Q&A WITH LUKA McCABE

If you don’t already, I’d strongly encourage you all to check out the incredible work Luka is doing over on her instagram. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Luka this week on a topic that is very near and dear to me. Luka is a mumma, mid wife, nurse and health & wellness advocate empowering others and providing incredible resources to guide, nourish and inspire. She educates around all matters of child nutrition, baby led weaning, parenting, health and more. In this interview we cover the why behind why she does what she does, how she got to where she is and what her home-birthing experiences were like!

This is a powerful and truly moving interview, Luka is one bold, compassionate and empowered woman who is doing incredible things for the health and wellness space - providing evidence based recommendations so that other mums who are overwhelmed with the information can find peace, clarity and confidence in how to feed and raise a healthy family.

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Q: Tell us about what you do – what is at the heart of it? 

A: I run a small instagram account called @boobtofood which focuses on ideas to help guide, nourish and inspire mum’s (and dad’s) and their babies journey from ‘boob to food’. How to navigate the world of first foods focusing on foods that are nutrient dense, gut loving, easy to digest and provide the ‘why’ behind the foods - why should we eat it, or avoid it and what is it doing to our bodies. My aim is that mums will be INFORMED, educated and can then make evidence based decisions regarding their babies health. That they will see food as medicine, as fuel, and that their babies will grow up healthy and hopefully see preventable diseases decrease (eg obesity, hypertension, diabetes etc).

Q: How did it all begin? 

A: Ive been interested in health for years, and definitely really ‘cleaned up’ my diet when I was pregnant with my first born Flynn. Pregnancy seems like a very common time for women to focus on looking after themselves - as they are now caring for two! When it came time to introduce him to solids I did ALOT of research. At the time the recommendation was to start solids at 4 months (from the healthcare system) however after attending nutrition seminars for babies and doing my own research especially into gut health it was clear to me that babies should start food at 6 months (which the recommendation has been recently changed back to). It was also recommended to me that I start him on rice cereal (which went against everything I believed in), so instead I searched for alternatives. He was started with egg yolk, liver, bone broth, marrow, sardines, sauerkraut, and lots of fruit and vegetables. He has grown into a healthy toddler who eats anything and everything! I was surprised with my second born Florence that again I was recommended to start her on rice cereal (I have a blog post on why I hate rice cereal!), so I decided to start @boobtofood and HOPE and PRAY that people would see the message, and see feeding their baby as an opportunity to nourish them and help them thrive, not just fill them with empty ‘cardboard-hydrates’.

Q: What does health & wellness mean to you?

A: Everything! Im not strict, I don’t diet, and I live life. If I go out with my friends I will eat the gluten etc. However for my daily life, my home life and my kids life we place health and wellness in the highest regard. I INVEST our money into good ingredients; an investment into our health, we cook everything from scratch, we also look after our physical bodies; we see regularly chiropractors, remedial massage, I go to the gym most days, my husband practices Jiu-Jitsu and surfing most days. I know what it feels like to live life with optimum health, and I don’t want to ever feel any different!

Q: What is your number one health tip for general well-being?

A: My biggest rule of thumb is if that food didn’t exist (or couldn’t have existed without machines/heat etc) 200 years ago, then we shouldn’t eat it! Theres alot to say for ancient traditions, and thats how I treat our health. 

For wellbeing, especially for mums would be to take time for yourself  as often as you need. For me this is the gym in the morning, or a walk, or a coffee with friends without children. I also need to see people daily to help me feel alive and sane!

Q: What is your favorite food/meal

A: My favourite meal is a very simple one - good quality sourdough with avocado and all the toppings! My favourite food would have to be haloumi ;) 

Q: What is your number one tip for balancing all that you do – work, marriage, family, health, relationships?

A: Not sure if I can say I have balanced it all, most days feel like a juggling act and I feel like i’m failing at one aspect every day. If i’m focusing on family I feel like I can’t focus on ‘work’, if I focus on ‘work’ I feel like i’m not doing enough for my kids.. but I feel like thats life, its that ‘mum guilt’ we all get! 

The best thing I can do, is to love the kids dad, to stick together as a family unit and hope that together we can raise nice children and keep a roof over our heads! 

Q: Since becoming a mum, what is one of the most important lessons you have learned?

A: I always thought I would hate to be a stay home mum, that I would be so bored and want to go back to work straight away - how I was wrong. Becoming a mother released my purpose for life that I didn’t know existed. I learnt to wholeheartedly put others first, to become selfless, giving and a source of strength. Ive been taught patience, empathy, love, understanding and also to look at things again through a child's eyes. To slow down, to realise whats important, what true joy looks like, and also what sleep deprivation and the brink of insanity feels like haha!

Q: Tell us about your experience with pregnancy, homebirth and raising healthy children? 

A: Ive had two children - Flynn (nearly 4) and Florence (11 months). My pregnancies were straight forward and relatively easy (although both were nearly 2 weeks overdue). 

With Flynn I planned a birth at Belmont birthing centre, as we lived in a granny flat at the time and wasn’t enough room to birth in. My birth was ok, it was long (about 36 hours total) and I had a water birth but unfortunately had a nasty tear that required surgery at the John Hunter (which was embarrassing as thats where I work as a midwife haha). For Florence I planned a home birth and it was again very long as she was posterior, but NO TEAR (thanks to perineal massage! Too much info? Haha). My recovery was great with her!

Q: What would you tell someone who is considering doing a home birth – what do they need to consider and what can they expect? 

A: Homebirthing is amazing, to not have to leave your sanctuary, to not have to get in the car, to not have to adjust to a new sterile environment, to control who is in your space, to go to bed straight after birth - it was beautiful.

However, in saying that, home birthing was something I really wanted. For me I felt ‘safer’ at home, and had a peace to stay at home, and was more scared to go to hospital than to stay home. I had complete trust in my birth team; in my midwives. I never had doubts because I trusted their opinion explicitly. 

But for some people, the thought of home birth could inflict fear, anxiety, worry and doubt. You need to birth somewhere where YOU feel comfortable, as if you have that fear and anxiety in labour, you will produce adrenaline, which counteracts the oxytocin that is helping you to labour well - and in turn you might not labour well because of your fear. 

Remember that your birth choices are yours, educate yourself, be informed and remember that you are always a part of decision making when it comes to your pregnancy and labour xxx


You can connect with Luka via instagram and be in the know of any upcoming workshops and E books she has. She has recently released the Nourished Kids Lunchbox which is a must have for any parents out there. Please let us know in the comments below what you loved about this interview and if anything really resonated with you from this.

Yours in health,

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POST NATAL DEPLETION (+ AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT)

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv.Dip Nut Med)

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Transitioning into motherhood not only brings on enormous waves of emotions, but it also brings about some complex and overwhelming experiences for both mum and dad. Many mothers experience postnatal depletion, which can occur within weeks, months, years – or even a decade after the birth itself. Which, when you think about it, makes complete sense. You are growing a tiny human inside of you for 9 months and this draws upon your own nutrient stores & resources leaving you with less. This is why preconception care is so important to ensure that you’re nourished and well fed to take on the task of growing and birthing a tiny, precious, human into this world.

DID YOU KNOW? A mothers brain shrinks by 5% within the third trimester? This is to support the growth of our babies - that baby brain is a legitimate thing!

The purpose of this article is to get the information out there, to build awareness on the topic so that mothers can get the care and the advice of how to nourish and replenish their stores to give them back their vibrancy and their vitality. Yet commonly we see new parents running off little to no sleep, feeling overwhelmed and forgetting to feed themselves which not only affects their own health and wellbeing but puts a strain on their relationship with their partner, or even those with family and friends.

It takes a village to raise a child, but in this modern day, many women are doing it all themselves – the cooking, cleaning, caring, washing, driving, more cleaning and more washing at the expense of their own sleep, nourishment, and sanity. This scenario itself being stressed out and overwhelmed contributes further to the loss of nutrients and combined with breastfeeding (If you do) is a recipe for depletion.

In traditional cultures, women in their reproductive years of life would be fed specific diets that were laden with nutrient dense organ meats, fatty cuts of meats and broths to ensure that they remained well nourished. You’re eating for two in the sense of nutritional needs, rather than caloric requirements.

What Does Post Natal Depletion Look Like?

  • Exhaustion

  • Pain

  • Forgetfulness

  • Indecisiveness

  • Moodiness

  • Weight gain or significant loss

  • Foggy head or ‘baby brain’

  • Low mood and lack of concentration

Is this sounding familiar? Well fear not because it’s not all bad news - there is hope. I’ve got an online short course in the works ‘Nourishing Mums & Bubs’ that will be designed with new mammas in mind to be time savvy, cost-effective and with practical advice & education on how to replenish the stores and keep up with the demands nutritionally, physically and mentally post-birth.

The Nourishing Mums & Bubs E-Course Will Include:

  • A preparatory phase that will begin in your final trimester of pregnancy to get you ready for what lies ahead. We will talk through your after birth plan - will you have family close by to help with the cooking and cleaning? Do you have a partner on board who will take time off work to be your hands and feet? Have you got nourishing meals batch-cooked and ready to whip out of the freezer for a fast and stress-free dinner? These are some of the things we will go over in short segmented videos that you can watch in the comfort of your own home.

  • Identifying and supporting the changes in hormones, when they occur, how you may expect to feel and how best to support the changes and the transition through.

  • A list of nutrients that have been lost with simple and easy ways to get them to combat the depletion.

  • Support for sleep - how to enhance it, when to get it and how to cope with less of it

  • Tips, tools and tricks that will safeguard your mental and emotional health

  • Exercise guides to begin with (thanks to my husband who is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist)

  • Plus many recipes (that won't take you too much time or effort) but that will be replenishing and nourishing for both mum and bub (once bub is ready)

I will also get you thinking for the months ahead and what obstacles may arise – how to avoid mastitis, or treat it if needed, how to care for cracked and dry nipples, beat the baby blues and so much more. This will be formatted in a way that’s easy to view, access, learn from and apply.

If you’re interested to learn more about this or would like to sign up to the course please leave an expression of interest below and I can get in touch to give you the run down and the expected date of launch.

Yours in Health,

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PRECONCEPTION CARE

Written by: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc – Nutrition, Adv.Dip Nut Med)

Planning for your pregnancy should not only consider your circumstances, but also your diet and nutrition. The process of conception, pregnancy and birth in and of itself is a miracle and a completely mind-blowing process of creating and growing new life – it is a time where good nutrition is critical, and I’m not just talking about the 9months of pregnancy itself, but the time leading up to it.

The amount of time you take can vary depending on your own desires, the quality of your current diet, smoking and drinking status, oral contraceptive use, toxin exposure and so on. For some it might only be 6 months (which, ideally should be the minimum), for others up to 2 years might be needed to get your health and diet in check to support this miraculous process.

So, why is this so important…?

Ever heard of epigenetics?

For so long it was believed that our genetic makeup we were born with remained as it was throughout our lifespan, however now with more recent understanding, we can see that environmental factors – specifically diet in this case, can alter our genetic expression throughout our life, known as 'nutrigenomics' when discussing the influence of diet and nutrition on genetic expression... 

Think of these genetics as tiny light switches, being turned ‘on’ or ‘off’. This is a total game changer. Not only this, but how we eat can influence the genes within our offspring. Research has shown that within males consuming a high fat high sugar diet (that which is similar to a typical ‘western’ diet) actually increases the chances of their children developing type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and was not believed to be influenced by diet and lifestyle as Type 2 has been.

Correlations exist between characteristics of nutritional quality during pregnancy and the risk of the child developing a range of diseases in adolescence and adulthood including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and mental health disorders.

This goes to show, it’s not just about the mother’s diet during pregnancy, but both parties need to get on board with ensuring that the best nutrition is provided for their body’s well before they even think to conceive. The diet of both mum and dad before conception, and the diet of the mother during pregnancy, will determine to a very large extent the physical health, the appearance as well as mental and emotional well-being of the child.

A malnourished or depleted body needs time to recover, and that recovery should take place before, not during your pregnancy

Specific nutrients can influence sperm motility and morphology – literally the shape and their ability to swim is affected. It takes 3 months for new sperm cells to develop, its not something that a 7-day detox can fix! For women however, for a new oocyte to form, the cycle is about 100 days!

When nutritionally depleted, or with increased stress (physical, emotional, from toxin exposure and so on) fertility shuts down.

The body knows this is not an ideal environment to conceive and conserves its energy – in a nutshell (and, please note I’m not saying this is solely the reason behind every single infertility case – of course other common conditions influence this from obstruction, PID, infection, endometriosis, PCOS, lack of ovulation, in which women can still have a period, or otherwise). This is commonly seen in women with low body fat percentage and a higher muscle ratio, who exercise to the point when menstruation stops – referred to as the female athlete triad.

Macronutrients are important, in the right amounts – as deficiencies or excesses can both influence fertility, the pregnancy, the risk of complications and the size and health of the foetus, even into their adolescent and adult years.

“Female obesity is associated with significant alterations in reproductive health and fertility. Not only does obesity decrease the likelihood of ovulation, it also significantly reduces the chance for pregnancy in women who ovulate regularly. These data are of particular concern given the ongoing obesity epidemic and its effects on reproductive-age women. Furthermore, women on the extremes of body mass spectrum suffer from subfertility, implicating nutrition in cases of both underweight and overweight women.”

(Shaum & Polotsky, 2013)

A few beneficial nutrients to consider... 

  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A is crucial for genetic expression and genetic potential, for strong bones, healthy skin and keen eye sight, mineral metabolism, hormone production and mental stability. It is vitamin A which gives signal to the undifferentiated stem cells to differentiate into the various organs, such as heart, liver and lungs…

    Vitamin A is also needed for sperm production in men, as well as protects the sperm from oxidative damage.

  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D and A work in synergy and ensures optimal foetal development. Adequate vitamin D levels pre-pregnancy prepares the mothers bones, teeth, organs and brain for the additional stress that comes with being pregnant.

  • Vitamin E - Vitamin E is an antioxidant and important for immune and cardiovascular health. Studies have found that low vitamin E is associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Vitamin E is also known to prevent preterm infants and male infertility

  • Vitamin K - For vitamin K2 specifically, research has identified K2 dependent proteins in sperm itself, and it plays a vital role in reproduction. K2 activates receptors responsible for the deposition of calcium and phosphorus in the bones and teeth.

    The brain contains high concentrations of K2, where it is involved in the creation of myelin sheaths (protective cases around our neurons), making it important to the development of the central nervous system.

  • B Vitamins – B12 and B9 – specific for methylation, a cellular process involved within every cell for the appropriate cell division and DNA replication – a vital part of fertility, growth and development during pregnancy

  • Vitamin C – The ovaries contain high levels of vitamin C and this nutrient is used rapidly during ovulation. It’s also an antioxidant nutrient, important for collagen synthesis and immune system support.

  • Choline - Choline is necessary for the development of the brain, and especially important for cholinergic neurons (acetylcholine for example). Egg yolks are rich in this nutrient, when from free range hens also provide vitamins A, D, E and K2 as well as minerals iron, zinc, copper and selenium

  • Iron – Required for the activation of the enzymes that are essential for DNA synthesis during cell replication. During pregnancy, iron demands increase to about 600mg per day. This is to support the increase in red blood cell production, a further 300mg is then needed for foetus. Iron deficiency during pregnancy may affect maternal morbidity, foetal and infant development and pregnancy outcomes.

  • Cholesterol – Needed for the structure of cell membranes, brain function, hormone production as well as the formation of vitamin D. Within the brain, it supports the brains structure and the myelin sheath of nerve fibres. It supports neurotransmitter functions, such as serotonin, our ‘feel good’ hormone.

  • EPA & DHA – Part of the essential fatty acids that must be obtained in the diet. EPA is anti-inflammatory, however DHA is critical for brain growth and development. Getting this through the diet by way of fatty fish consumption as well as supplementation with fish oils, krill oil and cod liver oil is highly recommended.

    More recently, researchers have even conducted many clinical trials using fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and breast feeding reduced the risk of sensitisation to food allergens. These studies revealed a 30 per cent reduction in risk of egg allergy by age one when supplementing with fish oils during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the equivalent of 31 children per 100, making it greatly relevant in a clinical setting to support and reduce egg allergy in children.

  • Probiotics – The research shows that supplementation with probiotics during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding may reduce eczema risk. Specific strains were studied, which included Lactobacilus rhamnosus, that did show an effect in eczema risk reduction.

More specifically, for healthy sperm…

  • Selenium – increases sperm concentration and motility, improves morphology and increases pregnancy rate

  • Folate – increases sperm concentration, increases pregnancy rate

  • Zinc – improved sperm motility and concentration, improves pregnancy outcome, reduces sperm anti-bodies

  • CoQ10 – increases motility and sperm concentration, improves morphology and enhances acrosome reaction (basically fertilisation).

  • Vitamin C – improves motility and sperm density, reduces DNA fragmentation

  • Vitamin E – improves motility, concentration and pregnancy rate whilst reducing DNA fragmentation.

I could go on and on about every single nutrient and its benefit in pre-conception, fertility, healthy pregnancy as well as optimal health of your child but I fear it would result in an essay to be read.

Take home point – plan for your pregnancy, detox before conception, you’re creating new life and we want to give our bubs the best possible chance at life, not just their life but the generations that flow on from them – not only this, but nutrition to support the health of both parents during a time of rapid growth, change and increase physical and emotional demands – this to be continued after the birth, the ‘fourth trimester’ of pregnancy. For more information on this topic check out the brilliant work of Annalies Corse.

This is an area of nutrition I am personally so passionate about – if you have any further questions or would like guidance and help to plan for your pregnancy you can email to book in a consultation with myself, either face to face or on Skype.

Heres to happy, healthy family’s,


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References

Shaum, K. M., & Polotsky, A. J. (2013). Nutrition and reproduction: Is there evidence to support a “Fertility Diet” to improve mitochondrial function?. Maturitas74(4), 309-312.