724:  How to Build Nutritional Habits That Stick with Psychiatrist and Chef Dr. Uma Naidoo

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Click here to read my affiliate policy.

How to Build Nutritional Habits that Stick with Psychiatrist and Chef Dr. Uma Naidoo
Wellness Mama » Episode » 724:  How to Build Nutritional Habits That Stick with Psychiatrist and Chef Dr. Uma Naidoo
The Wellness Mama Podcast
The Wellness Mama Podcast
724:  How to Build Nutritional Habits That Stick with Psychiatrist and Chef Dr. Uma Naidoo
Loading
/

I’m back again with Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, chef, and nutritional specialist. In our last episode together we talked about the major impact food has on our brain health and mood. Today we’re continuing the conversation and diving into more practical strategies to build positive nutritional habits.

And we specifically talk about how to do this with kids and families. Dr. Naidoo gives tips for how to foster healthy eating habits in our kids, without them running towards “forbidden foods” every chance they get. We talk about how the food choices we make add up to create the habits we turn to when our stomach starts growling.

Dr. Naidoo believes in bringing balance and moderation to the table when it comes to healthy eating, and she has lots of practical ways to do just that. I really learned a lot from her and I’m excited to share our conversation with you!

Episode Highlights With Dr. Uma Naidoo

  • How our environment shapes our choices and how to use this to your advantage
  • Stress inhibits good habit circles in the brain
  • How to create good family habits around food that also reduce stress
  • Sugar taps into the same brain receptors as street drugs! 
  • Why preparing more meals at home leads to eating less and to better nutritional habits
  • How small positive habits create a positive feedback loop that leads to an easier time building better habits
  • Important considerations for creating healthy mindsets around food and avoiding eating disorders, especially in children
  • How to avoid all or nothing or forbidden mindsets around food with kids
  • The brain is neuroplastic and adaptable and how to carefully rehabilitate it with healthy habits 
  • Practical chef tips for making healthy food prep easier

Resources We Mention

More From Wellness Mama

Read Transcript

Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

This podcast is brought to you by ARMRA, which is a new Colostrum I have been experimenting with and had to tell you about. Because you know I’m always on the lookout for new ways to improve immunity, gut health, fitness, metabolism, and enhance my skin and hair. And I have been liking this new Colostrum product.

Colostrum is the first nutrition we receive in life, and it contains all the essential nutrients our bodies need in order to thrive. But the ARMRA one specifically is a proprietary concentrate of bovine colostrum that harnesses over 400 living bioactive nutrients that rebuild the barriers of your body and fuel cellular health for a host of research-backed benefits. It strengthens immunity, ignites metabolism, and it has anti-inflammatory gut-fortifying properties. It can improve hair growth and skin radiance. I’ve been using it for fitness and recovery, and it also has a host of well-studied anti-aging benefits.

And this one is a premium one, unlike other ones I’ve tried. It’s natural, sustainable, and they’ve done research and testing from start to finish. Unlike most colostrum, which use heat that depletes their nutrient potency, they leverage their proprietary cold chain biopotent technology, which is an innovative process that purifies and preserves the integrity of the bioactive nutrients while removing things like casein and fat to guarantee that it’s highly potent and bioavailable and more so than any other one on the market. So they go above and beyond industry standards and they invest in expensive auditing and third-party testing to ensure that they always meet the highest demands of purity and efficacy and are glyphosate-free. And for you, for listening, they have a special offer just for you to receive 15% off your first order by going to tryarmra.com/mama15 and using the code “mama15” to save 15%.

This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse. And this is a company that I got to help co-found and formulate the products for and one that I care deeply about. Oral health has been a fun research topic for me for well over a decade. When I discovered I had some cavities and started learning about the process of remineralization and how our teeth have the ability to stay stronger and healthier, dependent on a lot of factors, including our nutrition, our oral microbiome, and the environment of our mouth. And this is why we use something called hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in the enamel of our teeth. And there’s some fascinating studies that show that this is really effective at helping keep teeth strong and healthy. And this is also why I chose not to use fluoride in my products. Hydroxyapatite has many of the same upsides without the potential downsides that come with fluoride and is certainly much safer for children as well.

I really delved into the research around the oral microbiome. And I love that this is now an emerging area of conversation and research. But when our oral microbiome is strong, that helps us avoid both ends of the spectrum. One would be things like strep mutans, which is the bacteria linked to cavities, as well as the host of bacteria that are linked to things like gingivitis. Both of those can be combated by having a really healthy oral microbiome.

So we’ve recently released probiotic mints that have four probiotic strains that help enhance the oral microbiome and by choosing microbiomesafe ingredients, as well as hydroxyapatite for tooth enamel in the toothpaste. So you can check out those as well as our full line of haircare products and other oral health products as well by going to wellnesse.com.

Hello, and welcome to the Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And this episode is about how to build nutritional habits that actually stick. And I’m here with a highly qualified guest on this topic, Dr. Uma Naidoo, who is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, a trained chef, and a nutritional specialist. So, she has expertise in three areas that all relate very specifically to this particular topic. And we talked today about the positive versus negative feedback loops related to dietary habits and how they affect our physiology and our brains so much. She gives some strategies for building positive nutritional habits and creating more positive feedback loops in our families and with our kids in this area, and how the brain is very neuroplastic and adaptable, and how small changes can compound over time to create much bigger positive changes, as well as sharing some practical tips as a chef to make our food prep easier and incorporate a lot of these habits. I loved this conversation with her, and let’s jump in with Dr. Uma Naidoo. Dr. Uma, welcome back.

Dr. Uma: Thank you, Katie. So happy to be back with you.

Katie: Well, you are so fun to talk to. And in our first episode, which I will link in the show notes, we got to go deep on the science of how a lot of foods interact with not just our bodies, but most especially our brains. And in this episode, I would love to really expound on the habit side of this, and the practical strategies for making these things stick. Because it seems often maybe we know what we’re supposed to do, but it’s actually making it a habit and doing it consistently that can be a lot of the struggle. And I know in a world where they say it might be as low as only 5% of people are actually metabolically healthy anymore, this is a tremendous issue.

And in our first episode, you talked about how metabolism and the brain are actually connected and tied in anxiety even. So, I would love to focus on, like I said, the habit side of this and the strategies for actually incorporating these things that we might know are important but might have trouble actually doing. So, to start broad, can you walk us through maybe some of the roadblocks that get in the way to making good choices or incorporating healthy habits?

Dr. Uma: Sure. I think that’s not only a great question, it’s so relevant because I’m a big firm believer that many people know what healthy foods are, but it’s really hard for us to make that choice. Sometimes I feel that there’s an education gap. And by that, I mean, we don’t always know why should we eat the broccoli You know, everyone says it’s healthy, but what is the reason? And I think that that education gap is something we want to fill. But I’ll start off by saying the environment is super important with our kids, with our families, with any one of us. You might live alone, you might have a large family with you, but the environment is important. Because guess what? If you start up, as many of us did during the pandemic, on the cookies and the crackers and the soda and shelf-stable foods, and they’re still in your kitchen, well, that’s what you’re going to reach out to when you either, you know, before you pick up the kids from school or whether you’re working from home, whatever it might be. But if we change the environment, and we have apples and clementines on the kitchen counter, and we keep, you know, baby little grape tomatoes and cut celery sticks or carrot sticks in the fridge, we’ll see something like hummus or nut butters, you know, which you can even buy. You don’t have to make your own nuts, you can buy them, look for a healthier version, which doesn’t have a ton of added stuff in it. These are the snacks that when anyone in the family is hungry, they’re going to find. But if they’re only going to find ice cream and cookies, then that’s what they’re going to eat. So that’s one thing we need to rethink about our environments.

Same thing with what you carry in your purse when you drop the kids off. Do you have, you know, highly sugary granola bars because that’s what the kids, you want to give them something. Well, granola bars, unfortunately, are a trap for a ton of added sugars, which are not necessarily healthy. So maybe finding a healthy snack or a hummus dip or some, you know, fresh veggies that you always have, you know, for short term that they could grab is important. Same thing with snacks in the car. The kids are picked up from school, encouraging things like water, just drinking plain water and to flavor it up, you know, a piece of a squeeze of orange or a piece of mint or some berries. You know, kids love those colors. So having it be interesting and having them almost, you know, develop a habit of having a sustainable water bottle that they always wanting to fill with water is a great habit versus a juice box of soda, which we know are very high in sugar. So those are some of the ways to get us started.

When it comes to the actual habit, we need to also understand that stress precipitates habit circuits in the brain. And what this means is that, you know, say I’m super stressed, and I don’t have time to eat lunch. I just decide, OK, let me pick up the phone and get takeout, and I get, you know, fast food delivery. That comes out, that firstly is precipitated by the fact that I’m stressed. I don’t have enough time. But then, you know, next time I’m hungry, my brain and my body start to say, well, that was so easy. You know, why don’t I do it again? There’s a way in which we won’t have those moments when we’ve slipped into a bad habit. And so, stepping back, being mindful about the food we eat, creating a space, you know, these are some tips around how we eat. You know, shutting off our devices, maybe not watching the TV show when we’re eating dinner, having a little bit of family time, having a chat. And then, you know, then going back to whatever television show the kids wanted to watch or whatever activity. Also spending time in nature and spending time together. We talked about spending time in nature and vitamin D before. But, you know, that becomes an activity that can be fun. And it’s not just about the food that we eat. It can be a healthy snack that you carry with you. But those types of things, we want to move away from the craving cycle.

And sugar has been shown in research to tap into the same brain receptors, the dopamine receptors, as street drugs like cocaine. So, our kids eating candy all the time is not good for them. All we’re doing is we’re impacting their metabolic health. They’re gaining weight. They are not going to be metabolically fit. They’re going to develop insulin resistance all the time. But most importantly, they’re also going to develop that craving where they can’t do without it. Do I mean don’t have cake on your birthday? Not at all. I’m not… I’m not about everything being, you know, one side or the other. I’m saying let’s just do this in moderation. If it’s a birthday party, by all means, have that piece of cake. We just don’t want to eat the whole cake. We, you know, not that there shouldn’t be any candy in the house, but can we start to introduce our families to extra dark natural chocolate? Because it actually has brain nutrient properties in it. And it has things like serotonin. It has cacao flavanols. So, the darker, the better. But that takes a little bit of time to get used to because we’re used to candy bars. But those types of slight habits change over time, super important.

Katie: Well, and I think that was a wonderful theme in our first episode as well, mentioning how often the simple things can over time compound and be the most effective and profound, but often are overlooked because of their simplicity, like with morning sunlight having such a profound effect on our circadian rhythm and how much melatonin we make at night, but often overlooked in the busyness of life, even though it’s a free habit that we can all make time to incorporate. I feel like this is building on that concept. And I know I read this stat one time that just cooking even a few meals at home per week can make a difference for kids in things like obesity levels, in their mental health, in their focus and attention in school. And I feel like this is another one that we’ve sort of lost, like you mentioned, during the stress of COVID, during just the busyness of modern life is we don’t statistically prepare those slower, calmer meals at home. We’re always on the go, or we’re having to turn to processed food because of the busyness of our life. So, I would guess that one of those strategies that could be really helpful is simply prioritizing more food prepared at home and especially involving our kids in that process so they learn to have a connection with where their food comes from. But do you find that as well? It seems like that one shift of just preparing more at home makes a big difference.

Dr. Uma: Yes, and this has been shown in research, Katie, you’re absolutely right. When we eat our meals at home and prepare our meals, we actually eat less. Probably because we’re more satisfied, and we tend to lose weight over time. So, it’s not that it’s for weight loss. It’s more that we know what we’re putting into our food. We’re not adding bad or negative ingredients. We flavor it up, and we eat it. And over time, studies have shown that it’s so much healthier for us. So even if we can do some meals at home and have the children be involved, if it’s okay to take them to the supermarket because it can be busy for parents and it may not be possible, but have them involved in those food decisions. A farmer’s market, going to a farm if you have one close by so they understand how is food grown. How does it arrive on my plate? Having them be part of the conversation, having them help with little tasks in the kitchen, washing the berries or something that makes them feel part of the activity really encourages their understanding. I’m a big fan of community gardens and school gardens where they’re teaching kids, you know, you can grow this vegetable, or you can grow these herbs or this is what you can. That just helps them with that connection to the soil, understanding food from the ground up. And it’s extremely impactful. So, all of those things are ways that we can encourage this conversation in a better way with our families.

Katie: And we also, in our first episode, talked about how sort of things like stress or bad habits over time sort of compound into what I would call like a negative flywheel or a negative feedback loop of habits that make it then harder to shift that motion into a positive direction. But I think the beauty is that the opposite is also true. So small good habits build in the direction of better habits. And I would guess from the psychiatry perspective, as we’re getting more of the nutrients we need, and as we’re slowly incorporating these better habits, it probably, does it give us more mental resilience to continue to make better habits, to want to make better habits, to have the energy to make better habits?

Dr. Uma: All of that is true. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. So, to your point, Katie, the more even a healthy habit, a healthier habit like drinking more water, eating more berries, having more salad greens every single day or a side of spinach or some type of green vegetable every single day or many different vegetables, even better. Those simple small things, what I notice clinically is that the moment someone starts to sleep better, feel better, feel less anxious, their mood is a bit uplifted, they start to say, well, I want to do more of that. Can you give me more things that I can do? In a very similar way, if we start slow and steady just with one thing that we change as a family, you can build upon that in a slow and steady way. And as people feel better emotionally, they want to do more. They have more energy. They have less brain fog. They want to be active. They want to be outdoors. They want to go on the hike. You know, they want to drink more water because the healthy habit starts to kick in almost in a way like their body is responding, and they are wanting, they have the impetus to do more. So, I think this is super important for all of us to understand.

Katie: And it seems like also our brains and our probably gut bacteria also adapt over time. Like I would guess people listening maybe have had the experience of if you are eating a very highly processed food diet, certain natural foods just don’t taste very good because you’ve become accustomed to these highly palatable foods that are truly designed in a lab to be addictive. But it seems like when we make those small choices and, over time, slowly start incorporating these better foods and these better habits that our bodies are very adaptable and learn very quickly to actually crave those foods. And it seems like our taste buds sort of adapt as well and change to really want those more natural foods. Is that true in your experience as well as like the more we do, the more our body is agreeable to those changes?

Dr. Uma: Yes, our bodies adapt, but I want people to understand our bodies adapt in both directions. They can also adapt negatively to those added and refined sugars and crave more of those. So, in the opposite direction, the more we can cut back on the less healthy foods, the less processed, ultra-processed foods, the more our bodies will improve, as we say, eating more leafy greens, vitamin B9, or folate in leafy greens. Low folate has been associated with low mood. And so just having spinach in your eggs or lots of salad greens as a side dish to your dinner or your lunch becomes super important.

And those habits build up because the nutrients start to build up in our bodies. You see, we’re not at a point in nutritional psychiatry where we can be prescriptive and say, if you eat 10 blueberries, you will not need to do this. What we need to do at this point and where the research is at is, we know these positive foods have positive effects, but the more we can incorporate them. So, I talk about a nutritional psychiatry plate, and I want most of that plate to be lots of different colored vegetables. And I don’t mean different colors of potatoes. I mean, you know, definitely have a little bit of sweet potato, potato, but I really want those leafy greens, those cruciferous vegetables, the different colors, the peppers. I want you to have a clean protein. If you’re plant-based, maybe it’s baked tofu. And if you eat everything else, it could be chicken, beef, whatever it is that you eat. And prepared in a healthful way. And then healthy fats like avocado oil, a piece of avocado, and some form of whole grain. You know, we tend to be afraid these days we hear about, you know, carbs and low carbs. Well, they’re carbohydrates, but healthy carbohydrates and vegetables. So, take quinoa, you know, brown rice. And since most of your plate is actually filled with vegetables, you need just a small portion of that whole grain. And I think that that’s something we could also think about differently on our plate because those vegetables are going to be so filling. You’re not going to miss a huge serving of, say, pasta or rice that you may have been used to.

Katie: And you brought up nutritional psychiatry ed, I know you’ve written about and referenced a Harvard study and especially talking about the ongoing mental health crisis with kids. And this is actually part of why I started Wellness Mama. And my impetus for this as well was just seeing the statistics of what our kids are facing and how all of these things are hitting at younger and younger ages across the board, including things like autoimmune conditions. But the mental health crisis has been well talked about since COVID as well. Can you give us some background and context on that Harvard study and why this is so especially relevant with kids?

Dr. Uma: Yes. So, you know, this Helm’s study basically looked at youth, if it’s the one that I believe you’re talking about, it looked at youth and basically ages, I think it was five to 17. And they looked at emergency room visits, and what they found was these were remarkably increased. And one of the problems here was that there were more visits and there were more kids being hospitalized. There were longer emergency room stays. And, you know, I think all in all, it was just very, very, very problematic to us to understand that this was happening. And we know that the issues with children have increased so much more since the pandemic. And we are, you know, it really is sort of a youth mental health crisis.

And the study was published in JAMA, which is a highly reputable journal. And, you know, they looked at the second year of COVID and the pandemic, which had brought a massive increase in emergency room visits for this age group of five- to 17-year-olds with mental health problems. And it was also shown to have a very high spike in visits by girls. So, this was another concern that came about. The study was published, you know, basically based on data from COVID in July of this year. And it looked at a two-year time frame. And one of the issues was that the visits to the emergency room were increased and the length of stay increased, as well as the inpatient hospitalization. So, this was overall, you know, quite significant, indicating that there was so much use of the emergency room for this age group during the pandemic that they were in some kind of distress that, you know, was leading to these emergency room visits.

Katie: That’s fascinating. And I know for a lot of parents listening, again, going back to that idea that we might know what we need to do, and it might be the doing it that’s hard. There’s the additional roadblock often with kids. If kids have developed picky eating habits or have aversions to certain foods, and I know this can be a stress point in a lot of households. Do you have any tips from that perspective of ways to help our kids not be resistant to foods or be more willing to try them and start that cycle of incorporating these better habits?

Dr. Uma: I think where food is part of a family experience is important. And I’m not saying if it’s not easy to take everyone to the supermarket that, you know, maybe we do it through growing one single vegetable in the garden or taking them to a farmer’s market so they start that conversation. What can we do innovatively to think about a food they don’t like and add it in discreetly so they may not know that they’re eating something that’s good for them, but they have they have identified for some reason that they don’t like. Because let’s face it, a lot of kids are not saying I hate candy. Most of them are saying I hate carrots and I hate vegetables. I hate spinach or whatever it is. And so, you know, finding healthy but good ways to add these into foods where they don’t identify it. So, you know, as a mom, they’re consuming these foods like the riced cauliflower in a meatball, adding spinach to eggs, you know, making fries really fun. So, fries don’t have to just be potatoes. They can be sweet potato. They can be zucchini. You can still put fun spices on them and herbs to make them delicious. You can use an air fryer, which makes it a healthy option, still makes it crunchy for them. There’s also a great recipe for instead of potato chips, kale or spinach chips in the oven, which can be a big, big sheet pan made for the whole family and immediately comes out of the oven can be a great, healthy, crunchy snack for them.

So how do we incorporate these things? Another way is I don’t think, I don’t personally think kids should drink a smoothie every day, but a few times a week is a good idea. But that’s a great way to get in a couple of servings of maybe, serving a fruit, but a couple of servings of vegetables and making it a fun color that they want to, they want to eat it. And also, you know, adding say they like a certain shape of food, just it does take a little bit more effort, but incorporating and making a different shape. But, but when you do still incorporating healthy foods into that, maybe they don’t like a piece of broccoli. They don’t like the color or the shape, but maybe they, chopped it up into something they don’t identify. So, it’s I think we almost have to find several ways to engage them around food. And I don’t I don’t think it’s easy, but these these are ways that we can try it.

Katie: Yeah, I think those are great points. And as you said, I think kids are so infinitely capable of understanding, often much more than we give them credit for. And so, I think when we build it into our family culture to have ongoing conversations about this and even just mention as we’re making food, the benefits of certain foods and how they do impact our brains and bodies, kids may seem like they’re not listening at times, but I find they really do remember and internalize. And as a mom, I always think it’s much more powerful when I can educate and have conversations, and it can be their choice to do those things versus me sort of mandating it because long term, I’m not always going to be with them, and they have to make those habits stick.

I also think of like the breakdown of responsibility, which is something I talk about a lot in our house where my responsibility as their mom is to make sure that we always have nutrient-dense food in the house and that they have enough both calories, but also nutrients and vitamins in the foods they’re eating. And their responsibility as infinite autonomous children is to decide when they’re hungry and to eat when they’re hungry or not. And so, I don’t ever force them to eat. Nor do I like blanket restrict food because one thing I do think about is like you touched on briefly is creating sort of negative, all-or-nothing, or forbidden mindsets around food I think can be harmful.

Dr Uma: Yes, I agree.

Katie: But can you speak to that because of the analogy I often as a silly one is I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced till I was a teenager, and then once I was an adult for a little while, I had all kinds of ear piercings because I could, and it wasn’t because they felt, they were painful, but I liked them because they were forbidden so I’ve been aware of not wanting to create that like forbidden enticement right quote-unquote, bad foods or even label food. But how do you approach that from the psychiatry side?

Dr. Uma: It’s so important because, you know, eating disorders are very, very prominent and especially eating disorders, certainly identified in young women, but also young men, but also all age groups. And eating disorders can be some of the most serious lethal conditions in mental health because people can die from an eating disorder like anorexia because they’re just not consuming enough. So, I think it’s so important to be more broad in how we approach the conversation of food. I don’t believe in demonizing any food. I don’t believe in this kind of eat this, not that mentality. You can never have something, because that really, like you said, you know, I love that story about your ear piercings. It just made you, oh, now I want to get everything pierced in my ears and get it, you know, and it wasn’t even that you wanted it because it was something you were told you couldn’t have.

Similarly with food, I like to suggest to parents, and I don’t think it’s easy, so I will start off by saying that. Say they’re part of the supermarketing or the farmer’s market experience, whichever. You know, however, you do your shopping. It’s okay for them to ask for one thing that they like. But I wouldn’t, you know, we want that shopping cart to be filled with the vegetables, the proteins, all the healthy fats. We don’t want it to be filled with candy and cookies and the reverse. So, yes, they can have that one thing that they ask for, but have it be limited and be, when I say limited, it’s not enforced as a rule. But sure, you know, you get to choose one food that you like, and it might actually be cupcakes. You know, who knows? It may not be the healthiest food. But they have autonomy, and they’re also not going to eat all of it. So that week, they have a taste of it, but they’re also encouraged to eat the fruits, the berries, the, you know, the beans, the legumes, the leafy greens, and everything else.

Also, having the conversation that doesn’t, that is, you know, we’re never going to have this in our house. Or we, you know, if you go to a restaurant, you can’t ever have that. Having them be inclusive and learning. Maybe they haven’t tasted fish. You know, maybe they haven’t tasted a certain type of vegetable. But having them be curious and explore it is much more of a healthier conversation and brings them to the table because they do remember.

And I think we also need to understand that our brains do change. Neuroplasticity is a relatively newer scientific concept. We used to think the brain couldn’t change. It can change. So, if a child is malnourished, and this has been shown in research, and is missing nutrients, you can rehabilitate the brain and body of that child carefully and slowly over time. So, it is super important if you’re listening to this and we know, listen, we’re headed down a negative path, and not so healthy path due to COVID. You can walk your family back from that and find ways to incorporate these foods.

Katie: And what I find amazing is that in addition to being a Harvard psychiatrist and a nutritional specialist, you are also a chef. So, I would love to hear any chef tips you have for making this process easier on a practical kitchen level. Like something that comes to mind for me would be maybe things like preparing broth or stock so that we have that as a base for soups or bulk prepping or preparing other protein or vegetables that you talked about having them in the fridge. But I’m always in awe of the efficiency of high-end kitchens. And I wish I could just spend some time in there learning. But what are some practical tips that you have for us that can benefit?

Dr. Uma: Definitely. So, I love the idea of broths and soups. Let me just start off, you know, say you’ve had a roast chicken you can make with the bones that are left over, you can make broth from that, add in some vegetables, and you get a delicious broth. So, you’re not wasting stuff. Plus, you can cook your vegetables, your other stews, everything you have, the stock or the broth, really.

Batch cooking is really helpful for busy families. You know, steaming your vegetables or roasting them ahead of time, do it on a big sheet pan and then put it into smaller containers or keep it in a large container and use a certain amount every day. That’s already prepared. You can, for two to three days at a time, do a sheet of baked chicken. Maybe for the next part of the week, do a sheet of baked salmon. You can use an air fryer because in an air fryer, you get that crispy texture without deep frying something. I love sheet pan meals for busy families because you can cook a large batch at a time, cool it, and then put it into storage for a few days at a time. I also love prepping lovely big salads because you can keep it in a large bowl in the fridge, and all you need to do for, say, a dinner or when the family’s eating together, because most times kids are away at school for lunch, you know, that is a ready-made salad that you’ve put together, and you just add a little bit of squeeze of lemon or a little bit of dressing that you’ve made that they can enjoy. But it becomes a habit. We always have a salad with dinner. We always have a salad, something, something. So, it becomes something you get used to.

Freezing things and frozen foods, super helpful. So… Things like making, using a cookie pan, a cupcake pan to make little mini quiches that you can bake, cool, and flash freeze so you have an easy breakfast in the morning. All you do is heat those up. Maybe you have six at a time. You know, you heat them up in the microwave, and they have an easy, nutritious breakfast. Or for a mom on the go. That could also be for mom on the go. So, chia seed puddings in little cups that are ready. You can make them for a few days at a time. Easy snack or easy breakfast.

Also, another tip to remember is that frozen vegetables and fruit in this country are flash-frozen. So, if you don’t have the time to clean the cauliflower and do the broccoli, frozen batches of frozen foods are fine. Just make sure they don’t have added sauce, sugar, or salt in them. So, they’re just pure frozen cauliflower, frozen broccoli. Great choice. Put them in a glass dish, steam them in the microwave, and you’ve got your side dish ready to go, you can add, or you can even oven roast them.

And also, the last tip is, you know, canned beans. Things like chickpeas and black beans. Great choices for the kids. Canned salmon, a great choice for a quick lunch on the go. Those are actually healthy options for us to choose.

Katie: And lastly, any favorite meal suggestions that you would encourage people to add to their weekly rotations? Like I know I’ve learned to make curries even with leftovers because you can add flavors, and it becomes a very actually quick meal that is incorporating, like you mentioned in the first episode, lots of spices and herbs. And you can hide a lot of nutrient-dense ingredients in there. But any other recommendations on easy meals that moms can make that help incorporate a lot of these things we’ve talked about?

Dr. Uma: So, I think I will go back to the sheet pan meals because leftovers can be put into a soup or stew. They can be used for lunch. They can be used for your lunch if you’re working from home. Another one is just cooking a large batch of soup for a few days at a time and having that be maybe for one day, it’s the meal with some side vegetables. And for another day, it’s a smaller portion, but you’ve built up, say, some added vegetables or different, say, baked protein that you’ve done with that as well.

I think that any time that we can batch-cook stuff and parcel out for a few days at a time, it just makes your prep time that much easier. So maybe it’s quinoa, but you can remember you can stir fry vegetables, or you can have roasted vegetables and add it to that. So, you have, you know, you can create what they call a Buddha bowl with lots of different vegetables in it, but you have your quinoa cooked. So, you just add your roasted veggies, maybe some greens.

And now the tip is those nuts, beans, nuts, and seeds for your short chain omega-3s. So, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, all crunchy, tasty, and kind of something different to add. But I always want you to use your spice cabinet because that’s how you can do the same vegetables but with a different flavor for, you know, each part of the week. And that will help you because they’re also adding nutrient density to making it more of a brain food by adding in those spices.

Katie: Yeah, that’s such a great tip because that can take the same basic, for instance, protein, and one night it can go kind of like the more like Mexican flavors. One night it’s a curry, one night it’s a soup. And you feel like you’ve had highly different things, but with one prep time. And I think for moms, especially anything that saves the time on the busy nights makes it a much more sustainable habit. I also know you get to go way deeper in your books than we could ever cover in just a podcast episode. So, can you let people know where they can find your books, and what the names are so they can keep learning from you?

Dr. Uma: Thank you. So, my first book is This Is Your Brain on Food. And my new book, Calm Your Mind with Food, is about to be released. You can find all of them at your local bookstores. The second one you’d have to order online, and they will ship it to you when it’s out. And you can go to my website umanaidoomd.com, where I actually have a special course because while people are waiting for the book, they can look under that section and actually purchase by course. But you get the book for free. And that gives you something to work on in terms of learning some calming ways to handle yourself through the holidays, for example. And then you’ll get the book at the end of that. And also follow me on social media, which is at D-R-U-M-A-N-A-I-D-O-O. And I’m always putting out educational content that hopefully will be helpful when you kind of follow me.

Katie: And I will include all those links for you listening on the go. If you’re walking or driving, that will all be at wellnessmama.com as well. So, you can find all the links in one place. Dr. Uma, you are such a joy. This has been such a fun conversation. I’m very grateful for your time. Thank you for being here.

Dr. Uma: Thank you so much, Katie. And I forgot to say, please sign up for my newsletter because all of your audience can get a new food each week to learn about, and just sign up at umanaidoomd.com. It was such a pleasure. Thank you for the great questions and for helping us learn more and how to help our families.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re so grateful that you did. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama Podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by ARMRA, which is a new Colostrum I have been experimenting with and had to tell you about. Because you know I’m always on the lookout for new ways to improve immunity, gut health, fitness, metabolism, and enhance my skin and hair. And I have been liking this new Colostrum product.
Colostrum is the first nutrition we receive in life, and it contains all the essential nutrients our bodies need in order to thrive. But the ARMRA one specifically is a proprietary concentrate of bovine colostrum that harnesses over 400 living bioactive nutrients that rebuild the barriers of your body and fuel cellular health for a host of research-backed benefits. It strengthens immunity, ignites metabolism, and it has anti-inflammatory gut-fortifying properties. It can improve hair growth and skin radiance. I’ve been using it for fitness and recovery, and it also has a host of well-studied anti-aging benefits.
And this one is a premium one, unlike other ones I’ve tried. It’s natural, sustainable, and they’ve done research and testing from start to finish. Unlike most colostrum, which use heat that depletes their nutrient potency, they leverage their proprietary cold chain biopotent technology, which is an innovative process that purifies and preserves the integrity of the bioactive nutrients while removing things like casein and fat to guarantee that it’s highly potent and bioavailable and more so than any other one on the market. So they go above and beyond industry standards and they invest in expensive auditing and third-party testing to ensure that they always meet the highest demands of purity and efficacy and are glyphosate-free. And for you, for listening, they have a special offer just for you to receive 15% off your first order by going to tryarmra.com/mama15 and using the code “mama15” to save 15%.

This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse. And this is a company that I got to help co-found and formulate the products for and one that I care deeply about. Oral health has been a fun research topic for me for well over a decade. When I discovered I had some cavities and started learning about the process of remineralization and how our teeth have the ability to stay stronger and healthier, dependent on a lot of factors, including our nutrition, our oral microbiome, and the environment of our mouth. And this is why we use something called hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in the enamel of our teeth. And there’s some fascinating studies that show that this is really effective at helping keep teeth strong and healthy. And this is also why I chose not to use fluoride in my products. Hydroxyapatite has many of the same upsides without the potential downsides that come with fluoride and is certainly much safer for children as well.
I really delved into the research around the oral microbiome. And I love that this is now an emerging area of conversation and research. But when our oral microbiome is strong, that helps us avoid both ends of the spectrum. One would be things like strep mutans, which is the bacteria linked to cavities, as well as the host of bacteria that are linked to things like gingivitis. Both of those can be combated by having a really healthy oral microbiome.
So we’ve recently released probiotic mints that have four probiotic strains that help enhance the oral microbiome and by choosing microbiome safe ingredients, as well as hydroxyapatite for tooth enamel in the toothpaste. So you can check out those as well as our full line of haircare products and other oral health products as well by going to wellnesse.com.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *