Life as a Mum is BUSY.
With the average young child interrupting you every 2.5 mins (yes that’s a true fact!) it’s not surprising that you might be finding it difficult to eat properly.
Perhaps you’re a new Mum and between the sleep deprivation and the overwhelming sense that every hour in day is being used, your surviving on not much more than coffee and take away? Or maybe your children are at the toddler stage, and you feel like your life is an endless merry-go round of preparing meals and snacks and then cleaning up said meals and snacks, that the thought of making something for yourself is just too hard. Hello crusts off your child’s discarded vegemite sandwich!
Or maybe your kids are a bit bigger and you’re madly preparing lunch boxes in the morning to get everyone off to school and work but don’t prepare anything for yourself?
We’ve heard it before, you can’t pour from any empty cup, and part of looking after yourself is making sure your body is getting the nutrition that it needs.
If you’re currently breastfeeding your body is working extra hard to supply your baby with all the milk he or she needs. Breastfeeding Mum’s need around 500 extra calories every day. On top of that you also have greater needs for protein, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and a variety of B vitamins.
Don’t panic though if you feel your diet has been poor. Your body will draw from it’s own stores to make sure that you are producing breastmilk that contains all the right nutrients. There’s plenty of good evidence to show that even women who are poorly nourished, are still able to produce sufficient breastmilk.
That said, you need to eat well to look after yourself. Poor nutrition is only going to make you more tired and lethargic, and have you wondering how you are going to get through the day.
Another thing that is certain to cross your mind from time to time as a parent, is your own longevity. It’s only natural that we want to be around for them as long as possible. When we look at “Blue Zones” (those areas of the world where people are living the longest) diet -along with physical activity, maintaining a health weight and limiting alcohol intake- is one of the biggest predictors of longevity.
The one thing I know for sure after having 4 kids in 7 years, is that eating well comes down to one thing PLANNING. I also know that the easiest way to make sure you are getting your 5 serves of veggies each day is to plan to have a salad or soup at lunch. In fact I’ll go as far as to say that if you’re not, then you’re unlikely to reach your target. Not that there is anything wrong with a sandwich, you just need to make sure its LOADED with veggies/salad, remembering that 1 cup of salad greens equals 1 serve of veges.
I’m going to share with you my formula for making sure I eat well at lunch EVERY day.
In the warmer months a salad is definitely my go to option for lunch. If you’re thinking a salad is not going to fill you up, think again! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen women make when they start trying to eat well, is to eat a salad consisting of not much more than lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Such low calorie options are only going to leave you hungry and looking for the nearest snack. Not only does your salad need to include veges, but also fats, proteins and long lasting carbohydrates to ensure you’re well fuelled until your next meal.
Now there’s no way I’ve got time prepare food everyday, so my trick is to prepare what I like to call a salad base once or twice a week, and then quickly add items to this at the time of eating that will wilt or brown if prepared ahead of time.
It always includes a wholegrain long lasting carbohydrate such quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal cous cous or israeli cous cous.
Don’t even have time to cook some rice or quinoa? Never fear those little pots from SunRice cook in the microwave in 40 seconds and are an absolute time saver.
Add a variety of vegetables.
If I’ve got time I like to add some roasted pumpkin, but I also use tinned beetroot segments, red onion, tinned chickpeas, tinned sweetcorn kernels or tinned lentils. Did you know that tinned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh? That’s because they are picked and packed at their peak, so the nutritional content remains high. They’re a good choice for time poor mums!
I also like to dress my salad base (my favourite is a white balsamic dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic, dijon mustard and seasoned with salt and pepper). You could also make your dressing ahead of time and dress at the time of eating if you prefer.
When I’m ready to eat the salad I add a base of greens such as rocket, baby spinach or kale, and little avocado.
My salads are usually meat free, occasionally I add tuna, but I always add some protein and fat with a variety of cheese, usually feta or grilled haloumi (hint: use your sandwich press to grill it super quickly) or boiled eggs.
Lastly I like to top my salads with pepitas, walnuts or pine nuts for a good dose of healthy fats and little extra protein.
When the weather is cooler, a soup is my preferred lunch option. Now here is where the art of planning comes in. I”ll make a large batch of soup on a Monday and serve this up for our family’s dinner. Then I’ll have the rest of the soup for my lunch across the week. Winning!
One of my favourite soups is a minestrone made with chorizo rather than bacon. It’s packed full of veggies and legumes and you can get the recipe here at Bloom. I won’t lie, my kids are fairly fussy when it comes to this soup, but the one thing they all do is pull out the chorizo to eat. I’m not fussed that they do this. Using their hands and utensils to explore the soup and pull out what they like, helps improve familiarity with the food ,and eventually they’ll learn to eat it. I also try to help them by playing games like “How many balls (chickpeas) can you find in your soup”? We always serve it with crusty bread, so no one goes hungry.
Finally, I usually follow my lunch with either a smoothie (banana, maple syrup and cinnamon made with cow’s milk is a favourite) or a fruit salad topped with greek yoghurt. This will get me right through to dinner, without the need for a snack in between.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get busy in the kitchen!
Julia @ Bloom 🌿