Why Working Mothers Must Not Neglect Their Nutritional Requirements

Are you a working mother juggling umpteen tasks every day with hardly any time for yourself? Do you hardly ever pay any thought to your food? Read on to find out where you're heading...

By Dr Neha Sanwalka

Why Working Mothers Must Not Neglect Their Nutritional Requirements

Working mothers generally have the roughest cut amongst all women. Juggling between family and work leaves them with little time for eating. A survey by the Working Mother Research Institute says that 44 per cent of working mothers do not get the time to sit down and eat. Shocking statistics reveal that the average working mom only spends about 3 minutes and 15 seconds eating breakfast and often eats it standing up. Let's look at five key nutritional differences between working moms and stay-at-home moms, and their impact on children:

  1. Informed choices: Working moms are invariably exposed to more information and are able to make healthier food choices than stay-at-home moms.
  2. Buying power: Working moms are able to afford healthier foods like fruit and nuts that stay-at-home moms living in single-income families may not be able to.
  3. Time constraint: Stay-at-home moms have the advantage of being able to spend more time cooking healthier foods for all three meals in a day than working moms.
  4. Right habits: Stay-at-home moms may watch over their child’s activities such as finishing food on the plate, set a them on correct course and monitor progress if required. Working moms may not have the patience or time to follow up on their child’s habits.
  5. Me time: Working moms may not be able to eat nutritious food at all times putting them at risk of poor health. This neglect affects their health and as a result they are not able to provide adequate care for their child. Stay-at-home moms are generally in a better position than working moms in this regard.

In this midst of all this bustle, how does a working mom get the required nutrients? One solution would be to increase breakfast time and to ensure that she gets all the required nutrients within that time. For more such solutions to problems caused by nutritional inadequacies, read on...

Food for thought

Most working mothers complain that they are unable to eat healthy foods due to reasons such as:

• Lack of time

• Stress

• Irregular meal patterns

• Lack of information regarding good eating habits

• Non-awareness regarding on-the-go foods

• Inadequate time to prepare healthy homemade food

• Eating out often

The following ClipBook shows you what working moms should know about eating right.

These inappropriate eating habits can result in nutritional deficiencies and have short-term as well as long-term impact on health such as:

Obesity and metabolic disorders:

A diet high in carbohydrates and fats, combined with low protein intake, leads to increased risk of weight gain, obesity, diabetes, dyslipidaemia (irregular lipid profile) and cardiovascular diseases. These ailments affect the mother’s health and make it difficult for her to actively participate in the upbringing of her child. Low protein intake during pregnancy can cause faltered intra-uterine growth of the child.

Anaemia: A very high percentage of Indian women, suffer from iron deficiency and anaemia which results in fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc. Anaemia also reduces concentration and leads to poor performance at work

Calcium and vitamin D deficiency: Lack of exposure to sunlight (essential for synthesis of vitamin D) and inadequate intake of calcium-rich foods leads to calcium and vitamin D deficiency. Chronic deficiency of vitamin D and calcium can cause bone ache, muscular atrophy and osteoporosis in old age. Low calcium intake during lactation drains calcium out from the bones (to maintain quality of breastmilk) and further increases the risk for osteoporosis.

B complex deficiency: A diet lacking in essential B complex vitamins affects not just your metabolism but also your work owing to lethargy. Low intake of folic acid during the first trimester can cause neural tube defects in babies.

Low fibre intake: Fruit and vegetable intake is most neglected due to busy work schedules and lack of time, leading to constipation and other health issues associated with low fibre intake

Decreased water intake: Water is the most neglected food item. Decreased water intake can cause constipation and dehydration which can affect productivity at work. Low water intake also affects breastmilk production in lactating mothers.

Daily plan for working moms

We’ve seen how it is absolutely essential that working mothers consume a well-balanced and nutritious diet on a daily basis. Check out this simple daily plan for working moms to be in better health.

5:30 am - Wake up and enjoy a glass of lemon water (is a great detoxifier and energy booster)

5:45 am - Go for a morning jog or yoga or some simple stretches

6:15 am - Have a glass of milk before you start on the morning chores

8:00 am - Sit down to a breakfast of a couple of dosas, a bowl of poha or egg sandwiches with a fruit

8:20 am - Set out to work; remember to carry your lunchbox

10:45 am - Have a glass of buttermilk/green tea/carrot sticks/a whole guava or apple

1:00 pm - Have your lunch. It should ideally be a balance of carbohydrates (rice/roti), vitamins (vegetables), protein (pulses), fibre (salad) and probiotics (yoghurt)

4:00 pm - Have a cup of healthy green tea or green coffee with some roasted soy, channa, dry-fruit mix, granola bars or homemade boiled/sprouted lentils

8:00 pm - Sit down with your family to a dinner of hot upma/dosa/roti. If you’re hard-pressed for time, go for a big bowl of porridge with a lot of vegetables in it. If you’re eating out, start your meal with a soup or salad. Order à la cart instead of buffet so you don't overeat. Order steamed or grilled items instead of fried items or junk food such as burgers, pizzas, vada-pav, etc.

10:00 pm - Down a glass of warm milk before hitting the bed

Note: Drink a glass of water as soon as you get to work or get back home. To increase water intake, keep a bottle of water on your work desk. Then, you are more likely to reach out for it.

Weekend to-do list:

Shop for healthy foods like fruit, nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sesame seeds are full of antioxidants).

Plan the menu for the week ahead

1. Replenish stores of lentils to make your tea-time sundal/chaat

2. Formulate a list of recipes to prepare during the week and verify if all the ingredients are available to avoid last minute changes and prevent waste of time

Buy green leafy vegetables and clean them up. Store in net bags in your fridge so they don’t turn soggy

Prepare dosa/idli batter and dough for roti from millets; store for use during the week to prevent the temptation of buying fast-food for dinner

Herbs for health

Various herbs are known to be beneficial for women’s health. They can be easily incorporated in the day-to-day routine of working mothers for overall health and improved work productivity.

Haridra (turmeric): It helps relieve pain during pregnancy, promotes faster post-partum healing, has anti-bacterial properties and is also beneficial to babies. It is also believed that consumption of turmeric during pregnancy reduces the risk of birth defects. Add a pinch of turmeric to your vegetable curries or a glass of milk to be had at bed time.

Adrika (ginger): It helps cure a sore throat. Drink a cup of ginger tea during premenstrual syndrome to relieve symptoms of nausea and reduce pain.

Ashwaganda (Indian ginseng): The king of herbs, ashwagandha when included in your daily diet boosts energy levels, reduces stress and anxiety, and boosts immunity.

Shatavari (asparagus): In India, shatavari is traditionally incorporated in a woman’s daily regime as it helps balance hormones and boosts energy levels. Shatavari also boosts fertility in women, which is a common concern amongst working women these days. Shatavari is best consumed before bed-time as a powder mixed in milk.

Exercise

Along with nutritious diet, it’s absolutely essential that working mothers indulge in some form of physical activity. Make exercise a part of your routine together with eating balanced meals for a healthy and active life.

Are your a busy mom struggling to balance family and work? Check out this article to see what you can do to make life easy.