Healthy Mommy: How to Get Healthy So You Can Live Long Enough to Enjoy your Freedom When You Finally Frigging Get It

Here’s the thing. It’s not all about the kids. Moms deserve to take care of mom, too.

Whenever I’m on a mommy blog or website and I see something posted about health, it invariably seems to be about kids’ health. Now don’t get me wrong. Of course I want my kids (and everyone else’s) to be healthy. Kids need help with eating nutritious food, and moms need to know how to treat a fever, and all that. But…what about moms? We need to be healthy too.

And the truth? We’re not.

Well, not as healthy as we could or should be. See there was this study recently showing that moms are not taking care of themselves. Mothers reading this newsflash will react with a resounding “ya think?”. Even still, the cold truth is pretty painful. We’re not getting as much exercise as women our same age who don’t have children. We’re taking in more calories, gobbling more saturated fat and sugar. And we have higher BMIs (plainspeak: we’re fatter).

Not good, people.

However. It wasn’t this research that motivated me to start thinking hard about “mommy health”. The thing that really made this come home for me, personally, was reflection on another harsh truth: I love my kids…but they are stealing a lot of prime years from me. And when my head comes up from underwater again, when I finally get some freedom, when I finally get to hang out with my husband again on a regular basis…I want to be healthy and strong and look great. I want to be able to travel and do all the fun stuff that, okay, yes, I’m trying to squeeze in now in a “family” sort of way, but really will be so much more fun once my kids have flown the nest.

As long as I don’t have a stroke before I get there.

As long as I don’t have advanced osteoarthritis of my knees that makes a stroll along the Seine less than pleasurable. As long as I don’t have class 4 heart failure that makes flying to Capetown for a wine tour & safari impossible.

So that’s my motivation. (By the way, what’s yours?)

Of course the catch, here, is this: moms have no freaking time. I know. It’s ridiculous. I have survived a lot of stressful/time-pressured situations in my life (residency springs to mind), but it simply does not compare to the relentless time starvation of motherhood. 

So. Is there a way for moms to get healthy? Are there things we can do given the time constraints? 

You bet, sister.

Let’s begin with:

Eating Habits.

Step number one: stop eating discarded sandwich crusts. Stop wolfing down the leftover mac and cheese from your kid’s bowl, leave the abandoned mini-ravioli alone.

Of course the most sensible advice for nutrition is to only give your kids healthy food, then you’ll be eating healthy stuff too. Sounds logical, right? Well, what if you’ve got a super-picky eater? What if at your house, if you don’t serve hot dogs and chicken nuggets your kid won’t get any protein (for that month, anyway, until his tastes flip-flop again)? What if your kid completely refuses anything that even resembles a vegetable? If your children won’t eat whole grains, does that mean you don’t get to either?

Naturally, you do your best to help your kids develop healthy habits. But that project might have to be a whole separate venture. Struggling to get your kids to eat salad should be independent of allowing yourself a healthy life. I’m not saying you give up on your kids. You just have to take care of yourself…

So you need to clean up your diet. Big topic (way more coming soon). But for now, one of the quickest & easiest ways is to add “superfoods”. Think: salmon, walnuts, tomatoes, spinach, olive oil, soy, avocados, broccoli. Check this article for more info. Sneaking superfoods into your diet is one of the easiest ways to improve your nutrition. Make a list, stick it on your fridge, throw these foods into your shopping cart when you’re at the store, and then slide them onto your plate at every opportunity. Even if it goes like this: grilled cheese sandwich, or….grilled cheese sandwich with slices of avocado on the side. Every little helps.

Next topic:

Supplements.

Granted, this may feel like a shortcut. And although I generally advocate healthy eating first (and not using supplements to fool yourself into thinking you’ve got a healthy lifestyle), if there is one life phase when you need to take a shortcut, this would be it. So what supplements should you take when you’re a mom with young kids? You may be in your twenties, thirties, or forties…but these are the supplements you should consider:

  • A multivitamin (continuing your prenatal vitamin will work just fine).
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3

There may be other supplements you may need, depending on your risk factors etcetera, but let’s keep this simple and manageable for now.

Mommy health is a BIG topic for me–I’ll be writing more in the near future. Coming soon, in Healthy Mommy Part 2: Exercise and Stress Management.

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5 Comments on “Healthy Mommy: How to Get Healthy So You Can Live Long Enough to Enjoy your Freedom When You Finally Frigging Get It

  1. Pingback: Healthy Mommy: How To Exercise When You Barely Have Time To Brush Your Teeth. « savvy health

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  3. Great post — and an important one.

    I think this has a lot to do with North American ideology about motherhood — mothers are supposed to sacrifice everything, their lives, their careers, their sexuality, their health — for their kids. Unless you’re suffering, you’re not a good mom. And you only get to do something that’s good for you if it’s incidentally good for you — it has to be good for the kids first.

    I’ve been doing a lot of prenatal workouts lately (I review them here: http://atisheh.blogspot.com/search/label/prenatal ), and I tend to get a bit annoyed when the instructor talks too much about doing the workout “for your baby.” I always want to yell at the screen, “Look, honey, I’m not doing this workout so my fetus will get more oxygen. My fetus will get enough oxygen. I’m doing this workout because my back hurts in the morning, my chest hurts in the evening, I don’t want to gain too much weight, and I want to be in fighting shape for labour. I’m doing it for *me*. If my baby wants to do Cardio Salsa, he can do it once he’s learned to walk.”

    I’m looking forward to later posts, but I will say this for now: I grew up in a family of emigres to Canada, and it never once occurred to anyone in my family to prepare me separate food. And I was an incredibly picky eater. They took me to doctors when I was little to find out what was wrong with me, why I was so skinny. But preparing junkier “kid” food was never an option, nor were in-between snacks. Either I ate what the family ate, or I got to wait until the next meal. I wonder if mothers aren’t even *more* stressed when they prepare two or three different foods for each meal.

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