5 Tips On Making Healthier Holiday Choices

So, if you have a family like mine, Christmas Day usually begins with a Champagne breakfast. I’ve probably just had most of you exit your browser now due to this probably not being all that relatable at all and listen, I know what you’re thinking, and my only explanation for you is that I’m Australian. Which also leads me to state the obvious which is that it’s no where near as luxurious as you’re thinking. So I’ll paint you a picture. It’s the $10 kind of champagne from Dan Murphy’s accompanied by barbecued bacon and egg rolls and two boxes of Cadbury favourites. Truly a wonderful time.

But this year, some of us – me – aren’t wanting to gain another 1-1.5kg to add to the baby-weight we’re – I’m – still trying to lose. Plus, for as long as I can remember, I’ve pigged out on party wieners, ham and pasta and as a result spent the evening feeling a lot of regretti about that extra serve of spaghetti. Which got me thinking, how can I make better choices for myself this year?

So here are some tips I have for you this holiday season. I’m going to try my hardest to follow them myself of course, but Christmas occasionally brings out the “meh I’ll do better in the new year” in me. I know, I’ll fix that attitude come January 1st.

However, without any further rambling, here they are!

  • Don’t drink your calories. This means both drink and drink drink. If you want to fill up on Christmas goodies without overdoing it, choose zero calorie beverages to accompany them. I’m personally not wild enough to go for a sugar free mineral water, Pepsi Max will do.
  • Don’t stand near the food table. This one is probably more a piece of advice for me than it is for you. Every year I strategically park myself near the sweets end of the table and have myself a merry old time. I need to not do that.
  • If you’re the chef this year, try to make healthier alternatives for popular dishes. It’s as simple as putting the word “healthy” before any recipe you’re looking for online (though, that being said, my buzzword is usually “mouthwatering”). One time I found a recipe for chocolate mousse made from avocados – it was ahhh-mazing, if you can get past the fact that you know its avocado mouse. You don’t have to tell the kids that, though.
    https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/dairy-free-avocado-chocolate-mousse/33f015f8-5a87-4b9d-a1fc-91f9e04fa72c <– I wasn’t joking.
  • Keep active! Go for a walk around the neighbourhood and look at Christmas lights (or be like me and drive to the areas participating in local Christmas light competitions and walk their streets instead, helloooo land of Doctors and Lawyers.) If that’s not for you, play a game. Each year we play backyard cricket. There’s a video of me last year hitting the ball into the neighbouring vacant lot – After a few wines I concluded that the best and only solution was to have two of our largest men hoist me over the fence to get it back, how I’d make it home was unfortunately not taken into consideration so a lot of panic from all parties followed – ah, the reminiscing for years to come.
  • Get enough sleep. This one seems out of place here, but science says if you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to reach for the sugary treats. A 3pm nap doesn’t aid my self control (or lack thereof) when egg nog is within drinking distance, but, it may just work for you!

Okay, so hypothetically you’ve ignored me and you’ve over indulged. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it! Take that serving spoon and beat those negative thoughts away. At the end of the day, one bad meal (or day) isn’t going to matter in the long run. What really matters is that you’ve had a good time and made new memories to look back on fondly with the people that mean the most to you. (Here’s your reminder to take lots of pictures! I scold myself every year for not taking enough)!

I hope you found some of these to be helpful because I tried really, really hard.

Tiff xx

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Why I Had No Intention To Breastfeed

To all of my formula feeding mothers out there – I get you. The intent questioning, the lectures, the rude remarks, the dirty looks whilst mixing a bottle in public. I get that, and I get you.

There are a dozen and one different reasons why you may have decided that formula was the best choice for you and your baby. Maybe you struggled to express and needed the help with feeds during the night shift. Maybe you were in too much pain to go on. Heck maybe you just didn’t want to breastfeed. Each and every reason is a very valid reason. A reason that you don’t have to justify to anyone.
Whatever your reason for formula feeding though, you’ve probably spent way too many moments consumed with guilt, wondering if there’s something you could have done better, an oatmeal cookie you could have consumed to increase supply (maybe you’ve tried three or four, but that next one may have been the one). Or a gadget to help baby latch that only frustrated an already confused baby further. Or perhaps the solution to your problem was simply pumping for 11 hours a day instead of 9? With only the small price of your sanity to pay.

I think that there are several factors assisting in the survival of the negative attitude toward formula feeding mothers. The  greatest of those reasons being that we are continually led to believe that we are doing something wrong. For example, Australia has a less than appreciated message to share with to all formula feeding mothers. If you venture onto the website of any formula manufacturer –  perhaps you’re being a “good mum” and researching which formula is nutritionally best for your child – it doesn’t matter – you’re greeted with a pop up letting you know that “breast is best” and (in essence), that you should reconsider your choice on how to feed your baby. Instead of clicking the little “x” in the right hand corner of your pop up that as you would typically when being notified you’d won a million dollars for being the eight gazillionth visitor a website you’ve found on the eighth page of Google – they’ve removed this – and to continue browsing you instead have have to scroll to the bottom of this obnoxious little pop up and click “I understand”. I do understand that this is a legal requirement here – but is it really appropriate? To guilt a mother that may already be struggling internally with her decision to cut her breastfeeding journey short out of sheer necessity?

It isn’t just websites however. It’s also written on a leaflet inside the tin of formula I’ve just purchased. Not to put any particular brand on blast here – but this leaflet declares “IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is best” between the lid and the seal. You couldn’t miss it if you tried. Like, well thank you, Captain Obvious? If I was capable of producing the golden elixir of life myself for free, I wouldn’t be shelling out the $19.95 for your product, now would I?

If that weren’t enough, it’s also on signs plastered all over the walls of antenatal clinics, and medical staff are seemingly encouraged to push breastfeeding too. A lot of people wouldn’t see this push as a problem, but consider this. At about 17 weeks pregnant, I had an experience with a nurses assistant who was collecting basic information about me prior to my meeting with a high risk specialist. She was collecting the usual – my weight, height, medical history – that sort of thing. She asked if I intended to breastfeed, and I told her no. She was disgusted by my answer and made no attempt to hide it. She demanded, not asked, but demanded to know why. I simply told her I had to formula feed. I had already come to terms with having to deal with being judged or overshare personal information about myself (LOL at past me – we now have a blog!).
The issue is that I have Epilepsy, and my medication is passed in high concentration through breast milk – a significantly higher concentration than what was passed through the placenta during pregnancy. Both the manufacturer and my neurologist recommend not breastfeeding due to the risk of the baby contracting Steven Johnson’s Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, google at your own discretion. There’s a reason it took just shy of a year to slowly wean me onto this particular drug – and SJS is it.
She went on to ask which medication I was taking and of course, I told her. She mispronounced it as she told me it was safe (comforting), then asked what it was for (ultra comforting). I explained to her – respectfully of course –  that no, it was in fact not safe, to which she argued with me before using Google to research the drug further (comforting climax). In all honesty I probably should have reported her that day as I’m sure that being a medical “professional” some women would have assumed she’d know what she was talking about and just taken her on her word – but as I stated above, the choice to formula feed was a difficult one, so I did my research. Research she should have done before irresponsibly pushing her personal agenda. On my exit I was handed a collection of brochures on breastfeeding, as well as resources to utilise if I was having a problem. What I would have liked, is one of those little boobie-bibles to instead be a few paragraphs of information on how to select a formula that’s right for your baby if breastfeeding just wasn’t working out for you. Do you know how long I spent standing in Coles Googling what HA or Gold+ was supposed to mean? I don’t, but I’m sure it was way too bloody long. But of course, the first rule of fight club is we don’t talk about fight club.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the important question (drawn out drum roll please). Is your baby fed? Growing? Happy (often, not always)? If you answered yes, then congratulations! You’re doing fantastic! Feeding a baby looks different for every woman, and listen, you’re doing great! You’re already worrying about what’s best for your baby! There is no one size fits all formula to success when it comes to nourishing that newborn. In a few years, breast or bottle will be a topic you never have to speak on again if you don’t want to. So enjoy your precious moments feeding your baby now, however that looks for you.

Oh, and PS: Remember that they’re all going to grow up into Cheetos munching, Red Bull chugging teenagers anyway!

Tiff xx

Never leave I love yous left unsaid

Hi all,

A bit of a darker post today. A post I’m hoping inspires some reflection. It definitely did for me.

Yesterday, I was driving to meet a close friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. Life had gotten in the way, as it does as we grow older, and we finally made plans to catch up. It was a rainy day – the first we’d had in a few weeks. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to set a gloomy scene. I was driving along, abiding by the road rules, as I always do. Traffic was heavy – it was noon. A peak hour. I was sitting just under the speed limit, in the right hand lane. I had a right turn coming soon. I saw a car exiting the parking lot of the industrial area to my right. He was at a give way (yield) sign. I was just inches from him and he pulled out, onto the main road. Right in front of my car, travelling at speed. I know in these situations, they tell you to break and not swerve, but I owe my life to my instinct to grab my wheel and yank it as hard as I could to the left. I missed this fellow commuter by inches. I dare say an inch, singular. The other driver, clearly very shaken, stopped in the middle of the lane he’d been so desperate to enter, as I drove to find somewhere to park feeling an anxiety attack coming on. I’m not sure how long he sat there, but I glanced in my revision mirror, and he was still stationary as he faded from my view. I hoped he’d move, as he was still endangering other road users as long as he remained there. But I sure wasn’t going back to encourage him to do so.
I wonder, did he not see my bright red car?  Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Was their eyesight fading, and they were too stubborn to turn in their licence? Was his judgement so poor that he thought he could make it in front of me? (I very much doubt this one, there was not a chance). I’ll never know. I don’t care to know. But I so desperately hope that they were shaken enough to take more care on the roads. I’m sure they’re as desperate to make it home to their families as I am, so for that I cannot be too mad.

I thanked somebody – whomever you believe it is watching over us, or my lucky stars if that isn’t for you – that I hadn’t had a lapse in concentration for even a second. To change radio station, or adjust my sun visor, perhaps. I thanked them that the lane beside me that I violently swerved into was clear, despite the roads being so busy. I thanked them that the driver in the other lane – that I found myself in – hadn’t been travelling just that little bit faster. I thanked them that my daughter was not in the car with me, and that the road was not yet wet enough to encourage my car to roll.

I made it – though balling my eyes out – to my friends house that day. I was lucky. I knew that hitting a (somewhat) stationary object at 70kmph did not have my chances of survival looking very peachy. I’m sure the other driver would have been fine, minor injuries perhaps, but nothing substantial. Please believe that if I were exaggerating just how close to tragic this had the potential to be, even slightly, I wouldn’t be writing this post for you today.

When I got home, I grabbed my daughter, cried once again, and told her just how much I love her. She’s too young to understand, but her “mamas home” smiles were enough for me.

So I ask you that if you love someone – tell them each and every time they leave for work, or you “quickly run some errands”. Annoyed with your spouse? Children? Put it to the back of your mind for a minute and let them know that you love them. Hug your children a little tighter tonight. Never go to bed on an argument.
Remember that those that die today, had plans for tomorrow.

Tiff x