Food for me has always been a pleasure, something to be enjoyed, but I have also had a rocky relationship with it too. I am an emotional eater, if I’m stressed, angry, bored then without even thinking about it I go to the cupboard and reach for the biscuits…or chocolate..or crisps. I use food as a comfort, especially anything sugary. Most events and happy times in my life have involved food, as a family we always enjoyed it, our celebrations were always involving wonderful meals and treats – and maybe that’s why as an adult and with my own family I have continued this.
However, as wonderful as a cream cake makes me feel in that moment, I have learnt that not only is it not great for my body but also my mind. I never considered food to have any kind of affect on mental health, until it was pointed out to me by the local perinatal mental health team.
As a busy parent, it can be difficult to find the time to sort out your meals and snacks and much easier to grab a bag of crisps, a couple of biscuits or chocolate bar. But it is so important to watch what you eat, especially in the first few months after birth when you are recovering, low on energy and needing to replenish any nutrients that have been lost. Try snacking on fruit, pumpkin seeds, carrot sticks with hummus and drinking plenty of water. Add vegetables to lunch and dinners and eat wholemeal bread instead of white. Small changes like this will make a huge difference. You can find a link to information provided by the local NHS perinatal team in Essex about food and it’s benefit to our mental health HERE.
I never would have believed it but it works. After the birth of my third baby I decided to make a change to my lifestyle. I ate unhealthily, never exercised, my mood was low and I was tired all the time. The only ‘good’ things to my diet were that I don’t drink alcohol and I mostly stick to water. So I gave up white bread, most sugars and fatty food, the difference has been amazing. I now drink so much more water, and do daily exercise, most days it’s just walking to and from nursery but that still works out to around an hour a day. I have much more energy, and it definitely made a difference to my PND this time around as it wasn’t as severe – plus added bonus was that I lost most of the baby weight I had gained.
Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy the occasional treat, I’m never going to give up my chocolate and desserts, but as with most things in life it’s about moderation. It’s taken me a long time to work this out but it’s been worth it. A few small changes and planned out meals can make a huge difference, and isn’t it worth it to feel healthy not only in your body but in your mind too?