Mothers often have the least amount of time to get ready in the morning or throughout their days. Taking care of children, regardless of age, managing multiple schedules, and simultaneously dealing with a career or work, can zap vital time needed to keep themselves in optimal health. With the month of Mother’s Day in mind, we offer a reminder that optimal nutrition is also needed to keep moms in radiant health.
Women have unique needs and like many people, whether parents or not, they often have diets that are deficient in many nutrients, especially minerals. To help you understand the importance of some of these vital nutrients, and why you should ensure they are in your diet, review this list of some key nutritional interventions that should be a priority for moms:
1. Taking care of your thyroid- Your thyroid controls our metabolic rate and it has an influence on your mental health (Fact: hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed as depression!). Support your thyroid with iodine and selenium-rich foods like seaweed and Brazil nuts. This will do a lot to support physical and mental vitality. For more information on the thyroid, check out this article.
2. Help hormonal balance. This is complex topic of health and tricky to manage at any age, but you can support estrogen and progesterone production by including folic acid and niacin into your diet. Foods to eat for this include leafy greens, whole grains, and fish, which contain those B vitamins necessary to support hormonal balance in child-bearing years. During menopause, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants may help with hot flashes, and including foods with phyto-estrogens like raw flax (grind before eating), sesame, and pumpkin seeds may also help. You can also explore the highly regarded TCM herb, Rehmannia Root, which is known to provide relief for menopause symptoms.
Boost Minerals. Many women have trouble getting dietary iron, as well as enough calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
- Iron is especially important during menstruating years and is found most richly in game and red meats (try to find high-quality, grass-fed), spinach and other leafy greens, and beans. Animal sources (heme) are absorbed better than plant sources (non-heme), but we can increase absorption by including vitamin-C rich foods along with the plant sources. For example, you can squeeze some fresh lemon on to your swiss chard to help with iron absorption.
- Calcium is extremely important not just for bone health but for regulation of blood sugar, for neural function, for muscle contraction, and for stabilizing blood pressure. Besides dairy sources, women can try sesame seeds, collard greens, almonds, anchovies, and sardines. Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D in your diet, as well. This ‘sunshine’ vitamin helps you absorb calcium. Living in northern areas, such as most of Canada, makes getting enough Vitamin D even tougher, so a supplement is ideal.
- Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral. While calcium helps with muscle contraction, magnesium allows it to relax. For magnesium-rich foods, try to eat dark green vegetables or dark chocolate.
- Zinc is necessary for wound healing, carbohydrate breakdown, and immunity. It is highest in animal sources: shellfish, lamb, and beef are all high in zinc. Nuts and seeds are suitable for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
One of the easiest ways to improve nutritional health and habits, regardless of age, is to focus on eating fresh, whole foods. There are so many ideas avaible for fresh whole foods now, and it can be as smple as visiting your local farmers market once every couple weeks. Try a couple new fresh veggies and fruits each time. Get your partner or kids to join in choosing something new.
Also get your family in the kitchen! As a mom, you need to stop trying to do it all!!! Your family can and will help, if you are consistent with your requests. Be patient and allow them space to learn. Hand them some tools and give a direction, you may be amazed by the results.
You can have your kids look up some healthy recipes on line, or search through our site for many simple ideas. We are here to help, so as a mothers day gift to you, send us your favorite recipe for a healthy make over! Knowing what to use as ingredients is the key to a healthy meal!
If you are looking for support, and a way to help you shift your eating habits, we recommend the Whole Foods Lifestyle program. You will discover fast, simple, and delicious ways to get many of these great foods into your diet in a way that the family will enjoy, without increasing your stress!