I want to set a good example for my children about eating right, but
honestly, it's hard to find time for anything but "convenience" foods
and snacks. Plus I'd love to get rid of some of the extra pounds I've
acquired since having kids.
There are lots of easy ways for a busy mom to get good nutrition that
will help her kids develop healthy eating habits, plus help her keep up
her energy and mood, ward off disease, and lose a few pounds in the
Think of it like a DAILY recipe with seven ingredients:
1. Eight to twelve ounces of protein - Protein is chock full of the
amino acids that are crucial building blocks for your body and your
brain chemistry; protein also helps regulate blood sugar so your day is
less of a rollercoaster.Eat 3-4 ounces of protein (about the size of a
deck of cards) at every meal, especially breakfast. When you want
something sweet, have some protein instead, like a hard-boiled egg,
hummus on crackers, or a piece of sliced turkey; that will satisfy your
hunger and keep your blood sugar on an even keel.
2. Five to seven servings of fresh vegetables, and one to two fruits -
When you tell your kids to eat their veggies, that means you, too! Fresh
vegetables have many more nutrients than ones that are canned, dried, or
frozen. Fresh fruits are also filled with vitamins, phytonutrients, and
fiber. Try snacking on raw vegetables like carrots or broccoli, having a
sweet potato for breakfast, grating carrots or beets into salad, and
making a big pot of vegetable soup on the weekend that will last all week
3. Unrefined oils, plus essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements -
Refining oils strips out important nutrients and leaves behind the
trans-fatty acids that lead to heart disease and other problems. And you
need EFA's for a healthy brain and heart. Use virgin olive oil or oils
clearly marked as "unrefined." Take a EFA fish oil supplement that
states on the bottle that it contains no heavy metals.
4. Two to five servings of unrefined, varied whole grains - Refined
grains like white flour, pasta, and white rice lack key nutrients, and
they also convert quickly to sugars in your body, straining an insulin
system that is already challenged by your daily stresses. Get your
carbohydrates from other sources (e.g., nuts, bananas, yams), replace
white flour with good-tasting whole wheat pastry flour or rice flour,
and try not to bring home convenience foods made with white flour.
5. Organic foods whenever possible - Organic foods have more nutrients
(especially minerals) and no toxic chemicals. Since toxins concentrate
in breast milk, eating organic is especially important for a nursing
mother. These days, you can get almost any food you like from an organic
source, whether it's at a health food store or your local supermarket.
Don't drive yourself crazy to eat organic all the time; just shift in
that direction as much as you can.
6. High potency nutritional supplements - Take multivitamin-multimineral
supplements; one sign of high-quality is that most minerals are followed
by a word ending in -ate, like magnesium citrate. You'll have to swallow
four to six supplements a day - which takes a fraction of the time it
takes to brush your teeth - because it's impossible to get all the
nutrients you need in a single pill smaller than a golf ball. Also take
a calcium-magnesium supplement. Good supplements are available at health
food stores or our website, www.nurturemom.com.
7. Zero or very little refined sugar - High consumption of sugar is
associated with Type II diabetes, weight gain, fatigue, arthritis,
migraines, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease. And sugar depletes
the B vitamins, chromium, calcium, magnesium, and copper that a mother
needs. So, look at the labels and try to eat no more than 20 grams of
sugar a day. Cut out sodas and juice (two soft drinks a day equals 65
pounds of sugar a year!), avoid temptation by not keeping desserts
around the home, snack on protein or fresh vegetables, and look for
other ways to feel good besides eating sweets.
This column is offered freely to parent-related organizations. If you
know of another newsletter that might like to carry it besides the one
in which you are reading it now, please encourage that organization to
contact Rick Hanson at the email address below. Or just email Rick with
the contact info and he will approach the organization.
(Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an
acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son,
ages 12 and 14. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the authors of
Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate
Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at
www.nurturemom.com or email them with questions or comments at
firstname.lastname@example.org; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be