Eating Healthy Even During A Stressful Time Period

This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company, but as always, the opinions are my own.
 

Ashley Quaker oats (1)
Now that I am a mother, I am definitely having to adjust my personal expectations of what I can
accomplish in a day. Historically, I was the queen of to-do lists. I gained great pleasure from making a list
of the things I wanted or needed to do each day, as soon as I woke up, and then throughout the day,
checking everything off the list. My mom and others warned that once our daughter arrived, especially
during the first few months, I’d need to adjust my expectations. Hoping to accomplish multiple things,
especially if they were involved tasks, would be very difficult as so much of my time would be dedicated
to feeding, pumping, cleaning bottles and snuggling and playing with Katie. As I’ve shared in other posts
and on social media, I have started to understand the wonderful demands newborn life brings; and have
therefore only committed to a few things each day, outside of Katie’s care and needs, which include
showering and making sure that I prioritize getting enough to eat, especially as I’m trying to increase my
breast milk supply.
 
I have never been one of those people who forgets to eat or who loses weight during stressful times.
Instead, I have photographic evidence and memories that show that anytime life gets stressful, I turn to
comfort food. Senior year of high school during college application process, red licorice was my comfort
food and it fueled one too many late night sessions of answering application questions or studying for
AP exams. More recently, during wedding planning and job changes, I turned to easy options like take-
out, and delivery. Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to find a more moderate,
balanced approach to food even during stressful or busy times.
 
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Therefore, when my friends at Quaker told me about their new product, Quaker Overnight Oats, I was
very excited. A convenient, nutritious and hearty option that can be prepared ahead so it is ready and
waiting in the fridge for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even a late-night feeding session. I’ve found
that since having Katie my hunger has been all over the place, with my stomach growling the most
during the early mornings, late evenings and middle of the night.

Available in four flavors, Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch, Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven, Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss, and Orchard Pecan Peach perfection, each one has a mix of oats, fruits, quinoa,
flaxseeds, and nuts – has the nutrition to help keep me fueled. Unlike many products on the market
today, there are no artificial flavors or added colors! In addition, it has at least 11 grams of protein
(when prepared with 1/2 cup of Vitamin A and Vitamin D Fortified Skim Milk) and 300 calories or less
(before dairy or non-dairy option is added). But, not to worry. If you prefer to make it with almond milk,
cashew milk or any other non-dairy options, the Overnight Oats still turn out perfectly!

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In order to prepare the Overnight Oats, you simply open the individual cup container, pour your choice
of milk to the fill line, cover with the lid, put in the refrigerator and let the flavors and ingredients
combine for 6+ hours (no longer than twenty-four hours). I’ve been preparing two at a time, enjoying
one in the morning for breakfast and then snacking on the other one either throughout the day or
during my late night feeding session. If you want more protein, you can mix in some Greek Yogurt for an
even creamier texture. 

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While I’ve made mine with 1% milk and almond milk, I’ve preferred the 1% milk as it seems to have
turned out a bit creamier. My favorite flavors are the Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch as well as the
Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss.
 
A delicious and refreshing breakfast for these hot summer days, this is perfect for anyone who needs an
easy, quick option for breakfast.
 
Thank you to The Quaker Oats Company for sponsoring this post.

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Taking 30 Minutes For Me

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Now, more than ever, I’ve found that taking 30 minutes to relax and rejuvenate each day allows me to be the best version of myself. I was told by multiple parents that it’d be hard, especially during these first few months, to find time to do much more than shower each day but, if possible, take 30 minutes to invest in myself. I took this advice to heart, and thanks to Bo’s support, have been able to enjoy at least 30 minutes each day the past few weeks to relax and disconnect. This is the one time each day when I allow myself to be free of a to-do list, any household chores and just indulge in my favorite things.  After seeing a few other people share their self-love or self-care routines, I thought it’d be fun to share mine.

By 9:30 most nights Katie is fast asleep in her bassinet and I am able to transition my mind to relaxation. I head downstairs and pour myself a glass of wine, before going back into our bedroom. I often reach for an oaky Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir and am working my way through the bottles we bought during our Babymoon in California. Once I’m back upstairs, I light my favorite Diptyque candle and then change into something more comfortable. After wearing a nursing bra and clothes that are nursing-friendly but not necessarily the most feminine or flattering, I spend my nights in something a bit more feminine. When Lively offered to send me a pair of set of their matching bra and underwear, I laughed, thinking that there could be no worse time to offer lingerie to a woman. In fact, I dreaded taking them out of the bag, fearing the way my post baby body would feel in the black bra and underwear. Much to my surprise, I’ve started wearing them multiple nights a week as the silky, soft bra and underwear set is feminine but comfortable. The bralette is a perfect sleeping bra while the mesh trim makes it more fun than anything else in my drawer. Want to try Lively? You can use code AMB-healthyhappier to receive $10 off your order! 

The next order of business is trying to get my skin in order with a combination of brightening potions. A few nights a week I apply the Beauty Counter Brightening Face Mask while the other nights I apply the Brightening Facial Oil followed with a night moisturizer and eye cream. While I’d love to use one of the many stronger brightening products (specifically Rodan+Fields Reverse) you all recommended, most of them aren’t recommended for use during breast feeding due to the retinol. If you have another recomendation, please let me know as I’m tired of this pregnancy mask! I have also started using a moisturizing hand cream each night since the daily bottle scrubbing has started to wreak havoc on my hands.

Finally, I squeeze in 15 to 30 minutes of reading before going to sleep. While I initially found myself reading parenting and baby books, I have decided to switch gears and save those for daytime while my evening reading is strictly reading for pleasure. The stack of books next to my bed is embarassing and clearly points to a naive new mom who thought she’d spend all her nursing hours reading, only to realize that her baby currently requires two hands to hold and cuddle while nursing.  These are the books I’ve renewed multiple times at the library and am finally finding time to read now that Katie’s sleep is allowing me this nightly routine.

What books are you loving right now? What is part of your self-care routine?

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This Post Is For Everyone

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As I type this post, I’m sitting in our master bedroom watching Katie sleep while I pump. Actually, I should change that last sentence to read “wishing and hoping Katie would sleep, pumping and trying to type this post.”

We are currently 15 minutes into our nightly “witching hour.” The 1-2 hours each day when Katie tends to be most unpredictable. Some days this is her best nap of the day while others she is only happy if being held either while I rock her in the glider or am dancing with her as Disney tunes play in the background.

When I sat down, I wasn’t planning to blog during this pump session. In fact, I have a book sitting next to me. But, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw the outpouring of support on today’s post, my heart was moved to share those same thoughts with you all, especially for those who haven’t been through the journey of breast feeding.

I titled this post This Post Is For Everyone as the last thing I want, is for someone to see the picture of me and Katie and think that this isn’t relevant for them. I understand that many of you probably skip over the motherhood posts, hoping that soon recipes, workouts and fashion posts will become more frequent. But, I promise you, today’s post is for anyone and everyone.

Before I was a mother, I often wondered how to best support my friends as they became mothers or announced their pregnancies. Since I hadn’t been down that path before, I felt clueless.

Whether you are a mother, a soon-to-be mother, a friend, a sister, or an innocent bystander, today I want to share with you the number one word of advice I’d give to you.

Show the mothers around you support and compassion as they develop their style of keeping their baby nourished.

I am so thankful to the friends, relatives, doctors and you all, my readers on Instagram and Facebook, who helped me through the initial days and weeks that were filled with questions, challenges and moments of joy as I figured out how best to nourish Katie.

Like everything in life, this too is very personal. However, we live in a society that often portrays one image of feeding a child. For years, that image was formula feeding. Now, there are hashtags, videos, books and articles portraying the belief that “breast is best.”  In fact, I clearly remember, one vivid moment during the first few minutes of our parenting class that we took at Tribecca Medical. The woman leading the class, asked whether anyone in the room planned to feed their child using formula. I leaned over to Bo, asking why in the heck anyone would do that when the best food a child could receive was free and readily accesible. At that point, everything I’d read and heard followed the “breast is best” your child school of thought. It all seemed so simple to me at that time. Of the 20 or 25 people in the room, no one raised their hand.

Over the past seven weeks, as I’ve taken my own journey to understand how best to nourish and feed Katie, I have come to learn and appreciate, that what our pediatrician, my mother and others said to me is so true – FED IS BEST.

If you have a new mom in your life, show her compassion and support as she makes this journey. There will be hard days and wonderful days even for a woman who has the simplest of experiences. The issues and challenges are numerous and sometimes, all someone needs is a friend or loved one who can smile, support them and bring over anything to help. It may be ordering them extra bottles on Amazon Prime when you hear their woes about the constant washing of bottles. Or, maybe they never expected to need a bottle so you help by bringing a random assortment of bottles, with the receipt, so they can quickly test and try the different models. Or, if your friend is breast feeding, maybe you send them a care package of self care items especially for breast feeding – nipple cream, therapeutic gels, lactation cookies, or lactation tea packs. Let them vent to you about the trials and tribulations, even if you’ve never been in their shoes.

In case you don’t know what to say, here are a few things I wouldn’t recommend saying:

    • Don’t worry, it will get easier. For some, it does get easier but for others it may never improve. Whether it is insufficient supply, blocked ducts, mastitis, latch issues or a host of other challenges, the road may be tough for them the entire time they choose to breastfeed.
    • Your milk will come in soon, I’m sure formula is only temporary. That mom’s milk may never come in or come in the amount needed to fully support the baby. So many people have said this to me and at first it made me want to curl up in a ball and cry but now, I’ve started using it as a moment to educate them.

So yes, in a society where we have more media in our face than ever before, sometimes the moms need support and love because not every breastfeeding journey is filled with the smiling babies, perfectly fitting nursing covers or nursing clothes and wonderfully full breasts you see in so many ads, stories and articles. Just like everything every other type of media, images projected are far different than reality. The difference is, this act which is so natural is so difficult and sometimes impossible for many women. 


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