Young mum, Shakila Ghafaripour, 22, certainly has her hands full with two children under the age of three. Her youngest son Rayaan is seven months old and her eldest Ayaan has just turned two.
Shakila recently attended Better Start Bradford’s six-week HENRY Cooking for a Better Start programme and not only did she learn to cook healthier meals for her children, she ended up losing weight herself!
When my second son Ayaan was born, I felt really down. I was coping alone with a new-born baby together with a 15-month old toddler. I didn’t want to leave the house and I was crying all of the time.
Thankfully, to help me cope better, I was helped by Better Start Bradford’s Perinatal Support Service in the first few months after Ayaan was born as I was really struggling. Someone would come to see me every week and it really helped me as sometimes it’s good to talk to somebody that you are not related to.
I realised that I had been overfeeding my son
I found it very useful in terms of all the information that you receive. For example, I realised that I had been overfeeding Ayaan and giving him portions that were almost the same size as mine. No-one had told me that his stomach was the same size as his clenched fist.
They also talked us through food labelling and what all the different colours meant for fat and sugar content. I found that very useful and now always check packaging for sugar and fat levels.
I loved making all the different meals, which included chicken stir fry, oatmeal muffins, healthy cheesecake and our favourite muffin pizzas, which I make all the time with lots of vegetables including peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and mushrooms. Ayaan absolutely loves them.
We also got some cookery gifts that we could take home each week and use in our own kitchens. The first week they gave us a food container to put all our food in after each session, I also got a wooden spoon and some measuring spoons, which are really useful.
They even put a creche on for everyone’s children so that we could concentrate on the sessions which was really helpful. Ayaan used to get so excited and loved playing with all the other children.
It was a good way to meet new people
I find that one of the most challenging things is trying to apply everything that I learned at home once the course was over, but I always use my measuring spoons to measure the recommended levels of oil when cooking and use a lot of the recipes covered in the course. We also now have a lot more vegetables with our meals and I regularly make the yummy healthy muffin pizzas.
I really loved the course and would recommend it to any parent. Afterwards, we would sit around as a group and talk about healthy eating, so it was a good way to meet new people. We would get weekly handouts based on the subjects that we had covered, together with recipes for the meals we had made.
Also, as an added bonus after cooking healthier meals and with tips from the course I was really pleased when I ended up losing half a stone over the six weeks!
About Cooking for a Better Start
The course is for families in the Better Start Bradford area with a child under the age of four. Participants attend free practical group cooking sessions over six weeks and gain the skills and knowledge to cook low-cost, healthy food at home. Sessions are small with a maximum of six participants and everyone takes home a cooking related gift.
Find out more about Cooking for a Better Start
About the Perinatal Support Service
The Perinatal Support Service is aimed at pregnant women who have, or are at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
The project provides support to parents, in their own home, through a dedicated trained volunteer ‘befriender’ who will offer emotional support and support to access other services in the community. It helps women through their pregnancy and up until their baby’s first birthday, and can work with their partners too.
Find out more about the Perinatal Support Service