Sunday, October 21, 2012

Breast is Best

I'm back! After getting engaged, I decided to take a break from blogging since I was busy wedding planning, moving, buying a house, and looking for a new job...phew! Now that we're settled in, I want to pick blogging back up!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it was appropriate to talk about breastfeeding. I've worked for the WIC program for over a year and talk about breastfeeding all day long. My job has sent me to more breastfeeding trainings than any other training because it's so important!

Here are SOME of the reasons breastfeeding is best:

For the mom:
- Reduces the risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.
- Improves bone thickness (less likely to have osteoporosis).
- Helps to lose pregnancy weight more easily.
- Uterus goes back to normal size faster.
- Creates a bonding experience between mom and baby. 

For the baby:
- Breast milk is constantly changing based on what your baby needs. Formula is always the same.
- Much easier to digest so reduces gas, colic, and spitting up (I rarely see infants who can't tolerate breast milk. The majority of the formula-fed babies I see have problems digesting formula.)
- Less likely to become obese.
- Lowers the risk of bowel diseases, respiratory and ear infections, diabetes, and some childhood cancers.
- Increases IQ.
- Reduces the risk of SIDS.
- Less sickness and hospital stays (breastfed babies cost on average $400 less in medical bills in the first year).
- Skin-to-skin contact reduces stress in babies.
-Natural! Ingredients in breast milk: breast milk. Ingredients in formula: too many to list so I included the picture below:

For the whole family:
- Cheaper! Formula can cost $1,000-4,000/year depending on what formula your baby is drinking!
- Portable - you don't have to worry about finding a safe source for water and carrying formula and bottles around when traveling.

 Many women say they can't breastfeed due to multiple reasons. If that's the case, then how did all the moms in the world feed their infants before formula was created? Granted, there are some contraindications to breastfeeding such as medications, infections, etc.

If you've fed your baby formula, or plan on feeding formula you are not a bad parent. Formula is the best alternative to breast milk and your child will still thrive and grow into a healthy adult. My mom breastfed and formula-fed me. I didn't write this to make you feel bad as a parent, I just wanted to point out that breastfeeding is the HEALTHIEST choice and I encourage all moms to at least try it! Many moms don't get a lot of information from their doctors and end up not trying breastfeeding because they didn't realize how much better it is. Knowledge is power.

It is possible to work full-time and breastfeed. Breast pumps are amazing and you can store breast milk in the refrigerator/freezer and your child care provider can feed it to your baby. There are laws that require your employer to provide a place for you to pump at work!

There are many, many more reasons why breastfeeding is awesome but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding, I'd love to answer them for you!

I recommend speaking to a lactation specialist if you're pregnant and after you give birth. Breastfeeding can be difficult at first, but a lactation consultant (or WIC peer counselor) can help you find what works best for you and your baby. Here are a couple of good websites with more info:

Sources: Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide. Amy Spangler.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The HCG Diet

Shortly after graduating college I applied for a job at a metabolic weight loss center. When I pulled up to the building I noticed a sign that said something along the lines of "Lose 10 lbs in one week!" That was the first red flag. During my interview the owner of the clinic told me about their method of weight loss: injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and 500 calorie diets. That was the 2nd and final red flag. He told me they had a medical doctor on staff and that the diet was a safe and "natural" way to lose weight. After researching HCG when I got home that day, I called the owner and declined the job. 

HCG is a hormone that is produced in the urine during pregnancy. It's claimed to suppress appetite and trigger the body to use fat as fuel. Along with HCG injections or oral drops, participants are placed on a 500-800 calorie diet. 

HCG has never been proven to aid in weight loss. The FDA has not approved HCG and has advised consumers not to buy this over-the-counter drug.  The FDA has even warned companies selling HCG that they are breaking the federal law since HCG is not approved and the labels make unsupported claims.

So why are so many people on the HCG bandwagon? Because anyone on a 500-800 calorie diet will lose weight - initially. This is NOT a sustainable diet. It is impossible to provide your body with the carbohydrates, fats, protein, fiber, and vitamin and minerals that you need every day in this minute amount of calories. When calories are severely restricted, the body first uses fat, then muscle. Muscle is what keeps your metabolism revved up and is the last thing you want to lose when trying to lose and keep weight off. Usually, when people drop weight rapidly by starving themselves, they end up gaining it all back as fat. When the body is in long-term starvation mode, there can be more adverse effects such as gallstone formation, improper muscle and nerve function, irregular heartbeat, and many other effects.

If starvation and pregnant ladies urine doesn't sound appealing to you, lose weight the old-fashioned, healthy way! There is no quick-fix to losing weight and keeping it off permanently. Eat all food groups based on the dietary guidelines and exercise. The dietary guidelines are based on scientific evidence from thousands of studies. Following the guidelines can lead to weight loss and will provide all the nutritional components your body needs. Click here to use the food tracker to discover how many calories and servings of each food group you need to lose or maintain weight the healthy way.