With almost everyone juggling busy daily schedules – including working mothers and stay-at-home moms – it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge trying to make the right eating choices. By right choices, the diet and nutrition experts mean food choices that are nutritious; food and drinks that give you energy without being unhealthy in some way. Mothers who zip around daily, either sending their children to school or run errands before the kids get home from school or before other family/work commitments take up their time, need to consider several things. In addition to nutrition, they need to consider the availability of certain foodstuffs, how accessible they are, the time required to buy and prepare them as well as how to keep them as fresh as possible. Bearing this in mind, the experts weighed in with some good advice that tackles these concerns. The main worry for most mothers are: how would I balance my fast-paced life when I have a million things to do, yet still make the best eating choices that will keep me healthy, improve my well-being, keep me focused and give me energy without packing on the pounds? Simply put, on-the-go moms need body fuel and brain food; food that will help keep fatigue at bay, give them energy to go about their day while giving them the nutrients needed to be focused on the day’s tasks.
Firstly, these busy women can stock up on milk. Milk, according to dietitians, is nutrient-dense. It is high in protein and calcium. Calcium helps maintain strong bones and teeth and helps the heart and nerves to function properly. A simple way to get sufficient milk on busy days is to line up tetra packs of milk in the fridge so that it’s literally just grab-and-go. The portability of such packs also means moms can glug the milk down in the car or at the office desk. These milk packs will also help to keep hunger at bay.
Although it has been repeated often, the reason nutritionists and dietitians advise all of us – not just moms – to consume vegetables is because the benefits are so incredibly numerous. Vegetables, from leafy to long, orange to purple, contain many nutrients such as vitamin C (good for your immune system, so pesky flus can stay away), potassium and folic acid, among many others. Remember, too, that they fill you up without adding on excess calories, making them the perfect choice to stave off any extra pounds. Easiest way to have fresh veggies while on the run is to chop them into small pieces ahead of time, store in ziplock bags (some call them sandwich bags) or portable containers and keep them cool in the fridge till you’re ready grab them to start your day. The best part about vegetables? You can have them as ulam, as salad or you can juice them and guzzle down the green goodness.
The same applies to fruits. They can be cut and carried, juiced or eaten whole and fresh. This is not the only reason to stock up on fruits. Though you may have read or heard many times that fruits and vegetables are good for you, when you are a busy mom, fruits and vegetables do double duty: they flood your system with goodness, giving you the nutrition you need while taking care of hungry moments.
Whole fruits are quick and prep-free. Common ones are apples, bananas, jambu air, grapes, strawberries, tangerines and mandarins. A ripe solid banana tastes utterly delicious and is also comforting to the tummy. If you crave a more substantial meal, try to incorporate fresh fruits at the end of your meal. In the long run, your body will thank you for it as fruits are bursting with vitamins and minerals. When there is more time in the evenings, you can vary the fruits you consume with mangoes (mangoes fill you up really well), watermelons and various other melons, papayas or pineapples. The most wonderful thing about fruits is that the variety of local and imported fruits is so vast that it is unlikely you could ever get bored with a fruit salad. And of course, fruit salads are completely portable in ziplock bags or containers. For moms’ on-the-go, the temptation to reach for a cream bun or mayo-laden sandwich is great. We’ve all been there when we’re too tired to think and the easiest thing is to wolf down a sandwich. However, there are small but significant changes you can make to this. For starters, you could switch to whole grain bread. The same goes for biscuits and crackers. Instead of the overly refined option for breads, biscuits and crackers, go for the wholegrain option. And if that sweet tooth cravings come-a-calling, a granola bar could work well without the unwanted pounds on the hips.
In fact, you could incorporate these small changes into your meals by taking the wholegrain route. Think of oats, brown rice instead of white, or go with corn, barley and muesli. They are filling but not overly processed. The other benefit of wholegrain crackers or biscuits is you can usually find handbag-friendly packets in a regular supermarket. So if you’re stuck in traffic and your stomach is snarling from hunger, pop open a packet of wholegrain crackers and munch it down.
If there are extra minutes to spare, you could include choices which involve just a bit more prep but will ultimately be better for your health and wellness. Skimming your proteins is a start. What this simply involves is trimming the fat and removing the skin from poultry, meat and seafood. Dietitians also advise you should stick to a single protein on your plate. So yes, that surf and turf combo at that restaurant might not be a good idea. Vegetarians need not fret as plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh and chickpeas can help bring nutrition to busy days without sacrificing proper balanced nutrition. But preparation of food surely weighs heavily on the mind of busy mothers, which is why a practical solution is to try one-pot cooking using a slow cooker. Planning ahead with meals can involve multiple recipes and freezing the food for later consumption, and this is fine with dishes such as vegetable dhal curries. These one-pot meals can be a life saver when all the time you have is those five minutes to warm up a meal before rushing out the door. In this way, advance planning can help you make better choices. Eating out is not as fraught with temptations as we might think. If you remember the above principles (fresh fruit and vegetables, trim the fat on proteins, etc.) you can still enjoy your meals out. You could go one step further and order smaller portions if you want to allay your fears about weight gain or excess sugar or fat. You could also order an extra portion of vegetables (many menus often offer side orders), forgo the dash of salt, extra sauce or gravy and choose to drink water instead of sugar-laden drinks when eating out. These small steps together will help you be a healthier diner.
Healthy eating is about making healthy choices and does not have to be complicated. Making the choice to eat healthy, no matter how busy you are, means you are taking care of yourself properly which means you can take care of your loved ones better, too.
This article is brought to you by IMU Healthcare.