Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Photos: courtesy of Michele O’Connor, Guiseley, Yorkshire, UK
Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
Eating for a good mood
After the birth of your baby you will be doing a great job making milk for your baby. You will want to feed yourself well too, to stay healthy and well nourished, and ready for the work of motherhood. Eating wholesome foods will help you maintain a balanced mood and feelings of wellbeing.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
- Eat regularly throughout the day
- Drink plenty of water
- Keep within recommended limits if you drink alcohol
- Choose fewer refined foods and foods that are high in sugar
Eat wholesome foods
Wholegrain cereals, pulses (legumes), fruit and vegetables are more filling and generally have a lower glycaemic index than processed foods. This means that the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, which prevents mood swings associated with depression. These foods also contain thiamine (Vitamin B1), folate, and zinc which have been associated with the control of mood.
Eat good fats
Your brain needs fatty oils (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.
Good fats are in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocado, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and eggs.
Avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, often found in processed snack foods. Such foods can be tempting when you are feeling low, but these fats are bad for your mood and your physical health.
See “Can Fats Make You Happy?”
Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It helps control your blood sugar levels.
Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts, and seeds.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables every day will ensure you’ll get a good range of nutrients, while several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.
Tomatoes, mushrooms, and bananas all contain high levels of potassium, which is essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain.
Try eating some vegetables raw, as cooking can destroy some vitamins.
Try these tasty dishes, or prepare them for any busy mother you know
- 1 cup (firmly packed) basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 oz/225g short penne or fusilli pasta
- 4 cups small broccoli florets
- 2 large red peppers, cut into thin strips
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 oz/25g grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine basil, garlic, tomato purée, and 1/2 cup water and mix in a blender until puréed.
Put pasta in boiling water. After five minutes add broccoli and peppers, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender but not soft and pasta is al dente. Drain in a colander.
Stir in tomatoes to the pesto. Add pasta, vegetables, Parmesan, and black pepper. Toss to coat. Accompany with a green salad.
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 6-ounce center-cut skinless salmon fillets
- Freshly ground black pepper
Stir together the soy sauce, oil, lime juice, onion, ginger, and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Place the salmon in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the mixture over the fish. Seal the bag, place it in a dish, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Transfer the salmon from the marinade to the prepared sheet. Discard the marinade. Sprinkle the salmon with pepper.
Bake the salmon until just opaque throughout, about 12 minutes. A knife will pierce easily through the flesh. Serve with lime wedges.