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Updated on: 14 May,2023 04:59 PM IST  |  Mumbai
A mother is someone who puts the needs of her family before hers and may often ignore her own health and well-being in the process. On Mother’s Day, Mid-day Online spoke to health experts to share tips to help mothers stay fit and healthy
The type of exercise that mothers should do to stay fit depends on their current fitness level, personal preferences, and any health concerns they may have. Photo Courtesy: iStock
Being a mother is a blessing without a doubt, but it is a challenging task and that is what makes every mother a multi-tasker. She ensures her child is well-fed, healthy, adequately educated, and nurtured with the right kind of values, teaching, traditions and etiquette. She puts everyone’s needs before her even if it compromises her own health, which is then hardly prioritised and often ignored. However, a mother’s health is as important as anybody else’s in the family and we can all agree with that.
On Mother’s Day 2023, Mid-day Online spoke to health experts to help mothers understand the importance of taking care of themselves along with simple health tips to stay healthy.
When we speak of mother’s health, the most important thing is their eating habits and diet. The right intake of food is essential to stay fit and healthy. Dr Eileen Canday, head of department, Nutrition, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai dissects nutrition and diet for mothers.
How many meals should a mother have during the day?
Mothers often get occupied with multiple chores throughout the day leading to irregular meal timings. Thus, it is important to plan meals in advance and to ensure they eat on time. It is also important to choose the right foods while planning meals.
Mothers should consume a well-balanced diet comprising three main meals in a day with two-three snacks. It should be composed of good quality proteins, fibre, whole grains, a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. They must also hydrate themselves adequately. This will provide them with all the essential nutrients to help them feel fresh and energetic throughout the day.
What food items should mothers include in their diet?
1. Protein-rich foods such as lean meats, eggs, dairy, lentils and pulses
2. Healthy fats from nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnut and seeds such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
3. Whole grains such as whole wheat, bajra, ragi, barley, sorghum, buckwheat and oats
4. Seasonal fruits and vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, bottle gourd, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, corn, melons, berries and grapes.
It is best to restrict the consumption of highly processed foods like maida, white sugar, and re-used oils. They must also avoid drinking canned sodas and cold drinks as they consist of high amounts of added sugar. Further, packaged items like chips, farsan, sauces and salad dressings containing sugar and bakery items like Khari, cookies, and biscuits must also be avoided. Unhealthy food items can be replaced with healthy food items containing fibre and protein-rich snacks such as nuts, seeds, roasted makhana, millet crackers or vegetable sticks with hummus, fruits with hung curd, and smoothies.
What kind of health routine should mothers follow to stay fresh and beat exhaustion?
Mothers must hydrate themselves with electrolytes. This helps regulate body temperature. Fluids like water, coconut water, lime water, buttermilk, sattu drink will help with fatigue and keep them fresh.
Besides following a balanced diet, sufficient rest is extremely important to your good health as it is essential for energy conservation, modulation of immune responses, cognition, performance, disease prevention, and psychological state. Not getting regular good quality sleep may increase the risk of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, depression, stroke and obesity.
Additionally, being physically active is equally important to stay fit and fight fatigue which most mothers often complain of. Dr. Parag Sancheti, orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in knee replacement, arthroscopy and sports medicine, Sancheti Hospital says, “Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles and bones, and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Physical activity also helps increase energy levels and reduce fatigue”.
The type of exercise that mothers should do to stay fit depends on their current fitness level, personal preferences, and any health concerns they may have. However, the doctor says that cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, or dancing, and strength training exercises using weights, resistance bands, or body weight can help burn calories, boost mood, build and tone muscles, boost metabolism, and improve bone density.
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Here are some easy exercises that Sancheti says mothers can do at home:
6. Yoga and Pilates
Avoid ignoring mental health
Besides the physical aspects of a mother’s health, her peace of mind is also equally essential. Archana Singhal, counselor and family therapist, founder of Mindwell Counsel, and a member of the Counsellors Council of India and WICCI NPWC says, “Mothers take care of their children’s mental health, their husband’s mental health, and their own. That is one of the reasons why they feel exhausted all the time.”
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Here are some of the simple mental health practices that Singhal says mothers can practice each day to keep the mind calm and happy.
1. Practice meditation daily to keep the mind calm, quiet and at peace.
2. Find any hobby that excites you. Be it dance, cooking, baking, reading, writing, or pottery, just go for it. The important point is, to make your ‘me’ time count.
3. Make a silly video or selfie with your kid, close friend, or anyone you like enjoying with.
4. Try colouring and drawing, they have a calming effect.
5. Go for a picnic with friends or loved ones.
6. When alone, play some of your favourite music and dance your heart out.
Steps to combat stress:
1. Don’t let the idea of being a super mom eat you up. Stop comparing yourself with other mothers.
2. Set boundaries for yourself and guard them too.
3. As each of us recognises and deals with stress differently, understand how you are experiencing it.
4. Advanced planning and staying organised helps.
5. Learn to cherish the joy of motherhood. It might be a lot of management and multi-tasking, but seeing the world through our children’s eyes gives us a fresh perspective and helps us live each day to the fullest.
6. People will always give you unsolicited advice. You can’t stop them from speaking, but you can learn to ignore what you wish to. Learn to filter out all the things that you don’t want to keep thinking about.
7. Practice self-acceptance. Aim to feel good inside out. Be less critical and more patient with yourself.
8. Nurture your relationship with yourself just as you nurture your kids and your other relationships.
Also Watch: 7 practices for mothers to de-stress
For new mothers
For all the new mothers who are new to motherhood and life after pregnancy, it is even more essential to take good care of yourself while taking care of the baby. Dr Asha Dalal, director, obstetrics and gynaecology, Well Women Center, Sir H N Reliance Hospital and Research Center lists down some common health concerns new mothers should know and take care of, post-partum.
1. Mastitis or breast abscess
This will cause painful swelling and redness of the breast. There is difficulty in breastfeeding and can also cause fever. Management will consist of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs or surgery.
2. Postpartum depression (PPD)/post-partum anxiety or baby blues
PPD is a mood disorder that can affect new mothers and can develop within the first year after giving birth. Symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and changes in sleep or appetite. PPD is treatable with therapy, medication, or a combination of both, but it is important for the family to recognise it and help her seek treatment.
3. Postpartum care also involves monitoring the mother to see if the uterus is involuting properly, the post-delivery discharge is normal, the blood pressure is normal, there is no excessive bleeding, the episiotomy, tear wound or whether the caesarean scars are healthy. Pain and discomfort need to be managed and adequate nutrition must be provided so that breastfeeding can be maintained. Breastfeeding support may be needed for latching techniques, common problems like cracked nipples or even dealing with mastitis or breast abscess may be required.
A lot of women go through a difficult time emotionally. During this period, besides medical care family members can be of great help in supporting the mother by sharing her chores and helping with baby duties. If they see signs of postpartum depression or baby blues, they must encourage her to seek professional help.
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