Are you concerned about your mother's eating habits?
Who, but a mother is overly concerned about what and why food is eaten, if the food is liked and how much was eaten? But stop and think about it, are we usually given the opportunity by our mothers to be concerned about what they eat? A mother feels as if she should be in control to the very end.
A mother should be well fed, not overfed, in order to love and care for her children. We must focus on her health and nutrition. The World Health Organization reported that in 2008, the three main causes of death in Jamaican women were heart disease, metabolic diseases and cancer, all of which are related to eating habits.
Mothers need energy-rich foods that are unrefined, such as yam, green bananas and potatoes that can keep her full to endure the day's activities, especially when children are young. These unrefined foods provide not only energy, but fibre to make her feel less hungry, promote weight loss, remove the excess fat and waste from the intestines (tripe), to prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure and obesity, slow the usage of sugar in the body, to control blood sugar and also increase the bulk in the faeces and prevent constipation. These unrefined foods also provide vitamins and minerals.
Peas, beans and nuts are an excellent source of protein. Nuts have fat, but a healthier type of fat than animal products. Mothers need protein to maintain muscles and prevent unwanted weight loss from breakdown of muscles; which may occur as she gets older. Dried peas and beans provide iron, to make blood and prevent anaemia.
Calcium from dark, green leafy vegetables such as pok choi, callaloo, cow's milk, fortified soy milk is needed by mothers to maintain strong bones and teeth. During pregnancy and as the woman gets older, the bones weaken, if sufficient calcium-rich foods are not consumed. This increases the chances of having soft or brittle bones that break easily and rotten teeth.
A mother needs less animal protein and fat to prevent or reduce the risk of developing heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure - the main causes of death in Jamaican women. During pregnancy and as a woman gets older, cholesterol in the blood increases naturally, which increases the risk for heart disease, so less cholesterol-rich foods (animal products and shell fish) should be consumed.
Women by nature are less likely to develop high blood pressure, but with a high salt/sodium, low potassium and high-fat diet, coupled with little or no exercise (as the children are born and cared for) and as the stress related to parenting increases, so does the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here are some additional tips for mothers:
Choose a variety of foods from all six Caribbean food groups every day.
Break the habit of eating the leftovers on the plates of other family members - "in an effort to minimise food that is wasted". These are the additional calories that most times cause weight gain.
Drink more water (plain and flavoured).
Use more natural seasonings instead of powdered or salt containing ones such as all-purpose, soy sauce and ketchup.
Eat more fresh 'whole' fruits and vegetables than juices or drinks.
Mothers, with the help of children, should focus on their health and well-being.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.