I am really lucky to have a partner who loves to cook because quite frankly when things are stressful and busy my own eating can go to pot. My daughter is in a “likes everything separate” phase which just kills my culinary fun when I know it will just be left. I of all people understand the need for good healthy eating plans and self-care. When I train 3 or 4 times a week, eat healthy and meditate I feel a million dollars so why is that so hard? I caught up with nutrition and lifestyle coach Katharine to find out more.
Hi Katharine, Welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love that you have found a healthy balance and are helping others to do the same too.
You work with busy women who are fed up with being pulled in different directions and want to feel amazing – where do you start?
Hi Jade and thank you for having me. The starting point is different for everyone so my job is to understand where each client is. I go through what I call an information gathering phase right at the start of working with any new client so I can really understand their situation, likes, dislikes and importantly their life demands. From there we look at their goals and work together to break those down in to smaller areas of focus to create realistic and achievable incremental steps. For a lot of my clients its less about what to eat (though that helps of course!) but more about redesigning their mindset and helping them to think differently about food, movement even their own bodies – changing mindset is a total game-changer.
Life can be really demanding and our healthy eating disciplines suffer most at this time… i just want chocolate when I am stressed what can you advise to stop those weak moments.
When we are stressed our bodies crave carbohydrates and simple sugars. This is because although we are in the 21st century our bodies still react in the same way as they did when there was a sabre-tooth tiger prowling the lands. So when we feel stressed our body goes on high alert and into fight or flight mode craving those simple sugars to provide quick energy to help us against this big bad tiger. In reality of course, the likelihood of the situation requiring that very dramatic response is unlikely so without an outlet we could actually be making things worse. The best thing to do when stressed is actually to take a few minutes, maybe try a deep breathing exercise (in for 5, hold for 6 and out for 7), go for a walk outside in the fresh air, or eat an apple – it’s still contains carbohydrates (sugars) but is more complex so it takes longer to digest, helping you feel fuller for longer and has all the added benefits of fibre, vitamins and minerals as well.
Why do you think so many women emotional eat? Do we self-sabotage?
I think a lot of women emotionally eat because the alternative is to face some really strong and sometimes uncomfortable emotions like stress, sadness, anxiety, anger and most commonly, loneliness.
It’s good to see that times really are changing and its much more acceptable to talk about our feelings openly but many of us are still in transition and it might not feel comfortable doing so yet so we fall back on foods as our comfort blanket. However this is self-sabotaging as eating for emotional reasons will only make us feel worse in the long run and at some point we all have to deal with not only the source but also the discomfort of our overeating too.
You have a free booklet called Easy Peasy Family Food for Time-Starved Mums! What are your go-to recipes when you are time short and in need of a nutritional burst?
My go-to recipes include bean and vegetable chilli, if you’ve seen my instagram you’ll know I’m a big fan! I love this as you can pack it full of different beans and vegetables, it freezes well so handy when you’re short of time and you can eat it so many ways depending on how you’re feeling. I love it with basmati rice, in a wholemeal wrap with a side salad but also with homemade potato ‘tortillas’.
My other favourites include banana pancakes (3 ingredients – what’s not to love?!) and smoothies – I like pretty much any flavour and love using up what’s in the fridge, freezer and fruit bowl.
You are champion of ‘moving your body’ can you share with us some ideas that work around having a family (ie having time to go to classes do not always fit in with having kids)
I say if you can find a regular class to go to and have your partner or someone else you trust look after the kids for an hour then that’s great as it gives you time away. However as you say that’s not always possible so it’s about thinking of exercise and specifically movement differently. There are so many ways you can move your body and quite a few that you do unconsciously day-to-day such as chasing after the kids! Some fun ways I’ve found that work for me is walking or cycling wherever possible. I’m lucky to live in Cambridge so no where is that far away and we have a good cycle network so the kids can join me too. I also try to add movement to existing activities such as kegal exercises whilst washing up as it helps me to remember to do them as well as slotting them into my daily routine! Finally, I love doing a barre or a yoga routine at home. My daughter likes to get involved too so I usually set up two exercise mats, resistance bands and then if she wants to join in she can. My routines aren’t fixed, so if there’s a nappy change or drinks request in the middle that’s no problem and also that way I don’t get frustrated at the interruptions.
Is there anything else you want to share with mums who want to lead a healthy balanced life?
I think the main thing is not to be too hard on yourself. We’re all super-women who carry the world on our shoulders and spin a dozen plates all at the same time, so finding the time to prioritise ourselves in this busy world is increasingly important to avoid burning out.
It’s not about making big changes but the small incremental steps that we can take everyday that all add up. However if there are any mums who are feeling tired of trying to navigate the dos and don’ts, the trendy diets and the one-size fits all approach or feeling overwhelmed or frustrated and need some support or accountability then drop me a line and let’s chat.