The Best of Pinterest: Healthy Chocolate Recipes for Easter

Written by: Helen

If you are trying to eat healthily then Easter is a pretty tricky time of year, in fact it can be downright hellish.  Between myself,my husband and my son we generally receive our bodyweight in chocolate and, although there is nothing wrong with a little indulgence, it can be difficult not to completely derail our diets.

The fact is that chocolate doesn’t have to be bad.  In fact chocolate can provide us with health benefits.  If you want to find out more about these benefits you can read an article on Fresher Beauty here.

Chocolate can have a role in a healthy diet and, to prove it, I have searched Pinterest and found 10 mouth-watering, healthy chocolate recipes.  Just click on the titles to be taken to the links.

Thick & Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Thick and Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake

 

 

Healthy & Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy + Flourless BEST ever chocolate chip cookies! via chelseasmessyapron.com #cleaneating #cookie #dessert

 

 

Healthy Avocado Chocolate Cookies

Dark Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Avocado Cookies. The healthiest cookies in the world. No butter, no sugar, no grains. And you won't be able to tell! Gluten free.

 

Healthy Chocolate Cake

Healthy Chocolate Cake - Vegan, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Calorie

 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites

dark chocolate coconut bites

 

Nutella Stuffed Mini Tarts

nutellatarts

 

Chocolate Fudge in a Jar

Chocolate Fudge in a Jar: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2013/09/17/chocolate-fudge-jar/

 

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate- dairy & sugar free

If you're trying to eat healthier, this Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe is dairy and sugar free! Say BYE BYE to Swiss Miss and the artificial ingredients and loads of sugar and make this instead. Top with Whipped Coconut Cream or Homemade Marshmallows and Chocolate Chips for an extra special treat.

 

No Bake Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

 

I hope you enjoy some of these recipes.  Thanks for reading 🙂

Breastfeeding: The Hardest Parts & How to Overcome Them

Written by: Helen

phone pictures 237

3 years ago today!

Today is my son’s third birthday (seriously where have the last three years gone!?).  I thought I would honour it by talking about one of the most rewarding things I have done as a mother, which at the same time was also one of the hardest, or at least it was initially.  When I was pregnant there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed.  I had heard that there could be problems, particularly when it’s your first child, but I had read up on it and felt that if a woman wants to breastfeed then she breastfeeds, right?

Actually no, as it turned out it wasn’t so straight forward.  Despite all my swatting up before hand my son wouldn’t feed and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  Because of the feeding issue I had to remain in hospital for an extra night and, I must admit, I felt like a failure.

There wasn’t much in the way of breastfeeding support in hospital.  One nurse mentioned I should try holding him like a rugby ball which, for someone who doesn’t play rugby, really wasn’t too enlightening.  The best piece of reassurance I received in hospital actually came from the woman in the bed next to me.

She gave birth after me, had no problems with breastfeeding and, at the same time I was being told I had to remain in hospital until I could feed properly, she was being discharged.  I remember feeling awful and thinking ‘what am I doing wrong? Why can she do it and I can’t?’ Before she left she came to see me and said, “I know exactly how you feel.  This is my second child and I really struggled with breastfeeding with my first just like you, but you’ll get the hang of it.”  I felt so relieved to hear that I was normal.

After our initial struggles we got there in the end and I’m very glad I persevered.  I feel I should mention that I’m not anti-bottle feeding.  The evidence is enough to tell us that breast is best.  However, many woman cannot breastfeed or, for whatever reason, choose not to and bottle feeding is a viable alternative.  I have a friend who wanted to breastfeed and, for a medical reason, couldn’t.  She tried for days after the birth and was completely distraught about it, crying each time the baby wouldn’t feed.  The nurse said to her, “ultimately a stress-free bottle feed is better for the baby than a stressful breastfeed.”  I don’t believe in making women feel bad about decisions they make as mothers; as long as we make them in the best interests of the child then I’m sure we are doing the right thing.

I have put together some of the parts I found most challenging about breastfeeding and how I overcame them.

 

4 Breastfeeding Problems

 

 

1) Getting Started

  • Struggling with breastfeeding initially is perfectly normal.  The baby has just been through a traumatic experience (the whole ‘being born’ thing) and you are new at this.  It can take some time and practice so don’t worry if it doesn’t all come together straight away.  It may happen that even once you think you’ve got it sussed something unexpected happens that makes you unsure.  Breastfeeding is a learning experience so enjoy it.
  • Utilise the help available.  I have mentioned that I didn’t have much help when in hospital but this isn’t always the case and, once out of hospital there is a wealth of information out there.  You can speak to health visitors and there are breastfeeding support workers.  Don’t be afraid to ask or feel as though you have to figure it out yourself.  There are people who want to help.  I’ve put a couple of links at the bottom.
  • Getting support from loved ones.  Having people around you who fully support your decision to breastfeed can make all the difference.  If you have a partner who can help you, particularly at the start, I think you’re more likely to continue and enjoy breastfeeding.

2) Breastfeeding in Public

This can seem very daunting and is an issue that puts many women off breastfeeding.

  • If this is something that worries you then, for your first few trips out in public, go with someone else who can help you and give you some reassurance.
  • It is very easy to breastfeed discreetly and without drawing any attention.  Breastfeeding bras and tops make it easy and you can use a muslin cloth or cardigan to cover yourself if you want.  Check your local council website for any breastfeeding advice.  Some businesses may specifically sign up as being ‘breastfeeding friendly’  and may have signs up saying so which may make you feel more comfortable.

(If anyone does have a problem with you breastfeeding your child then remember that this really is their problem, not yours)

3) Everyone is an expert

This can be the case with motherhood in general but it suddenly seems that everyone knows what you should and shouldn’t be doing.  As a first time mum I welcomed advice but sometimes it was a little overwhelming, not to mention frustrating.

  • Listen to experts.  When it comes to breastfeeding it’s worth listening to people who definitely know what they’re talking about such as health visitors or people who work in breastfeeding support.  Even then you may decide not to follow their advice as there is not usually a ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to babies, they are all different.
  • Accept that everyone parents differently and then forge your own path and find what works for you and your baby.
  • At the same time valuable advice can be gleaned from those who have encountered a similar problem so it is always worth listening.  Check for any local breastfeeding groups where you can meet other mums as this is a fantastic way to get support.

4) The whole weaning issue

I breastfed exclusively for six months and then weaned which is in line with UK government advice.  However, I did this because it worked with my baby but all babies are different.

  • Don’t wean before four months as you need to be sure your babies digestive system has matured enough, this is something all experts agree on.  Why risk it and wean too early?
  • Ultimately the decision when to wean is yours.  Don’t be pressured by others.  You may be told that if your baby watches you eat or shows interest in your food then he’s hungry and it’s time to wean.  Personally I don’t think this is a good enough reason.  Babies are curious and my son would have been interested if he’d seen someone with a glass of wine and a cigarette but that doesn’t mean I should pop down the shop and pick him up a bottle of red and a pack of twenty!  Also if he cluster-fed people would say he’s too hungry and I should wean.  I would be just about to do it and then he’d stop and I’d realise he was just having a little growth spurt; he actually just needed more milk, not weaning.  So my advice is don’t rush with weaning, follow your own instincts and you’ll find the right time to wean.

You may look at these breastfeeding difficulties and think why bother?  Apart from the well publicised health benefits for both the baby and you, it is an amazing opportunity to bond with your child.  It’s all over far too quick and those moments really are precious.

As mothers there will be plenty of times when we will second guess ourselves or feel guilty about decisions we’ve made.  I’m certainly a believer that if you are acting in the best interests of your child then chances are you are doing the right thing, even if it’s not the same as the person next to you.

What are your thoughts on breastfeeding?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  If you want to be alerted of future posts don’t forget to subscribe.  Thanks for reading 🙂

Breastfeeding Support Links

Breastfeeding Support

Netmums Breastfeeding Support

The Link Between Television and Weight

Written by: Helen

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Whilst attending the BBC Good Food Show (read about it here) one of the experts mentioned that we shouldn’t eat in front of the television because it is bad for digestion.  This got me thinking about the relationship between the television we watch and our health.

The image of the ‘couch potato’ is of someone who is obese and sits around watching TV all day and eating junk food.  Most of us probably wouldn’t put ourselves in this category as it is rather extreme but is it possible that simply switching off the TV before we eat could have an impact on our weight and our health?

Generally speaking I like to eat at the table with no TV.  I try to get my toddler to talk to me about his day (I’m making the most of it before he becomes a teenager and stops talking to me all together), but also I find it more relaxing.  I like to sit and eat my dinner peacefully after a busy day without the television blaring.  This isn’t always the case and I admit that we have a Saturday night tradition where I don’t cook and we eat in the living room and watch a film.  I’m sure you will all find this admission truely shocking and I must reassure you that I am not obese and my digestion is fine.

However, here are 6 reasons why eating in front of the TV should be sporadic instead of a regular occurrence:

  1. Digestion– As I mentioned above it can impact the way our bodies digest food.  This is because when we watch something which induces feelings of stress our digestion slows down.  Our digestion is inhibited by negative emotions such as anger or fear or feelings of anxiety.  We are asking our bodies to multi-task and process and absorb our food and the nutrients it contains, whilst at the same time process and absorb the images we are watching.  The result can be that it doesn’t process the food as well as it should.eat in front of telly
  2. Calorie intake– Studies have shown that when people eat in front of the television they are less aware of how much food they are consuming.  The distraction means that we can miss our bodies signals telling us when we are hungry and when we are full.  One study showed that the majority of people wrongly estimated how many calories they had consumed when they consumed them watching TV.  Another study showed that on average an extra 200-300 calories were eaten by those who ate meals whilst watching TV compared to those who ate with no TV.
  3. Television and Children– There are different studies on the effect eating in front of the television has on children.  A strong link has been established between the number of hours children spend watching TV in general and weight problems.  It’s clear that, at mealtimes, it acts as a distraction to the child which will cause some children to overeat and others to under-eat because their concentration is on what they are watching as opposed to the meal in front of them.
  4. Connect with Others– With today’s busy and hectic lifestyle mealtimes can be the best, and sometimes only, opportunity to speak and connect to our loved ones.  Putting mealtimes aside to enjoy each others company and the food we are eating can contribute to our overall wellbeing.  Eating socially with family and friends is a characteristic of the  healthy Mediterranean Diet which you can read more about here.
  5. Causes Delayed Overeating– I have mentioned the fact that it often causes us to consume more calories at the meal we are eating, but it can also cause us to take in more calories afterwards as well.  This is because the distraction means we don’t register how much we’ve eaten which leads us to believe we are hungry later in the day.
  6. Enjoying our Food– When our attention is on the television it can mean we are missing out on truly experiencing and enjoying our food-the smell of it, the texture and the full flavour.

Does this mean that I will never again on a Saturday night eat dinner in front of the TV? No, it doesn’t.  I’m still a firm believer in everything in moderation, and there are many factors which make up a healthy lifestyle; eating at the dinner table isn’t a magic cure for obesity.  I sometimes eat in front of the TV and I am not obese and don’t have digestive problems.  However, saying that I certainly think it does us some good to tune out of the TV sometimes and tune in to our food and families instead.

How do you feel about eating in front of the TV? Do you think it matters? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’d like to subscribe then pop me your email address and I’ll send healthy posts to your inbox.  Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Reference

Zonalatina

The Telegraph

Alignment Monkey