This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and as we shower mom with attention and love, it’s also a time to remember that one of the most important things moms can do for their families is to stay healthy. And eating regular meals made from real food (not the factory-processed kind) is essential to keeping in top mothering shape.

“In our desire to take care of everyone else, our needs can get put on the back burner,” said April Elaine Powell, a mother of three and a nutrition counselor who runs InviteAbitE in Kennebunk. “If you’re not fueling your body properly, you’re not going to be able to give to anyone else, because you’re going to be sick. Your nutrition affects everything. It affects your brain’s ability to function, your limbs, your circulation and your attitude.”

Powell said starting off the day with a whole foods breakfast is essential, and a key component of that meal should be protein.

“Protein is going to fill you up and keep your energy level even,” Powell said. “I boil a dozen eggs and put them in the refrigerator, and grab one when I head out the door.”

She also keeps healthy snacks – such as carrot sticks or strawberries – in grab-and-go bags in the refrigerator.

“The biggest thing for moms is being prepared for ourselves in addition to being prepared for our kids,” Powell said. “Then we’re not tempted to stop at fast-food places.”

Corinne Ketcham of South Portland has a 2 1/2-year-old son and cares for her nephews, who are 7 and 9. She hasn’t been in a McDonald’s in more than 15 years.

“I don’t stop for fast food,” Ketcham said. “I’m more prone to buy a supermarket sushi roll than go through the McDonald’s drive-through when I’m in a hurry.”

Ketcham also doesn’t keep junk food like cookies or potato chips in her cupboards. Instead, she makes her own granola and granola bars, and turns to those when she needs something fast.

“It’s hard when you’re a really super-busy mom to concentrate on what you’re feeding yourself,” Ketcham said. “But a lot of it has to do with preparing and always having healthy snacks available.”

There’s no question that Amber Bell qualifies as a busy mom. She runs Biddeford Saco Boot Camp, manages the apartment buildings she and her husband own, works part-time as a physical therapist, and keeps the books for her husband’s photography business. Plus, she has a 21/2-year-old and a 5-month-old.

Bell, whose family follows a gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan diet, said the key to eating well is planning.

“I have stuff made up ahead of time,” Bell said. “I usually end up eating the same thing as (the kids), but not always at the same time. I keep cooked rice in the fridge, so I just have to warm it up. I keep pre-made bean burgers and waffles in the freezer that I just have to toast.”

Bell has a set of 28 meal-worthy recipes – including Southwest black bean burgers, cauliflower curry and Moroccan lentil stew – that she shares with participants in her boot camp. Each week, before she goes shopping, she picks four recipes and prepares her grocery list accordingly. She makes sure she cooks enough so there will always be leftovers.

Preparing extra food is also part of Erin Moulton’s strategy to ensure she and her family are well fed. Moulton is the mother of three and a co-leader of the Holistic Moms Network of Maine.

She might roast a locally raised, free-range chicken one night and serve it with sweet potatoes and asparagus. The following day, she might use some of the leftover chicken in wraps; the next day, she might make a chicken stew.

“I’m still nursing the baby, which is helpful to remind me to eat well,” said Moulton, who lives in Windham. “Eating Cheetos creates Cheetos breast milk, so I don’t want to give that to the baby. Also, I feel better when I eat real food – something not made in a factory.”

Snacks in the Moulton house consist of things such as fruit, yogurt and dried seaweed.

“We’re very rarely sick,” Moulton said. “So I’m not running back and forth to the doctors with the kids, and I can spend the time in the kitchen cooking. And if we do get sick, we use food as medicine.”

This might mean eating things like seaweed and sea salt, which contain trace minerals, or making green smoothies with cilantro, which is a detoxifying herb.

Illness is also a rarity at the Ketcham home.

“We base our health on nutrition,” Ketcham said. “We’re not suffering from colds and flus all the time.”

Which is why all moms should consider giving themselves the gift of nutritious food this Mother’s Day.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila