Exclusive Breast Feeding – We did it our way…

“Food, the forgotten medicine” (c) 

REAL FOOD for baby

This is a post about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

That said, it’s important to point out that everybodies path is different, we couldn’t quite believe how much pressure you face after you leave the hospital with your bundle of joy.  Mums have it particularly tough of course with the realisation that you’re solely responsible for providing the energy and sustenance to grow an actual human being!   Functioning on very little sleep and bombarded with 24/7 access-all-areas internet and media coverage of how to do the right thing for your child it’s easy to reach overwhelm!

This ridiculous NHS advert is just one example – i can only assume it was conceived by a group of clueless advertising executives – the underlying message is that, not only do we expect you to single-handely breastfeed your child, but we expect you to look glamourous in the process!  (*)

An ill-conceived NHS Advert!
An ill-conceived NHS Advert circa 2010

The book ‘Breast is Best’ was written way back in 1978 and yet the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with UNICEF are still (report February 2015) raising awareness of the benefits of breastmilk as the cornerstone of child nutrition, health and development.

Breastmilk is nature’s perfect food. It is universally available. Its benefits last a lifetime, for mother as well as child…Exclusive breastfeeding – defined as the practice of only giving an infant breast-milk for the first 6 months of life (no other food or water) – has the single largest potential impact on child mortality of any preventive intervention. — WHO (2015)

It’s my personal belief and inline with current Health guidelines in the UK, US and Australia (to name a few) that babies where possible (there are certain clinical reasons where breastfeeding is not an option – HIV or taking certain medications that may be harmful to baby) should be given breast-milk and breast-milk only for the first 6months of life.

“Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months of your baby’s life” NHS, UK

Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk. — Roberta J. Cohen et al. 

Our son was exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of his life, and whilst I would never judge anyone who chooses another route, I am surprised that only 38% of infants aged 0 to 6 months being exclusively breastfed globally.

There is also an incredible amount of pressure to start weaning early for a multitude of bonkers reasons and we faced our fair share! Click here to read results of a survey that demonstrates this.

I am incredibly proud our my partner in her journey through EBF and of our baby who has been just bouncingly happy throughout the process!  Some days she really felt she was in prep to run a marathon and we ensured she had plenty of good fats, protein and fresh vegetables.

We have just started weaning working with real foods and tuning into our sense of what is right for our son Leander, after all ‘every baby is different’.  In my next post I’ll share the start of that journey with you…

You are a brilliant parent and all your baby needs that’s all you need to know!

With love for a BRILLIANT parental journey,


PS – I offer personalised nutrition plans for nursing mothers and weaning babies.  Please contact me for more information.

(*) It is not my intention to add to the already oppressive message that you MUST breastfeed…but simply advise, best where possible, but if this places mum in an unsustainable and dangerous position then she should certainly not hesitate to examine other options.

Further Reading

Introducing Solid Foods Too Soon

Is baby ready for solids?


5 Ways to Beat Christmas Weight-gain

Food, the Forgotten Medicine©

Christmas Cat

Cold weather, shorter days and festive cheer is the perfect excuse to overeat at this time of year, but if we understand our bodies a little better we can enjoy ourselves without over the top weight-gain.

Leptin Deficient Mousey & A very Normal Mousey

Your appetite – like most things – is controlled by hormones…principally ‘Ghrelin’ and ‘Leptin’.

They work on a feedback loop – when your stomach is empty, Ghrelin is produced and this signals the brain that it’s time to eat.  Leptin, on the other hand tells the brain to stop eating if we start gaining too much fat.  In other words, Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite, whilst Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite – if you want to lose weight, you want LESS Ghrelin in your system.


Here’s my top FIVE ways to look after your hormones this Christmas…


ONE – Sleep more!

Sleep deprivation is a great way to increase the production of ghrelin and decrease leptin production   If you’re going to a few parties these next few weeks then you’d better find time to throw some afternoon naps in the mix – buffets and increased ghrelin aren’t a great idea!

TWO – Avoid *Hyperpalatable Foods

If you really want your brain chemistry messed with, eat highly processed foods.

Food manufacturers know that fat, sugar, and salt send our reward centers crazy, meaning we always want more.  Essentially, we can’t ‘hear’ the signals from our gut through all the dopamine ‘noise’.

Stay away from highly processed foods altogether –  better still make your own treats and you’ll know exactly whats gone in them!  Check out this blog post for Festive Treats.

THREE – Eat Slower

If you choose to eat like an industrial hoover then it’s inevitable you’ll get a LOT of calories down your neck before your brains even received the signal that your stomach is full – best advice here is to chew your food and appreciate the textures and flavours.

FOUR – Eat Mindfully 

It’s a good idea to stop eating (not always) before you’re completely full, and that requires a focused dialogue from gut to brain.  Watching TV, messaging on FB, or driving whilst eating, are a sure-fire way to break that connection!

FIVE – Keep Your Balance – Energy Balance that is!

Bear in mind that you can’t out-train a sloppy diet – not even the magic of Christmas allows this! 

However, that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t powerful stuff, and i wouldn’t wait until the New Year to start…even if its just 5 minutes, do something today, and by the time January roles around, your body will not be thrown to the bootcamp HIIT wolves!

Talking about intensity (HIIT), shorter exercise durations at medium-to-high intensities has been shown to illicit less cravings – particularly in women.  So, if your idea of fat-loss is hours of treadmill or cycling, you might want to consider how that impacts your appetite later that day and wether you increase your meals and snacks to compensate!  Your best bet is to keep the duration relatively short and ramp up the intensity.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 21.49.30
image & data courtesy of suppversity.blogspot.co.uk/



Finally, what if there was an activity that not only got us moving, but aided our digestive health too!

To many, Yoga is about being bendy – or perhaps graceful & bendy – but for me it’s more an internal practice – check out these 14 yoga postures that aid digestion.

Of course there are Yoga teachers who are focused on the bendy-aesthetic, and Yoga Teachers who are focused on the intelligent side of yoga, so choose your class accordingly!  If you’re located in the North East of England, then Jambo Yoga certainly fits the latter!


Whatever your journey, have an AMAZING time!!!


Happy Christmas!


Magic ‘The Grinch’ Manos



*Hyperpalatable foods is a term coined by Harvard-trained pediatrician, and former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, MD