Family Health Magazine - NUTRITION
Survive and Thrive
Learn to nurture yourself
Are you too busy ‘doing’ to spend time with your family at breakfast? Rather than sitting and enjoying your meal with them, do you eat toast crusts and slurp milk out of the cereal bowl as you clean up? Later in the day, does your energy level dip? Do you inhale cookies, fast food, energy drinks and bars, or consume unidentifiable objects found on the upholstery of the car?
Nurturing means to nourish, feed, educate, instruct and help to grow or develop. It is vitally important to allow our society to thrive and survive.
You are not alone. Meet Alice, a woman at the end of her tether who needs help improving not only her own nutritional intake, but also that of her family.
Alice is exasperated, overwhelmed and exhausted, wondering, “Where is my happily ever after?” ‘I do’ has taken on an entirely new meaning – I do shopping, I do cooking, I do feeding the family, I do laundry, I do cleaning, I do driving to soccer, swimming, hockey, I do assist with homework assignments… the list continues. Alice has changed into a ‘human doing’ rather than a human being. A sense of harmony is missing in her life. She must learn to nurture herself.
Ways to look after and value yourself
- Eat nutritious food – three meals a day.
- Make fluids count. Do not just drink coffee.
- Get adequate sleep of seven to eight hours every 24 hours.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take time to relax. Consider using massage and meditation to re-energize.
- Be easy on yourself. Talk to yourself as if you are your own best friend.
- Allow time to plan, organize, think about things, and have fun!
As women, we are hard-wired to nurture and assist those around us. It is in our genes. Alice is doing an impressive job of nurturing others, but not herself. So many of us fail to care for ourselves. The airlines have it right: in case of emergency put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Look after your own needs first – put on your oxygen mask!
Alice recently tried scheduling a 30 minute relaxation break. Within 15 minutes, she had completed three tasks. That was not the intention for this 30 minute break. She set the timer and restrained herself for five minutes. It was supremely difficult to sit and relax . . . to self-nurture! She finally accomplished a five minute break.
First, Alice needs to stop! A break allows time to relax and take stock of the day. As a busy mom (whether working full time or not), Alice is doing 24/7. She must transform her schedule or become resentful, short tempered and unproductive.
We only have 24 hours in a day. Creativity is needed to stay productive and look after the I do list. How can we, and Alice, energize ourselves and get through the day without feeling tired?
Part of self-nurture involves re-energizing. Use premium fuel. Coffee and the kid’s leftovers is not breakfast. Eating over the sink is not a meal. You cannot expect to have energy if you do not refuel.
Eating regularly throughout the day, every day, is essential.
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Snack between meals if they are more than four hours apart.
- Balance your meals with carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
- Divide your plate: half vegetables and fruits, a quarter meat or protein, and a quarter of starch. Top it off with a glass of milk.
As your eating becomes more regular, monitor your energy levels and watch them improve. Low energy levels are your body’s way of getting your attention - without balanced nutrition you will not have the energy to complete your do list.
To focus on healthier eating, develop a plan of attack.
- Review your schedule for one week.
- Record all activities and commitments.
- Arrange your menu to correspond with your schedule (see table below).
Planning ahead only takes 10 to 20 minutes.
- Do not throw this plan out. Complete this planning process for two to three weeks. Keep older versions and reuse.
- When introducing new foods to the family, do it gradually.
- For menu item ideas, involve your family. Ask everyone to help list favourite foods so that everyone will enjoy the meals you prepare.
- Keep mealtime pleasant. This is not a time to discipline or argue. You have plenty of time for that later. Bonus: Families that eat together are healthier!
Now, create a list to save time when grocery shopping. Equipped with a list, you can shop for the entire week and avoid unnecessary trips.
Guidelines for successful grocery shopping
- First, avoid the pop and chip aisles. Declare no once in the store instead of 100 times at home when it is in your cupboard. (This is an uncomplicated way to nurture yourself!)
- Stick to the grocery list, and resist the lure of impulse purchases.
- Never shop on an empty stomach. Keep a stash of trail mix or nutritious snacks in your vehicle or bag to curb your appetite.
- To save your sanity, shop alone and not at peak hours.
- Choose a variety of foods that are higher in fibre.
- Select less processed foods.
- Eating vegetables and fruit gives you energy and vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fresh or plain frozen vegetables are the best. Check the label and choose frozen ones that do not have salt, fat or sugar added. You may be surprised to find more low-sodium canned vegetables on the supermarket shelves. These products are also an excellent addition to your meals.
- Try a variety of protein options. You may even select a vegetarian meal once or twice a week. Meat is loaded with nutrients – just be sure to choose leaner cuts.
- Include two to three fish meals a week – your brain and body will thank you! Learn to enjoy fish with different recipes and types of fish. Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
- Choose lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
Alice is now in charge of her life, no longer suffocating under a relentless list of ‘I do’s’. She is energized and energetic! Planning has removed the guilt of poor meals for her busy family, which robbed her of self-esteem and the joy of her accomplishments.
Nurture yourself by eating healthier food. Nutritious premium food choices will significantly improve your life. Remember to take care of yourself. Self-nurturing relieves the stress of mental defeat and helps you to give generously without resentment. Once you are taking care of yourself, you can satisfy your natural hardwired need to nurture others.
|Tournament in afternoon – busy day so make crock pot meal
- Yogurt and sandwiches for snack at tournament
- Crock pot taco soup or chili with chopped tomatoes, buns and grated cheese, fresh fruit for dessert
|Swim and soccer late afternoon
- Lunch: ham and cheese buns with apple and yogurt
- Salmon casserole (canned salmon, whole wheat pasta, peas and grated mozzarella cheese), fruit and milk
- Lunch: roast beef sandwiches with baby carrots, banana and yogurt
- Spaghetti and sauce, cheese, milk and fruit
- Lunch: chicken wrap with baby carrots, orange and milk
- Pizzarella chicken (on parchment paper, place chicken, sweet basil marinara sauce, oregano and grated mozzarella cheese – bake until done). Serve with baby potatoes and mixed veggies, fruit for dessert
- Take out roast for tomorrow dinner
|Swim, soccer, and hockey in evening
- Lunch: tuna and cheese melts with celery sticks and fruit
- All day pork or beef roast (start in morning in
crock pot or oven), wild or brown rice (in rice cooker), veggies, salad, and bean salad
|Family movie night
- Lunch: pita cheese melts with celery sticks and fruit
- Make your own pizza: wrap, sweet basil marinara sauce, ham, pineapple and grated mozzarella cheese on parchment paper – clean-up is quick
|Clean house, laundry, errands
- Leftovers for lunch: cook extra during week,
freeze in individual containers, heat and eat
- Lean burgers, buns, with onions and trimmings: cook on indoor grill with removable plates that go in the dishwasher
QUICK BREAKFAST IDEAS
- French toast: mix an egg and a splash of milk in a bag, then soak a slice of bread. Cook in non-stick fry pan and serve topped with fruit-flavoured yogurt
- Cereal, milk, topped with fresh fruit and nuts
- Leftover homemade pizza
- Egg wrap: beat egg and cook in microwave, stir, sprinkle with grated cheese, serve in a wrap
- Melted cheese on English muffins, with a glass of milk
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physican promptly. Copyright 2012, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [NU_FHc10]