It’s so often that I get very caught up in looking after two very energetic (ahem ratbag-ish) kiddies, working, budgeting, trying hard to be a good wife/sister/daughter/friend etc etc, and my body gets to a point where it just decides to say “nah uh girl, I’m DONE”. It basically just crashes and manifests this crash in varied ways (migraines, pulled jaw muscles, stress rash, full blown flu or IBS to name a few I’ve had). It is my body’s way of reminding me that yes I am a mum (plus a million other roles), but I need to take care of me in order to be a good mum. As much as you might think being a Dietitian would mean my nutrition is perfect, it’s not. I’m just as guilty as the rest of you for surviving whole days on biscuits, cheese and 2 minute noodles scoffed once the girls go down for their arvo sleep. I know full well what it’s like and just how hard it is. But it IS important. So in terms of nutrition, when you are the last person on your own list, here are your main focus areas gals.
Yes, kilojoules, calories, actual eating. You might be striving to lose some baby weight or look like Miranda Kerr did post child (pffttt), but starving yourself is not going to help! Neither is crash dieting. I understand the pressure to look a certain way, and that the media portrays starvation diets as something that is normal but no kid wants a tired, grumpy and plain depressed mummy because they are depriving themselves of the joys of eating. Eating regularly and eating enough, will still help you to reach your weight goals. It will help your body to metabolise the food you eat efficiently. You need energy from all forms (carbs, protein and fats) for your body to function well, so don’t cut out groups completely. Just be mindful of the amounts you have. Make sure you get energy from lean protein sources (lean meats, legumes, low fat dairy), high fibre carbohydrates (grainy bread, the least processed cereals and crackers), fruits and vegetables and a small amount of unsaturated fats.
This is super important. Lack of iron means feeling tired and hell I’m pretty sure we all have a hundred other reasons to be feeling tired without this one adding to the issue. And the easiest way to get this is red meat. Try to do it 3 times a week. It doesn’t have to be steak, it can be mince or stew and can be any type. Good old skippy the bush kanagaroo is amazingly packed with iron and is pretty cheap too. And you don’t have to eat loads, one serve is the size of the palm of your hand. Other meats also have iron in them, but in smaller amounts. If you don’t eat meat make sure you get lots of plant based forms of iron (technical name is non-haem). You can get these from wholegrain and iron-fortified breads and cereals, legumes like kidney beans or baked beans, green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli etc), nuts and dried fruit, and quinoa. The top tip if you are having these is to have some vitamin c at the same time because the iron from these foods isn’t absorbed as well, so team them up with citrus foods, strawberries, tomatoes, or kiwi fruit.
Fibre is important. It helps you pooh. It keeps you regular. I don’t think I even need to explain why we want to avoid being constipated? Do I??? Fibre also helps with keeping you fuller for longer. Meals high in fibre will take longer to break down in your stomach and therefore will hold off the hunger pains. So if you do get 5 minutes to scoff down your lunch, at least higher fibre foods will keep you going until the kiddies go down for a sleep in the arvo (here’s hoping hey). And the foods that are high in fibre are generally good for protecting against scary diseases like cancer, yes it’s that kind of important. Good fibre foods are vegetables, fruit with the skin on, seeds, wholegrains (couscous, rice, and quinoa), pasta and wholegrain varieties of foods like bread, crackers, cereals and legumes.
Yes, as mums we are all females and we all need calcium! Why? Because y’all don’t want to be frail old ladies bent over a stick, fracturing hips and limbs with every step now do you. And we all know the best source of calcium is…. Yep dairy foods (unless you are believing that trollop being touted around about calcium not being absorbed blah blah. Rubbish.). Milk and yoghurt are the best because you can get low fat and skim varieties but also cheese. Three serves a day of dairy is the going rate at the moment (1 cup milk, 1 tub yoghurt or 1 slice cheese). If you really don’t like dairy and fancy yourself a bit of soy, almond or rice milk, please make sure it is calcium fortified and I won’t bother you anymore. It’s just as good. Some other lower sources of calcium are almonds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, tahini, Asian greens, kale and broccoli. Caffeine stops calcium absorption (ouch I know) and salt increases excretion (getting rid of calcium in your urine), just so you know.
KEEP HYDRATED PEOPLE. There are many health reasons for staying hydrated but the main one is you feel like crap if you are dehydrated! Dehydration can cause more than just a dry mouth, it can bring on headaches, dizziness, being tired and constipation. If you absolutely “can’t” face water then chill it, infuse it with fruit, or add diet cordial to it. You can have full strength cordial or juices but they are high in kilojoules (calories if you are unaware of our Australian version) and will give you a swift assistance to weight gain.
There are plenty of other things nutritionally that we probably need to be more aware of but I hate lecturing and badgering so I’ve keep the list short!
Take care of yourselves mums, because it’s the most important part of taking care of your little ones.
The Dietitian Mummy.