Toronto based Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer offering individual nutrition counseling and personal training services for women. Helping you improve your lifestyle without the fad diets and gimmicks.
It's finally here! The new Canada's Food Guide. As a dietitian and nutritionist, this kind of stuff excites me! To be completely honest, I was nervous not knowing what to expect, especially since there were so many problems with the old version. I have already provided some of my input for Yahoo News and Global.
Here's what I like about the new Canada's Food Guide:
Uses the plate model, which can be simple to follow for someNo more confusing serving sizes, which no one actually followedNo more food groups, which isn't always relevant to everyoneThere is an emphasis on drinking water as the main beverage of choiceSome info on how we should eat (i.e. eat with others, cook more, read labels etc)
All in all, I think it's a good guide to get people to start thinking about eating healthy. You can say it provides general nutrition recommendations, for some.
Here's the thing though, as a dietitian who is a visible minority with a diverse background, one of my main goals is to help others eat healthy without eliminating their cultural foods. As a Canadian, I love that we celebrate diversity. However, I don’t see the diversity reflected on the new food guide.
Here's what I don't like about the new guide:
The plate image lacks cultural representation. I mean sure, there are some chickpeas and lentils in the protein section but they're not in any cultural context.
The veggies are very eurocentric. Where is the okra, eggplant, bok choy, the veggies that people of different cultures actually cook with? This side of the veggie plate could've looked great with a variety of ethnic veggies, but instead it's limited to the simple broccoli, carrots, and spinach, which people already think of when they think "healthy". And then get turned off because who wants to eat that for the rest of their lives.
he whole grains section is limited. I'm still trying to teach most of my clients how to pronounce quinoa. It is also an expensive grain, which not everyone can afford. The five options depicted don't do justice to the variety of whole grains people are familiar with.
All vegetables are not equal and people need to learn that. For instance, if someone decides to eat a half a plate of sweet potato wedges and then strawberries with their meal in addition to the whole grains and maybe a plant based protein, that's a whole lot of carbs at one meal. One of the most common eating patterns I see with South Asian people is eating roti with a curry that has potato in it, which equals carb + carb. I don't blame the average person either, it's hard to know what veggie should count as a veggie and when it should count as a carb. Not to mention that South Asian people are at high risk of diabetes, which means they should be more aware of all the carbs on their plate.
The Canada's Food Guide website does have extra resources to support the one page document, and this is what I found:
Tips section: This section aims to simplify healthy eating by covering a variety of topics. I did not see anything related to eating healthy according to different cultures. No examples or guidelines on how to adapt.
Recipes section: This section has a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack recipes. There is some diversity here, but in a very subtle way. I mean, there was no mention of cultural foods anywhere on the website, but then all of a sudden I'm seeing eggplant curry and Morrocan stew (Harrira) under recipes. Not quite sure what to make of that. It would also be nice to know where these recipes came from and if anything has changed to make it healthy or if it is completely authentic.
People can eat healthy without giving up their cultural foods. As a someone that lives and breathes nutrition, I can look at the new food guide and make healthy eating choices that incorporate my cultural and personal preferences. I worry that someone that doesn't have an extensive background in nutrition might feel like they have to give up a lot of their foods just so they can eat healthy.
Overall, I'm not against the Canada's Food Guide at all, in fact I think it's a great resource and starting point to get people to start thinking about healthy eating. However, I do think it's important for nutrition professionals to talk about healthy eating that doesn't look so eurocentric.
Being ‘Canada’s’ Food Guide, there was an opportunity to really represent Canada and its values. As a country that is multicultural, I think we missed our mark by not catering to all that want to eat healthy. However, it is important to note that despite my criticism I do commend Health Canada for starting to head in the right direction as this guide is far better than the one before it.
How do you feel about the cultural representation in the new food guide? Tag me on Instagram and Twitter and let's chat @NutritionbyNaz - I'd love to hear your thoughts!
A lot of changes occur during pregnancy and a woman’s body puts in an amazing amount of effort to support a developing baby during gestation as well as trying to maintain a balance for mom. There is no doubt that this involves a lot of hormonal changes. One group of hormones that can be affected after pregnancy are the thyroid hormones.
Getting to know the thyroid
Your thyroid is best described as a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. In the body, the thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system. This system uses hormones to communicate to other glands throughout your body. The thyroid plays a large role in maintaining many vital functions by regulating your metabolic rate (aka your metabolism), body temperature, it controls growth, bone metabolism and central nervous system development.
Did you know that by the 10th week of gestation, the thyroid gland has already developed and has begun secreting small amounts of hormones because of its vital role in metabolism and growth, though the majority of the thyroid hormones still come from momma.
Functions of the thyroid
Before we get into the hormones that the thyroid gland produces, it’s important to know that you have a small gland, called the pituitary gland, that sits behind the bridge of your nose in your brain. The pituitary gland is one of the primary glands in the endocrine system and is often referred to as the “master gland”. One of the functions of the pituitary gland is to signal your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. It does this by releasing thyroid stimulating hormone (aka TSH). When it receives this message to produce more hormones, the thyroid produces two hormones: tetraiodothyronine (aka T4) and Triiodothyronine (aka T3). Two key nutrients needed to produce these two thyroid hormones are iodine and an amino acid tyrosine. The T4 hormone contains 4 iodine atoms attached to tyrosine and the T3 hormone contains 3. T4 is converted into the active T3 hormone in various parts of the body. The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin which helps to maintain adequate calcium levels in the blood, but we won’t be discussing this hormone in much detail in today’s post.
Issues related to the thyroid
There are two main types of concerns when it comes to thyroid health - hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism (“hypo” means low) is when is not enough thyroid hormone is produced, and often times associated with elevated TSH levels. This means that your body is signalling your thyroid to produce more T4 and T3, but the thyroid has insufficient material to make the hormones. The nutrient that is often needed, is iodine. A tell-tale sign of long-term iodine deficiency is a goiter. A goiter is basically the enlargement of the thyroid gland- to hopefully absorb adequate iodine. Hypothyroidism can also be caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease. In this condition, the body begins to produce antibodies to attack the thyroid gland (“auto” means own). On the other hand, hyperthyroidism ("hyper" means high or higher than normal) occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), yet the body has not signalled to create this surplus. Hyperthyroidism is not as common as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can also be a result of an autoimmune condition called Grave’s disease.
Subnormal basal metabolic rate (aka lower/reduced basal body temperature)
Decreased pulse rate
Decreased cardiac output.
Increased transit time (aka slower digestion)
Lowered heart rate
Signs and symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Decreased transit time
Increased heart rhythm
*a well-known symptom of Graves’ disease is bulging eyes
Pregnancy, postpartum and the thyroid
As mentioned above, baby’s thyroid gland is developed and functioning by week 10 of pregnancy. During pregnancy, mom’s body lowers its immune defense so it does not fight against developing baby. After pregnancy, the body begins to increase its immune function back to normal levels. In about 7% of pregnancies, the mother experiences a condition called postpartum thyroiditis where the immune system beings to temporarily attack the thyroid gland causing it to become inflamed during postpartum. It should be noted that these women are at risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis prior to conception but are not diagnosed with a thyroid condition, currently.
Postpartum thyroiditis occurs in two phases: in the first phase, symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism are experienced from 2 months to 10 months postpartum. The second phase consists of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and is experienced between 2 months to 12 months postpartum. Any symptoms of hyperthyroidism beyond 12 months is no longer considered postpartum thyroiditis.
Nutrients to consider for thyroid health
Since iodine plays a integral role in thyroid hormone production, it is an important nutrient to include in your diet. Iodine is available in a variety of foods and your needs can easily be met through a well-balanced diet.
Iodine needs vary during the different stages of a woman's life but can easily be met by eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins.
Women 19 and older: 150 mcg per day
Pregnant Women 19 and older: 220 mcg per day
Breastfeeding women 19 and older: 290 mcg per day
*Note: it is recommended to stay below 1100 mcg of iodine per day.
Iron deficiency is a very common deficiency in women of childbearing age. Iron is a component of the protein hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body. Iron is an important nutrient during pregnancy as the volume of blood required increases as the baby continues to grow. When it comes to thyroid health, iron is used in thyroid hormone production in small amounts. Women who are experiencing iron deficiency pre-, during and post-pregnancy can benefit from incorporating more iron-rich foods in their diet as iron stores are also being built for baby during pregnancy.
Another potentially important nutrient is selenium. Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant in the body to protect cells against damage. There is some evidence that it may play a role in reducing the risk of postpartum thyroiditis, inflammation of the thyroid gland (“-itis” refers to inflammation); however, more research is needed before its use in treatment can be determined (3). One thing you can do is incorporate selenium-rich foods into your diet. Check out this post for a list of selenium-rich foods you can add to your diet here.
One thing to note is that these nutrients can easily be obtained through a diet full of whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein sources and nuts and seeds. Nutrients should always be obtained through food sources before you decide to begin supplementation. Check out how easy it is to eat to support your thyroid below!
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important to speak to your primary healthcare provider about the symptoms you are facing. Want a personalized plan to support your thyroid health, start here to schedule your free coaching call!
When starting to work towards a healthier lifestyle, many people get overwhelmed by the amount of information regarding health. A simple question can lead someone to multiple tabs open on their browser, left with even more unanswered questions. This sense of overwhelm often turns people away from healthy eating because it feels too complicated to even start.
One of those questions is often which vitamins you should be taking. Today, I wanted to go over some simple guidelines to help you determine if you should be taking vitamin supplementation. Here are 5 guidelines to help you decide which vitamin supplements you should be taking:
1. Review Your Current Food Intake
Before adding any supplementation, you should first review your current food intake. If you aren’t eating optimally to begin with, adding vitamins will not provide you with the energy and optimal health that you are looking for. Ideally, you can speak to a Dietitian or Nutritionist to help review your current food intake and identify how to make it healthier. You can also review your own food intake by writing down everything you are eating and drinking for 1-3 days. A good start to improving your daily eating habits is to:
Swap processed snacks with fresh fruitsInclude half a plate of veggies at lunch and dinnerSwap sugary beverages with water
2. Fruit and Vegetable Intake
A lot of the vitamins and minerals come from eating a variety of fruits and veggies. Eating the same 1-3 fruits all the time means that you are missing out on a lot of the nutrients. An easy way to get a variety of vitamins and minerals is to eat different coloured fruits and veggies. Every time you are at the grocery store, try to get at least one different fruit and veggie. By eating a variety of fruits and veggies in your day, you are likely to consume an adequate amount of most vitamins and minerals.
3. Supplementing Depending On Your Life Stage
There are certain life stages in which you need supplementation to have optimal nutrition, especially for women, no matter how healthy you are eating. These include:
Considering starting a family: a prenatal vitamin is recommended to ensure you are getting an optimal amount of folic acid in the first few weeks of pregnancy to prevent birth defects. Most women don’t realize they are pregnant until a few weeks later, so it is safest to be taking a prenatal vitamin.
Pregnant: a prenatal vitamin includes the important vitamins and minerals needed to provide optimal nutrition for mom and baby.
Breastfeeding: even though you are no longer pregnant, a breastfeeding woman needs optimal nutrition to support her and provide optimal milk supply. A prenatal vitaminis also recommended at this time.
Older adults: once you are over the age of 50, you need optimal nutrition to support bone health. While you can get calcium from a lot of food sources, if you have a low appetite, a calcium supplement is recommended. All older adults should be taking a vitamin D supplement as well to support bone health. Halal Living offers a calcium+vitamin D supplement to address both of these needs.
4. Healthy Fat Consumption
Omega-3 fats are essential for optimal body function. Alpha-linolenic-acid, a type of omega-3 fat, is not produced by our bodies so it is an essential fat required from food sources. The amount of omega-3 fats recommended varies and a higher amount is recommended for those at risk of heart disease. Fatty fish such as salmon, omega-3 eggs, and ground flaxseed are good sources of omega-3 fats. If you find it challenging to consume enough of these foods on a weekly basis, a supplement may ensure you are getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fats. It is often difficult to find a Halal omega-3 supplement due to the gelatin content. Try Halal Living Omega-3 Capsules and save 10% off when you use code Naz10 at checkout.
5. Sunlight Exposure
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because it is the only vitamin that can be produced by exposing your skin to the sun. However, if you are living in a part of the world that doesn’t have a lot of sunlight or you wear clothing that covers most of your skin, you are likely not getting enough vitamin D. During winter months, a vitamin D supplement is often a good idea for children and adults. Halal Living has a 25% off winter promotion for their Vitamin D. Use code Naz10 at checkout for an additional 10% off!
If you are looking for a Halal line of vitamin supplementation for you and your family, try Halal Living. Be sure to use these coupon codes at checkout so you can save more when you buy more:
As Muslims, one of the best ways to live life is to follow the Quran and Sunnah. If you recall from the guest post Top 5 Healthy Sunnah Foods to Add to Your Diet article, the foods that were included in the Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah were discussed, and some of the benefits of including those foods in your own diets were highlighted. In this article, I’m now going to be sharing 5 foods mentioned* in the Holy Quran that may be beneficial to add to your diet!
*The foods mentioned are based on the widely accepted Sahih International translation of the Holy Quran. Note that other translations may offer different meanings and contexts.
In Surah Al Waqiah (chapter 56 verse: 27-33) the Quran tells us:
“And the people of the right-how blessed will they be! They will be amid thornless lote trees, clusters of bananas, extended shade, flowing water, abundant fruit never out of season nor forbidden”
The Quran makes general mention of fruit being eaten by those in paradise, and a specific mention of bananas are made which tells us that they are of the blessed fruits. Bananas are a great addition to your breakfast or morning snack as they are packed with potassium and Vitamin B6. Potassium is essential for fluid balance and nerve function and helps keep muscles and bones working properly. Vitamin B6 is needed for amino acid synthesis and therefore proper protein function in the body. Bananas also freeze great and make the perfect base for frozen desserts like ice cream! Check out my three-ingredient healthy chocolate chip ice cream for some banana dessert inspiration!
In Surah Al Mu’minun (chapter 23 verse: 20) the Quran tells us of fruits to be eaten, and speaks of:
“As well as olive trees which grow at Mount Sinai providing oil and a condiment to eat”
If you recall in my Sunnah foods article, I mentioned olive oil and the benefits it has in your diet. A lot of people are aware that choosing olive oil is a better fat option, however, the fruit itself or the “condiment to eat” is also too good to miss out on! Olives also have the essential fatty acids that are great for heart and brain function, and polyphenols that have antioxidant properties.
In Surah Ar -Rahman (chapter 55 verse: 68) the Quran speaks of two Gardens of paradise and tells us:
“In both will be fruit, palm trees and pomegranates”
Pomegranates are really high in Vitamin C, which is important for many functions in the body. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen formation for maintaining muscle, bone, and skin, as well being a key player in iron absorption and more! Pomegranate juice has become very popular, however the best way to enjoy it is by eating the fruit itself! The juice actually lacks the vitamin C (and usually needs to be added back in) as well as fibre. By skipping out on the juice and eating the pomegranate fruit itself, you could get almost half your daily needs of fibre and vitamin C just from that! To read more about swapping out juice for the whole fruit, check out my article on Simple Swaps: Juice
In Surah Al Mu’minun (chapter 23 verse: 19-20) the Quran tells us:
“With it, we produce for you gardens of palm trees and grapevines, in which there are abundant fruits, and from which you may eat”
Grapes are really popular for their high antioxidant content. Grapes contain flavonoids that have been shown to be beneficial in counteracting the oxidative damage that some studies have even linked to having cancer-fighting properties. While studies have explored this, it’s important to note that no one food can be a magical cure or disease-preventer, and the best way to stay healthy is to consume a well balanced diet. There’s no doubt however that grapes are a great snack, and their antioxidant constitutes remain even if you choose to consume them dried as raisins! If you do have raisins, the serving size would decrease to about a 1/4 cup.
The Quran has an entire chapter named after the Fig (Surah At-Tin chapter 95) and once again highlights the olive as well in verse 1:
“By the fig and the olive”
Figs are really high in fibre, which helps with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Figs also contain magnesium, a mineral in the body that plays a key role in bone health and energy balance.
Figs are commonly consumed dried, and as with any dried fruit, it’s important to be careful with the sugar content. Lots of brands may add extra sugar to dried fruit, so reading the label to ensure you’re not getting the added sugar is really important.
Let me know which foods you already enjoy that are mentioned in the Holy Quran and tag me on instagram @NutritonbyNaz!
This post is sponsored by Egg Farmers of Canada and I have been monetarily compensated. As always, all opinions are my own.
Eggs are a staple in our kitchen. Whether it is for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs or used in a recipe for baking, eggs are one of those ingredients I have to stock up on weekly.
Friday, October 12th is World Egg Day, a global celebration dedicated to eggs. My family will be celebrating with these Indian Spiced Egg and Hashbrown Waffles. Celebrate World Egg Day with your friends and family by enjoying your favourite egg dishes.
Indian Spiced Egg and Hashbrown Waffles
Eggs are a quick, easy, and affordable source of protein. Two large eggs provide 13g of protein. They are also packed with nutrients such as:
Iron Vitamin B12Vitamin AVitamin DVitamin EFolate Omega-3 fats (in eggs that are labeled omega -3 eggs. The hens are fed flaxseed, which is a source of omega -3s)
Canadian egg farmers take great pride in providing exceptional care for their hens and producing eggs of the highest quality for Canadian families to enjoy. Canadian egg farmers are proud to provide Canadians with fresh, local eggs. Egg farmers in Canada all adhere to the same National Animal Care and food-safety programs, ensuring hens are always well cared for, and that your eggs are always clean and fresh.
Canadian eggs are produced in every province, including the Northwest Territories by more than 1,000 farm families. No matter where you purchase your eggs, they are from a local farmer. On average, eggs travel from the farm to the grocery store in less than a week. Canadian egg farms are family-run. Generations of family members work together to produce eggs for Canadians to enjoy.
If you would like more info, visit eggfarmers.ca or follow @eggsoeufs on Twitter and Instagram, and like Get Cracking on Facebook. For recipes and nutrition, visit eggs.ca!
How will you be enjoying your eggs on World Egg Day? Will you stick to the classics or try a new recipe? Tag me (@Nutritionbynaz) on Instagram in your egg dishes and use the hashtag #WorldEggDay.
I was recently gifted a waffle iron by my mother and wanted to go beyond just the basic carb heavy waffles for breakfast (although there is nothing wrong with that!). These egg and hashbrown waffles are a good balance of protein from the eggs and carbs from the potato. You can make this for the week, store in the refrigerator, and reheat for a quick weekday breakfast. Alternatively, you can also include this on the menu for a family brunch.
The Indian spices really take these egg and hashbrown waffles to the next level without being too overpowering. My 3 year old and almost 1 year old both approved, which is always a win!
Indian Spiced Egg and Hashbrown Waffles
Makes: 2-3 waffles
5 eggs1/4 tsp black pepper1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp red chili powder1/2 tsp garam masala1-2 green chilis, finely chopped2 russet potatoes, shredded (approximately 2 cups)1/4 cup cilantro1 onion, diced oil spray
1. Turn on waffle iron and pre-heat. Grate potatoes and squeeze out excess water with a paper towel.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, spices, green chilis, shredded potato, cilantro, and onion.
3. Spray waffle iron with oil. Scoop out approximately 1 cup over the waffle iron (this amount will vary depending on your waffle iron). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until waffle is brown. Serve immediately or let cool on plate and store in an airtight container for a quick weekday breakfast.
Tag me (@Nutritionbynaz) on Instagram if you make this recipe and use the hashtag #WorldEggDay.
Recently I wrote an article for SELF Magazine featuring a variety of ethnic veggies that go beyond your mainstream kale. I took it a step further and actually bought most of the veggies shared by other Dietitians to try myself.
Chayote is one of the veggies I picked up. I've seen it at the supermarket before but was never adventurous enough to try it until now. It looks like a green pear with a fist at the bottom.
In terms of nutrition, it is a source of:
- vitamin C
Chayotes can be eaten cooked or raw. When I took a bite of it, it was crunchy and had a flavour profile similar to cucumber and a bit of celery.
I put together this pickled chayote salad while I was putting together a turkey dinner. It was quick, easy, and made with simple ingredients found in my kitchen.
Pickled Chayote Salad
Makes: 4-6 servings
1 chayote, diced 1 red pepper, diced 1 tomato, diced1/4 cup white vinegar1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp red chili powder1 Tbsp hot sauce
1. In a bowl, mix together diced chayote, red pepper, and tomato.
2. In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, hot sauce, and spices.
3. Add vinegar mixture to veggies and mix well. Cover and place in refrigerator for atleast an hour before serving.
If you make this recipe, be sure to share a picture on Instagram by tagging me @Nutritionbynaz
I have always been a big believer of eating real food and I still am for the most part. However, after 2 kids under the age of 3, my life has changed a lot. In order to ensure I eat healthy balanced meals, I meal prep weekly. It really helps and prevents me from grabbing random food or skipping meals during a busy day. However, I do find that sometimes even meal prepping isn't enough on a busy schedule + ravenous breastfeeding appetite + trying to get in regular exercise. One of the most important aspects of exercising is refueling after a workout. While most of my workouts are at home, I do go to the gym at least 1-2 times a week to get my alone time and get in a more intense workout with weights. The gym is only about a 7 minute drive from my house so when I first started going, I had my post-workout snack ready to eat at home. You know what ended up happening instead? My baby would be hysterical, needing me to nurse her immediately. My toddler would want just as much attention and my husband would be rushing out the door. Before I knew it, it's been 1.5 hours before I can even think about eating something. During this time, I would go from feeling energized from my workout to feeling drained from not fueling my body in a timely manner. At this point, I knew I had to fuel fast (within the 10 mins I have to get home). I went through my husband's stash and started using protein powder. I'm going to be completely honest - I hated the taste of protein powder mixed into water! After some experimentation, I figured out that milk with protein powder and ice actually tastes really good! I add some chia seeds to my protein shake too for a source of healthy fats. Having a protein shake after an intense workout provides me with the nutrition and calories I need when I'm pressed on time.
If you find it difficult to get in enough calories in a day, especially on days you are working out, a protein shake might be a good option.
- no more lumps in your protein shake thanks to this vortex mixing bottle
The Promixx made my protein shakes smoother and more enjoyable. Taking my Promixx shaker with me to the gym allows me to have a protein shake right after a workout and then head home to the kids. The Promixx is a great option for a protein shaker for yourself and even as a gift! If you'd like to try it out for yourself, you can click here to get 20% off until October 8th 2018.
Almost 11 months ago, I gave birth to my 2nd daughter. There are a lot of changes that take place after giving birth, from emotional to hormonal and of course the obvious physical changes. About 2 years ago, I shared How I Lost (ALL) My Baby Weight without Dieting when I was around 1 year postpartum after giving birth to my eldest daughter.
I still remember struggling to write that post because I didn’t want it to come across as another “weight loss” journey. Here I am again, the second time around, still struggling with how to share my post-partum journey in a way that reflects that it isn’t just about the weight.
See, the internet is filled with messaging that focuses on whipping back into shape after giving birth and losing weight FAST. As if that is the main priority after having a baby. As much as moms would love to go back to their old bodies, it just doesn’t happen very easily because life changes a LOT after a baby.
I thought having one baby was tough. Was I wrong!!! The second time around, I really struggled for about the first 3 months trying to balance a newborn and a 2.5 year old. I would cry just thinking about leaving the house. Alhamdulilah, overtime it got better, and while I still have those crazy days, I am proud to say that I can leave the house with 2 kids without a meltdown.
So that’s just a background of where I’m at now. What I wanted to do in this post is take you through what the past 11 months looked like for me, month by month. The goal of this is to show you that my postpartum journey isn’t solely focused on weight loss but the goal is to achieve holistic health, balance, and happiness. I didn’t count calories, go on an extreme diet, or spend everyday in the gym.
Four Things You Need to Have in Balance First
Before I tell you exactly what my postpartum journey looked like, there are four factors to address and ensure are in some sort of balance. These factors will not always be in perfect balance and harmony but you have to at least try!
I’m not saying that you need to get a full 8 hours of sleep (I can’t even remember the last time that happened for me), but atleast figure out how much sleep you need as a mom to function and how you can make that happen. For instance, I will get about 6-8 hours of sleep at night with interruptions so I get in a nap during the day with the kids. This really helps me function better and allows me to have a more productive day.
As parents, we get obsessed over putting our kids on a schedule or at least trying to figure out what their schedule/routine is. Have you thought about YOUR schedule though? Are you just living from diaper change to feed to nap time? That is going to make you miserable real fast. Regardless if you are 1 month postpartum or have a whole house full of kids, you need to start thinking about YOUR routine. What are you doing when there is down time? Once you have your child(ren)’s routine figured out, it should be a bit easier to figure out your own. This is where you can schedule in your meal and snack times, time to get active, and also YOU time.
This one is a bit tricky because everyone’s situation is SO different when it comes to the kind of support you have. Whether it is your husband, your mom, or someone else, ASK for help. Remember that no one can read your mind and know exactly what you need. Especially in the first few months after giving birth, you need all the help you can get. “Help” looks different for everyone. In those first 3 months after having my 2nd daughter, what I really needed was a bit of time to myself. Since my husband was my main support system and he was at work, that was hard sometimes. It was also winter so it was difficult to just get out and go for a walk (like I did the first time around). So, I would either go up and down stairs for about 10 minutes or sometimes even just go lock myself in the room and have a piece of chocolate while he stayed with the kids. Those 10-15 minutes completely by myself were golden and allowed me to reset and feel refreshed.
If your husband is your main support system, this is slightly related to #3 but it is also a bit different. After having a baby, your marriage changes drastically. If you don’t spend time nurturing your marriage and addressing those changes, you may find yourself feeling alone and overwhelmed. I’m not a relationship expert, but I can tell you that when things are good with your spouse, dealing with the challenges of motherhood feel a bit easier. If you want to find balance, health, and happiness, you need to find this with your spouse after having kids. This is probably my first time ever mentioning marriage and relationships but I think it is a huge disservice to completely ignore it. After each child, I did notice a change in my marriage but after taking time to figure out our new roles as parents and partners, we were able to get to an even better place in our marriage. Each couple is different so you will know what works best for you but the number one thing is COMMUNICATION.
These 4 factors are in no particular order. In fact, you will find that they are interconnected and you will be trying to figure it out all at the same time. Just know that it won’t happen overnight but if you give it enough time and a bit of effort, these things will slowly come in to balance. When I was about 2 months postpartum, I did a Facebook live and talked about the first 3 factors. I didn’t even address the 4th factor - but I am now because it is SO important.
My Postpartum Journey - Month by Month
When it comes to my postpartum journey, I focus on finding balance and restoring health. I take a holistic approach and most importantly I work on prioritizing myself. I am not focusing on just weight loss. I look at weight loss as a side effect - it will happen as a side effect of taking care of myself. Everybody has a normal set weight so if you are optimally taking care of your body, you will eventually reach that weight without having to obsess over it!
I’m going to take you through what my postpartum journey looked like month by month. I don’t have a scale at home so I don’t know exactly how much weight I lost every month. I do have an idea at certain points though (I weigh myself occasionally at the gym to see where I’m at), so I will share that under the months I documented it.
For your reference, I gained a total of 47 pounds by the end of my pregnancy.
Here is what my past 11 months have looked like:
Gave birth! Nuff said.
Weight loss: 7 pounds. I gave birth to an 8+ pound baby but came home only 7 pounds lighter. How crazy is that?
November (month 1)
This month I focused on resting as much as possible and eating nourishing foods for healing. You can check out the article I wrote about postpartum foods here.
6 weeks postpartum (scroll down to see me in the same dress 5.5 months postpartum!)
December (month 2)
After being given the green light at 6 weeks to get physically active, I started doing core exercises at home and taking the stairs for about 10 minutes a few times a week.
When it comes to food, I would have my husband watch the kids for a few hours so that I can meal prep for the week. Having food in the fridge throughout the week helped me ensure I was eating regularly and not skipping meals. I would only bring home nutritious energizing foods and would ask my husband occasionally to bring home a treat if I wanted one. The way I eat stayed pretty much the same until Ramadan (month 7).
Weight loss: 15 pounds. I lost a total of 22 pounds at 6 weeks PP. This was without any exercise, just simply focusing on eating nourishing foods.
January (month 3)
I signed up for a gym membership. I never got a gym membership after having my first baby but this time around I needed some alone time. I just couldn’t get in any home workouts with 2 kids. I started to go to the gym twice a week. More than working out, I liked having my alone time. Once a week I would still do the stairs.
February-April (months 4-6)
In May 2017, I was about 6 months pregnant and saw signs of the Mississauga Marathon. I told my husband that the following year I want to run my first 5K.
It was challenging training for a 5K run with the colder weather and because I never ran in my life before (except by force in elementary school). I ran for the first time in February and tried to run at least once a week outdoors in addition to going to the gym 1-2 times a week.
Weight loss: ~5 pounds (I think). For the past few months, I didn’t necessarily see a big drop in weight, but definitely saw a huge change in size. Total weight loss: 27 pounds
5.5 months postpartum
May-June (months 7-8)
I ran my first 5K! My goal was to complete the 5K without having to stop or walk and I was able to accomplish that. It was so nice to achieve a personal goal and feeling like I could do anything, even after 2 kids.
Right after my 5K run, Ramadan started. My goal at this point was to fast while breastfeeding. Alhamdulilah, I fasted 29 out of 30 days and only missed one fast (because I slept in and missed suhoor). Since fasting and maintaining my milk supply was my main goal, I didn’t want to burn any extra calories so I wasn’t working out at all. I actually went on an hour long walk one day before iftar one day with my husband and came home feeling very light headed. I knew that my body wouldn’t be able to handle any form of physical activity at this point so I avoided it.
Weight loss: ~10 pounds. This was with no exercise, only through healthy eating and fasting. Total weight lost: 37 pounds.
July-August (months 9-10)
These months were a whirlwind. Between summer getaways and dedicating 3+ weeks to potty training, I barely got to the gym. I still was active in other ways, such as going hiking or for a run. I still focused on eating healthy meals 80% of the time but summer definitely brings along a lot of ice cream.
September (month 11)
Right now, I’m working on a few fitness goals. I would like to focus on strength training a bit so my husband (who is a personal trainer) is helping me out with a fitness program that will help me achieve those goals.
Since I am focusing on strength training, I have upped my protein intake at snack time as well as post workout.
Weight Loss: ~5 pounds.
Total weight lost: 42 pounds. I’m about 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not too worried about if I’ll get there or not, because I’m focusing more on taking care of my body.
How My Postpartum Journey is Different the Second Time Around
After my first baby, it was a lot easier for me to take time out for myself because I was only dealing with one baby’s schedule. With a toddler + baby in the mix, time feels like a luxury. Weight wise, last time around I had lost all my pregnancy weight by 9 months postpartum. I noticed a lot more changes in my body, in that it takes me longer to see physical changes.
Throughout the 11 months, the one thing I always did was nourish my body with healthy foods that made me feel energized. There was always room for treats, especially since I have a sweet tooth. There was definitely no calorie counting or restrictive eating. I never felt deprived.
I want you to know that you’re not alone. That you don’t have to wait until your kids are older or off to school before you find yourself or before you feel confident in your body again. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, I’m here for you! I work with women just like you to help transform your lifestyle, the way you eat, and lose weight without focusing on the weight. There isn't one way for everyone to eat and it's important to use a personalized approach to figuring out what works best for your body.
If you’re ready to put yourself first, apply for a FREE 15 minute coaching call with me. I work with a limited number of women at a time so that I can really help with the transformation journey, and once the spots are filled, I will no longer take on anymore clients.
This post is sponsored by Bothwell Cheese. As always, all opinions are my own.
I always prided myself in my spice tolerance. I mean, I used to eat a whole green chili with my food sometimes! When I got pregnant with my 2nd daughter earlier last year, I was unable to handle the heat anymore. Even a little cayenne would make my throat burn. Fortunately, I'm 9 months postpartum and have been able to enjoy spice again since then. Spice brings a whole different flavor profile to food and it's what makes South Asian food so delicious!
A lot of my recipes are inspired by my South Asian taste buds so when I tried Bothwell's Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper Monterey, I was pleasantly surprised by the spice level. The spice profile got me excited and thinking up of ways I can use the cheese in my recipes (while trying not to finish the cheese on its own - it was THAT good). It's no surprise that Bothwell's won Silver Medal for their Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper at the bi-annual World Championship of Cheese Competition.
Bothwell cheese is an extremely versatile product and can easily be enjoyed on its own or a substitution in existing recipes.
Just like spice elevates a dish in my household, so does cheese. This recipe for Tandoori Braided Chicken with Veggies brings together South Asian flavor and cheesy (spicy) goodness. Bothwell's Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper has high heat flavor with a creamy Monterey Jack base so it complemented the tandoori flavor wonderfully.
In the most simple terms, this recipe is essentially pizza dough + cheese + toppings braided together. However, as a Registered Dietitian, I like to see how I can make it a bit healthier, without compromising on the flavor. So here's what I did to amplify the nutrition content of my Tandoori Braided Chicken:
Made my own sauceMade my own dough with whole wheat flour and ground flaxseedAdded a variety of veggies (broccoli, spinach, and red onions)Included chicken breast + Bothwell Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper Monterey as a source of protein Served the Braided Chicken with a salad
Now, it really depends on how "from scratch" you want to make this recipe. A lot of it is prep work and can be done the day before. I recommend making my dough recipe for a whole wheat option. I also REALLY recommend hunting down Bothwell's Habanero with Cracked Pepper Cheese at your local store, by heading over here to find a list of local stores that carry it. Not only does this cheese taste great, but it is also made with 100% Canadian milk from local Manitoba farms. Trust me, you'll taste the difference!
I am sharing all parts of the recipe below. If you have cooked chicken, pizza dough, and pizza sauce on hand, feel free to scroll down and get started with your Braided Tandoori Chicken!
In a bowl, mix together chicken cubes and marinade. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.When ready to cook, heat skillet on medium high-heat and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked.
¾ cup warm water1 tsp maple syrup1 tsp olive oil1 envelope instant yeast1 cup all-purpose flour¾ cup whole wheat flour¼ cup ground flaxseed¼ tsp salt
In a stand mixer, mix together warm water, maple syrup, olive oil, and instant yeast. Add remaining dry ingredients and blend with dough hook until dough comes together. Remove from bowl and place into a greased bowl. Let rise for 30 minutes covered in a warm area.
1 Tbsp olive oil½ onion, diced¼ tsp Salt¼ tsp Black pepper¼ tsp Red chili flakes¼ tsp oregano¼ tsp basil½ cup strained tomatoes½ tsp maple syrup
In a saucepan, heat olive oil at medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until translucent. Add spices and mix. Add strained tomatoes and maple syrup. Cook for 5-7 minutes until sauce darkens and thickens. Remove from heat.
Tandoori Braided Chicken
½ cup pizza sauce1 cup broccoli florets, chopped1 cup spinach, chopped½ red onion, chopped½ package Bothwell Habanero with Cracked Pepper cheese1 cup tandoori chicken1 recipe pizza dough
Preheat oven to 350oF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive oil. Using hands, spread dough out into a rectangle shape.Spread pizza sauce down the middle of the dough. Top with veggies, chicken, and Bothwell cheese.Cut 8 strips on an angle on each side. Carefully overlap dough strips over stuffing.Brush pastry with egg wash. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until browned.
If you make this recipe, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me @NutritionbyNaz.
How many of you have tried Brussels sprouts? It was definitely not a food I grew up eating and the first time I tried them was when I was an adult. The first time I tried them, they were..well, just-meh. Nothing special, but I wasn't going to give up on Brussels sprouts so quickly. After all, what kind of dietitian would I be if didn't at least try them again. While I was brainstorming ways I could prepare Brussels sprouts in a way that would satisfy my taste buds, I turned back to my Desi roots and decided to season them with garam masala! Oh boy! This was a game changer! Paring the somewhat new food (ie the Brussels sprouts) with flavours that my family and me are familiar with turned us into Brussels sprout fans! These Brussels sprouts are spicy, crispy, and filled with flavour.
Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family. Other members of this family include kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, collard greens, mustard greens..and the list goes on). They are also a source of vitamin A, vitmain C,folate, potassium andfibre.
Spicy Garam Masala Brussels Sprouts
1.5lb Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp garam masala
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Cut off bottoms of Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. Add to a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix together garam masala, red chili powder, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
3. Pour spice mixture over Brussels sprouts and mix well with hands. Spread onto a greased baking sheet with cut side of the Brussels sprouts facing down.
4. Bake for 40 min, until Brussels sprouts have browned.
If you make this recipe, be sure to share a picture with me on Instagram by tagging me @NutritionbyNaz.