I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. It’s slow and sometimes I’m not going to get to blogging, but I’m trying to get back to this as often as I possibly can! I really love writing and sharing all the wonderful information I learn each month along the way!

A few small tips to take your fitness routines to the next level:

  • If you’ve not checked out Yoga International’s website, you should. They do free week-long mini-immersions that might pique your interest.
  • Recent studies state that cross-training is vital to overall health and the prevention of muscular imbalances in the body. Whether you’re a mind-body enthusiast or CrossFit pro, consider doing something completely different from your norm.
  • I’m a huge proponent for barefoot running (I love my Vibrams!) but I also know that barefoot shoes are not for everyone. Consider researching forward- and mid-foot strikes to minimize the extreme forces placed upon your joints and lower back from heel-strike running patterns.

I’m chuckling to myself because apparently I forgot to keep recipes this month! There are two tasty breakfasts for you to try, but most of this edition of articles and recipes is dedicated to strength training!

Articles

8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change

Train This, Not That: Legs

Complex Training: Strength and Conditioning

Strength Training for a Cardio Fan

9 Exercises You Didn’t Know You Could Do with a Barbell

Plank Variations for Core Strength

Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

Outdoor Functional Training Exercises

Total Body Battle Ropes Workout

Which Comes First: Strength or Cardio?

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Self-myofascial Release (Part 1)

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Stretching Techniques (Part 2)

Uniform Movement is Injurious, Cross-training is Essential

The Easiest Mistake to Make in Backbends

Releasing Tension in the Psoas

Yoga for School Teachers (video)

Yoga for Strengthening Your Back (video)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Pregnant Women

Mindfulness Meditation Restructures Brain’s Gray Matter

New Findings On Alzheimer’s Risk

5 Tips to Detox Your Body and Get Back on Track

Eating More Whole Grains/Bran Tied to Lower Mortality

How to Get to Sleep When You Have a Cold (EO’s)

Heliochrysum and Lavender EO’s for Bruises

Essential Oils for Teething?

All About Hydrosols

How to Melt Shea Butter/Natural Oils for Body Care

Recipes

Raspberry Coconut Creme Brulee Oatmeal

Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Pancakes (gluten-free)

There are a lot of opinions out there on how to use essential oils (EO’s). So many, in fact, that it can leave you scratching your head wondering what way to go. Companies like doTERRA, for whom I sell, claim that many of their products can be applied directly to the skin without dilution, or neat; those that are considered “hot” need a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. On the other side of the coin, many aromatherapists state that essential oils are such strong compounds that you should always diffuse them and/or use them with carrier oils. Then there are the age ranges, like how and when and how much to use on young children.

Truth be told, it gets overwhelming!

Even though I represent doTERRA, I fall on the side of caution for several reasons: 1) scientific research, while being done, isn’t finished yet on many/most EO’s; 2) diffusion/dilution of EO’s reduces the risks of sensitivity reactions and/or sensitization; 3) there’s a lot of reading I need to do on the various EO’s genotypes and any safety concerns that go along with them; 4) I typically believe in the less-is-more approach. Even Modern Essentials, the reference book many doTERRA wellness advocates regularly consult, suggests diffusion/dilution for a good many of the oils listed, and to not use any oil (except, perhaps, lavender) on children under the age of 6 neat, or even at all.

Then, for many of us who use Dr. Google to find out more information on a particular topic of choice, there are the internal disagreements in the EO community, both between traditional aromatherapists and corporations, and between corporation and corporation. I’m not one to bash any company or way of using EO’s. I merely promote doing your own research. Therefore, I’ve dug around and come up with a starter list of good places to go when you want to know more (regardless of any company affiliation):

  • Using Essential Oils Safely (Facebook group): where education is the primary focus, not sales or support of brands, and moderated by a group of trained aromatherapists who, in my opinion, give good advice on EO use. They also have a list of good websites to go to for more EO information under their files.
  • Learning about EOs: a website run by an aromatherapist trained through AromaHead Institute, one of the leading aromatherapy schools in the USA.
  • The Tisserand Institute: Robert Tisserand is, perhaps, the foremost expert on EO’s, their constituents, their uses, and their safety concerns. He also sends out a newsletter, to which you can subscribe, and also wrote Essential Oil Safety, a huge compendium of his lifelong research in the field.
  • Essential Oil Blogging: run by Plant Therapy, a company that I’ve heard recently began working with Tisserand, and whose blog is extremely friendly for those who aren’t into scientific terminology.

I’ve deliberately stayed away from websites linked to big corporations, like doTERRA and Young Living, merely because my primary goal here is to educate rather than sell (though I do list the monthly promotions in each month’s EO blog post), and because there is a lot of contention between companies that, frankly, I’d rather not get into as it makes my head spin. I think that the EO community is better off with good, solid information from non-biased sources (or as non-biased as I can find currently) rather than any propaganda aimed at undermining a competitor. Where you go to purchase quality therapeutic-grade oils is entirely up to you, as each person will swear by what works for them–and what works for them isn’t necessarily what will work for others. (DoTERRA has worked well for me, which is why I chose to become a wellness advocate in addition to how they source their oils and work to give back to the distillation communities. Likewise, a friend of mine swears by her Young Living oils. It all comes down to personal preference and what works for you.)

So how do you use EO’s safely?

  • Read the Latin name of the oil being used–this is really important so you aren’t using the wrong type of, say, lavender.
  • Check out material safety data sheets, if available, or another source (like Tisserand) to find out what safety concerns there are.
  • When in doubt, dilute, diffuse, or avoid all together.
  • Always consult your physician before starting a new regimen (even an EO regimen) and/or an aromatherapist for details on EO’s that will benefit you.

The biggest part of using EO’s safely is to read, read, read, and talk with those who have experience in the field. If you aren’t certain that the information you received from a company sales rep is accurate, look for good, non-biased EO sources that can just focus on what EO’s and their blends are about without regard to brand name and the bottom line. In my own personal experience, the more I research, the more I am considering becoming a certified aromatherapist so that I know what I’m selling better in order to give the very best advice to those seeking to use EO’s.

For those who are interested, there are many good aromatherapy training options out there. Check out the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy for lists of approved schools. Those that cross over in both lists are, it seems, the most highly recommended.

See more on EO’s here and here.

Speaking of how doTERRA sources, here is a spotlight on the process they go through on sourcing their lemon and bergamot essential oils in addition to a closer look at lemon oil.

March 2015 Specials

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Last month, I discussed what essential oils are. This month, I wanted to briefly touch on why you might consider using them. Before I do, I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said many times before:

I’m not a doctor, and therefore I cannot diagnose, treat, cure, and/or prevent any disease. My intention is to discuss ways in which you may be able to help maintain wellness and quality of life. Since essential oils are considered supplements by the FDA, companies and sales representatives cannot claim that oils treat specific conditions/diseases/illnesses, nor should they. Always consult your physician, dietitian, naturopath, etc., before starting to use any new supplement or regimen, including essential oils.

One of the main reasons people are attracted by essential oils (EO’s) is because numerous medical studies have found that they have antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. (Check out PubMed and Aroma Science for specific studies on EO’s, including this month’s spotlight oil, lavender.) They work on your physiology, at the cellular level, which is why so many people recommend them and why so many researchers are looking into EO’s for potential medical benefits. This is also why you want to look for therapeutic-grade essential oils and steer clear of most brands that are sold in conventional retail stores.

EO’s have hundreds of uses, including as bug repellent, anxiety reducers, air purifiers, and flavors in cooking. It is always best to get guidance when starting to use EO’s. If you have one near you, consulting a naturopath physician or aromatherapist is the best route to go–they have undergone the education necessary to understanding the chemical compositions of EO’s and how the act/react with one another and in the body under certain conditions. However, sometimes these resources are cost prohibitive. Therefore, in addition to websites like PubMed and Aroma Science, you might check out the following resources:

There are several good blogs out there; the one I’ve started following the one written by Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute, who incidentally is having free webinars on the AI’s aromatherapy course. There are also several Facebook groups out there advocating the safe use of EO’s, including Using Essential Oils Safely. Most of all, the more you research and learn, the more you’ll be able to use EO’s with safety and skill.

One final note before I finish. A lot of people recommend using EO’s on children, particularly lavender. Because they have such powerful properties, you should not use undiluted EO’s on children under the age of 6. If you chose to use an EO on their skin, it should be highly diluted (one drop in at least 2 Tbs. of a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil), but may be better and more safely utilized in a diffuser. EO’s should only be used on young children with purpose and possibly should be avoided on infants altogether. Again, always check with your pediatrician before using any EO’s on your children.

This Month’s Spotlight Oil: Lavender angustifolia

This Month’s doTERRA Deals:

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Please note, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate. While the main goal of these posts on EO’s is to educate, you can go to my website to purchase oils. I do earn a small commission from your purchases, and thank you for any business you send my way. I hope you find them as nice and useful and I have!

I hope this year has been a terrific one already. January is drawing to a close (already?!) but not before I leave you with this month’s articles and recipes. Enjoy them, and may you find many ways to apply them to your new lifestyle habits!

Articles

Yoga-inspired Dynamic Warm-up

20-minute Calorie-burning HIIT Workout

Little Black Dress Workout

Boost Your Workout with Metabolic Drills

Top Exercises to Gain Thoracic Mobility

Does Exercise Order Really Matter?

Diabetes and Exercise: What Every Fitness Professional Should Know

The Physiology of Fat Loss

Cold Winter Temps Trigger Brown Fat Burning

Improving Chronic Neck Pain with Pilates

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain

Pilates for Larger Bodies

Sun Salutations Solutions

Seniors and Self-myofascial Release

Stretching for Men

Sleep: Fueling Brain and Body

Laughter, Brain Fitness, and Older Adults

The Skinny on Happiness

The Mental Aspects of Chronic Pain

Bust Out of a Food Rut

Eating with the Seasons

Understanding Iron-deficiency Anemia and Sports Anemia

From Farm to Doorstep with a Click

From Heirloom Seeds to Heirloom Breeds

How to Handle a Whole Chicken

DIY Cayenne/St. John’s Wort Salve

Natural Herbal Foot Care

The Wonders of Bergamot

Recipes

Avocado Toast

Banana Blueberry Muffins

On-the-go Breakfast Oatmeal Trail Mix Cupcakes

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

Meyer Lemon, Kale, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

3 Ingredient Split Pea Soup (vegan)

Spaghetti and Olive Rosemary Meatballs (grain-free)

Goat Cheese Chicken Alfredo (gluten-free)

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (vegan)

Easy Chickpea Vegetable Stir Fry

Apple Berry Crumble (grain-free)

Mini-Carob Brownies (gluten-free)

Coconut Custard

I’ve decided to start posting monthly on essential oils, what they are, why I chose to become a doTERRA wellness advocate, and specifics on oils in addition to letting you all know the monthly specials doTERRA offers. My goal is primarily to educate, but should you choose to make a purchase through my website, I do earn a small commission, (and I thank you for choosing to go through me).

So, first off, a lot of people want to know what are essential oils?

According to Wikipedia, essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic (literally, “water-fearing”) liquids comprised of plant-based volatile aroma compounds. The “essential” part of the description comes about because each oil carries the “essence” of the plant’s characteristic fragrance. Most often, essential oils are harvested through the steam distillation process, though they are also obtained through expression and solvent extraction. Historically, these oils were often used for medicinal purposes. Today, essential oils have a wide application, and are often found in common day products like makeup and perfumes, foods, incense, household cleaners, etc. The branch of alternative medicine that mainly uses essential oils is known as aromatherapy.

There are a lot of brands of essential oils out there. Many can be found in stores. While they might be great on price, they are often cut with chemicals. When searching for a good essential oil, make sure that it is certified pure therapeutic-grade quality. For this reason, I generally advise that you research into the companies you buy or are considering on buying from in order to ensure that they, like doTERRA, are meeting the highest quality standards possible. (The FDA does not regulate the essential oils market as they are viewed as supplements.) Look for companies that quality-check each batch of product made, who work closely with the top names in the oils industry, and who meld traditional aromatherapy applications with modern scientific research. Just because essential oils have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years doesn’t mean that good scientific evidence isn’t necessary. It is, and thankfully more scientists are looking at essential oils for their therapeutic and medicinal benefits. (More on that later.)

I’m going to leave you with a rather long video on frankincense oil presented by one of the top names in the industry and doTERRA’s Dr. Hill. Considered the “King of Oils,” frankincense has long been prized for its fragrance and medicinal properties, and is now being looked at by the medical community for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other things. For more information, check out PubMed.

DoTERRA’s January 2015 Specials:

Linked to more information

Linked to more information, extended till January 15th!

Linked to more information

Linked to more information

Linked to New Year, New You website

Linked to New Year, New You website

As a bonus, here are some recipes that promote a Slim & Sassy lifestyle! Remember, to be healthy requires more than using a product. It requires lifestyle changes! Pick one area to focus on at a time, make small goals to meet an overall larger one, be patient and persistent, and you’ll start seeing results! Good luck and best wishes this year!

I know this is coming a few days late. It is December, after all. Thanksgiving holiday sneaked up on me, and with it, a sick household. So my good intentions to get this out around Thanksgiving came to nothing.

 

Be that as it may, I hope that you find these links useful for the rest of the holiday season, and beyond. I’ll leave you with a word of encouragement: consider branching out this year, trying something different for your holiday meals. Also, try to begin a healthy habit (i.e. not overeating, etc.–make it your own) before the new year begins. There’s no reason you should have to wait to begin a resolution. Start today!

 

Articles

Best Biceps Exercises

8 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective

HIIT vs. Super-slow Training

Rehab Your Back with Core Exercises

Core Stability Ball Workout

Myofascial Release for Back Pain

Healthy Fall Food Lineup

How Sugar Affects Your Body

Dieting Myths

Action TV Content Causes Overeating

Training the Brain to Prefer Healthy Foods

Eating Fish May Lower Risk of Hearing Loss

DIY Deodorant for Sensitive Skin

 

Recipes

Butternut Squash Apple Hazelnut Muffins (Paleo)

Baked Brie with Apples and Salted Caramel

Fresh Fig and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Lemon Parmesan Green Beans

Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese

Brie, Fig and Apple Grilled Cheese

Kale/Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash, Pomegranate, and Candied Pecans

Brown Butter Pasta with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Pumpkin Pie (Paleo, Gluten-free)

Pumpkin Custard (Paleo)

Orange Rosemary Cake

Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Soft Pumpkin Cookies (Gluten-free)

 

doTERRA's December deals: www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak

doTERRA’s December deals: http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak

 

So I’ve been busy as a bee in October trying to get moved and enjoying a vacation, but all the while pondering what it’s like to be a pregnant mom with a one-year-old. First off, let me say that this first year has been an absolute blast. My husband and I are so very happy, we often look at each other and wonder what we did before we had kids. Our daughter is a sweet-tempered, curious little tot who wakes up each morning ready to embrace the new day. (I wish I could channel that enthusiasm for sunrises some mornings.) To her, there is nothing more pleasant than getting a chance to venture outside with one or both of her parents; walking with the breeze blowing through our hair is the greatest of delights.

 

It’s not always so easy, however. I’m once again experiencing nausea with this current pregnancy as I did with the last, though admittedly it isn’t quite so bad this time around. Still, there are days when it’s hard to peel myself up off the couch because my daughter is investigating something that we’d rather her not get into. After a hectic month like October, all I really want to do is vegetate. Too bad I’m a mom 😉

 

Here are some of my thoughts on back-to-back pregnancies, and how to make it through when the going gets rough:

 

  • It is exhausting to be chasing a young child around while you’re carrying another. Take naps. Take a lot of naps. Find ways of wearing said young child out so you can take another, or put them in a play pen (pack-n-play) just so you can close your eyes for 20 minutes. You’ll thank yourself later.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and family. Even if all you do is sit on the sofa while they tend to the needs of your little one, it’s worth letting go of the control reins for those few precious minutes. One of the big things OB’s try to convey to their pregnant patients is minimizing stress factors in your life. This is one way of doing so.
  • It is very likely that, as some point, you’re going to feel like a harassed blob that looks like a tornado struck her in the face. It is so easy to forget about your needs. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Put on a little makeup (but keep it out of reach of Little Sticky Fingers), wear clothes that aren’t your usual pregnancy attire, go out with a girlfriend for coffee/tea, workout, get a massage–whatever it is you need, do it. Dad won’t die from watching your tiny tot for an hour or so. If he can’t do it, try to have a backup babysitter.
  • Remember that tornado I mentioned? It rips through your living space daily, spreading toys and shoes and whatever else it finds throughout it. Remember that it’s okay to let the house be messy for a day or two (or three). Tidiness is not a strong trait with young kids, and you might not have the energy to pick up every evening when pregnant. Take a deep breath and watch something on the television once your kiddo has gone to bed. You deserve the break.
  • Eat often (you’re growing a baby) and eat a wide variety of foods. Your tot will want whatever is on your plate, no matter what’s on his/hers. I just went to MommyCon last weekend (more on that later) and one of the interesting facts I learned is that you only have the first three years of a child’s life (plus gestation) to instill healthy eating habits. After that, it becomes much harder to get them to change their preferences. So by eating the best foods you can (the pregnancy will dictate some of this, of course), you’re increasing the likelihood that your tot will be exposed to good food choices, as well as your baby (they have a lot of taste buds in the womb)! Don’t worry if they’re picky through their toddler years. Keep trying. They’ll come back to eating well later on.
  • Don’t forget to budget for baby! You might not need as much stuff this time around–I don’t, thank goodness–but you still need to plan and buy well in advance, if possible. I highly recommend shopping secondhand or asking friends if they have anything they’re getting rid of. I got a crib for free and a double stroller for a fraction of its original price.
  • Stay consistent with your tot in both routine and discipline. It’s really easy to let go of the control reins when you’re pregnant because you’re tired, sick, etc., but that can be really frightening/challenging to a young child, and they’ll act out. Stick to your guns, even when it’s tough on the hard days, and you’ll thank yourself after Bumpkin #2 comes along because you won’t have as much work to do, let alone patience, in order to correct bad behavior.
  • Tell your kid about the baby! You may not think they’ll understand, particularly if they’re young, but I guarantee you they will. My daughter once gave my baby bump a kiss!
  • Take time to be with your spouse. Nourishing your relationship will promote a healthy family life and set a good example for your children.
  • Keep a sense of humor even on the bad days. Sometimes a good belly laugh is all you need to turn your day around.

 

These suggestions, of course, are the tip of the ice burg. Each situation is unique to the person living them, so there’s no way for me to cover them all. These are the things I’ve learned from my own personal experience, and I hope they help you on your own journey through parenthood. It is a fantastic time of life. Cherish every moment, particularly the young years–they’ll be gone in a flash.

 

***

Here is this month’s doTERRA specials. If you are interested in essential oils, please check out my website. Remember, if you place an order, take advantage of the preferred member discount (20% off orders; it’s a one-time $10 fee)! If you’re interested in becoming a wellness advocate, please message me for more information.

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Found on Facebook

Found on Facebook

Somehow last week ran away from me before I had a chance to even think about blogging! I got to Saturday and realized that everything I’d meant to do didn’t happen…except housework. So I suppose I did something productive.

 

Well, I’ll get to last week’s topic next week, but in the meantime, I hope that the temperatures are starting to dip for you. We’re expecting 100 F today, which I’m totally bummed about. Fall comes around to everywhere but us, and I really, really want some cool temperatures to help me feel less pregnant. Ah well. This weekend might find me a 80’s-degree day. Fingers crossed!

 

Check out these amazing articles and recipes below. We’re heading into cold and flu season, so make sure you check out the very last recipe on Fire Cider. It sounds like a real cold-kicker. If you’re looking for another way to fight colds in your family, consider doTERRA’s OnGuard essential oil blend, found here. I gave it to my hubby to fight off a head cold and he felt better in 24 hours!

 

Articles

Warm Up By Rolling Out

6 Lower Body Exercises Besides Squats

Build Strong Glutes and Pain-free Lower Back

Kettlebell Training Kicks Butt (study)

Posterior Chain Workout

Improve Stability and Mobility (Functional Training Exercises)

Improving Chronic Neck Pain w/Pilates

Yoga on the Ball

Have We Gotten Carried Away with HIIT?

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Workout

Sorting Out Supplements

A Happy Spouse is Good for Your Health

Vegetarian Diets are Also Good for the Planet

Food Safety Tips

Buy Ugly Produce, Reduce Food Waste

How to Train Your Brain to Like Healthier Foods

Fire Up Your Metabolism

5 Habits that Increase Longevity

Your Thoughts are Key to Your Health

 

Recipes

Roasted Figs and Plums

Pumpkin Granola Bars w/Chocolate Chunks and Apricots (nut-free)

Loaded Morning Museli

Raspberry Cacao Nib Breakfast Bundt Cakes (grain-free)

Honey Peach Muffins w/Oat Streusel Topping

Sandwich Bread (Paleo, grain- and nut-free)

Pesto Cheese Bread

Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Caprese Pizza

Mini Pizza Frittata Bites (Paleo)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream (refined sugar and dairy-free)

Homemade Granulated Garlic

Fire Cider

I apologize for not putting out a post last week. I got clobbered with a sinus cold, which on top of being (seemingly) perpetually sick (again) this pregnancy and a teething infant will knock anyone flat on their back. However, through the use of essential oils (lemon, peppermint, and ginger mainly), I managed to defeat the crud after 4 days. Had I been able to use doTERRA’s protective blend, OnGuard, it might have been sooner, but there are certain oils one has to avoid while pregnant and some of those are in it.

 

But I’m back with this month’s doTERRA specials:

 

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Feel free to visit my website for more information on these products, and always feel free to shoot me a message with any questions you might have on products, preferred memberships, and becoming an wellness advocate!

 

And now onward….

 

Since my daughter was six months, I’ve introduced solid foods to her. Like many parents, I’d done some research about which way I wanted to go. I was really interested in baby-led weaning (BLW) but honestly had no idea where to begin to find good resources on the subject, and I didn’t know which of my friends were using that method of introduction. So I went with spoon-feeding purees.

 

It has been a frustrating experience, honestly. I initially went all out, making purees from fruits and veggies and trying to stuff them in her, with the occasional dose of yogurt added. Some things she liked right away. Many of them she’d tolerate. But in the end, almost all of them she spit back out, especially when her interest for what mama and daddy were eating grew.

 

So I began hand-feeding her bits of whatever I felt was nutritious for her with, again, varying results. Most meals, I felt frustrated. So did my daughter, I think, because she wanted to do it herself.

 

Now children are hardwired to learn how to do things from the time they’re born–rolling to sitting to crawling to walking–and while they need some help sometimes from the parents, the learning curve is largely left up to how fast they’re going to figure it out and do it. So it’s rather backwards of parents to seize control of the eating part of this learning process by dictating what foods their kids should eat (at this stage). Okay, in general we do know what is nutritious…but so do babies, and they know exactly what they need when. Trust me. Blueberries are packed with good things for you but if a baby doesn’t want to eat them, they won’t no matter how hard you try.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

Enter Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. I was introduced to this book a few months ago by a friend who announced that this would be her basic BLW guide as she began introducing solids to her son (though I didn’t purchase it till the beginning of this month). I was thrilled to know someone else who was planning on BLW and picked her brain about the best way to go through with it now that I’d started solids.

 

Let me stop here a moment to define what BLW is not. Weaning, as used here, is a British term for introducing foods to a baby, whereas in America it is used to describe the process of stopping breastfeeding. BLW is not about reducing breast milk to your child, which has many essential antibodies and benefits for them (even through the age of 2), but rather about teaching them how to eat good, nutritious food.

 

What is BLW? Basically, it’s putting a variety of foods before your baby and letting them examine them to their heart’s content till they are ready to try tasting them…and then letting them gum/chew the food till they figure out the mechanics of eating. This whole process, according to Rapley/Murkett, is akin to playing–and who wouldn’t want their kid to enjoy meal time?

 

There is a reduced risk of choking, according to Rapley/Murkett, because when babies first start learning how to eat, they still have their tongue reflex, an automatic mechanism that pushes away objects that threaten to go down their throat. At around six months, this begins to lessen/stop. The problem with purees and spoon-feeding, apparently, is that the foods are runny enough to bypass this safety reflex and the baby merely sucks food off a spoon, so when chunkier foods are introduced, they can often choke on chunks as they haven’t yet figured out how to chew.

 

This being said, I’ve got to admit that it is a messier way to do meal time. Rapley/Murkett offer some good suggestions for reducing mess, but until an infant learns how to keep food in their mouth, chew and swallow it, there is mess involved. On the upside of things, however, the messy stage is rather short-lived and accompanied by the necessary learning of the mechanics of the hands, mouth, and utensils (when introduced). Many BLW children are able to feed themselves well with utensils by 18-24 months–there are pictures in the book to prove it.

 

I’m really interested in seeing my daughter progress. Already, I feel like she’s eating more than she was before, even if half of the apple pulp comes back out 🙂 I’m hoping that BLW’s promise of infants being more adventurous eaters will happen soon, too, and am in the process of looking for easy-to-use/-wash dishware and utensils to help her practice! I will, as usual, do a follow up post at a later date. Until then, happy eating!

Essential oils have become hot in the last few years. They’re cropping up in all sorts of ways, with a myriad of uses described in blogs, on websites, etc. Sometimes, the countless suggested uses are enough to have one’s head spinning, and it always seems that each suggestion is a harmless way to use the oils.

 

However, that’s not always the case. Some oils aren’t good for certain times of life. Take pregnancy. If the wrong oils are used while pregnant, it can cause toxicity during gestation of the baby. Certain constituents within the oils can cause more harm than good. Below are a few examples:

 

  • Camphor: while in the majority of cases, the babies were born safely, camphor seems to induce labor and toxicity buildup (within the mother, at the very least).
  • Sabinyl acetate: considered very dangerous to use while pregnant, this component crosses the placenta and induces abortion.
  • Salicylates: studies done with rats conclude that when given, these produce dose-dependent congenital abnormalities.

 

Although most of the studies mentioned in Essential Oil Safety are done on rats, there is some concern backed by evidence that certain oils pose risks–some of which are very serious–to unborn children. Below are two lists of contraindicated oils during pregnancy/lactation and those that should be used in limited quantities while pregnant and lactating.

 

Essential Oils to Avoid Throughout Pregnancy and Lactation

Anise                                              Hyssop (pinocaphone CT)

Anise (star)                                    Lanyana

Araucaria                                       Lavender (Spanish)

Artemisia vestita                            Mugwort (common, camphor/thujone CT)

Atractylis                                        Mugwort (great)

Birch (sweet)                                  Myrrh

Black seed                                      Myrtle (aniseed)

Buchu (diosphenol CT)                   Oregano

Buchu (pulegone CT)                     Parsley leaf

Calamint (lesser)                            Parsleyseed

Carrot seed                                    Pennyroyal

Cassia                                             Rue

Chaste tree                                    Sage (Dalmatian)

Cinnamon bark                               Sage (Spanish)

Costus                                            Savin

Cypress (blue)                                Tansy

Dill seed (Indian)                             Thuja

Fennel (bitter)                                 Western red ceder

Fennel (sweet)                                Wintergreen

Feverfew                                         Wormwood (all chemotypes)

Benipi                                               Wormwood (sea)

Hibawood                                         Wormwood (white)

Ho leaf (camphor CT)                       Yarrow (green)

Zedoary

 

Essential Oils to Restrict During Pregnancy and Lactation

Basil (lemon)                                    Myrtle (honey)

Boswellia papyrifera                        Myrtle (lemon)

Champaca (orange) absolute          Nastertium absolute

Lemon balm (Australian)                  Tea tree (lemon-scented)

Lemongrass                                      Thyme (lemon)

May chang                                        Verbena (lemon)

Melissa

 

I should like to note, in closing, that essential oils are much more powerful than their whole food/plant counterparts. For example, one drop of peppermint oil is roughly 28 cups of peppermint tea. Therefore, just because an oil like cinnamon is contraindicated while pregnant doesn’t mean that you cannot still enjoy a little bit of cinnamon powder in some applesauce.

 

Source

Tisserand, Robert and Young, Rodney. Essential Oil Safety, Second Ed. New York, NY, 2014; p. 147-163.