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Ways I’m Maintaining Self-Care in Motherhood: Nutrition

By Sara McGlothlin

I get it now. When I was health coaching, many of my clients were moms. I couldn’t fully understand the obstacles they were facing when it came to self-care. My thinking was if only I could help them undergo mindset shifts, the majority of the work was done. After that, healthier habits could more easily be established. I still believe mindset plays a big role, especially when it comes to prioritization, planning, and prep, but there are real barriers moms face when it comes to taking care of themselves.

After four months, it feels as if I can finally come up for air. Being a business owner added an extra anxious layer to my postpartum experience, but this time has taught me our amazing ability to adapt. I tried to maintain a sense of self-care from the very get-go, but being so underwater (and the journey that is healing from child birth) I never felt “well” until very recently. There are multiple ways I’m trying to maintain self-care in motherhood, and I originally was going to do one big compilation of everything, but then decided to chunk it down into individual pillars: Nutrition, Movement, and Mindfulness.

Nutrition

Healthy eating is something that feels second nature to me, but the new time and energy constraints have created a hurdle. Before baby, I cooked all of the time. Now it often feels like the last thing I want to do, so I have delegated dinner to third-party resources. Kate Uncorked and Green Chef have been game changers. I love both of these meal delivery services because they promote plant-based eating and nutritional variety. Without them, I would probably be serving the same thing every week. These offerings have helped me uphold my Counting Colors philosophy without the mental energy it would require to plan and prep each week. There is still some preparation involved with Green Chef (i.e. the meals are not pre-made), but it takes the grocery shopping element out of the equation, as well as the forethought about what to fix.

There are so many different meal delivery services to choose from these days, but if I didn’t go that route, I would break meal planning up into baby steps, using blogs and Pinterest for inspiration (for example: write out a list of recipes on Friday; grocery shop on Saturday; meal prep on Sunday). Paleo Running Momma and Wholesomelicious are two of my favorite websites for recipe ideas.

Breakfast is pretty much the same thing every day and I’m okay with that. A yogurt bowl with Gratisfied Granola Clusters or an Empower Bar are my go-tos. Nut butter is necessary!

Lunch also looks the same on a daily basis: a leafy green salad with salmon or chicken. If I am feeling more like a sandwich or wrap, I will use Simple Kneads bread or a Wrawp. Either way, I almost always have an already-made rotisserie chicken for convenience!

As for snacks, they are few and far between. Eating in a way that promotes blood sugar balance decreases the need to eat in between meals. But what I am loving these days is a low-sugar sweet treat in the late afternoon. I top a raw carob cup with peanut butter and a Medjool date, and it is the perfect bridge to dinner.

I always keep a bunch of raw carob cups on hand using this homemade coconut butter recipe and this silicone mold.

On weekends we get a bit off of our routine such as stroller walks to North End Juice Co. for smoothie bowls on a Saturday and gluten-free pancakes on a slow Sunday morning.

What I’m working on.

I am a firm believer that the way we eat isn’t fixed. It tends to change and evolve with time, and entering motherhood is a testament to this. Not only has (very) new lifestyle factors influenced more fluidity with my food, but it is not something I am able to focus on as I have before. I’m grateful for this change of pace however, as it has helped my relationship with it. I have a pretty good foundation when it comes to the nutritional science behind what to eat, and now I view food as fuel more than ever before. It has forced me to get back to basics. Additionally, because I have something (or should I say someone) much more important to think about, I’m not overthinking food like I used to. This isn’t always the case as I still trying to shed some of this baby weight, but I recognize the thoughts as they arise, allow them to pass and trust myself instead.

Mindful eating. Eating in a less distracted state is always something I am working on. Because I am often short on time, many meals have been spent hovering over my phone or computer, or eating while standing at the counter. It’s rare that I actually get to sit down, savor and fully enjoy, but I am trying to bring more attention to my breathing and chewing while eating.

Or at least substitute the phone and computer for a cute baby face!

Hydration. I am aiming for a minimum of 80 ounces per day. One hydration hack is starting the day with a big water bottle. I keep it in my bedroom, and drink it as I walk downstairs, so by the time I get to the kitchen, I have consumed 28 ounces and am ready for my coffee.

Time restricted feeding. I have played around with time restricted feeding (or what most people refer to as intermittent fasting) in the past, and going too long between dinner and breakfast the next day doesn’t work for me. I think it puts too much stress on my body. My husband and I have have gotten in the habit of eating dinner past 8pm, which I would like to work on. Finishing dinner by 7pm would be my goal. I typically eat breakfast any time between 8am – 10am, so that assures 13 to 15 hours.

Incorporating more plant-based fiber. I do really well with protein and healthy fat. Not only do these two macronutrients promote blood sugar balance, but they provide sustained energy and mental clarity. If I don’t have enough fiber in my diet, my digestion suffers, so I am trying to get away from grain-free, and incorporate more fiber. Non-starchy vegetables are my preferred source, but my digestion improves when I also get fiber from legumes, oats, quinoa, and other gluten-free grains.

For more daily insights into my nutrition, follow along on Instagram!

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