Monday, 15 May 2017

Better bedtimes for you and baby!

Sleep, insomnia, bedtime routine
Don't let lack of sleep ruin your days
Pic courtesy of Sweet Dream Babies
If you watched The Truth About...Sleep last week, you'll be aware that the UK is one of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world. And this couldn't be more true than for parents of young children. In fact, a recent survey of 500 mums by Sweet Dream Babies has revealed that a lack of sleep affects 91 per cent of mums and takes its toll on three out of four relationships. Focussing on mums that have had a baby in the last five years, the research showed that of the 500 participants, 88 per cent of mums reported that their baby has had sleep difficulties in the past five years, 75 per cent said lack of sleep has affected their relationship and 27 per cent stated they don't want more children partly because of sleep difficulties.

Baby and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Bell, has been working with parents for over 20 years. She says the findings are concerning, but not unexpected - and that lack of sleep can have a a huge impact on parental relationships and physical and mental well-being. The NHS agrees that, alongside bad moods and lack of focus, sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your physical health - putting you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it can shorten your life expectancy too.

So - can you fix it?

Monday, 8 May 2017

Mum meets multi-sport!

multisport, duathlon, triathlon, fitness
Friendly and affordable - Go Tri Reading
Since the London Olympics, triathlon has enjoyed significant growth in Great Britain - with events increasing by 63 per cent from 2012 to 2016. And that applies across the board in terms of gender and age too - making the option of entering such an event a possibility for both you and your kids. 

And now multi-sport events are being made all the more accessible to first timers through the GO TRI initiative backed by Triathlon England

The nationwide GO TRI events and training sessions are a cheap and fun way to access triathlon for the first time. The distances covered are designed for beginners - and often you'll have all the kit you need already. You can try a duathlon (combining cycling and running), a triathlon (with a swim, cycle and run) or an aquathlon (a swim/run combo), all of which take place against a continuously running clock.  To find an event close to you, search here

So I tried out my local Go TRI duathlon recently - and didn't come last...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Pizza could help your hay fever!

hay fever, allergies, nutrition
This pizza could save your summer!
Who doesn't like pizza? It's the perfect family meal - and when you make it yourself it can be healthy as well as delicious. And if you suffer from hay fever, it might even ease the symptoms. Yes, that's right, eating pizza could change the way your body reacts to airborne allergens. How? Max Wiseberg, allergy expert and hay fever sufferer explains...

'What you eat can affect your hay fever positively or negatively', says Max, because 'certain foods can exacerbate the symptoms of hay fever whilst others can ease them'. For example, he explains that a pizza that contains tomatoes is 'a super source of antioxidant vitamin C that researchers have found give protection against allergies and asthma', while adding yellow pepper, which contains beta carotene which is high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, 'is said to be good for preparing your body and fighting off hay fever symptoms'.

Other helpful ingredients Max cites include red onions; which contain high amounts of the natural antihistamine quercetin, pineapple; which contains bromelain that helps the body absorb quercetin and garlic, which may help to clear your nasal passages, and has natural decongestant effects and can help to reduce excess catarrh.

And toppings to avoid?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

London to get a taste of VeggieWorld!

VeggieWorld, London, Vegetarian, vegan
Come to Kensington to learn
about a more sustainable lifestyle.
International healthy living show VeggieWorld is coming to (London) town! As one of Europe’s biggest and oldest vegan events, it's drawn in over half a million visitors since 2014 - and now our capital city will get a chance to host the friendly festival.

And it's not just for those already living a plant-based lifestyle - it's for everyone interested in sustainable living and anyone that is veggie-curious. Maybe you’re looking to eat healthier, keep your weight down, cut down on meat or dairy or have a dairy allergy or intolerance? 

Well, this is the place to come! And there's just two weeks to go - VeggieWorld London takes place on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April at Kensington Town Hall, West London.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A month of Wednesdays!

healthy eating, meal planning, family food
Put like that it sounds horrible doesn't it?! Wednesday isn't called' Hump Day' for nothing - and every busy parent knows that by the middle of the week you are beginning to feel overwhelmed by balancing caring for your family with other commitments such as work. Suddenly little extras like school trips, cake sales and after-school activities make shopping for, and cooking, a nutritious and tasty meal nigh-on impossible. The solution? A little meal planning and a lovely helping of spaghetti sauce!

One way to help you meet the regular challenge of creating a balanced mid-week family meal is to batch cook and freeze a versatile base to give you several menu options. In this case I worked up four meals from a tasty vegetarian spaghetti sauce using Dolmio Bolognese (bonus - it contains no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners!). Then I set about finding various ways to use it!


Thursday, 16 March 2017

#WeAreAllMums

Tommy's, pregnancy, still birth, rainbow babies. #WeAreAllMums
Clearly, an unbelievably beautiful baby
(even if I am a little biased!).
Mother's Day is around the corner and the shops are full of cards, presents and reminders of how much we value those women that love and care for us right from conception.

But of course, behind every soft focus image of an ideal lifestyle are some less palatable facts. For a start, among women who know they're pregnant, it's estimated one in six pregnancies will end in miscarriage (defined as the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks). And while eleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, there are also 60,000 premature births (ones that happen before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) in the UK each year. A preterm birth is the number one cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of deaths in children under five.

Add to that the many, many women that experience complications during pregnancy and/or labour, and postnatal problems such as depression,  and it's clear to see that Mother's Day can be a painful experience for many, many women.

But Tommy’s the charity that funds research into pregnancy problems and provides pregnancy health information to parents, is running a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that, even if your baby was born too soon or born sleeping, you are still very much a mum!

My story


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Are trees making you sneeze?

hay fever, allergy, health, Spring
Winter bug or spring allergy?
If over the next couple of weeks you find yourself with the sniffles, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you've yet to shake off all those winter bugs. But if you're experiencing a runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, nose and throat and sneezing you might actually be suffering from hay fever - an allergic reaction to pollen and other airborne allergens. And it's the trees that are making you sneeze!

One in four of us suffer from hay fever (or seasonal allergic rhinitis to give it it's proper name!) triggered by tree pollen, which can kick in as early as March. Unfortunately the tree pollen season generally lasts until May and early June, because each type of tree pollinates at different times, and then it overlaps with the start of the grass pollen season (groan). The two most important tree pollen types are the silver birch, which triggers hay fever in approximately 25 per cent of sufferers, and the oak, which affects around 20 per cent of hay fever sufferers. 

Around 15 to 20 percent of the UK population suffer from hay fever, with our bodies producing histamines in response to pollen in the air. But too many histamines in the body produce the symptoms hay fever sufferers know only too well, including sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy, watery, streaming and swollen eyes, an itchy nose and throat, an overall achy feeling, and pressure in the facial area. Not surprisingly the symptoms can end up causing sensitive and irritated skin and fatigue, even affecting sleep quality. Yuk. 

So what can you do?