At MFT we understand the importance of specialist and practitioners. As parents we all at some point have to rely on the advice of a specialist, sometimes for the most basic, and yet fundamental, needs of our babies. MFT Meets is a new blog series of interviews with people we find extraordinary.
This week's talk is with Lauren Goodwin, a nutrition therapist who is passionate about nutrition for helping anxiety and improving mental health. Lauren's speciality is to help couples improve their fertility, as well as supporting mothers nutriotionally throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
MY FOURTH TRIMESTER: Hi Lauren! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
LAUREN: Hello! I’m Lauren Goodwin, founder of Goodwin Nutrition. I’m a registered Nutritional Therapist and I offer 1:1 Nutritional Therapy consultations in person or via zoom. I specialise in helping couples improve their fertility and supporting mothers nutritionally throughout pregnancy and postpartum. I also have a special interest in nutrition for anxiety and mental health, particularly postpartum depression as it is something I really suffered with myself. I live with my husband Rich, my (almost) 2 year old boy Finn and my dog Buzz in South West London.
How did you come about working with nutrition and what led you to specialise in it? Have you always been interested in food?
Not at all! At Uni I was binge drinking, regularly pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines and overdoing it on the carbs, sugar and energy drinks. I was constantly bloated, sluggish, tired and anxious. I’d go for months without a period, and my weight was constantly creeping up.
This exacerbated once I’d graduated and started my first job working in PR. I would snack at my desk all day and drink wine most days after work. Desperate to feel better and lose weight, I followed fad diets, spent hours in the gym and ended up feeling worse. It wasn’t until I was recommended Amelia Freer’s book, ‘Eat Nourish Glow’ that I finally realised there was no point punishing myself and it was possible to enjoy food and not go hungry in order to feel my best. After following her advice, I discovered for myself the power of nutrition and its impact.
Simple changes in my diet and lifestyle restored my health dramatically. I lost weight, my periods came back, I had more energy and my digestion and mood improved significantly. I felt so passionate about food that it gave me a desire to help others to feel their best!
I then undertook extensive training in the field of Nutritional Therapy at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in Richmond and completed a 4 year Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.
Whilst studying I gave birth to my son Finn. After years of my own hormone imbalances, including being diagnosed with PCOS, I became fascinated in the power of nutrition for fertility. Once we had conceived, I had a fairly easy pregnancy, but a tough labour and I really struggled during the newborn period with my mood and energy, so it’s something I really want to support other mothers with.
How did you approach food in your own pregnancy and is there anything to keep in mind when pregnant about nutrition?
My diet didn’t change wildly while I was pregnant, obviously less wine! Haha. In my first trimester I felt like I had a constant hangover, I was feeling endlessly nauseous and exhausted. All I wanted were ‘beige’ foods and you know what, I gave into my cravings. BUT, I made sure I was having a smoothie every day and there were always vegetables on my plate to ensure those nutrients were going in along with the chips and pizza! By the time I was in my third trimester I found that I couldn’t eat a ‘normal’ sized portion without feeling like I’d eaten a house. This is very common so it’s important to eat little and often. Your blood sugar will also be a bit all over the place so I would eat something every 3 hours to ensure you don’t get tired and faint.
Keep in mind that that for your baby to develop, they will be using your nutrient stores to develop, so make sure you are eating well and taking a good prenatal supplement along with DHA. Babies need DHA for brain development and will zap yours, hence why we get the infamous ‘baby brain’.
I know you often speak about “eating the rainbow” 🌈 – explain!
Haha yes it’s one of my favourite sayings. Eating the rainbow means to eat fruits and vegetables of all different colours each day. Plants contain different phytonutrients, and each phytonutrient gives plants their colour. Eating a variety of colour in plants leads to an overall consumption of higher levels of specific nutrients and more health benefits!
As a new Mom it can be really difficult and stressful to have time to eat, and to get the right fuel. How important is food postnatally and what benefits can come out of it?
Food is very important postnatally, but I promise it doesn’t in anyway need to be complicated! For energy, make sure you are getting a good source of protein with every meal and snack and make sure you are getting a wide range of fruits and veggies in, plus some healthy fats. I recommend a daily smoothie and simple lunches like peanut butter and banana sandwiches or avocado with an egg on toast. Particularly great in the early days of endless breast or formula feeding is one handed meals and snacks! Anything that is balanced and takes minimal time to prepare is a win for me. Check out my Instagram for ideas!
I know you've had your own experience with PND and anxiety, how can food help you against anxiety and depression?
Food can be so helpful to ease postnatal anxiety and depression. I think the main things would be to eat a balanced diet at roughly regular times to ensure your blood sugar remains as steady as possible. An unbalanced blood sugar can really affect anxiety and depression. I would be to make sure you are getting lots of omega 3 fats in your diet. These help to regulate the flow of hormones and other chemical messengers in the brain which can help to improve mood. Sources include oily fish, flaxseed, chia seeds and nuts.
Postnatal health and food are two things that are very linked– is there something that is good to keep in mind for after we’ve given birth?
After you’ve given birth, your main priority will be drinking in those newborn cuddles and caring for your new arrival, but we also need to think about healing. Whether you had a c-section or a vaginal birth, you will need to recover.
Eating protein with every meal and snack is great as your body needs protein in order to heal.
Good components are:
Making sure your diet is high in iron too is also very important post blood loss at birth.
Food sources great for iron are:
Red meat 🥩
Pumpkin seeds 🎃
Also, during pregnancy your baby would have depleted a lot of nutrients from your stores in order to develop, and if you do happen to be breastfeeding or pumping, they will be zapping those nutrients still. So, many sure you are still taking your prenatal supplement for a few months post birth and eating a varied diet! This is where a daily smoothie comes in handy to get those extra nutrients in easily without having to spend time cooking.
How have the pandemic and current climate changed the way you approach customers?
This whole pandemic has caused a lot of people, particularly parents, to suffer from chronic burnout. The lack of support parents are getting is unprecedented due to social restrictions, lockdown, schools being shut etc. My clients are exhausted from all of this added pressure and need simple nutritional and lifestyle advice. I like to offer simple, achievable and enjoyable solutions so sticking to a nutritional plan doesn’t need to feel like an extra pressure.
Is there anything you are excited about at the moment and for this coming year?
Getting out of lockdown!! Hugging my friends, taking my little one to fun places, being able to travel, being in a crowd without having to worry about keeping a metre apart, not having to wear a facemask every time I go into a shop!
Last but not least. What emoji describes you best at the moment and why?
Haha! I just looked into most recently used emojis and I use this one ALL the time:
Patiently waiting to be able to take my son to his Grandparents or a soft play to get some rest! So while I wait, this emoji desicribes my overall mood...