healthy diet

Especially for Moms: Healthy Meals & Nutrition Framework

Guest post by Sri Bodanapu

Being a mom is hard work! While we focus on ensuring our families are well taken care of, we often tend to neglect our own nutrition needs. And as we know, lack of proper nutrients can lead to a variety of health conditions such as fatigue, stress, weight gain and blood sugar problems. Nutrition can impact how we feel, how our bodies function and our ability to lead a high quality life.

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So let’s simplify your nutrition needs by using the Bauman College’s Eating for Health Model.  You need protein to maintain/build our muscles and organs, healthy fats to maintain cell integrity, complex carbohydrates as a source of energy and many essential vitamins and minerals to regulate metabolism, blood sugar and cholesterol.

Depending on your health goals, macronutrient ratios can be adjusted so you get your desired nutrition levels. As an example, perhaps you want to work on blood sugar management? In that case, you could increase your intake of clean fats like avocado, flaxseeds, cold water fish, and nuts and lower your intake of carbohydrates. Or you might want to build muscle in which case you would increase your intake of protein from legumes, meat, eggs and simultaneously decrease your intake of the other two macronutrient groups.

Let’s start by using this simple matrix to build your meals. And once you have your ratios figured out, use the cheat sheet below to quickly plug in the relevant ingredients depending on what suits your palate. Also pump up your intake of booster foods which are nutrient dense and have many health promoting properties.  
 

Eating for Health Model*

 

Eating for Health Ingredients List*


Fine Tuning Your Plan

A second step to optimizing for your nutrition is to focus on any additional needs your body has and increase the intake of specific nutrients. Moms often complain about stress, fatigue and gut health. Here are some important nutrients to address those issues.

Stress

Magnesium
A magnesium deficiency may play a strong role in disrupting the body’s stress system. Best sources are leafy greens, sea veggies, black beans, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds.

Zinc
It is considered to be a ‘resiliency’ mineral and plays a part in controlling the brain and body’s response to stress. Best sources of food are oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, split peas, sesame butter and nuts like walnuts, almonds and pecans.

Fatigue

Iron
1 in 4 women is iron deficient which makes low iron a leading cause of fatigue. Beef liver, ground beef chicken and turkey (use grass fed meat as much as possible) are great sources of iron. For a vegetarian diet eat more lentils, leafy greens, kidney beans and blackstrap molasses.

B12
A deficiency in B12 can be caused by low stomach acid, GI issues and often a vegetarian diet. B12 is mostly found in animal proteins and as such not bioavailable in the vegetarian diet. If you are a vegetarian, the best sources are seaweed, spirulina and nutritional yeast. And apple cider vinegar is a great way to boost that stomach acid and increase the absorption of B12.

Gut health

Fiber
It is extremely important as it improves motility and helps eliminate toxic compounds. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is key to increasing fiber intake. Taking a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber is important since it not only helps with a consistent bowel movement but also reduces chances of other conditions such as cardio vascular disease and blood sugar dis-regulation.

Probiotic support
Increasing 'good' bacteria will help restore the balance in the gut. Lactobacillus acidophillus and Bifidobacterium infantus, can help heal a compromised gut. Great food sources are yogurt, kefir, tempeh, and fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut.

 

As you can see, there is so much that can be done to improve your health. Start small. Make one little change, practice it for 3 days and then add to it. Set yourself up for success so you feel motivated to do more! Eating healthy is not hard - it just takes some planning and can definitely be implemented into your lifestyle!

healthy meals family moms

Interested in learning more?
 

4 week workshop starts September 22

Join us for an informative and timely class on health and nutrition! Participants will learn the tools necessary to better their health, energy, and performance in the workplace and beyond. Topics such as eating for health, weight management, complex carbohydrates, clean proteins and healthy fats and weight management will be covered in this 4 week workshop. Each class will be one hour long and include a 30 minute lecture, a healthy homemade snack and plenty of time for questions!

Two participants will be offered 4 individualized nutrition consultation sessions and will receive a personalized health plan that includes diet and lifestyle recommendations based on their health and wellness goals!

Cost: 4 week series $40/non-member, $35/member

About the Author and Workshop Instructor: Sri Bodanapu is currently finishing up her Nutrition Consultant degree from the Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition. She has worked in the food industry in a variety of roles and is a firm believer that food can heal and make us thrive. From soaking to fermenting and packing meals with nutrient dense ingredients like nuts and seeds, she believes there are many easy ways for us to eat better. Sri is a mom to a 1.5year old and in her free time obsesses about what to make for her family's next meal.

Questions? Email vaishnavib@gmail.com

*Eating for Health model and Eating for Health Ingredients List adapted from the Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition.

** The purpose of the article is not to provide medical nutrition services, or treat a disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life.

Fall Fitness: The Dia Method

Perhaps you heard the story on NPR or saw the clip on Good Morning America?  Regardless, The Dia Method is worth checking out if you've had (or are planning to have) a baby.  There are many ways to regain strength post pregnancy & childbirth.  We love Pilates and Yoga, and are excited to add The Dia Method to our roster this fall.    

Class spots are going fast.  Join us for the next 4 week course! 
(limited number of childcare appointments available--reserve yours early)  

In the meantime, check out these tips from instructor, Leah Keller.

Are you helping or hurting your core? 8 Telltale Tips

The core is integral to the entire body – how we feel, how we move, how we function in the most basic and intimate ways. When things are not quite right, our quality of life suffers. Whether you are early postpartum, or your kids are in preschool, I’d like to reassure that you can fully restore core strength and function, no matter how long it’s been. That said, the path to health, strength and full fitness can be confusing. Many of the exercises women embrace to get back in shape and build core strength inflict collateral damage on the very tissue they’re hoping to restore.

Nick Sousanis / Courtesy of Sustainable Fitness Inc. All rights reserved.

Nick Sousanis / Courtesy of Sustainable Fitness Inc. All rights reserved.

I’m often asked what activities, exercises or workouts are safe for diastasis recti, a common pregnancy-induced condition in which the rectus abdominis (the “6-pack muscles”) split apart due to the pressure of the growing baby. The most conservative data suggests diastasis recti affects over 60% of women following a first-time, singleton pregnancy. It’s not a tear, but a sideways stretch of connective tissue that weakens the core and compromises support for the back, the pelvic floor and the organs. In addition to the cosmetic impact (diastasis recti tends to leave women with a “pooch” that can linger years and even decades after delivery), this condition carries very real health implications, including back pain, urinary stress incontinence, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Ready for some good news? You can fully resolve diastasis recti without surgery! In addition to The Dia Method core and total body workouts, which are proven to resolve diastasis recti postnatally in less than 12 weeks, I’d like to provide some pointers for you when considering other activities so you can avoid exacerbating (or causing!) abdominal separation.

First of all, know that I am a lover of movement and activity. I encourage you to do whatever activities/exercise/workouts you enjoy, but with mindfulness and appropriate modifications when necessary to keep your core safe. You really can lead a very active life with and after resolving diastasis recti – but those activities must be done in such a way to make them safe for diastasis recti and to support your overall core health and function.

So… what are the questions you need to ask yourself while playing tennis? While participating in your favorite barre/yoga/boot camp class? While doing dance aerobics or swimming? It doesn’t matter what activity it is – the questions to help you determine whether that movement is safe for diastasis recti are universal. Here they are:

  1. Am I able to perform this movement/posture/exertion with my abs perfectly engaged to the spine? If not, you need to skip or modify that movement to make it safe for diastasis recti.

  2. Does anything that I’m doing cause my abs to bulge forward? Does it exert downward, outward or bulging pressure on my pelvic floor? If the answer is yes to either question, can I consciously avoid that or is it beyond my control? If beyond your control, you need to skip or modify that movement.

  3. Does the movement involve lifting my shoulders off the floor from a back-lying position? If so, modify that exercise to keep your shoulders down and your abs engaged toward the spine.

  4. Does the movement involve lifting both legs off the floor from a back-lying position? If it does, can I keep my spine neutral and my abs totally flat throughout the complete range of motion? The answer is probably no – this is too demanding for most humans, even very strong ones, to perform while keeping the abs and the back safe. Assuming you are not an Olympic gymnast with truly exceptional core strength, you can make this class of movement safe for diastasis recti by lifting only one leg at a time and keeping your hands on your abs to monitor proper engagement.

  5. Am I moving too quickly or too globally (burpees or mountain climbers, for example) to know whether or not my core is correctly engaged? If you can’t tell whether you are engaging the abs in a convex (bulging = injurious) or concave (flattening = safe for diastasis recti) direction, then you need to slow down that movement or otherwise modify/break it down to perform it with control and vigilance.

  6. Can I exhale and draw my belly toward the spine on every exertion? For example, when hitting a backhand, you should exhale and squeeze your belly button to the spine. Same with any lift (free weight/body weight/kettle bell/resistance machine/groceries/your children), a golf stroke, a row, a paddle…

  7. A word about backbends (especially geared toward yogis and dancers/gymnasts): a full wheel backbend, or any other extreme spinal extension and lengthening of the upper abdominal wall, will almost certainly exacerbate (or even cause!) diastasis recti. This stretch is essentially impossible to perform while keeping the belly button anchored to the spine and without flaring the lower ribcage, which opens the upper abdominal muscles. Please avoid this category of stretches to prevent injury. For an alternative that’s safe for diastasis recti, perform a gentle bridge pose or a modified cobra, which I coach you through at the end of the Firm, Flat and Fabulous workout.

  8. While performing aerobic activity, such as running, brisk walking, biking, swimming, dancing, other cardio, these are your most important self-checks:

- Can I maintain neutral spine (no ribs thrusting / butt sticking out / tucking the pelvis under) throughout the range of motion?

- Can I draw my abs “up and in” toward the spine with every exhalation? (The abs will need to soften and relax on inhalation to allow adequate oxygen uptake –but never bulge forcefully forward.)

- Additionally, if your cardio of choice involves impact (such as running or jumping), closely monitor your pelvic floor: do you feel downward or bulging pressure? Do you leak a little? If so, please take a break from that activity and focus on core strengthening exercises that are safe for diastasis recti. Switch to no or low-impact cardio (like cycling, swimming or walking) for a few weeks or months, until you have the core strength and control to resume running or other high impact workouts without stressing your pelvic floor. 

Following these tips is a great place to start for preventing and resolving diastasis recti. Of course with the variety of activity in our everyday lives, questions are bound to arise. Our members-only Facebook group is an active discussion forum where many interesting questions and inspiring events are discussed, yet we find that many conversations circle back to these 8 tips related to mindful movement and your core.

Just remember: There is no shortcut to self-awareness. I don’t provide a “complete” list of safe or not-safe diastasis recti movements because that’s not actually helpful. The moment you assume something is “safe” and stop monitoring your own body while performing it, you open yourself up to possible injury, even if the move itself is not inherently unsafe for diastasis recti. One person might be able to perform a full plank on the floor with perfect core engagement; another might not have the strength or coordination to do so (yet).

The Dia Method workouts offer a comprehensive program to resolve DR and achieve optimal health and fitness. Our private FB group is a safe place (free of advertising or solicitations) for Dia members to gain support from not just me, but a wonderful community of women sharing similar experiences. Join us today to restore your core, transform your body, and learn more about what exercises are safe for diastasis recti!

By Leah Keller, Creator of The Dia Method. Learn more about Leah at leahkeller.com.

Toddlers in the Kitchen - Sign up now

Can Toddlers Really Cook?!  

What do you actually do in Toddler Chefs? 

We really do cook!

Here's how each class is structured.  We begin each day with a "taste test." Every child smells, feels, tastes, and learns about each ingredient in the day's recipe.

Our chefs then take turns chopping, pouring, mixing, blending, rolling, mashing... all the steps needed to prepare the food for the stove or oven. Teacher Carissa usually handles the "cooking" portion of the class, while our little chefs take a break with blocks and puzzles.

When are food is ready, it's time for the best part - eating our creations!  


Benefits of early exposure to cooking 

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  • In class, we chop, mix, blend, stir, crack, pour, and shake our ingredients together.  All of these activities develop hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills.  These are skills that are important for tying shoes, hand writing and typing.

  • Exposure to new tastes, textures and smells.

  • Especially with food, it's incredible to watch a toddler's openness to trying new things when they see other children trying new things too!  

  • Children who play a key part of the cooking process have a boosted confidence and pride when enjoying the final product.   

  • You'll gain strategies for involving your child in the cooking process at home (they really can do SO much!).

  • You'll learn fun, simple, quick recipes to can recreate at home. 

  • Lay the foundation for preschool and beyond through the classroom format of this class.  Your child will begin to practice listening to a teacher, sitting for extended periods of time, taking turns, practicing patience, interacting with peers... and more!


Some of our favorite creations so far: 

  • Pesto sauce with noodles
  • Banana oat bars
  • Funny face pizzas
  • Fruity smoothies
  • Hummus and crackers
  • Quesadillas with guacamole
  • Fried rice
  • Veggie tostadas
  • Lettuce wraps

 

AUGUST CLASSES BEGIN 8/7.  

Tiny Toddler Chefs, 18-30mo, Mondays at 9:30am,
and Toddler Chefs, 2.5-4yrs, Mondays at 4pm. 

Cost:  $100 for the 4 week series (includes play before/after each class)
Members SAVE up to 25%!