Wednesday 28 June 2017

Unsure on what foods to eat during pregnancy? - Use this checklist to help you with your dieting plan

foods to eat during pregnancy?

It’s important for every woman to consider her diet closely during this precious time. It can be common for women to feel quite overwhelmed about which food they can and cannot eat during pregnancy.

Hartmann Direct, specialists in providing healthcare products, explores what types of food women should aim to consume whilst they are expecting to make up and healthy and balanced diet. Consider as many of the foods from this list as possible to ensure you get a great level of varied nutrition in your diet:

1. Starchy foods (carbs)

Starchy foods are an essential source of energy. Many also provide a mix of essential vitamins and fibre. They'll keep you filled with substance without being overly rich and packed with calorie overdoses. Ideal foods within this category include breads, potato, rice, pasta and oats. These foods should make up around 30% of your diet.

2. Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetable play a vital role in digestion as they contain fibre and almost all varieties are a fantastic source of vitamins. Get a good selection of different fruits and vegetables into your diet to help fight constipation and varying deficiencies.

3. Protein from meat and fish

You should aim to take in sensible amounts of protein daily from lean meats and eggs. Make sure you’ve removed excess natural fat and try not to use too much oil in the cooking process. It’s a good idea to have fish at least twice a week but avoid shark, swordfish or marlin. Salmon and mackerel are great examples of healthy oily fish that provide a good amount of omega 3, which is important for maintaining a healthy brain.

4. Calcium and dairy

Dairy products supply a great deal of calcium which is vital for bone growth and combating harmful deficiencies. Milk, cheese and yogurts make up the bulk of easily accessible calcium rich dairy foods. It's important not to overdo it as these foods are often very high in fat. If you are trying to refrain from eating dairy products, then it’s best to aim for alternatives that are calcium fortified and do not contain sweeteners.

5.  Have healthy snacks instead of sugary options

When hunger strikes, it can be very tempting to reach for convenient snacks that are filled with fats and sugars. Foods like biscuits, cakes, fizzy flavoured soft drinks and sweets like chocolate are all packed with high amounts of sugar. Not only is sugar bad for the condition of your teeth, sugary diets are a leading cause of weight gain and diabetes. Instead of sugary products you should try and incorporate healthier snacks into your day to day routine. Here are few ideas you can try:

       A bowl of salad with lean ham and a small amount of grated cheese.
       A plain bread or pita sandwich with tuna, salmon or chicken filling.
       Sticks of carrot, celery, or cucumber with hummus.
       Plain yoghurt with fresh or canned fruit. Keep an eye out for the sugar contents in canned fruit with cyrups. High sugar content should always be a concern.
       Apricots, figs, dates, and prunes make great alternatives to convenience sweets as they are easy to eat but are also packed with natural sugars and high levels of fibre.
       Soups made from vegetables or beans. Beans are a great substitute for meats in various meals, as they offer a great savory flavor, dense texture and are crammed with fibre.
       Porridge is a good breakfast that releases energy slowly and keeps you full for longer than sugary simple carb cereals. Mix porridge with fresh fruit and nuts to add sweetness and crunch.
       Tropical fruits like pineapple and mango are bursting with very strong sweetness. Have chunks of them on their own or add them to dishes instead of refined sugars. 
       Baked potatoes are very quick and easy to prepare in the microwave. They are very filling and pretty much go with anything. Have a baked potato instead of chips, crisps and other high fat options.

By getting a regular supply of the key food groups above you’ll be doing everything possible to ensure your pregnancy diet is well in line with optimum levels of health and nutrition.

This post was written by Hartmann Direct, experts in health care and incontinence solutions. If you think we’ve left anything out, please feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Umbrella Pathway Referral

EHCP and Umbrella Referral

This is something that has been a long time coming. 

The Umbrella Pathway Referral.

It's something that I feel that I have had to really fight for, really stamp my feet for and very almost throw my toys out of the pram for. 

Finally Leo is going to be seen and assessed by a team of people.

 They will be able to look at Leo's needs and they will be able to tell us if there is an official diagnosis for why Leo struggles academically. 

Before I go into this latest update, I wanted to re-cap on just how far we have come, the hurdles we have had to clear and the frustrations we have faced.

Below is the series of posts I have written about our journey over the years, I would give an account right here off the top of my head, but these posts say it all, and in a way that I don't think I could re-capture if I tried, because all of these posts were composed in the wake of events in real time, so the emotions and thoughts captured are completely raw.

EHCP and Umbrella Referral

What is The Umbrella Pathway Referral? 
The Umbrella Pathway Referral is a Neuro-developmental assessment that helps to assess, manage and care for children and young people who present signs for developmental delays and disorders. 

The pathway provides an entry point (the initial referral), an assessment process, a diagnostic process and management plans with support once a diagnosis has been provided at the end of the assessment process. 

The Umbrella team is made up of:
- Paediatricians 
- Clinical Psychologists
- Child Psychologists
- Educational Psychologists 
- Speech and Language Therapists 
- Occupational Therapists 
- Integrated Specalist Support Services 

How to Refer
 - GPs 
- Health Visitors
- School Nurses 
- Community Paediatricians 
- CAMHS Professionals 
-Speech and Language Therapists 
-Occupational Therapists 
-Local Authority Specialist Teachers (ISSS Service) 
-Educational Psychologists 

This is where it starts to get interesting, especially if you have read the above posts, because you will have seen how many times I talked about getting a pediatrician referral. The Health Visitor at Leo's 2 and a half year assessment put it off in the first instance. She failed to follow up, I was going to book a Doctor's appointment but the Health Visitor said she would re-visit with Leo (a year later than she was supposed to) and if a referral was needed, then she would do it. 

Guess what? 

She REFUSED to refer him.  

Since 2014 Leo has been under the care of Speech and Language (Right up to December 2016 when he was discharged), why didn't they make the referral? 

It seems that despite concerns from all over the board, the health visitors original report, nursery, school,  I have had to really push to get a referral.

EHCP and Umbrella Referral

A GP Umbrella Pathway Referral 
This brings me up to Friday 16th June when I pulled Leo from school and took him to the doctor's surgery, where I had booked an appointment with our GP. I gave a very brief overview of where we were at now and handed over the latest Educational Psychologist report along with the Learning Support Report I had received very recently.

I had seen my GP about Leo's development before, at that point I was told to give him time... and I did just that. I guess part me just hoped that it wouldn't actually come to the referral and Leo would catch up before it was essential. Yet here we were back in her office, and I had told myself that this time I would not be fobbed off. This time I was going to be walking out of that door with the referral in place.

The GP said that this referral should really come from the school, she said that it was a faffy process to go through at the surgery. Of course by now I couldn't care how faffy it was for anybody, I just wanted it done. 

So I posed the question 'but can you do it!?' To which she replied 'Yes, I can but it would be better coming from the school as they have more evidence and know Leo.'

In the next breath I asked her to do it, because the school had pointed me in the GP's direction, and again it felt like the book was being passed. No one wanted to be the person to refer Leo. Why it all has to be such a battle I will never know, why people want to keep seeing me banging my head against a brick wall is beyond me. 

I had come prepared with up to date evidence and had more PDF's  ready to go on my phone if they were needed. The doctor made a call and had a lady prepare the forms for me to sign. I went along to the waiting area and signed those forms there and then, I handed over the evidence I had brought along with me and the referral was made.

Both the GP and the lady who walked me through the application process commented on how lovely Leo was, how well behaved he is and told me that it was obviously not a behavioural issue, and that's precisely it. Leo is golden, his behaviour is impeccable and I cannot fault him, he's one of the most caring little people that I know (and that's not just because I am biased).

It was just the other month that I went along to a meeting in regards to the EHCP (Education, Health, Care Plan) process, Leo had come out in a rash on that day so I couldn't send him to school. Instead he came along with me to this meeting, where he sat patiently for 2 and a half hours (there might have been a number of biscuits and the use of my phone) while this meeting took place, and he was incredible. In fact everyone else in attendance said so.

The Umbrella Pathway Referral and the EHCP
I am hoping that this referral will go hand in hand with the EHCP application that is currently ongoing. I am hoping that the assessment within the Umbrella Referral will give us answers and enable me to cater more support to Leo and his education. 

The EHCP evidence will all be submitted in the Autumn Term (some point in September 2017). Leo will be a Year 2 by this point and the developmental gap widens yet again. I need all of this to happen so that I can set Leo up to succeed in wake of the health visitor setting him up to fail. 

The health visitor was supposed to be the pillar I could rely on, the pillar that Leo could rely on, but when she dropped like a domino she caused a ripple effect that has continued to fall until there was nothing left standing. 

No support, no guidance.

It was just the blind leading the blind.

Going through a similar experience?
The best advice I can give anyone who is in the position I was in, or continues to be in, is look at your options. If you aren't being provided with any support or you have no idea what the next step should be, this could be a good starting point:

- Speak to nursery/early learning environment about concerns. If your child is still under the care of the Health Visitor arrange a meeting between the nursery and HV so that they can liaise with each other and come up with the best strategy moving forward. 

- Don't be afraid to chase people - Keep phoning/emailing until you get the result you need.

- Speak with school SEN teacher about how they are catering to your child's needs and what they could be doing, mention an EHCP and see what they think.

- Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) This involves a process of gathering information from the relevant people or agencies, including the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person. The needs assessment will help to determine whether additional provisions need to be made through an EHCP. These plans replace statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) for children and young people with the most complex needs, from birth up to the age 25. 

If like me this has never been recommended to you, you can apply for it yourself if you have copies of the evidence to demonstrate that it is necessary. You would need to notify the school of the application as they will need to collect and provide the additional evidence. 

You can find out more about your local EHCP offering by visiting your local Council Education Department for your area. If you put 'Council Education Department' into Google followed by where you live, you should be pointed to the right place, and the EHCP's usually fall under the SEN (Special Educational Need's) category. 

I will be doing a post all about EHCP's in the coming weeks.

- Push a Pediatrician Referral Through -  If you have concerns, or people involved in the education of your child are highlighting concerns, you can do this yourself. Book a doctor's appointment, go armed with all the evidence you can carry and insist that they make the referral.

I just wish I had stamped my feet a long time ago, I have always been afraid to nag or stand on anyone's toes, but the reality is that keeping on top of people and sometimes going over their heads is the only way to move forward. 

I will be sharing a post all about EHCP's in the coming weeks, and I will put as much information as I can to try and help you with your own applications. 

At the end of the day we just have to keep fighting the good fight, and provide our little people with everything they need so that they can achieve the very best of their abilities.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

The Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review - Anissaras, Crete

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

Big family holiday's seem to be becoming a bit of a tradition within my family, and at the end of May 10 of us headed out to Crete for a much anticipated week in the Greek sunshine. We stayed at the Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa, a 5* Hotel based in Anissaras.

A Friendly Welcome
We arrived late at night but that didn't stop Leo being incredibly excited upon arrival. The hotel looked spectacular from the outside as we pulled up out the front in our private car, and we were greeted straight away by a man who was more than happy to take care of our luggage for us. 

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

The reception area was beautiful, and it definitely made you feel like you were somewhere very special. The floors shined and everything was spotless, the late night receptionist had a big smile for us all even at gone 3am. He took the time to issue us all with our all inclusive wristbands and provided us with the information that we would need to navigate the hotel, and most importantly provided us with the free wifi code!

We were delivered to our rooms by the means of a buggy, which was especially welcome at such a late hour, and the man chauffeuring us even kindly lugged all of the bags into the prospective bedrooms. The team had even thought ahead and left us sandwiches in each of the mini fridges in case we were hungry. I loved this touch because when you have been travelling as long as we had, and you arrive so late there is never anywhere to get anything to eat, so this little embellishment alone added up into one that was much appreciated and did not go unnoticed.

The hotel boasts 351 guestrooms and is directly across the road from the shingly beach. There are 5 saltwater pools to take your pick from, which worked out perfectly for our large party of 10 people who all had different necessities when it came to swimming. Travelling with Leo (5) and my nephew Josh (4) meant that we could frequent the child's pool with the water slides, and of course avoid annoying the people who didn't want to be around our splashy children (especially when armed with water pumps!). This gave the children more freedom and I didn't need to worry too much about irritating people who didn't have children. 

Our Room
I was really pleased with our room, we were a short walk away from the hustle and bustle of the entertainment, but far enough away so that it wasn't right outside our window all night long. The room was very modern/chic looking and I absolutely loved the blue dresser. We were on the First floor and we had a balcony with a patio table and chairs so that we could sit outside and watch the world go by.

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

The bed happened to be two singles pushed together, ideally it would have been nice to have a double but it was comfortable none the less. Leo had a sofa bed in the one corner which he was really pleased with, and the 3 of us shared the one room for the week. It wasn't a huge room, in the past when we have travelled we have had a lounge room with a separate bedroom, but this worked fine for us and I know that there are rooms available  

5 Swimming Pools
Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

The children's pool is great (Leo will be the first to confirm this), and it gave Leo so much more confidence in and around the swimming pool (this has been confirmed by his swimming teacher!), and by the end of the week Leo was up and down the water slide all on his own and getting a lot braver in the water. 

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

My parents spent the week by the main pool, as this is the only pool that my Mum could get in and out of due to her Arthritis. The main pool has a more accessible front with a sloping effect and gradual steps on the sides as opposed to the ladders, which allowed Mum to go for a dip herself (and enjoy it all the more as both of the kids were being entertained at an entirely different pool!). 

Rifles by the pool
We did go over to the main pool with the kids on a few occasions, it was while I was here that I was literally stopped dead in my tracks. 

I had just got back from the pool bar to my sun lounger when I glanced up and saw a man with a rifle walking around by the pool. I literally just froze and looked at him like a cat caught in the headlights. For a few seconds I couldn't move, I just looked straight at him half expecting him to open fire as people lay on their sun loungers. 

It turns out that it was just a member of the animation team encouraging people to go rifle shooting with him... Call me crazy but I was not expecting to see anybody with a firearm by the pool front, and with everything that happened in Tunisia back in 2015, and with the current climate here in the UK after Manchester (the week before we went away), I couldn't see how this was a good idea, although I was the only one who looked a bit shaken after this unfolded and when it became clear (after what must have only been a few seconds in hind sight) I let it go and eventually my heart rate slowed back down.

The main pool is the one that is most photographed, and it's right next to the pool bar and creperie (Which you have to visit if you ever holiday at the Mitsis Laguna), it's part of the all inclusive perks and you can literally just go and take a seat and place your order. The Creperie is right next to the waterfront with the boat (which makes a lovely back drop while you're eating).

Eating at the Mitsis Laguna 
Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

I was very impressed with the amount of places you could eat on your all inclusive wristband. There was the main buffet and then 5 a'la carte restaurant choices:

- Italian
- Asian
- Cretan
- Mexican 
- Sushi

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

We tried everywhere but the Sushi restaurant as it was only myself who really wanted to go along,
the children's favourite was of course the Italian where they could have a very impressive pizza 
(and this is why we went back Twice during our stay!). The food was really tasty in all of the restaurants 
but my personal favourite had to be the Asian. 

If you are travelling with children then there wasn't a great scope for what the children could eat in the 
a'la carte establishments, but they did have Spaghetti if you asked (there wasn't a specific menu for children),
but this meant that Leo got to try lots of new things that he wouldn't ordinarily have eaten.

Booking the A'ala Carte's
To book the a'la carte's you had to be organised, this involved getting up early and going to join the line
of people who were already lining up at the Italian restaurant. You can only make reservations for the a'la carte's
on the morning of the day you wish to eat there, whether that be for lunch or dinner. This can be rather annoying
and if you are not an early riser, then it could mean that you won't get to enjoy the other eating options available 
at the Mitsis Laguna.

The Main Buffet
The main buffet was always well stocked and there were fresh dishes being added regularly, in the morning 
there was the option of a omelette that would be prepared for you with ingredients of your choosing.

It would have been nice to see a few more child friendly meal options at times, as some of the meal times
lacked easier choices for the children, we always managed to cater for them with Spaghetti, but it wouldn't hurt
to have some chips/pizza or something else along these lines for the fussy eaters of the world. 

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

                                                         Dress Code                                                               
I have read a lot of reviews that have said they were not informed of a dress code,  as I didn't book this holiday personally I cannot say whether this was the case or not, but I expect to dress up for an evening meal, especially in a 5* hotel, I mean why wouldn't you?

The men need to wear long trousers or smart shorts and my understanding is that flip flops/open toe shoes are not allowed. I did hear of people during my stay who were turned away from the restaurant for this very reason.

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

Women on the other hand can pretty much wear whatever they like.

The Beach
Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

We didn't really spend much time by the beach, I have to be honest here and say that I wasn't entirely blown away by it. It was a gravel type man made beach and it wasn't overly picturesque, but thankfully the pools made up for this.

Being abroad was the perfect time to put my Maui Jim Baby Beach Sunglasses to full use. 

The hotel description on the websites state that the Mitsis Laguna is 'on the beach', but it is actually out of the hotel gates and across the road. It is only a short walk, but it is not directly on the beach.  

Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa Review

Overall we had an absolutely lovely week and the hotel was the perfect setting for our large family break. The kids loved their time at the Mitsis and quite simply did not want to come home, they loved everything from the water slides to the food. Leo is still asking me if he can hop on a plane and return to Crete for another week!

I would say that the Mitsis Laguna is a fantastic family retreat and we would have no second thoughts about returning. 

Thank you Mitsis for a fantastic week!

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this review. All views expressed are completely my own.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Male Pattern Baldness - Theradome & Finasteride Tablets

Hair loss in Men

Over the last 2 years my partner Luke has been sharing his journey with the Theradome LH80 Laser Helmet, and this is something that I have been rather proud of him for. Hair loss can be quite a daunting and personal thing, and that remains the same whether you are Male, or Female. 

When it comes to hair it is one of the first things that you notice about someone, and that is what makes it so personal. Luke would be the first to say that this hasn't been an easy journey for him, and I know that he would say that it has felt like a losing battle at times. You can read more about how Luke has been tackling his hair loss here.

Over the last couple of years we have looked into a number of hair therapies, from the Theradome Helmet, Finasteride hair loss tablets and even looked into a Hair Transplant. One thing is for sure though, and that is that there are a whole range of lotions and potions targeted at the male with thinning hair. 

I once worked in a small office that was entirely populated by males, aside from myself of course. It wasn't the friendliest environment to be in and being only 18 years of age, I have found the whole experience to be less than pleasant. Two of the men in that office were rather rude and made my time in that workplace awful. They themselves suffered from thinning hair and I heard so many conversations about the range of different products that they had tried. 

They used to bring their latest purchases into the office to discuss amongst themselves, if memory serves one was more like a spray hair dye to try and make the thinner less visible hairs more prominent on their heads....

Anyway... I digress. 

 The most recent advancement that Luke has been pursuing is in the form of using the helmet and combining the Finasteride tablets alongside it, but even with these measures Luke still finds numerous stray hairs in the bathroom sink. 

Finasteride is sometimes used to treat pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) in men, it supposedly slows any further hair loss down and can provide up to about 30% improvement after 6 months of treatment. The effects of the drug are only known to improve and continue if you continue to take the tablets, and if you stop then any benefits that you may have seen will more than likely reverse. 

Luke has been taking these tablets for almost a year now, and we decided that the time was right to take the next set of photos to highlight how Luke's hair line has been changing over the past 2 years. 

As I mentioned above Luke has been using the Theradome Laser Helmet and combined this treatment with Finasteride tablets. 

The photos have been positioned into 3 grids of 3 photos. 
The top Left photos are dated April 2015
The top Right photos are dated December 2016
The bottom Left photo is May 2017
male pattern baldness Finasteride and Theradome results

male pattern baldness Finasteride and Theradome results

male pattern baldness Finasteride and Theradome results
I personally think that I can see a more hair growth in the latest photos, Luke is not so sure. What do you think? Is there a positive change in the latest progress photos?