March 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
I didn’t always love oatmeal. In fact, I didn’t even like it until a fee years ago. I was working 12+ hour days and had little time for anything, let alone breakfast. But as a big breakfast eater, I needed something. So I started eating those awful oatmeal packs. I say awful because they are super processed with milk and sugar. But they did help me learn to like my morning oats so I guess I can’t fault them too much.
When I started feeding my daughter I read you may have to offer a food 20x before they like it!
I’ve found this to be true. Just because she doesn’t like something doesn’t mean I don’t offer it. And this is how I felt about oatmeal. I despised my little oatmeal packages, until surprisingly I didn’t! More and more I needed and wanted my morning oats.
Nowadays I prefer steel cut oats. Oh man, if you don’t like oatmeal try steel cut. They are nutty and hearty. Here’s how I make mine:
Simmer steel cut oats with 3 parts water, 1 part almond milk and a little vanilla for about 30 min, or until done.
Recently I’ve been drizzling a little maple syrup on top which is so yummy!
People always turn to honey or sugar but real maple syrup lends a subtle deeply sweet flavor.
Top with fruit, nuts, cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a wonderful, nutritious breakfast!
March 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am not, not have I ever been, a morning person. But there’s a comfort in establishing a ritual that helps to get you going. My precious morning ritual (ok, and sometimes still is on stressful days) was to down a huge coffee and grab a bagel or some other carb. While it did give me a burst of energy, it left me dragging after just an hour or two.
These days, thanks to the advice and guidance of my health guru, my mornings go something like this:
1. Drink large glass of water
2. Take “good belly” probiotic shot
3. Drink homemade maca milk (chocolate walnut milk with maca)
4. Drink large smoothie (mostly herbs and berries)
5. Eat breakfast (usually avocado toast or oatmeal)
When she went through this list with me I thought she was crazy – for one how was I going to fit all this in between nursing, getting the baby ready for school, and getting to work on time? But once I got the hang of it, it really wasn’t so bad.
I make the milk on Sunday nights so it’s in the fridge ready to go for the week. I do my best to prep my smoothie bags a few days in advance so I can just throw it all in and blend. All this does require a little more time in the morning but I notice such a difference when I start my day already full of vitamins and nutrients.
February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
I can’t believe my sweet little angel is almost a year old. The time seems to be flying by all too quickly.
I knew from Day 1 that I wanted to breastfeed and my goal was to make it to a year. At the time I had absolutely no idea what that actually meant. Little did I know, exclusively breastfeeding means you’re either attached to your baby, or your pump, around the clock.
I remember a conversation with a good friend while I was still pregnant. She was telling me I could call her if I had trouble and to look up La Leche League. Not knowing what I was in for, I thought she was making a bit of a fuss about it all. You just put the baby on the breast and presto, right? Hah, nope!
Not only was my little five pounder a ferocious eater from the start, but couple that with a bad latch and my oversupply and we had a problem. The first few weeks were hell. There’s no way around it. And I REALLY hate saying it and potentially scaring other mommy-to-be’s but, it was. In the hospital I kept asking the lactation consultant and the women around me if it was supposed to hurt THIS much. I’d just finished natural childbirth after all – I knew I had a high pain tolerance. But each woman nodded and just said, yes, that’s how it is. On top of that, the doctors kept telling me if she didn’t gain weight quicker she’d have to be on formula. I was determined to give my body the best shot and just kept sticking her on the breast every chance I got, hoping she’d gain enough weight.
Tip #1: Listen to your gut
This goes for motherhood in general – but breastfeeding is the first way to tap into your mommy intuition. My intuition told me I had exactly what my baby needed – no formula required. I refused the formula, stuck with nursing, and at check-out she was perfectly healthy. I hate the way the hospitals push formula on new mommies – barely giving them enough chance to build up their supply. My doula had provided me enough support to trust myself and know my milk would come in. Every check up they kept saying, she may need formula. But when it came to leave, she was at a perfect weight. In fact, they were all pretty impressed.
Now, I’m in NO way saying don’t feed your baby if your milk hasn’t come in or if your baby stays hungry after nursing. But my milk was flowing, and eventually she gained enough. So many of my friends had formula pushed on them and then had supply issues. It was hard, but I trusted that my body could give her what she needed. You’d never know today she was ever such a runt. She’s so strong and at a great weight – all on breastmilk alone.
As time goes on, the worry of whether they eat enough will not go away. You have to reach deep down in your gut and trust your insticts as to whether or not they’re eating enough. This can sometimes be the hardest thing!
Tip #2: Find your support system and do the research
Having a solid support system is critical – and hopefully starts with your husband. My husband was incredibly supportive in my decision to breastfeed and he was with me every step of the way. He’d wake every 2.5 hours at night to bring the baby to me in bed to feed and then put her back. He’d rub my back when the pain was too much. He’d listen to me as I’d cry and tell him I wasn’t sure I could do it. He told me not to worry when I’d feed in public and people looked at me, and help me adjust my cover as needed or sit and keep me company. He was my rock. I wish this for all breastfeeding moms.
My doula was another huge support as well as finding a lactation consultant I could trust. After going back to work, finding pumping moms was crucial to get tips and advice from. One mom spent about 45 minutes on the phone with me walking me through every detail of how to travel and pump – just knowing what I was embarking on was a huge help and a huge comfort to have her advice.
Tip #2: Find a Lactation Consultant you trust! And try a second one if the first doesn’t help.
I can’t even put into words how much my lactation consultant helped me. After meeting a lactation consultant in the hospital who did not help me at all, I was leery. What could they possibly do to help me? I had tons of women around me pointing out how to latch the baby. What more could the lactation consultant do?
I made it 13 days at home before I was ready to throw in the towel. The pain was so great I couldn’t stand it. My toes curled as she latched, shivers went down my spine, and I’d sit in tears watching her eat wondering how on earth I was going to keep it up. My nipples were destroyed, cracked and bleeding, and many women told me, that’s just the way it is – lanolin them up they said!
Then several women recommended the same lactation consultant and I got in on day 14. At $75 I was leery but wouldn’t you know, she fixed the latch in about 2 minutes! I was in shock. Granted, my nipples were all cut up so I had to let them recover before I was pain-free but it was a WORLD of difference. I could not believe it. Best $75 I spent! Finding a good lactation consultant is worth the money! Plus, my relationship with my LC continues today. I still email her questions and trust her sound advice.
Tip #3: Nurse ’round the clock
Mommies have different opinions on this and many moms will tell you to never wake a sleeping baby. Because mine was so little, I had to wake her ever 3 hours at night to eat and she ate about every 2 hours during the day for the first few weeks – as it took her about an hour to eat, this meant we were on an hour, off an hour. After a few weeks we were on a 3 hour schedule day and night for about 3 months.
Once she started sleeping through the night and I returned to work I noticed my supply dropped. Pumping is a supply killer! I can only speak to my experience – but as difficult as it was, I woke up and pumped in the middle of the night for another two months – this helped keep my supply up for the long haul and compensate for the extra milk she was eating at daycare. I tried mother’s milk tea, fenugreek, lactation cookies, pumping after feedings – nothing made up for skipping that middle of the night feeding. So I continued with the pumping even though she was fast asleep.
Tip #4: Find a pump you love!
When it comes to pumping, you need to love your pump. I used the medela freestyle and loved it (OK, as much as you can love a pump). Definitely try different breastshield sizes as it makes a big difference. In the beginning days I put a little coconut oil on them to help reduce the friction. Coconut oil is also great to put on sore nipples in those first few weeks.
Tip #5: Get comfortable pumping everywhere and ANYWHERE!
As a traveling, working, mama – I’ve pumped just about everywhere and in more airport and plane bathrooms than I care to count. Once you get the routine down, it really isn’t so bad. Pumping in the car has become a regular routine! The key is to be organized and know your options. For instance, I learned early on that when I travel, I have to pump in the car on the way to meetings usually – and pumping on the plane in the bathroom is a time saver compared to getting to the airport early enough to pump. Finding a good cooler and accessories that help get the job done is also critical.
Tip #6: Enjoy it
I remember those early days thinking I’d never make it. I was told it takes about 3 months to get comfortable and for me this was true. It was about the three month mark when I could finally take a shower again and not be in pain! Those first three months were HARD. I read stories about mommies having these intense moments with their babies and the miracle of breastfeeding and I couldn’t get into it. I was hurting too much! But once that passed – it is AMAZING. Watching my daughter grow and knowing I did that, is beyond words. I wouldn’t trade the moments we share together now for anything, and as we close in on a year, I can see how moms want to continue breastfeeding. It is the most special time we share together – just me and her. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
January 12, 2014 § 1 Comment
No one prepares you for the barrage of questions you’ll get as you approach the birth of your child. Will you labor in a hospital? Will you get an epidural? What do you mean you’re not getting an epidural? Are you crazy? Will you breastfeed? Will you give vaccinations? Have you read a baby sleep method book yet? Oh, wait, you’re vegan? Are you getting enough calcium????
And the list goes on… and on… and on…
Most who ask these questions have the best intentions. But for a first-time mom-to-be, it is utterly overwhelming.
One question I didn’t get asked enough though is whether or not I was hiring a doula. Hiring a doula is becoming all the rage and I’m glad to see that given the title of this post. However, despite its gaining popularity, not many people asked me about this. It was I who informed them about my choice to have a doula – which was usually met with wide eyes and “Oh, what’s that?”
According to dona.org, a doula is a “trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth”. The key words for me in this statement are continuous and emotional.
To give a bit of context, I was planning a drug-free labor, in a hospital, with a midwife. I knew my midwife was going to be very hands on throughout the labor once I arrived at the hospital – hence why I chose a midwife over a doctor – but I was concerned about the time at home. We had planned, at the recommendation of our midwife, to labor at home for as long as possible – which according to everything I’d read could be anywhere from a few to 24+ hours. The thought of my husband and I on our own through an experience so unknown as this was a bit terrifying. I thought a doula would provide us reassurance and guidance as we entered the unknown. What I didn’t know was that she was going to provide us SO very much more than that!
Despite this concern, I really went back and forth on hiring a doula. Would I really need a doula with a midwife? Would a doula take away some of those special moments I hoped to share with my husband in the hours before my daughter’s birth? Was it a waste of money? Let’s face it, with baby bills stacking up, every cost was highly scrutinized.
All I can say is thank goodness I went with my gut and hired a doula. It was one of the best decisions I made about my pregnancy and daughter’s birth. She was an absolute ray of light and mountain of strength through what was both a beautiful and difficult labor. I honestly do not know how we would have managed without her.
So, why do I think a doula is the best money ever spent?
- You need an advocate who’s only motivation is to serve YOU and only you. Once you enter the hospital doors it can get a bit crazy. Having someone by your side that can speak for you in the event that you can’t or maybe you just don’t want to is key. Nurses can be great support and I’ve heard many stories of nurses going above and beyond to offer not only physical but emotional support, but with so many laboring mamas assigned to them, this is hard. You need someone focused on you and you alone.
- Your husband also needs support. You may be asking with #1, “But wait, isn’t my husband supposed to do that?” – Yes, your husband should be your #1 advocate. Mine absolutely was. But truth is, he is about to see you in a state he’s never seen you in and that can be scary. Furthermore, labor can go on for a long time. Chances are you’ll both be exhausted and a doula can provide much needed relief offering breaks to your husband or helping out in the hours after the baby is born. Our doula remained with me while my husband ran home to let our poor dog out!
- Even if you’ve hired a midwife for a hospital birth, a doula may still be needed. It is true a midwife is going to give you so much more attention than a doctor and be really hands on. But in my case, my labor progressed so quickly – I checked in at 9 cm and there was no time to call our midwife so I was assigned the OB on call. Luckily, my doula was by my side to provide the hands-on care I needed.
- You need to be prepared for the unexpected. A lot can happen in labor and having someone by your side for the unexpected can be a big comfort. We thought we were going to have a pretty easy labor – like I said, I checked in at 9cm! – and while we did for the most part, there were some unforeseen complications that were pretty hard to deal with. At one point after my daughter was born, the OB told me he was going to have to take me to the operating room. It was only through my doula’s consistent care and attention (my husband was with our daughter) that I was able to remain calm and avoid being transported. Having someone by you (and your husband’s) side to help you through unforeseen complications and be an emotional support is very helpful.
- Sometimes you need a cheerleader. I had a drug-free labor, something I was 100% committed to but equally terrified of. My husband and doula’s constant reassurance and motivation were key to my ability to do fulfill my wish. My doula went above and beyond and sent me motivational text messages nearly every day as labor neared – reassuring me, I could do it. Further, my husband was completely supportive and equally my cheerleader, but not everyone has a husband so supportive. From what I’ve seen it isn’t that the husband isn’t supportive – it’s that he is scared and second guessing the mom’s desires. If this is the case for you, having someone there that you know will support you 100% is key – and this will likely put your husband at ease as labor progresses.
Thinking back to that list of questions, I think the most important one is “Will you have a doula present?”. And for the reasons listed above, I recommend a doula to every mom-to-be I talk to!
Did you have a doula? If so, what was your experience?
December 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
I just couldn’t resist this post. I can’t tell you how many people asked me when I had my baby if I was going to nurse – because “breast milk isn’t vegan, right?” You may laugh – but so many people have asked me this question that I think it offers an opportunity to talk about veganism and why we choose the lifestyle we do.
Now, I’m not writing this post to advocate a vegan lifestyle or diet for nursing mothers. There’s a lot of controversy over vegan diets in regards to nursing mothers. Luckily there is more and more research showing the positive benefits of a vegan diet. When it comes to nursing – only the mother and father can make the decision of what is best for their baby. In my own experience, I have found reassurance in watching my own diet, sometimes supplementing as I saw fit, and getting regular blood work to ensure I’m not experiencing any vitamin deficiencies. The fact that my baby is highly alert, gaining good weight, rarely sick (despite being in daycare full-time), fine at every checkup, and overall just very happy gives me comfort that she is getting all the nutrients she needs.
Now let’s take a step back. Vegan is defined as “a person who does not eat or use animal products”.
First off, let’s be clear – it is very difficult to avoid all animal products and live a 100% vegan life. Animal suffering unfortunately is lurking around many corners. For example, you may be surprised to realize that many sugars are not vegan. So veganism is rooted in the act of trying to avoid animal products as much as possible because of the unjust suffering they represent. “Trying to” are the key words here. If you read more about prominent vegans, their message is clear that choosing vegan as much as possible is key. It is not about being perfect – it is about reducing unjust suffering as much as possible.
Now that we have that sorted – let’s take a look at breast milk. Because I’m willingly offering my breast to my baby and not subjecting animals to inhumane treatment in the process, breast milk is indeed vegan.
Read more on this subject:
September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
Well, I did it. I survived my 21 day detox – mostly…
Two weeks in I fell really ill. I am not sure if my body was just doing a MAJOR detox or if I came in contact with some horrible virus, but the past week in a nutshell has sucked. It started with an awful sore throat which progressed into a full blown cold/flu. As my doc said, “you look like crap.” I’m not one to jump to meds but I had a lot going on at work and laying around in bed for a week wasn’t ideal – but alas, as I am exclusively nursing and couldn’t take any meds, I had to suck it up and deal. After three nights of absolutely no sleep and just when I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I started to come around. I’m not sure if it was the netti pot, loads of Vitamin C, double daily good belly shots, endless soup, or all the raw garlic, ginger, and citrus I was eating – but I finally started to come out of it and was able to return to work. Then before I knew it, I was back where I started Thursday night – I couldn’t swallow, had no voice, and was literally almost in tears I was in so much pain. I just kept pounding the lemons, ginger, garlic, parsley, coconut oil, etc. and something worked. I was able to sleep through the night and literally all of Friday and now, finally after a restful weekend, I’m on the mend.
Whether this was part of the detox or just coincidence who knows. I really would hate to think I did this to myself! I also share this because feeling lousy and eating clean are hard to do together! When you feel bad – eating clean is the absolute last thing you want to do. But, it is the most important time and you should try and heal your body with food.
So, what did I get out of my detox? Well for starters, I definitely felt the void of pasta, crackers, chocolate, and all sorts of processed junk I’m hooked on. I eat pretty well – but even the “healthy” processed stuff is still junk when you think about it. Sure, my spicy sweet potato chips are healthier than the traditional potato chips – but they’re still potato chips! We get into such a “but this is healthier than that” routine that we forget we’re eating junk to begin with! So in that regard – literally detoxing off this stuff was good.
I experimented a lot more than usual. I made amazing nut bars, spiced sweet potato chips, homemade tomato sauce, and tons of fresh detoxifying blender soups – all satisfying, nourishing, and healthy! I really think if I reached for a canned salsa or tomato sauce I’d be surprised at the sugar and salt in it. Getting a clean start is a good thing.
I dropped weight immediately. Immediately as in the first few days. Everyone kept commenting on how amazing I looked. I couldn’t believe that after just a few days I had lost some of my belly flab already – but I had. Also, my weight dropped to a record low – I don’t even remember the last time I weighed what I do today. We’re talking grad school years! Who knows if it’s the detox, the virus, or what. We’ll see if it sticks.
Moving forward I’m definitely going to do my best to stick with this and eat as many whole foods as possible. It’s hardest when eating out so I’m not going to go crazy or anything – but where I can I’m going to choose whole foods. I’m also going to try and stop buying packaged stuff for home. No more pastas, pasta sauces, crackers, chocolate bars, etc. We’ll see how long I last ;)
Now for this soup. Friday night I was feeling really lousy and needed a super quick, easy, comforting, soup. Afterall, who wants to cook when you’re sick! This creamy cauliflower soup hit the spot and was ridiculously easy to make. Plus you would never know that it is not laden with butter and cream because it is so decadently creamy! Enjoy :)
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4 bowls
- 1 head cauliflower, cut up
- 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
- salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
- 3 cups filtered water
- 1 veggie bouillon cube (I use this one)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss chopped cauliflower with coconut oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). Roast for 20-30 minutes until tender and edges are slightly browned.
- Add roasted cauliflower, water, and bouillon cube to blender. Blend on highest setting for about 5-7 minutes until soup is thick and steamy. If you want a thinner soup, add more water 1/2 cup at a time and another bouillon cube.
September 4, 2013 § 1 Comment
Today marks 10 days on my Junk Food Detox – 10 days without processed crap. No cartons, boxes, jars, etc. except for my few exceptions discussed here. So far so good. I do have to admit I’ve felt hungry but that is subsiding. It isn’t that I’m actually hungry – it is just that I’m craving things. I was at Panera today and almost went nuts on the pastry bar. But I resisted the indulgence and right now I’m preparing these to fix my sweet tooth.
I meant to provide a daily recap but haven’t been keeping very good track. You can follow along on Twitter @VSDieguez as I’ve been posting most of my daily recaps there.
Here are some of the goodies I’ve been enjoying the past few days:
- lots of smoothies
- chocolate avocado pudding
- salads overflowing with veggies and dressed with balsamic vinegar and oil
- pears, apples, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, carrot, celery, nuts and seeds for snacks
- homemade baked sweet potato chips and fries
- spaghetti squash with homemade marinara
- lots of homemade soups including a raw tomato and vegetable soup, roasted tomato soup, and black bean soup
Eating out continues to be the challenge but I’m trying to make the best choices possible.
Here’s to my almost half way mark! Follow along at #21daysofclean.