My mum was a hippie and as such, my little sister and I were raised reading food labels looking for E additives (I swear my mum carried E for Additives in her shopping bag), hidden sugars and animal products (I was a vegetarian for the first 32 years of my life – until I moved to Ibiza and now I occasionally eat meat). We were raised on whole food stews, restricted on “crap” and educated on organic foods – we were really weird! Nowadays these things are commonplace and people across the world are taking health into their own hands. A recent digestive health issue was a clear slap in the face to me, to remind me that eating should be a mindful practice and that it is my duty to educate my young daughter on the importance of good healthy eating. Today I am very excited to be interviewing Cyndi O’Meara a nutritionist, documentary creator – ‘What’s With Wheat?’, best-selling author, educator, international speaker and founder of Changing Habits and Functional Nutrition Academy.
Hi Cyndi, Welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum or dad should have to do everything themselves, 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! Food is our most powerful tool as a parent to keep both ourselves and our families well, energised and alive. You have upgraded the lives of many by educating people on natural foods.
Being a mum can be exhausting but what we eat can really affect this. What foods would you recommend for tired mothers to cut out or add in and why?
Fundamentally I stem from an anthropological background. So when I’m asked a question like this I have to look at what it was like for a mother back then and how can we emulate in modern life what they did. Things to make sure you have in your life every day with your babies; sunshine to activate your mitochondria to make energy, movement outside to get the systems of the body working, barefoot time to transfer electrons from the earth to yourself to make the mitochondria work, park time with old trees to transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide and clean water for flushing out the digestive and urinary tract. You may think that this is woo woo, but it’s proven that if we do this our bodies function far better.
As for food, you need food that your evolutionary body thrives on, fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and properly prepared legumes and grains. Chocolate is a part of this but only chocolate that is made with real ingredients – this is one of the easiest and most delicious things to make…your own chocolate.
Foods to stay away from include all packaged foods with dubious ingredients, with no exception. If you are reading this at home, go into your pantry and start reading the ingredients of all your packaged foods and decide whether you want to continue feeding them to your family and yourself.
What would you recommend as a great breakfast for mothers to start their day and can you share a recipe?
When I was a young mother of 3, breakfast was always made – there were no breakfast cereals to be seen in my house. Breakfasts included porridges, CADA (see recipe below), omelets, eggs anyway with vegetables and salads. I also made smoothies. Preparation and organisation was the key for my mornings.
CADA – stands for coconut, almond, dates and apple
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1 apple – finely chopped
- 3 dates – chopped
- 10 fresh almonds – chopped or slivered
- Mix in a bowl – add more fruit and a good quality yogurt.
You can add to this by grating some ginger in – we call that CADAG
These are all in my cookbook.
Lots of mums are on yoyo diets, many of which deny us of treats such as chocolate – what are your thoughts on dieting?
We don’t need to diet, we just need to eat foods of quality and not in a package. Some mums may need a kickstart and I recommend my Fat Loss Protocol (not for pregnant or breastfeeding mums). Treats are fine but they must be made with the best of ingredients. Get my book Lab to Table. It will explain about the food industry and how to make good quality foods and how to find good quality foods. It’s all about the quality not the quantity.
As a mother, hidden chemicals in food are a real concern. What foods are the worse culprits and why?
All packaged foods have hidden chemicals, for example, you may see the additive ‘natural flavouring’ – behind that word is 48 plus chemicals depending on whether it is strawberry or lemon. If you see ‘rosemary extract’, don’t be fooled – it’s a chemically-extracted component of rosemary (usually 5%) and then there are other excipients to make up the chemical antioxidant. This is all in my book. The food industry call it ‘clean labeling’, because they know we are savvy consumers, so they have to change the additive names. For example, MSG has been renamed to ‘yeast extract’. It’s a rort.
Can you advise what we should be avoiding when looking at food labels?
Always read the ingredients – don’t consume anything that has an extract, powder (that’s a questionable one), flavour or colour of any sort. In fact, I stay away from all numbers and fortifications. This is because genetic modification of yeast and bacteria and fungi are huge in order to make these additives. Chemical engineers in the food industry are masters and we are being tricked by the food industry.
Is there any other advice you want to give parents when it comes to how they feed themselves and their families?
Go back to question 1 and go back to the basics, back to single ingredient foods, so that you have to get back into the kitchen to feed and nourish your family to heal this nation.
Where can parents who want to learn more about healthy nutrition look?
You can view the Changing Habits website, our programs and wholefood products – HERE
If you want to learn more about nutrition, check out my course HERE
Our What’s With Wheat? international hit documentary is available for viewing – HERE
Podcast – Up For a Chat