MCGC Nutrition

5 Things All Mothers Should Know to Stay Healthy

Marie-Claire Gahel-Calouche

To all the moms, this article is for you…as well as for me 

Being a mom is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging jobs out there. It is important for moms to take care of their own health. Unfortunately, many mothers (like me) tend to forget themselves in the day-to-day of caring for their kids and putting others before themselves. Self-care is important. As a dietitian and mom, I hear the reasons and live them 1st hand, the no.1 reason being ‘‘there is simply no time!’’ Here are 5 things no mother should put aside to stay healthy and honestly, they won’t take much time out of your day! 


1. Pack your breakfast the night before. While you’re doing that, pack a lunch too! 

As a mom, you know how hectic mornings can be. A child might not find his left sock, another might have forgotten his homework, the shower was perhaps hogged (not to mention the hot water) and it was a miracle you got out ON TIME (yay!) Despite this, you would never let your kids leave the house unmanned, on an empty stomach or without a lunch and yet so many mothers are OK to leave disheveled starving and with nothing in hand to refuel! Why do they get an elegantly packed lunch complete with snacks, drinks, utensils, and napkins…and you leave with nothing?!? 

Between getting yourself ready and making sure your kids are dressed and fed, it’s easy to neglect your own nutrition (to say the least). However, taking a few minutes to pack your breakfast the night before can make all the difference in staying healthy throughout the day. This can be as simple as overnight oats you throw in your bag or sipping a smoothie on your daily commute. 

Packing your breakfast ahead of time ensures that you have a nutritious meal waiting for you in the morning. Plus, it saves time and eliminates stress during those rushed mornings. You’ll be less likely to grab unhealthy convenience foods on-the-go if you’ve already prepared something healthy at home. 

But why stop at just packing your own breakfast? Take an extra minute to prepare a healthy lunch for YOURSELF and your children. Not only does this save money compared to eating out or buying pre-packaged meals, but it also allows you greater control over the ingredients that go into each meal. After all, don’t you deserve to give yourself as much consideration as your children? 


2. Folic acid is important especially if you’re thinking about having more children 

I cannot stress enough how crucial folic acid is for women, especially if they are planning to conceive. This vitamin plays an essential role in preventing birth defects, namely Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) and promoting healthy fetal development during the crucial first trimester of pregnancy. If you are thinking about having more kids, ensuring you are getting enough folic acid should be a top priority.  

No, folate and folic acid is not the same thing. Though these two terms are used interchangeably, one should not confuse the two forms of this vitamin. 

Folate is a naturally occurring vitamin found in foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and beans. Folic acid, on the other hand, is a synthetic form of folate added to fortified foods and supplements. To prevent birth defects in pregnant women, it is recommended by Health Canada to consume a supplement of at least 400mcg 3-4 months before a pregnancy to prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) : 


3. Careful with the caffeine 

While caffeine can provide an energy boost and improve cognitive function, it is important to be mindful of how much you are consuming. While it may be tempting to rely on caffeine as a quick pick-me-up when you’re feeling exhausted or stressed out, excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects such as headaches, jitteriness and even heart palpitations. 

It is recommended that adult women consume no more than 300mg of caffeine per day. However, many popular beverages contain high levels of caffeine that can quickly add up. For example, a 16-ounce coffee from your local café can contain up to 330mg of caffeine! Other common sources of caffeine include energy drinks, tea and soda.  

Also, caffeine should not replace water as your first choice for hydration. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can increase urine production and lead to dehydration if consumed in excess. Instead of relying on caffeine alone for hydration, try incorporating more water into your daily routine. 


4. Stop eating off your kid’s plate 

I have had countless conversations with mothers who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. One common habit that many of them share is eating off their kids’ plates. Plate waste isn’t great, but overeating is not great either. While it may seem harmless, this practice can have a significant impact on your overall health and weight management. Though eating small bits from different plates may seem insignificant at the time, it adds up quickly and can lead to consuming hundreds of extra calories per day…that you DO NOT need!  

Also repeatedly finishing your child’s meal sends the wrong message about food waste and portion control. Learn instead to listen to your child’s hunger cues (and your own), avoid overfilling their plate. This will limit the temptation of overeating to avoid wasting leftovers. Despite this, if you are still confronted with your child’s leftovers, you can also suggest ‘leaving it for later’ and packing in the fridge, a message that mothers can also adopt when re-learning to listen to their own hunger cues. This relieves the pressure to finish the plate (for mother and child) and encourages a positive behavior of respecting one hunger cues.  


5. Take a break…to exercise, meditate, self-care or just read a book! 

 Helping your kids with their homework, doing chores around the house, and getting a lovely meal on the table is WORK and if you are a working parent, that means a double shift.  No, a glass of wine does not replace a well-deserved mommy time. With so many responsibilities and demands, it can be easy to put self-care on the back burner. However, taking care of your own well-being is essential for both your physical and mental health.  

One way to prioritize self-care is through exercise. Regular physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also reduces stress levels and improves mood. Whether it’s going for a run, attending a fitness class, or simply taking a walk around the block, finding time to move your body each day can have tremendous benefits. If you do not think you will have the time, or that you will remember to take the time, schedule it in your day! This can also include playing outside with your kids, blasting the music, and challenging your family to a dance off or even taking the dog out of a longer stroll. Need more ideas? I have an article here with 8 suggestions to get your moving without a gym membership!   

Exercise can also be a moment to be alone and think without the pressures of motherhood. I love this time since it allows me to introspect while doing something to benefit my health. It can be a great way to start off the morning or end the day refreshed …and to be ready to do it all over again the next day. 

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