on ancient Indian medicine.

Ayurveda is an elemental science, meaning it is based on the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space. If you picture a pregnant woman you can see her abundance of earth and water! Childbirth is the biggest and fastest change in a woman’s life. In just a few hours her body loses vast amounts of earth (for example the baby and placenta), water (in amniotic fluid and tears) and fire (through her blood and sweat). Ayurveda emphasises balancing the elements in your body, meaning you need to replace the earth, water and fire that is lost in childbirth.

Even if you normally enjoy eating raw foods, Ayurveda teaches us that different foods are appropriate for different stages of life. Raw foods are suitable for people with strong digestion and lots of earth and fire. New mothers on the other hand are already high in air and space. The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Soups, stews and puddings, good fats and good sugars will give you the energy you need, but to digest them you will need to add spices and keep meals simple and regular.

An Ayurvedic postpartum diet is like weaning a baby. When you eat after giving birth, start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually, as your appetite and energy return you can go back to your regular diet. Sit down to eat fresh, homemade food regularly. If you only do one thing – eat cooked food.

You can see how standard issue hospital food does not fit the postpartum bill as it is often old, cold, dry and heavy to digest.

This is a recipe I suggest instead, as it aids digestion, has instantly accessible energy and builds blood. Rice pudding is a wonderful food for friends and family to bring you in hospital in a thermos, so add this recipe to your birth plan.

Nepali Rice Pudding Recipe

rice pudding

Cooking time 35 minutes
Serves 3—4

Ingredients

  • 5 cups pure water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

Bring water and rice to a boil in large pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add the sugar and spices and ghee. You may need to add an extra cup of water at this stage if your pudding is too thick.

Continue to cook slowly; stirring as needed. When gelatinous consistency add milk. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.

Serve hot, with sugar and ghee to taste. Serve as desired throughout the day.

This recipe is from my book Nourishing Newborn Mother – Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth. You can check it out at www.newbornmothers.com.au.

mailchimp size profile picJulia works with pregnant women who want to find peace and joy in motherhood and is the founder of Newborn Mothers. She is an Ayurvedic postnatal doula, recipe book author and creator of a weekly free pregnancy podcast. Click here to listen to her free podcasts.

Forget Boring Salads! 3 Ways To Eat More Greens Painlessly

This is a guest post by Heather Rampolla.

Eat More Greens PainlesslyDo you ever feel like it’s a struggle to eat more greens? Perhaps you know you should be eating more leafy greens, but chewing on another (boring) salad… seems so blah!

There are many magical benefits from consuming leafy green vegetables:

  • Full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals;
  • Rich in fiber, an important nutrient for optimal digestion, weight loss, and controlling hunger;
  • Helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and temper blood-sugar swings;
  • Contains a lot of water to help keep you hydrated;
  • Contributes to beautiful skin and hair;
  • May help ward off depression and improve mood

You likely already know all this but struggle with how to make greens fit in without any drastic change to your current lifestyle.

Regardless of what Kermit the Frog has told you, eating more greens can be easy without sacrificing taste.

 

Here Are 3 Simple Magic Tricks To Eat More Greens Painlessly:

#1 – “Chop The Crop”

Sometimes I just want to eat a “normal” meal– not a salad– and sometimes I feel too lazy to chop my veggies by hand. On days like these I gently pulsate my greens in my blender or food processor and throw them into whatever hearty dish I happen to be cooking.

This “chop the crop” technique greatly reduces the volume of my greens. With this method, I can easily get in lots of leafy greens without feeling like I’m eating lots of greens. Plus, it only takes a matter of seconds to chop and toss into any meal.

Here are two of my favorite meals that use the “Chop the Crop” method:
Kale Pesto Pasta
Super Fast Kale Salad

If you’re not a fan of kale by all means switch it out with spinach or another leafy green you love.

#2 – “Green Drink Packs”

If you’ve never tried green smoothies and juices before, they can sound like drinking lawnmower pulp or swamp water. I assure you they’re not. In fact they can be a super way of adding in your greens without tasting them.

But even if you know that you like green smoothies or juices – when you’re busy, sometimes the idea of pulling out multiple ingredients to make a green smoothie or juice can feel overwhelming.

“Green Drink Packs” are so simple to make. One day a week I create 5-7 “packs”. Here’s how you make them:

For smoothies, I use a large plastic baggie that includes all my ingredients to make one green smoothie recipe. I make these packs in bulk and stack them neatly in the freezer. That way when I need a super fast meal or snack, all I have to do is pop a Green Drink Pack out, maybe add some water to the blender, and voila! Literally 2 minutes to make a meal.

For juices, I use an 8-10 cup container, and place all my ingredients to make one green juice recipe. I usually lay the greens first, and use the weight of the cucumber, celery or apples to compact the greens. I also make these in bulk for the week and stack them in my fridge. It takes about 15 minutes max in prep time, but saves me about 15 minutes each day.

Drink Packs are perfect for when you’re busy or on-the-go. You’re getting handfuls of fresh fruits and veggies that without blending or juicing would be time consuming to eat.

Here a few Green Drink Pack ideas to get you started.

#3 – “Roll With It”

Have you discovered that even with the best of intentions that salad that you brought to work gets ditched as you head for the deli? Especially at lunch time we tend to crave foods that we can eat with our hands…pizza, sandwiches, wraps, etc.

Why not change it up a bit and use your leafy greens as the base of your wraps and sandwiches. Fill them as you would any other store bought wrap. Or toss in some of your leftovers for a quick meal.

Collard greens, and Swiss chard are two of my favorites to make wraps with because they are large and can easily fit lots of fun fillings inside. You can also use tender butter leaf lettuce and make smaller wraps.

Sure, it’s not quite the same as eating with bread, but you’re also eliminating the wheat and gluten, which converts to sugar and adds on weight.

Try my Sesame Ginger Wraps recipe that your whole family will love.

Now that you have 3 Magic Methods to painlessly add in more greens, which one are you most excited to try?

NEWCLEARfbprofileHeather Rampolla shows you how to add in more fresh foods into your busy lifestyle without sacrificing taste. Want more help? Click here to discover the 3 Steps To Get Out Of Your FUNK & Stop Eating JUNK!

Get Ready for a Healthy Halloween

It’s my favorite time of the year: autumn and the Halloween season! I love going apple picking, walking along the pumpkin patch, and using lots of cinnamon in my food. This is what autumn is all about, baby.

To help you celebrate this great harvest time and the changing of seasons, I’m putting together a series of fun Halloween themed recipes that are simple, yummy, and fun to make with kids in toe.

Here’s the first one!

Orange Bell Pepper Jack-o’-Lantern

Bell pepper jack o lantern

What’s both fun and functional? Bell pepper jack-o-lanterns, that’s what! You can make them on short notice because it only takes a few minutes, and they serve as a great decoration too.

Bell peppers are high fiber, and contain a slew of goodies to combat all the not-so-healthy halloween candy circulating at this time of year. Notably: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Magnesium. All that, and a wicked smile!

The Simple How-to Instructions

  • First, cut off the top of the bell pepper and remove any seeds from the inside.
  • Next, use a small knife to cut the eyes, nose, and mouth like you would a pumpkin.
  • You can use the jack-o-lantern pepper as a decoration until your guests are ready to bite into them.

My favorite use for these is to fill the peppers with dip. If you’re going to be putting out some dip for vegetable crudites, why not use an orange bell pepper dressed up like a jack-o’-lantern instead?

Stay tuned for the next 2 Halloween recipes!

I’ve got 2 more great healthy, raw Halloween recipes that both adults and kids will love coming up in the next week and a half. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up to be notified by joining my free mailing list The Cue.

Love, Nathalie

Will You Go Nuts If You Eat Too Many Nuts?

When I first went raw, I jumped in with both feet and went 100% raw for 30 days. The first few weeks I found myself eating tons of nuts! I know it’s not uncommon for people transitioning to raw food to overeat nuts, so I decided to share my story and advice about nuts.

Why The Nuts?

Why do most of us immediately reach for the raw nuts and seeds when we switch to a raw diet?

1. We want to feel full.

Since nuts are solid, crunchy, and filling, we have a tendency to use them as a replacement for cooked food. For example, when I first went raw, I would still feel “hungry” after eating a generous salad. I’d eat a handful or two of nuts to get that semi-drowsy feeling I was missing.

2. Nuts are crunchy.

Of course another reason why we might overeat nuts at the beginning is that we miss that crunchy yummy sort of salty feeling. Nuts make a natural replacement for chips, popcorn, crackers, and other snacks. Here’s a quick tip if that’s why you’re reaching for the nuts: try crunching on some celery, or make kale chips!

3. It’s an easy snack food.

You don’t need to wash, cut, or blend anything to eat nuts. If you’re in a hurry or feeling tired, you can just open a jar or reach for a container of nuts and enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with this behavior, but if you’re overeating nuts you will want to prepare adequate snack foods in advance.

Remember that being prepared is half the battle when it comes to eating healthy foods.

Nuts: The Good and The Bad

On the one hand, nuts make us feel full because our body is expending energy trying to digest them. Nuts are harder to digest than fresh fruits and vegetables. In reality we probably wouldn’t be eating tons of nuts in nature, unless they were fresh and in season. How many of us live next to a Brazil nut tree? That’s what I thought.

Nuts have tons of great nutritious qualities, and I don’t think we should shun them entirely. The healthy oils found in nuts are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the brain, and for keeping your stress levels under control. Alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds and flax seeds.

Most people have an easier time digesting seeds than they do digesting nuts. Also, the reason why more people are allergic to nuts than seeds is that nuts tend to go rancid if kept on a shelf for too long a time.

The Nutty Conclusion

So what’s the verdict? No, you won’t go insane if you eat too many nuts. But try to limit yourself to one handful per day, since they are hard to digest. If you feel bloated or gassy after eating nuts, cut down.

Also, you should avoid eating nuts with fresh fruits since that will definitely cause some discomforts and gas!

Other than that, go nuts. :D

How to Pick a Good Watermelon

Summer is here, and that means hot days and refreshing watermelon slices.

How to Pick a Good Watermelon
Photo by Luke Robinson

Unfortunately, one of the reasons people don’t enjoy fruit as much as they could is they haven’t learned how to pick the freshest, ripest fruit.

With most fruit you can smell it, touch it and check for firmness… but with watermelon there’s another trick – tapping it like a drum. Basically what you’re doing is checking to see the water content of the melon: the higher the better.

So if the sound you get from lightly tapping a watermelon is deep, then you know it’s a good one. If you don’t hear much then move on to the next one.

Another good thing to check is how heavy the watermelon is. A heavier melon will have more water and that’s what you’re looking for!

My Watermelon Gum Story

A few months after I went raw, I remember having a conversation with a colleague about watermelon.

His stance was that watermelon had “no substance” and that you could just as easily chew a piece of watermelon gum and drink a glass of water, and get the same benefits as eating watermelon.

I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t the time or place, but my mind was screaming at the fallacy of this proposition.

There’s no way that chewing gum and drinking a glass of water has the same affect as eating watermelon.

I just know that intuitively, but let’s look at some hard data.

eating-watermelon
Photo by Sydney Marie

Watermelon has fiber and tons of nutrients that we just don’t appreciate at first glance.

Watermelon Nutritional Information

Here are just a few of the things that watermelon has going for it…

  • Good source of Vitamins C and A
  • Helps reduce inflammation
  • High in antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • Contains more lycopene than most fruits and veggies, including tomatoes
  • Provides the body with potassium and magnesium
  • Very cleansing, alkalinizing, and mineralizing food

Many fruits have a lot of nutrition in the skin or rind, and it’s no different for watermelon… so don’t feel weird eating the white stuff, or juicing the rinds in your morning juice.

Enjoy the seasonal fruit!

Here’s to fresh, tasty, and juicy watermelon! Enjoy the seasonal fruit when it’s here, yum yum!

Love, Nathalie