Exam Room Nutrition: Where Busy Clinicians Learn About Nutrition

18 | Nutrition for Busy Moms: Nourish Your Body, Boost Your Energy and Conquer Cravings

October 31, 2023 Colleen Sloan, PA-C, RDN Episode 18
Exam Room Nutrition: Where Busy Clinicians Learn About Nutrition
18 | Nutrition for Busy Moms: Nourish Your Body, Boost Your Energy and Conquer Cravings
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"An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows you to shine brightly." (author unknown) Where are all my mamas at!?! Juggling kids, schedules, meetings, laundry, pets and everything in between is no easy task. Where does nutrition and fueling your body fit in? In our latest episode, Colleen is joined by Chelsey Amer, a registered dietitian who offers insightful advice on balancing nutrition and motherhood. Chelsey shares practical tips for busy moms on planning ahead, automating grocery shopping, and making the most of convenient foods without giving up on their nutritional value. This is all about ensuring that healthy eating doesn't have to take a backseat, even when your schedule is packed.

Do your patients ever ask you:

  • Is it possible to enjoy carbs without worrying about weight gain? 
  • How do I manage those pesky food cravings? 
  • Are salads really healthy?
  • Can I eat pasta?

Chelsey  shares expert advice on how to effectively manage food cravings, incorporate carbs into our diet, and control binge eating. She also shares her top three tips for controlling late-night snacking and satisfying a sweet tooth with nutritious choices. So tune in to learn how to strike the perfect balance between indulging and mindful eating. This is one episode that busy moms looking to make healthy choices for themselves and their family won't want to miss.

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Disclaimer: This podcast is a collection of ideas, strategies, and opinions of the author(s). Its goal is to provide useful information on each of the topics shared within. It is not intended to provide medical, health, or professional consultation or to diagnosis-specific weight or feeding challenges. The author(s) advises the reader to always consult with appropriate health, medical, and professional consultants for support for individual children and family situations. The author(s) do not take responsibility for the personal or other risks, loss, or liability incurred as a direct or indirect consequence of the application or use of information provided. All opinions stated in this podcast are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.

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Chelsey:

But I would say that if you are feeling out of control around food and you're feeling like I just can't stop snacking or I just really can't stop thinking about food, you need to really make sure that there are three key components that are addressed.

Intro:

Are you ready to transform the way you communicate about nutrition with your patients? Welcome to Exam Room Nutrition. The podcasts were. The worlds of nutrition, medicine and communication collide. Whether you're a seasoned physician or a healthcare student, this podcast is for you. So stick around and let's make our patients healthier, one Exam Room at a time.

Colleen:

Welcome back to the Exam Room Nutrition podcast. I'm your host, colleen Sloan. I'm a registered dietitian and pediatric PA, so today's episode is dedicated to all the super moms out there. Whether you're juggling work and play dates, or your patients might be busy, overwhelmed mamas, today's episode you're going to learn practical tips and tricks to make nutritious choices without sacrificing taste or time. I know firsthand the struggles of juggling a hectic life while trying to nourish ourselves and our little families properly. I work full-time as a PA, I'm running a full-time podcast alone and I also homeschool my 13-year-old daughter. So trust me, mamas, I get it. I know it's tough because eating nutritiously and nourishing a body is properly is so important, but I know it sometimes feels impossible. So I have Chelsea Ammer with us today. She's going to help us slay those nutrition challenges and reclaim our health in the midst of hashtag momlife.

Colleen:

Chelsea is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, cookbook author and food photographer based in New York. As the owner of Chelsea Ammer Nutrition, her mission is to help women feel their best by discovering how all foods can fit into their healthy lifestyle. You can also follow her on Instagram at Chelsea Ammer Nutrition, and that's where I met her and I love her content. Her stuff is so fun and so informative, so highly recommend you follow her on Instagram. Chelsea, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.

Chelsey:

Thanks so much for having me.

Colleen:

I'm excited to chat. This is near and dear to my heart, not only because I work in pediatrics, so I'm surrounded by moms. I'm a mom myself, so we've got lots of mom friends too, and it's tough right. It's a really challenging balance between motherhood work and then taking care of yourself. So let's address the listening moms, or the physicians and clinicians who work with moms when they say I'm a busy mom, hey, I don't have time to eat. What's some best practice advice that we can help these moms with this?

Chelsey:

is so common. I see it in my practice all the time. I see it with my friends. I'm a mom too. I have two kids four and one and a half so I definitely am in it too, and I totally understand that it is really hard, and sometimes I even catch myself being like I don't have time to eat.

Chelsey:

So, whether you are a super busy mom or you're helping moms, I think that it is really important to remember that if you don't sit down for a meal yourself and then you're just eating your kid's crust or a handful of goldfish at the park and then you work through lunch, you are so busy that that is also going to make you feel more out of control around food in the evening. You're going to have more cravings, you're going to feel like you just can't stop eating, and that's not a good feeling at the end of the day either. So I think the best thing that you can do if you are in this situation is to plan ahead, and nobody likes to be told to plan ahead. I mean, you're so busy, you have a million things on your plate, but if you just take 20 minutes out of your week, think about it like maybe on like a Saturday or a Sunday, even Monday after bedtime, after you get your kids to bed, take 20 minutes, and it is so worth it to just feel a little bit more prepared for the week, and that could be writing out a grocery list, or it can be creating meals with the food that you already have. Maybe you go grocery shopping over the weekend and then you just like strategize the meals that you're going to make or using the pantry staples and what you bought grocery shopping. Or maybe you just need to rely on some automations to make your life a little bit easier, and this could look like having a standard grocery order so that you maybe, if you have a partner, maybe your partner knows exactly what's in that order. But also, what you can do now and this is the best part of technology is you can have a standard grocery order and you can order the theme of groceries that you know you and your family love every single week, have them delivered, so you don't even have to think about it when you're a mom and you're super busy. Your time is money and it can be really worth it to have your groceries delivered for your health, and you can also rely on convenience foods.

Chelsey:

I know this is a super controversial. If you open up Instagram, you'll probably see something controversial about this but there's this big misconception that processed and convenient foods are bad for you. But there are plenty of nutritious options that make your life so much easier from like picking up a rotisserie chicken every week or relying on frozen vegetables, canned beans, canned fish. I love frozen vegetables also because they do the chopping for you. Like you don't have to sit there and chop up a whole head of broccoli, it's already in florets for you, and this can save you so much time.

Chelsey:

And when you don't have a lot of time, every like minute really does matter. And so you can also keep convenient meals in your back pocket. Things like using a salad kit, a sheet pan meal, where you throw like everything on the sheet pan and then just bake it in the oven, and then even something like a sandwich. Like you can have sandwich night, quesadilla night.

Chelsey:

Like you can keep it really simple so that you are nourishing your body, because when you don't nourish your body adequately, you're not going to have the energy you want to have to be the mom you want to be, you're not going to be able to concentrate on what's going on.

Chelsey:

And then also you might not love those other habits that come up, like you just snacking all day or grazing on your kids' foods. So I think it's really important to get in the habit of sitting for your meals. Sure, you might need to like help your kids during meals if they're younger. I know I do that. I'm up a million times during a meal and sometimes it feels like, even though I think I bring everything to the table, but your kids can also learn that like they need to wait when they ask for something when they're at the table too. So really just carving out that time for you to eat by relying on convenience foods and these little shortcuts that can make your life so much easier, can be a real game changer when you're trying to focus on some healthier eating habits.

Colleen:

I love the shortcuts. I'm like the queen of that, especially dinners, because you know you're rushing home from work, everybody's tired and cranky and hungry and sweaty from soccer or whatever. You're trying to get out the door to go to soccer. One of my go-to is kind of like what you said is a rotisserie chicken. I buy the steam in the bag, rice and a frozen veggie and literally it's ready in probably eight minutes, because by the time I'm, you know, shredding the chicken, the rice is cooking for 90 seconds. I'm still shredding the chicken that I pop in the veggies for two minutes and dinner's ready. So so good.

Colleen:

And I love that you said that, because I think as moms we put so much pressure on ourselves to like be perfect and be awesome at everything, which I know we are but there's just such a pressure to do that. And sandwich night, quesadilla night I love that idea. You're nourishing your family well even by doing that. You don't have to be making a five course meal every meal of every day, so that's fantastic. I like to linger here a little bit. I know we touched a little bit on dinner options, but what would be some breakfast options? That would be great for busy moms, because breakfast is kind of a tough one because you've got so many things going on. So what are some great quick and easy breakfast stuff that would help us get the day started Before?

Chelsey:

we move on to breakfast. You, george, are saying something I'm like I can't believe I didn't mention this. I just posted on Instagram the mom dinner. Right now, like the girl dinner, is having a moment, and I just want to highlight that you don't need to make fancy meals for your family in order to serve them like nutritious and delicious food. So I created the mom dinner, where I literally take all these different leftovers from the fridge and put them on like a big tray and then my kids get to decide what they want. And so there's some things with protein, some carbs, some produce, some fats, and they get to sort of mix and match, kind of like a charcuterie board, like before your kids, and they think it's so fun because they also can have ownership over it. So I just want to say, like you can just pull out random things. I think last night I pulled out some tuna, some lentils, some string cheese, some like wheat crackers. I had a bunch of different vegetables cut up, put it on a try, and my son thought it was the most awesome dinner because he got to decide what he then put on his plate. So I just want to point out that it does not need to be super complicated at all.

Chelsey:

There's two ways I like to approach breakfast for moms. The first one is to make a head breakfast, make it a priority that takes five minutes the night before to prepare something, so that it's easy for you. You don't need to spend your entire weekend food prepping in order to make healthy options, but maybe you take 10 minutes a couple of times a week to make a healthy breakfast that you know nourishes your body, keeps you full, gives you the energy that you need. So some great options would be a chia pudding. I love chia pudding because you can either blend it up if you don't love the texture of chia seeds, or you can leave the chia seeds whole. It's up to you. There are so many different recipes online, but they have the healthy fats, they have protein in there.

Chelsey:

I always like to add, like some protein powder or something to give it a little bit more umph, and you can make so many different flavors. You can add cocoa powder, you can add fruit, whatever you want to make a really nourishing breakfast. The similar idea would be to make overnight oats. A couple of times a week I make a huge batch of overnight oats and everyone in my family eats them, so it's super simple.

Chelsey:

Another thing that I also like to do is make like a cottage cheese bowl or a Greek yogurt bowl, and I'll make it the night before covered in the fridge so that when I'm busy getting my kids ready for school or whatever they're doing, I can just pull out my breakfast, get a spoon and eat while I'm doing a million other things. Take a bite here, pack the backpack, take another bite, get the kids whatever they need, because mornings are hectic and it is important to eat, and I always like to say try to prioritize protein in the morning. It will actually give you more energy, keep you full longer and it will really help support you a little bit more than just grabbing like a frozen mothal on its own. Always think about, like, what you can add that has a little bit of protein.

Colleen:

Brilliant and I love the mom dinner idea. So fun and kids love charcuterie boards and like little picks of little foods. So that's a fantastic idea and I hope that takes off just as much as that girl dinner. I love the mom dinner thing and I'm the queen of leftovers, so I love repurposing leftovers for dinner, but also sometimes I'll eat the leftovers for breakfast because there's usually a good source of protein in there and I'm not a real big fan of breakfast food. So don't think that just because it's not a breakfast food doesn't mean you can't eat it for breakfast too. So if you've got a little bit of leftover you know turkey and chicken or turkey and rice or anything like that have that for breakfast while you're getting the kids ready. So awesome tips.

Colleen:

So let's get more into some specific things that I just kind of hear, or we hear on social media about certain foods and things that moms are eating, thinking that they are like the healthiest choice, and that would first be a salad. So talk to us about salads, because as moms, we're trying to bounce back to our pre-baby state or maybe we're trying to lose a little bit of baby weight, so we are trying to be a little health conscious and maybe we've been told to gravitate more towards salads. Is that our best option and choice for, maybe a lunch?

Chelsey:

So I'm actually not a fan of the term like bounce back. I think there's so much pressure on moms to get back to their pre baby state and I really don't think it's necessary to bounce back. It took you 10 months, 40 weeks, to grow this healthy baby and it's going to take you time to adjust and you go through so many different hormonal changes. It's like a roller coaster and you're now sleep deprived, you don't have the same time that you did before becoming a mom, and so I think there's so much pressure. So first I always like to say let's take the pressure off, because that's most important. And then, when somebody typically is saying, well, is a salad a healthy choice, I, as a sort of an intuitive eating counselor, I always then like to say well, like, why are you asking if a salad is a healthy choice? Like, do you think it's a healthy choice for you? What does healthy even mean to you and why are you, like, so super concerned that your salad is healthy? And here's what I mean is that healthy is like an unregulated term, it doesn't really have a true definition. So the way somebody interprets healthy can be different. Every mom can have a different definition of healthy. So if you're trying to have more energy, if you're trying maybe to feel better in your skin, that's totally valid. I know like, as a mom, you are so sleep deprived, you don't know what's going on. Your stress hormones are all over the place. Your hormones are all over the place. So it makes a lot of sense that you want to feel your best, and so if a salad supports you in feeling your best, then yeah, I think it's a great choice. It could totally fit into your diet. But that is also to say, on the other side, you don't have to eat a salad in order to be healthy. I think that is the big misconception, and probably what you were getting at in this question is that you don't need to choose a salad to be healthy.

Chelsey:

You can eat a wide variety of foods. You can have a sandwich if you want a sandwich. You can have the leftovers, like you were just talking about, for dinner. You can have them for lunch and repurpose that. You don't need to just have a big bowl of lettuce, and if you do want a big bowl of lettuce, that's great.

Chelsey:

So what can you add in there? Also to actually keep yourself full, to keep your blood sugar levels stable to keep yourself energized. What else can you add? It's probably some protein. Add a carb in there. So many times moms are skimping on those carbs at lunch and then they're like I'm crashing at three PM and reading the snack cabinet and it's like, well, yeah, you're not eating enough carbs earlier in the day because someone somewhere told you not to eat carbs and that's really causing you to rely on the goldfish and the pretzels and all those quick energy foods. So try adding maybe some quinoa to your salad. Or try adding some roasted sweet potatoes leftover from the night before. Or try having a slice of avocado toast on the side and then have your salad with chicken that you want. We need to make sure that your salad is actually filling in order for it to be a healthy, balanced, nourishing meal.

Colleen:

Let's linger here a little bit, because you mentioned the term carbs and some women run at the thought of even eating a carb because you're right, they've been told somewhere from some influencer that you can't eat any carbs. Carbs are bad for you. So clear that up, because I know so many moms that are avoiding some of their favorite foods, like pasta and rice and potatoes, because they just think that all carbs are bad. So please use your intuitive eating training and educate us properly so we nourish our bodies better.

Chelsey:

Yeah, carbs are probably one of the most misunderstood nutrients that we've been told. With the rise of the keto diet, there's paleo, there's like years ago there was Akins. I know when I was growing up that's what I heard a lot about. So carbs are often demonized, and the reality is that carbs are your body's quickest form of energy. When you eat a carb, your body automatically gets that energy super quickly, and so a lot of parts of your body require those carbs to function. Your brain, your red blood cells they really need those carbs daily to have energy and to function properly, and so eating carbs will not automatically to weight gain.

Chelsey:

It's about eating the right amount of carbs for your body and eating different types of carbs. So eating, let's say, potato chips is a very different type of carb than eating a whole potato, and so learning about the difference between that and there's a place in your diet for both. I'm not saying don't ever eat potato chips Definitely like. They're delicious, okay, shoeh, battery Wax.

Chelsey:

It's about making the choice that will best serve you in that moment, and so if you're looking for long lasting energy and you want to feel nourished and confident in what you're eating, try to aim for more of those high fiber carbs, like a potato, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta. That will really help fill you up because it contains fiber that is very filling, and then it will also help balance your blood sugar levels, keep you energized and it won't automatically lead to weight gain, so doing a detriment to yourself. If you're cutting carbs and then you're craving a lot of sweets later in the day, or if you always have a sweet tooth and always want to serve but you're not eating carbs earlier in the day, try adding some in and see if that helps your cravings dissipate a bit, because I bet it will, so helpful.

Colleen:

And that actually leads really nicely into the final question that I had, because you have touched on it sort of throughout our discussion, and that is controlling that binge eating. And it usually happens late at night when the kids are down, because you finally have some downtime or your sugar craving is out of control. So I know you talked a little bit about filling up on some fiber and some protein throughout the day, but give us some really helpful tips and tricks that we can do to stop binge eating and go crazy with the sugar at night time.

Chelsey:

Yeah, so there are a lot of different causes of binge eating, so it's really hard to generalize. But I would say that if you are feeling out of control around food and you're feeling like I just can't stop snacking or I just really can't stop thinking about food, you need to really make sure that there are three key components that are addressed, and the first one is are you eating enough throughout the day? And I see this all the time. It's like you start your day with coffee. You forget to eat breakfast. Like we said, maybe you just don't have time, maybe it wasn't even on purpose, but you're skipping breakfast for whatever reason. Or maybe you're like well, let me push off breakfast to save up calories for later in the day.

Chelsey:

A lot of times you're just not eating enough throughout the day, and that's why it is so important to really use those shortcuts that we discussed in the beginning of this podcast to really make sure that you are eating enough throughout the day. If you're not eating enough throughout the day, your body is going to want to make up for that at night, and that's why you're also having a lot of those snack cravings in the evening, like after bed, after your kid's bedtime. The second thing you want to do is make sure that you're eating before you get over hungry or like before you feel ravenous, because if you're waiting too long to eat, it's going to backfire. You're then going to overeat and then feel like you want to keep eating Again. That's why we don't want to just have coffee for breakfast or we don't want to push off our hunger in the morning. Those two really go hand in hand. So what you can do is really try and be like well, when am I hungry? Try to tune into your body, really try to say am I hungry now? Or, if I'm hungry now, how can I prioritize eating before I get to a point where I am over hungry? And when you do that, the more often you do that, and it's going to take a couple of days, a couple of weeks, of really making sure you're eating enough eating before you get over hungry, and that can actually really help minimize those nighttime cravings.

Chelsey:

And the third one is are you eating balanced meals? Are you eating enough protein? Are you eating enough carbs? Are you eating enough fats throughout the day? Because if you're one of those people that's only eating, let's say, like an egg white omelet with spinach for breakfast and then you're having like a salad with grilled chicken for lunch, but like no dressing, no carbs, no fat. You're probably also not satisfied from your meals. So we need to add in some fats, some carbs, to make sure that you're eating foods you love, foods that are satisfying to you, in order to help minimize those cravings, because a lot of times those binges are on foods that you're not letting yourself eat, and so if you're not letting yourself eat certain foods when you're over hungry and then you waited too long to eat throughout the day, you're then going to want them in the evening time.

Colleen:

So true, I've been there, done that and it's never a good thing Skipping meals, are just trying to push through breakfast to get to lunch or anything like that. So that was really helpful. Thank you for those three tips. So I think I'd like to close with, maybe, if you have any suggestions or tips for what we can snack on at night, if we do kind of crave sugar, but we are trying to be conscious of the foods that we eat, you know, if we're trying to avoid excess sugar, what would be some helpful things that might crave our sweet tooth but that are still enjoyable.

Chelsey:

This is a great question because I think also as parents, we're told like eat with your kids, and a lot of our kids might eat on the earlier side. So I know I eat dinner with my kids between like five and five thirty most days, but I'm not going to bed until like eleven, so that's six hours. I'm going to get hungry also. So it's not just like the snacking, but also, if you're genuinely hungry, you know I want you to eat something. We don't just want to push that off until the morning time. So I would say that number one is if you are genuinely hungry, make sure that you're getting something that is like a balanced snack with tons of nutrients in it. So maybe have something with protein, like a Greek yogurt, and then you can add in something for fun. Maybe add in like some granola or some chocolate chips so that you have like a little bit of sweetness. You can enjoy something, but you're also getting in that protein.

Chelsey:

If you are really craving sugar, one of my favorite ways and one of my favorite tips is to crumble up like a cookie or like a small cookie into Greek yogurt and it's it's so delicious, it's really satisfying. You're getting some of that cookie. But you're also getting like all that protein from that Greek yogurt and I think that's a really great nighttime snack. Something else I think is great is like a slice of whole green toast with some peanut butter. Almond butter on.

Chelsey:

It can be a good way, and you can always like use a little drizzle of honey to satisfy that sweet tooth or put a few chocolate chips on it. There's nothing wrong with indulging in your sweet tooth. And, of course, if you're really craving something and it's not just like a nightly habit, eat what you're craving. Have the ice cream, have the cookie, have the brownie. It's important that you give yourself those opportunities to eat those foods as well. But also, if it's just a habit or it's a nightly thing, maybe we can think about well, how, what can I add to it? I think that's my biggest takeaway is always think about what can you add to make it a little bit more balanced, a little bit more nutritious for you, especially if you're often eating on the go or you don't have too many opportunities to think about that. So helpful.

Colleen:

This, I know, is resonating with so many moms out there, because this is just a daily struggle and a daily stress, so I think these tips and strategies you suggested are so extremely helpful. So if you have any questions for Chelsea or if you would like to follow her, I highly recommend you do so. You can find her on Instagram at Chelsea Amher Nutrition. You can also follow her food blog online at ChelseaAmherNutritioncom and, again, I highly recommend you do so, because these few tips, as she suggested on our podcast, are literally just the tip of the iceberg of the content that she has on her page. So if you are a mama, if you work with moms, I highly recommend that you follow these tips, just to help fuel our bodies better. If you have any questions for me, you can find me at Exam Room. Nutrition and Chelsea. Thank you so much for the gift of your time. I'm so grateful that you were able to spend it with us and for sharing your incredibly valuable insights. Not only are you a dietitian, you're a mom too, so I know you're in the trenches with us. So thank you so much for being here. That was my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, colleen. All right guys, now it's time for my nutrition notes.

Colleen:

In this section, I'll leave you with a nutrition tip and encouraging quote or an interesting case that I think might add value to your day. So, in keeping with the theme of busy moms and helping you fuel your bodies properly, I wanted to give you a few other suggestions for a snack that you can use to help control your cravings and to make sure that you're nourishing yourself throughout the day, and it's going to tie in really well with what Chelsea was saying about thinking about what can you add to the food that you're already eating or that you already enjoy in order to make it more well-bred. So the first snack that I think that a lot of us enjoy and that usually your kids are consuming, is the snack bag portion of popcorn, and popcorn is actually really a great snack, but it's lacking in protein, so I usually like to pair that with a cheese stick to get that protein into that bag, which will help control your hunger longer. The next snack that I think is super convenient is dried fruit. It's extremely nutritious because it usually has no sugar added, and it's a great source of fiber. However, again, it's lacking in protein and fat, so I like to pair that with a cup of Greek yogurt just to give you that extra protein boost. The next snack that I know you guys all have in your refrigerator because kids love them are they squeeze applesauce packets and it's a great on the go snack that you can have, but again, it's lacking in protein. So if you just have that, you're going to be hungry within the hour. So I recommend that you pair it with beef jerky and that's a great way to get an extra boost of protein into your diet.

Colleen:

Well, I hope that you found today's content valuable and that you now know how to properly nourish yourself. If you're a mom or if you work with moms, if you haven't already, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or like this video. And if you're listening in on podcasts, I would love if you could leave me a five star rating or even write a review. This just helps other clinicians find this valuable podcast. If you have any questions that you would like featured, you can send me a message at exam room nutrition on Instagram. Well, that's all for today, guys. So thank you so much for tuning in and, as always, let's keep our patients healthier one exam room at a time. I'll see you next time.

Balancing Nutrition and Motherhood
Understanding Healthy Eating and Binge Eating
Control Food Cravings and Late-Night Snacking