Given the many responsibilities of a mother, it is natural for her to place her own needs and wellbeing as secondary. But that’s exactly what she shouldn’t be doing. It is important for mothers to care for themselves in order to be healthy enough to care for their families. After all, a healthy mum means a healthy family.
But seeing as many of us have recently been feeling a bit burnt out, it may be time to relook into our healthy diet plans to help keep us in top shape!
To learn more about it from the experts themselves, theAsianparent reached out to Emma Paris, the co-owner and Director of Balanced Living and The Living Café, to share her personal journey of changing her diet after she struggled to become a mother.
Her Wellness Journey And Health Challenges On The Road To Becoming A Mother
Image source: Emma Paris
Originally from the UK, Emma and her husband moved to Singapore where they were trying to conceive. After six months of their arrival, the couple found out that they both had fertility issues.
“I was under the care of a fantastic ObGyn here but what I soon realized is that the traditional practice of fertility clinics is to focus on solving the issue through hormone treatment and IVF and less on understanding what the root cause and underlying reason for the infertility is,” shares Emma.
Due to this, Emma went on a long search for natural solutions. It was only after she worked with a naturopath that she was introduced to dietary changes and supplements to optimise her health and chances of conceiving naturally.
“I literally tried everything on what ended up being a 10-year journey to have my two boys,” she says. “But ironically, I never really got to the root of the problem until a few years later when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and found out that I was very intolerant to gluten.”
This lead Emma to change up her diet and remove gluten, dairy and other inflammatory foods. She was happy to find that this had a huge effect on her health and wellbeing.
In order to keep up with her wellness, Emma became a client of her now business partner Dana Heather, who founded Balanced Living in 2011. Dana was “instrumental” in helping Emma conceive her second child, which lead to their connection. In 2018, Emma then took over the day-to-day operations in Balanced Living.
Healthy Diet Plans For Women: Importance Of Maintaining Proper Health And Nutrition
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When asked why it’s important to maintain proper health and nutrition during your motherhood journey, Emma says, “Everybody knows how important it is to eat well when pregnant, but what a lot of people don’t realise is how important it is to eat well in the run up to getting pregnant.”
“Your state of health before conception takes place has a huge impact not only on the health of the baby in infancy but this can reach far into adulthood and their future health as well,” adds the mum of two.
Emma also elaborates how really important it is to look after the mother once her baby is born. During her confinement period, the focus is to “help the mother recover and be strong so she can look after the baby”.
“I was very lucky to have a maternity nurse after the birth of my 2nd son and as it turned out she was also a confinement nanny and made me the most fabulous, nourishing teas, soups and delicious confinement food,” she shares.
Paris adds, “The difference in my energy levels and how fast my body healed was dramatic compared to the first time, so I know first-hand how important this stage is!”
Overall, a diet that is high in whole foods, vegetables, healthy sources of protein and good fats is important. Mums should also ensure that their diet is low in inflammatory foods.
“What many people don’t know is how much havoc inflammatory foods wreak on the body,” says Emma. Adding, “The main culprits are gluten, sugar, dairy, and processed foods.”
But another culprit is refined vegetable oils which are widely used in Asian cooking. Best to just stick to coconut, olive & avocado oil, butter or ghee if possible and limit oils such as canola, soybean or sunflower as much as possible.
Health and Wellness Concerns That Often Get Overlooked
“We do so much work in our clinic educating our clients about the importance of good gut health because a balanced and healthy gut microbiome is crucial for optimal health,” Emma tells theAsianparent.
She makes sure to add, “Years of stress, poor diet, antibiotics & medication can wreak havoc on the healthy gut which in turn can affect mood, lower immunity, brain function and a myriad of other issues.”
In the Balanced Living clinic, they run 10 and 30-day programmes that focus on removing inflammatory foods from the diet, nourishing the body with delicious meals either delivered by The Living Café or prepared at home.
“Clients who have done these programmes in the past report dramatic improvements in sleep, stress, weight loss, skin, mood and overall well-being,” Balanced Living’s Co-Owner continues to share.
Lifestyle Factors Mums Should Be Mindful Of Regarding Their Health
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First and foremost, Emma emphasises on “sleep, diet and stress!” According to the wellness enthusiast, it’s hard to rank any of these above the other because they are all so critical to a woman’s well-being. Here’s why:
“Everybody should prioritise getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night,” Emma says.
She adds, “I prioritise this over everything because I am no good to anybody if I am overtired. I also know that when I’m tired and run down, my emotions and immune system really suffer.”
“A good diet is so important because nourishing the body through wholesome, nutritious food is the foundation of good health,” Emma also shares.
As per Emma, stress is one of the most harmful things for the body. This is because long periods of stress can cause adrenal fatigue.
Then because of this, it can lead to some profound effects on your body, disrupting anything from gut function, energy levels, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, blood pressure to our immune system.
“Keeping these three areas in balance will make you a better person and better able to cope with the demands of being a mother and caregiver,” advises Paris.
Healthy Diet Plans For Women: 5 Nutrition Tips For Mums To Better Take Care Of Their Bodies
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1. Eat a balanced diet
Emma advises having a balanced diet rich in whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, good fats and quality protein.
You can also try to incorporate fermented foods into your diet such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut & kombucha.
2. Make sure you are getting your key minerals and vitamins
“It’s very hard to get what we need from food these days so supplement where necessary,” says the mumpreneur.
Examples of this will be B-vitamins, a good quality fish oil, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D and a good probiotic as basic maintenance.
3. Eat organic fruits and veggies if possible
But if cost is a concern, Emma says you can focus instead on the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list of foods from the Environmental Working Group website.
“The Dirty Dozen is a list of the fruits and vegetables that carry the highest pesticide load, which should only be consumed if organic or avoided altogether and the Clean Fifteen is a list of foods that carry a low pesticide load and which are fine to eat non-organic,” explains Emma.
She adds, “People are often surprised to learn that avocados and bananas are on this list!”
4. Drink plenty of filtered water
“Epic Water filters are great at removing toxins from tap water so you are hydrated with pure clean water free from chlorine, fluoride, trace pharmaceuticals etc.,” Emma shares.
5. Don’t feel guilty about “you” time!
Ms Paris elaborates how this is not strictly only related to your diet but more about your personal wellbeing.
She says, “Identify what activities make you happy and nourish your soul and make time in your life for that. If you are happy and fulfilled then you will be a more balanced person and better equipped to care for all those who depend on you.”
Lead image source from Emma Paris.
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