We know as care giving mums that we need to eat well to support ourselves and to be able to support those who we care for.
We hear it all the time, that we need to take care of ourselves.
And we know that we need to, but it’s hard to fit it in.
Even when there is time to do it, sometimes it can be really hard to have the energy to do anything about it – we just want to sit down!
If you look online, there seems to be two camps – the camp who live in their gym clothes because at any point they might just have that urge to do a second workout because they just LOVE IT SO MUCH. They live on smoothies and their meals look really healthy but if you are being honest you don’t think they would fill you that much and either they are tracking everything they eat or they never touch sugar or *insert here*
Then there is camp two, who have no interest in getting healthy – they eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Exercise is a strong no. They just have zero interest.
Both of these are extremes…there is ALWAYS a middle ground.
The mums who want to be healthy and who want to feel better in their bodies but for whatever reason it just feels so hard for them.
The ones who try hard but keep swinging on the pendulum from going all in and trying really hard to falling off the wagon and swinging all the way to the other side and not putting any effort in – maybe until the next Monday or maybe for a long time.
Does that sound familiar?
Mums need flexibility
Motherhood is hard to predict. Sometimes we have no idea what is going to happen from one day to the next.
One of the kids might be unwell. One of the kids might be up all night. Maybe you have a day of exercise and eating well planned and the school gets closed with a gas leak and your plan goes out the window (literally my week so far!).
We make these plans, and it doesn’t take much to throw us off.
We can be very all or nothing when it comes to health – if it isn’t going to go to plan perfectly then I am throwing in the towel.
Unfortunately, that just isn’t how motherhood works.
The health advice online tends to be tailored to people who live predictable lives and the reality is that if you have a child, that’s probably not you.
There is a gap between the two extremes – the middle ground – that most of us need.
A place where you can be taking steps to improve your health – like through eating well and moving more (as well as lots of other things) but one that has flexibility whilst also helping you keep moving towards your goals.
So how can we make it simpler?
The most important way is by tuning in and listening to what your body is telling you.
Your body wants you to be healthy.
There are so many in-built mechanisms inside us that keep our body healthy, but we have over time stopped listening to them.
So we need to learn to start listening again.
We can do this by tuning into our hunger and fullness levels – I have a post all about that here.
That will help us to get back into listening to what our body needs (side note: it’s not always food).
The second way to make things simpler is to eat a balanced plate.
How to make eating simpler…
It’s hard to know, with all the conflicting information online, what you should be eating and when.
In reality – it’s made a lot more complicated than it needs to be.
We need to be eating as a rough guide, three meals a day with one to three snacks in between.
And instead of stressing about WHAT we should be eating, we can make it simple by following this formula of five:
Carbohydrates examples – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, Butternut squash, Quinoa, Oats etc
Protein examples – Meat, Fish, eggs, tofu, Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Legumes etc
Fat examples – Butter, Oil, Avocado, Ghee, Cheese, Nut butters,
Fruit/Vegetables examples – Kind of self-explanatory, except the more starchy carbs like potato, sweet potato, butternut squash etc
Fun/Flavour Examples – This is the bit that usually get’s left out of ‘healthy eating’ but it’s so important! This can be things like adding some dressing to your salad, having a sprinkle of cheese on top of something for extra flavour, adding some herbs on top – there is no rule to what is in this category it’s just adding something extra for flavour and fun.
Real life examples
You may have looked at that and thought, that’s all well and good but it doesn’t mean much.
It is just a case of taking what you normally eat, and adding in to make the meal more balanced.
Or if you are stuck on what to have for a meal, you can pick and choose from each of the categories to create a balanced meal.
- A chicken salad Sandwich
= Bread (carb) + Chicken (protein) + Butter or mashed avocado (fat) + Salad (veggies) + mayonnaise (flavour)
- Peanut butter and Banana on toast
= Bread (carb) + Peanut butter (protein + fat) + Banana (fruit) + Sprinkle cinnamon (flavour)
- Meatball Pasta
= Pasta (carb) + Meatballs (protein) + sprinkle of cheese on top (fat) + Veggies chopped into the sauce (veggies) + pasta sauce (flavour)
You are literally just looking at what you typically eat and making it more balanced.
So for example if you normally enjoy peanut butter on toast for breakfast – how can you make that more balanced?
It would simply be adding a banana on top and a sprinkle of flavour (if needed).
*Bonus* If you normally have white bread to make it even more filling change to wholegrain bread for longer-lasting fullness but white bread is still fine.
The best part about eating in this way is that you are having a range of food from all food groups and macros, paired with tuning into your hunger and fullness cues – you don’t have to track what you are eating, and because you are eating in a more balanced way you are making sure that you are eating a range of micro-nutrients too which sometimes can be completely overwhelming trying to work out.
What we eat is so important in giving us the energy and the support we need to keep up with our busy lives and it really can be simple.
If you have any questions just let me know!