Finding time to cook healthy meals can be a daunting task – especially when you’re exhausted, pregnant, and have cranky little ones screaming “mama!”… we know how it goes. But the more healthy eating habits you can build into your daily lifestyle, the easier it will be to eat well for pregnancy and for the future. So today, we’re sitting down with our nutrition expert, Emma Hanton, to talk about some simple tricks for creating healthier eating habits.
Emma is a massive foodie, which is what initially drew her to the field of nutrition and eventually led to her getting her Masters in Human Nutrition and becoming a Registered Associate Nutritionist. She’s particularly passionate about women’s health and diet, especially during pregnancy and motherhood, so today she’ll be debunking some healthy-eating myths, and breaking down how you can make healthy eating part of a balanced lifestyle as a busy mama or mama-to-be.
Let’s get into it!
Why is healthy eating so important for a healthy lifestyle?
Food and nutrition is the foundation of our health. Every area of our health is tied to our nutrition. Food cannot cure everything by any means, but it can certainly help. Having that healthy foundation at your core lays the groundwork for your overall health.
We all have our daily meals, and these are a great opportunity (and an easy way) to influence your overall health with some simple dietary choices.
What advice would you give busy mamas who don’t have much time to cook?
Batch cook your food! During the last couple months of your pregnancy, I really recommend batch cooking some meals and stocking up your freezer. You’re going to be so tired and have your hands full – because you’ve got a newborn baby! Having easy meals that you can defrost and eat will make a huge difference. Batch cooking is useful even if you’re not pregnant, though. It allows you to prep healthier meals ahead of time, making it that much easier to eat well over time. You can start small by doubling up portions when you cook dinner, and freezing half for a busy night in the future.
Ok, let’s talk about diets. We’ve all heard of fad diets, and have probably been on one or two in the past. What kind of damage does dieting do to our bodies?
I’m a big anti-diet advocate! I think you should eat food that you love, and try to keep it relatively balanced. Please don’t restrict, as it can be so damaging to your body. These crash diets promising weight loss in weeks are not sustainable and do not work. The weight loss is so dramatic and so quick that most people will rebound from them and put the weight back on (and often more, to be honest).
There’s some really interesting research on twins, showing that throughout their lifetime, the twin who has been on more of these diets actually ends up at a higher weight than the one who has done less dieting. These repetitive diet cycles are very confusing for our bodies and our metabolism.
If you’re going to the grocery stores and can only buy 10 items, what are you buying?
This is so hard! Okay, here’s what I think I would choose:
- One bulk whole grain
- A lean protein
- Tinned beans
- Fresh fruit
- Green veggies
- Olive oil, or another healthy fat
- Nut and seed mix
- Plant-based milk
- Rolled oats
I think keeping non-perishables like whole grains and tinned beans in your cupboard, then topping up your kitchen with some fresh fruit, veg, and lean protein is a great way to keep your food shopping easy and healthy. And of course, who doesn’t like having pasta as a backup meal?
What advice would you give someone struggling to stick to a healthy diet?
Give yourself some grace. As women, we’re all way too hard on ourselves when it comes to diet. It’s not about perfection all the time: it’s about the overall picture. Nobody has a “perfect” day of eating – not even nutritionists!
And lastly, food is not the be-all and end-all. You’ve got to enjoy your life, and obsessing over food won’t make you happy and healthy. If you want dessert, eat dessert. If you want to have ice cream with your kids, have it! I think it’s all about balance. Food is fuel, but it’s also meant to be fun!
Emma doesn’t just have a great approach to food–she’s also amazing at crafting recipes that are delicious, balanced, and incredibly easy to throw together. Check them out in the Baby2Body app!