The easiest and usually most effective way to replenish your body is through good nutrition.
Most of us have a diet that is very different from the one that we are adapted to through millions of years of evolution - a diet of mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat. Humans first started eating whole grains and dairy foods like cheese only ten thousand years ago or so - a blip on the evolutionary time scale. And it's only the last fifty years that have seen the widespread use of refined grains, sugars, and oils, as well as packaged foods, pesticides, and artificial ingredients.
Although in the short run some people seem able to get away with this diet without too many bad consequences, the statistics on the dramatic increase in obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in the last century are cautionary at the very least. Further, anyone who is working hard needs a better-than-average diet - especially a mother: bearing, breast-feeding, and rearing a child are physiologically demanding activities like no others, and pulling them off while staying truly healthy requires that you honor the fundamental biology of your body and nourish it in ways that may have been less crucial before you had children.
Eating in a healthy way provides a good model for children, too. And it helps their parents stay good-humored and patient with them, even when the oatmeal starts flying.
With this in mind, here is your daily Mother Nurture recipe, designed specifically with a parent's nutritional needs in mind. It's got just seven ingredients. (By the way, this recipe is good for anyone, not just a mother!)
Ingredient #1: Eight to twelve ounces of protein a day; protein with every meal, especially breakfast
When you want something sweet, have some protein instead, like a hard-boiled egg, hummus on crackers, or a piece of turkey jerky. That will satisfy your hunger and keep your blood sugar on an even keel.
You can get protein conveniently from eggs, nuts, soy, hummus, cheese (from goats, sheep, or cows), protein shakes, combining grains skillfully, fish, and meat.
Ingredient #2: Five to seven servings of fresh vegetables, and one to two fruits
Eat raw vegetables when you can.
Make several days worth of vegetable snacks at a time.
Enrich salads by adding carrots, beets, or dark leafy greens.
Eat fruit when it's fresh and whole instead of canned, frozen or juiced.
Ingredient #3: Unrefined oils and essential fatty acids instead of refined or hydrogenated oils, or trans-fatty acids
Make virgin olive oil your everyday oil.
Avoid trans-fatty acids.
Use flax seed oil in salads and grind flax seeds to use on vegetables and bake into breads.
Ingredient #4: Two to five servings of unrefined, varied whole grains
Try to get grains intact, not ground into flours.
Replace refined wheat flour with whole wheat pastry, rice or soy flours.
Try pasta made from brown rice.
Ingredient #5: Organic foods when possible
Avoid foods with artificial ingredients such as preservatives, color, or flavor enhancers.
Check out the local farmers' market or co-op for organic meats, soup, cheese, milk, and even wine.
Ingredient #6: High-potency nutritional supplements
Unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise, take a good "multi."
Use supplements whose minerals are chelated, which aids absorption.
Add calcium, magnesium, and B complex supplements.
Ingredient #7: Zero or very little refined sugar
Try to understand the forces that keep you hooked on sugar.
The easiest way to eat less sugar is to cut out soda and juice.
Find brands of packaged food without added sugar.
Avoid temptation by not keeping cookies, candy and ice cream at home.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. (link is external), is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (link is external), and New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness (link is external) (in 14 languages), Buddha’s Brain (link is external) (in 25 languages), Just One Thing (link is external) (in 14 languages), and Mother Nurture (link is external). He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin (link is external) and has several audio programs (link is external). A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom (link is external), he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter (link is external)with over 106,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being (link is external) program in positive neuroplasticity.
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