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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Betty Crocker Gets Festive

Ah, Betty Crocker. We meet again. Each and every year you lure me in with your promises of aesthetically pleasing Christmas boxed goods, and each year I find myself squinting at your tiny text wondering where I went wrong with two eggs and 125g of (melted) butter. Do I put these on the kids table? Or the adults table? They obviously look like they were made by children, but do I want to look like the jerk that didn’t bring anything to the family lunch?

I’ll preface the remainder of this tragedy post by saying that I can cook (or in this case, bake). But if you’re trying to appeal to the millennial in me by handing me anything in a box branded as “quick and simple”- my mother stopped doing that a long time ago – don’t expect to ever see the finished product. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not good. Have I learned my lesson though? Not just yet but next year I’m hopeful.

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Who is your photographer Betty?

This year though,  I share with you my journey. That’s right my loves, it’s time for some Christmas Tree Brownies.

We start by preheating the oven. No issues there. No qualms. Ten minutes pass and we’re at a comfortable 180. We’ve worked with her before.

Next, we line and grease the baking pan. You may notice that mine is in fact a cake tin. It went downhill from here.

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We insert the mixture – with the correct piece of equipment this time – and into the oven she goes. I set my timer for 25 minutes.

I sit on the couch with the coffee I’d made but forgotten about two hours earlier and think about whether I should utilise my time wisely by scrubbing the tiles in the shower or folding the copious amounts of laundry beside me, but before I knew it, I’d thought to long. It was time. They were ready. To add a little more pressure, my daughter’s now awake from her nap so she observes from her play mat. That’s fine, an audience wont phase me.

Our final step (now that they’ve cooled and I’ve avoided that house work a little more) is to slice “horizontally and then in a zig-zag fashion” to create our tree shapes. I stand deathly still beside the tray for fifteen minutes with what I’m sure can only be described as a lights-on-but-nobodies-home expression as I attempt to work out how the heck I’m going to make this work with a circular slab of chocolate – but eventually – I decide to cut a square from the middle and work from there. Innovation.

The next drama we faced is that the icing came out much thicker than I’d anticipated (in blobs, actually) and I knew this is where we’d encounter our largest obstacle. Art and I don’t get along. Despite no instruction on the box preparing me for this, I should have warmed the bag (what’s that saying about hindsight?). It was room temperature, and I’m in Australia so I foolishly assumed that meant we’d be warm and ready to roll. We were not.

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Do you like the candy cane heart? I bought them specifically for this picture.

I don’t have much to say about the process of adding sprinkles, other than that they got bloody everywhere.

So in conclusion, taa-daa! If you’re thinking “wow Tiffani they actually aren’t that bad, you’ve even added a lovely icing tinsel touch” – just know that there’s a reason only two brownies are on the photography plate. The recipe serves thirteen (or if we’re being honest with ourselves, eight on a bad day and ten on a diet).

I won’t lie though, despite their interesting exterior, they did taste pretty good. Jason and I both concluded that out of ten we’d probably give them between a seven and an eight. So, if anyone more artistic than I is wondering where I found these bad boys, I bought them at Coles for a low price of $4 and a slither of my ego.

Alternatively, the recipe for those without impatient children is here: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/holiday-tree-brownies/058237a7-ae5c-435e-b9cc-b01af1d412e7

I hope you enjoyed!
Tiff x

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