Q: I’m so tired since the  arrival of my baby and I’ve  heard you talk about the  benefits of a good diet. Can  you share some tips?

You’ve spent the past nine  months looking after yourself  better than ever before. When  the baby arrives nearly all  new Mums tend to neglect  themselves as all the focus is  on this precious new bundle.  Your body has gone through  enormous changes and will continue to go through  changes in the weeks after  you give birth. It’s for this  reason that you need to eat well and look after yourself better than ever so that you remain healthy so you can cope with being a new Mum.

If you’ve had a C-section or stitches vitamin C will help you heal. Citrus fruits and kiwis have loads of vitamin C. Vitamin C also aids the absorption of iron, which will help with energy levels. A bowl of porridge in the morning will set you up for the day. Oats are rich in iron, calcium and magnesium that are vital for your depleted mineral stores after labour. If you’re breastfeeding you’ll need lots of calcium for your baby’s bones and teeth and eating yogurts (or green leafy veg) is a quick and convenient way to get calcium.

One thing a new Mum has very little of is time so you need to find foods that are convenient. I remember going through most days forgetting to eat until someone put food In front of me. This is something a family member can help with by preparing meals and helping with shopping in the early days.

Eskimo3-cap-CMYK-RWH_3800I would recommend taking the ESKIMO- 3 Omega 3 with vitamin E supplement, which will help ward off the baby blues, and also a good Vitamin D supplement, which is crucial for healthy bones and teeth.

eskimo_brain_caps vit dEskimo also do another one that contains Vitamin D so you can kill two birds with one stone!!


You need to eat protein to help repair your cells. Snacking on nuts and seeds is an easy way to get some protein or eating lean meats like chicken. Scrambled egg on toast for a snack is also packed full of protein and energy and make all your bread wholegrain instead of white. If you’re having toilet trouble post birth eat and drink prunes. Prunes were my savior and I’m sure all you new Mums know what I mean!

Top Tips:

1: Make life easy and eat nourishing food that’s convenient. Take your Omegas and rest when you can.

2: Tryptophan rich foods like bananas, turkey, spinach and eggs will help you sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces calming hormones that slow down the brain and make you sleepy but need to be eaten alongside carbohydrates to access the brain so banana and toast is a perfect combo.

3: is an amazing new company for new mums who want nutritious meals tailored for them post birth.They have a package for new Mums where they can train and have their perfect food delivered for a month or 6 weeks, depending on what they want.  They also have hampers for new Mums and Dads of good, wholesome, nutritious dinners. Just what you need after baby comes home! email emma 

James chia bia

I’m always looking for easier ways to slip healthy habits into my life. As parenting is a constant cycle of guilt as well I’m always worried if James is getting enough nutrients and a well balanced diet. I’m self-employed and always running from one place to the next. (Violins please) I try to eat as healthy as I can but I skip meals and then eat junk in the evening because I’m so tired and want an instant fix.


There are a few changes that I have introduced which have had an enormous effect on our diet, mood and behavior. We now sit at the table each morning for breakfast instead of switching on the TV and handing James a bowl of cereal in an effort to keep him quiet while I run around like a headless chicken achieving very little other than making myself stressed and starting the day off saying “quick Mummy’s in a rush”. When your three year old says “Mummy you’re always in a rush” you know you have got to make changes.

It’s been fascinating to find out how appalling I am with time management. James is up at 6AM so what on earth was I doing with my time. Then I realize (like its news to me) that I’m on Facebook and Twitter. Yes I said it.. First thing I do is pick up my IPhone and scroll down my timeline to see what random people who I haven’t spoke to for 10 years are doing!! Now I do it when I’m in bed at night. Big difference I hear you say but I can justify anything to myself and now I am spending quality time with James in the morning and we’re both having a good breakfast. As I pat myself on the back for thinking I have figured out something unique, amazing and wonderful my friend who’s a mother of 3 announces she has always done that and couldn’t believe I used to sit James in front of the TV and give him breakfast. I won’t be telling her that I still do it at the weekends then!!


As you can see from the picture James is clutching his favourite food. It’s called Chis Bia and we have mixed it into cereal, salads, yogurts and shakes for well over a year now. If I baked I would also put it into the delicious cakes I would make. Chia Seed is great for your Heart, Mind & Body. If you’ve heard of Flax, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds you have to meet Chia, as Patrick Holford says it’s ‘The best all-rounder’

Dr. Wayne Coates rediscovered Chia seed, an ancient food of the Aztecs, in 1991 after it had disappeared from common knowledge over 500 years ago. In 2009, Irish company Chia Bia began bringing Chia products to the European market, and last year, Chia Bia expanded into Malaysia, Canada and the United States.

Chia originates in Mexico and South America where the Aztecs and Mayans had long known the benefits of eating Chia. It was so valued that it was offered to their gods in ceremonies, was used as currency and was also used for wounds, upset stomachs, body odour, prostate problems, sore throats and many other illnesses.

Chia is a complete food, which contains the highest plant source of omega-3 with soluble and insoluble fibre, protein and antioxidants to help get your heart, mind and body in shape. The main health benefits associated with Chia Bia include; reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved concentration and energy levels. Chia Bia can also help promote weight loss as the seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water; this results in a gel forming in the stomach that slows the absorption of carbohydrates and leaves you feeling fuller for longer helping you avoid the 3pm slump!

Its also tasteless so really great for fussy kids. James calls it “Bia Bia” and loves the routine of mixing it in and feeling like a “big boy”. The levels of Omega 3 are also very high and as a sufferer of depression this is an essential part of my diet. As oily fish can have high mercury levels this is also a far safer option.

Chia Bia Bags small €4.95, Large €9.95 med





Q: Have you any tips on taking mum time when there’s so little time to spare?


“Mum time”, the mere words make us shudder and shake with guilt. I always hear Mums talking about never having a second to spare and being completely exhausted and that is exactly what led me to having such bad post natal depression. Trying to be the perfect person simply didn’t work for me. I’m now settling for just doing my best, which is what everyone should try and do as being perfect is vastly overrated or so I’ve heard!

Long before having James I started going to meditation classes in New York. Initially, I thought everyone was bonkers and as we sat and meditated I kept cheating and peaking to see if everyone else was actually doing it. Over time though I began to understand the power of simply sitting still which is something so rare for any of us nowadays. When you have children the thought of doing anything for yourself simply goes out the window but it is vitally important.

As time is of the essence I recommend finding just ten minutes every day where you can sit still. Meditation is not about connecting with a higher being or feeling like you were transported to another place. I’ve been to a lot of weird sessions which is why people get turned off so let me simplify it for you. Unless you’re dead or an enlightened being (god, Buddha, Dali lama) it is impossible to clear your mind completely. For me meditation is about sitting still in the moment and watching those thoughts pass through. I either focus on my breathing or I listen to some music from or where you can download sample tracks. You also don’t need to be in a room with candles and sit on the floor with your legs crossed. You can meditate anywhere at anytime. I have often sat in the car when I have ten minutes when I’m early for a meeting or sometimes I set my alarm ten minutes early in the morning. Those ten minutes are there you just need to make sure you find them. You could write a book about the benefits of mediation but here are just a few.

It increases optimism; self esteem and helps with depression. It can also help you sleep better and help your mind to become clear and focused. I find it helps my patience, especially with a 4 year old. It definitely reduces my stress levels and emotional wellbeing. Try it for a week and if you like it tweet me @alicanavan #meditatewithali



1. Pay attention to your breath as it’s the greatest way to focus on being in the present moment.

2. Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead let them float by and focus on your breathing again. This will become easier with time

3. Use music specially designed for meditation. I find it gives me a far better experience. I alternate this with days of silence too for maximum benefit.

4. Enjoy the experience and as a mum enjoy this time alone



breastfeeding-1 jpegIn last week’s Femail two angry mums revealed how they were led to believe breastfeeding would help them lose weight, when in fact they piled on the pounds. Both admitted that their diets had been poor, blaming the ‘myth’ constantly pedalled to new mums by health professionals and breastfeeding advocates that the babyweight would melt away as they fed for tricking them into thinking they could eat what they wanted. Here, Alison Canavan, who breastfed her son James for a year, launches a staunch defence of breastfeeding. She argues that it should always be a personal choice made with the best interests of mum and baby at heart, and argues that by vilifying breastfeeding we are ignoring deeper issues about motherhood and self image.

AS I READ last week’s article I felt frustration and anger, yet again, about this topic. Since giving birth to James I’ve noticed that anytime the topic of feeding your baby is brought up, mums should be prepared to have their head eaten off by another mother who thinks they know better or who disagrees with our choice for our child.

I have never and will never understand why women are so hard on each other — this topic in particular seems to always hit a nerve.

In my opinion the breast Vs bottle debate is a complex one where no one wins. We all have different reasons for feeding our children the way we do and should never underestimate the complex issues that can arise post-birth for mum and baby which can influence feeding.

Weight loss alone, however, should not be the reason you choose to breastfeed your baby. Neither should articles claiming that women are now getting fat from feeding frighten you off. Each and every woman’s body will react differently to pregnancy. Some women fly through their pregnancies while others have problems from day one, they gain weight, develop pelvic problems, require emergency sections… the list goes on.

One thing we now know for sure is that eating for two during pregnancy is a myth. Believe me, I was guilty of using it as an excuse to pig out for the first few months, until my doctor told me women only need an extra 200 calories (equivalent to a small bowl of muesli or two slices of wholegrain bread) per day and that’s not even until the third trimester.

In the article the women targeted two aspects of breastfeeding in particular, saying ‘breastfeeding is a very sedentary activity’ and ‘women commonly experience ravenous hunger while feeding’. While I agree with both these statements, they’re not necessarily bad things. I actually enjoyed sitting down to feed as I was wrecked. And I was very hungry but I tried to eat nutritious foods as I knew they would make me feel better and fill my breast milk full of nutrients for the growing baby.

Things are never as simple as they seem, especially when it comes to the combination of women, babies, food and weight. I know that I’m an emotional eater and make bad choices to fill that gap. If I feel lonely, have had bad news about work or am simply tired I pick up the phone to the local takeaway — undoing all the good work I’ve done. But I also know I’m a model and that eating healthily is a big part of my job, which leads me to wonder why I make a choice that can potentially impact my career? Yet we do make poor choices and they are usually multi layered.

In the first few months after giving birth a lot of women experience real loneliness and sadness while home alone with their newborn. Too tired to exercise and too embarrassed to tell anyone how they’re feeling, food can be a big comfort. I’m not saying that these are the reasons the women in the piece gained weight, but we do need to be careful when we make blanket statements about such complex issues.

Breastfeeding is a choice, our food types are a choice and lifestyle is a choice. I always say that how you treat yourself and what you feed yourself will directly influence how you look and feel.

I spoke to Clare Boyle, a midwife and breastfeeding consultant, about this topic. Clare has been working with breastfeeding women for the last 13 years and her experience is that most lose weight easily and usually within the first six months. She tolds me, ‘I have never met a breastfeeding mother who had the weight gain issues such as those described in the article. I wonder if there were some other issues that may have contributed to it as it seems so unusual. I think it would be important to know what type of foods were they eating and whether they were they exercising.

‘It is true that most breastfeeding women have an increased appetite but provided they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet they shouldn’t necessarily put on weight and it is by no means the norm.’

Clare then made another very valid point, ‘There is the common perception that breastfeeding mums think that they are free to eat what they like and therefore they can go for high-calorie foods that they would normally deprive themselves of. If they do this to excess, obviously breastfeeding isn’t going to counteract a complete gorge-fest!’

I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought during my pregnancy. In fact, I just presumed baby came out and fed from boob and we all lived happily ever after.

Well, instead of that plan playing out like the plot of a movie, James couldn’t latch on and my boobs became so sore that I was permanently taking hot showers to relieve them. We soon figured out that James had a tongue-tie, causing his inability to latch.

Then I developed thrush — and my body was producing enough tears to fill Ireland ten times over. I was extremely lucky, though, to have a great friend Andrea Casey sit patiently with me, literally holding my boobs as otherwise I could’t latch him on. Catriona McCarthy, a lactation consultant, also spent considerable time helping me. What I learnt from the experience is that breastfeeding is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women, it’s one that both you and your baby might have to learn together. I succeeded in feeding James but not until he was nearly three months old. I persevered because I’m stubborn and, after three months, I had finally started to enjoy the experience. I consider myself very lucky to have had the support I had, because without it I would not have continued to feed.

How you feed your child is a deeply personal choice. I have a friend who is simply uncomfortable with the thought of breastfeeding her children. She has three beautiful kids who are all healthy and happy. How we feed our children does not affect our parenting abilities, food or lifestyle choices — those choices are ultimately up to us. Judging other women also has no bearing on your parenting skills.

It’s great to talk about being more honest with each other, but I think deep down we’re all smart enough to know that the realistic experience of breastfeeding will not result in a woman getting a Gisele-like body. Tiredness, hunger and hormones are all part of the reality of being a new mum but good food, exercise and communicating with loved ones is far better for us in the long term than reaching for the biscuits!

Avene skincare and its benefits for eczema and psoriasis prone skin

Avene skincare and its benefits for eczema and psoriasis prone skin





Barnardos Buggy Push sponsored by Dettol

When: Sunday 1st September starting at 10am (Registration from 9am)

Where: The Phoenix Park, Dublin

Speaking at the launch of the Barnardos Buggy Push sponsored by Dettol, celebrity mum and model Alison Canavan said, “My son, James, and I are thrilled to support the Barnardos Buggy Push sponsored by Dettol for the second year running. We had so much fun training together last year and the event itself was incredible. It was wonderful to see so many families and buggies out on the day raising much needed funds for Barnardos. It is usually so hard to find time to get fit with the little ones around but the Barnardos Buggy Push sponsored by Dettol is perfect – I can pop out for a jog and James can come with me! I hope as many people as possible can join us in Phoenix Park on September 1st.”

Mums, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, families please come join us!!!

• For new Mums, getting out in the fresh air with your baby and walking with other Mums is a great way to gently get back in shape and make friends. Buggy Fitness is fast becoming the most popular way for new Mums to get back in shape and baby can come and have fun too!

• It’s not just Mums either; dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles – whole families are getting out there too.

The challenge: Push your baby in a buggy over a 5km course in the Phoenix Park – you can choose to run, jog or walk. The route runs along a smooth surface and is suitable for all levels of fitness and all buggies. Registering online ensures you receive a timing chip to wear on the day.

Register: on . It costs €20 per buggy.

When you register you will receive a fundraising pack with:

• Barnardos running vest

• Timing chip to wear on the day

• Dettol wipes and coupons! (on the day)

• Exclusive access to a six weeks of exclusive training tips and advice, nutrition advice, how to keep baby happy in the buggy and some exclusive offers from our sponsor, Dettol.

Thanks to Dettol, 100% of the registration fee and sponsorship raised by buggy pushers will go directly to fund Barnardos services for children and families. Barnardos target is to raise €25,000.

Dettol Buggy Research:

• Nearly four out of ten buggies tested by Dettol had high levels of bacteria on their seat or their handles, and 90% of the buggies were unclean.

• The amount of germs on Irish buggies may be down to the fact that only half of mums (52%) wipe down or clean their child’s buggy when it looks dirty or something spills on it.

• While almost half of parents (48%) said that they frequently worry about their child’s health, a third of mums think that a toilet is cleaner than their child’s buggy.

• Over a third of mums say that their buggy is a germ magnet.

Family Friendly Event: the 5km Buggy Push will be followed by FREE family activities

• Flat smooth surface course – easy to push buggy

• Car parking available

Barnardos is Ireland’s leading children’s charity. We support children whose well-being is under threat, by working with them, their families and communities and by campaigning for the rights of children. Barnardos was established in Ireland in 1962 and is Ireland’s leading children’s charity.

Barnardos goal is to make Ireland the best place in the world to be a child. Every day in our 40 projects across Ireland we work with almost 6,300 children and families whose lives are marred by issues such as poverty, neglect and educational disadvantage.

We work with children of different ages and support them and their families in various aspects of their lives:

All the research shows that the return on investing in a child early is huge. With a bit of support early in their lives, children are more likely to stay in school, get a job, stay out of trouble, pay taxes, and send their own children to school. Barnardos work is about enabling children to achieve their full potential in life.