Mom (& Dad), Nourish Thyself

As you care for everyone else around you, have you ever forgotten about another very important person in your life?

That’s right. I’m talking about YOU!

As mothers, fathers, grandparents, and caregivers, we often compromise ourselves in lieu of taking care of our kids, our parents, our spouse, our friends, our pets… and the list goes on. And on. I know you know this already, but I’ll say it anyway: you can’t take care of anyone else without taking care of yourself first. How you nourish yourself is vital to your personal well-being and to the well-being of those around you.

So this one is all about you.

Plan

I hate to say it, but success in nourishing yourself comes down to planning. You already have the knowledge and skills you need to do it. You are already planning too — day-in and day-out.

At the beginning of each week, take fifteen minutes to plan evening meals for the days ahead. This will prevent the late-day scramble we all feel when trying to get dinner on the table. Knowing what you’re going to eat will take some pressure off. Next, take five to ten minutes each evening to plan what you will eat the following day. Piggyback this on packing lunches and snacks for your kids.

For example, plan to pack a piece of fruit and a container of yogurt for your afternoon snacks. If you plan for success, you will be successful, and making or keeping a list in one place can be helpful — as opposed to writing three different lists on the back of envelopes and old mail, or just relying on your mental checklist.

The Meal Makeover Moms have created an aisle-by-aisle resource to help make it simple. You can download it here.

Eat

As a general rule of thumb –don’t forget to eat! Plan for it. A little something every two to four hours will help you stay in an optimal one — a necessary place for performing well at home, at work, in school, and anywhere else you expend your energy. Quality of food counts too, so don’t skimp.

Of course, three meals per day is commonly considered ideal, but achieving this isn’t always realistic, and three squares per day isn’t the only way to eat healthfully. Life is so busy.Even if you need food to be fast, you can still make it both nourishing and energizing.

Here are afew ideas for fast and family-friendly breakfast and dinner meals…

Plan for Starting the Day

• Hard-boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of each week. Slice one on a piece of toast in the morning, or grab and go with a piece of fruit and an English muffin.

• Pre-prepare a large batch of oatmeal or steel-cut oats. Prepare single servings in the mornings, topped with fresh berries.

• Stock up on frozen whole-grain waffles, such as Kashi® brand. Toast ‘em up and top a couple with yogurt for breakfast in a flash.

Plan for Ending the Day

• Tacos!! Build your own with lean ground beef or turkey, veggie crumbles or tofu, and tomatoes, shredded cheese, avocado, salsa, beans, etc., etc., etc. Little cooking required. Kids love ‘em. Adults love ‘em.

• Cook a large portion of rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta in advance. Use it throughout the week for side dishes and stir-fry. Mix in chicken, vegetables, beans, sauces, etc.  With a little advance planning, you could have meals prepped in 15 minutes each evening.

• Take advantage of frozen vegetables! I know, they doesn’t taste as good as fresh, but if you drizzle a little bit of olive oil and roast them in the oven, they’re delicious and simple to prepare.

Snack

Snacking, without doing it to excess, isn’t just something to look forward to. Snacks that round out around 150 calories keep hunger at bay while also encouraging a healthy weight and a high level of energy. Snacks that do double-duty as both kid- and adult-friendly will prevent you from planning, organizing, and carrying around more than you need.

Plan for Snacking

Keep it simple and all-natural with fresh fruit, string cheese, handful-sized packages of nuts and/or dried fruit, single-portion packets of edamame, and 100-calorie bags of popcorn. Crunchy snacks like soy crisps and nutty granola bars also satisfy afternoon snack attacks.  Yogurt and yogurt smoothies supply calciumand protein for less than 150 calories a pop. Think about snacks as something to enhance your daily nutrition quotient. These all fit the bill.

Hydrate

Water makes up the majority of our blood and other body fluids. It’s not possible to be nourished without being hydrated. Drink up with low or calorie-free beverages –water and seltzer water or their flavored varieties are ideal. There’s no secret number of glasses, but you should be urinating every two to four hours, and your urine should be clear or pale yellow in color.

A Bonus Recipe

You can find lots of great, healthy, easy-to-preare recipes online. Here’s one my favorites: Turkey Pumpkin Chili.

A Final Reminder

When we nourish ourselves, we benefit. And all of the important people in our lives do too!

Anne Marie Kuchera, our Kids Plus Nutrition Consultant, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian.