What does healthy mean to you?
For me, healthy means having balance in my life and a genuine connection with my body. It’s not just eating well and staying fit, but having a positive body image, a healthy work-life balance and a relaxed outlook. I’ve never been a calorie counter or a fad dieter (at least not since high school).
I think it’s important to listen to our bodies, eat when we’re hungry, and stop when we’re not. I try to eat real food, to enjoy it when it is in season, to eat organically when possible, to visit the farmers’ markets, to prepare and enjoy meals as a family, and to not get hung up on food chemistry or nutrition fads.
There are so many emotional and physical changes when you are pregnant and nursing – how do you attempt to embrace them with positivity?
I really enjoy the physical changes that come with pregnancy. In a way, it’s as if the pressure is off to fit into that skinny pair of jeans and you can appreciate the changes knowing you’re growing a little human inside you. I always feel so strong and powerful when I’m pregnant – connected to other women on a deeper level. I guess it’s an admiration of what our bodies do – growing a baby inside and giving birth – it’s such a powerful thing! I always think of that quote by Ina May Gaskin – “There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we.”
“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we.”
Emotionally, I’ve had my ups and downs with pregnancy anxiety, which thankfully eased with each baby. I think it helps to know that anxiety can be a very normal part of the pregnancy and nursing journey.
How do you stay nourished during those crazy first few newborn/breastfeeding months?
For some reason I struggled this time around with milk supply, so I’ve been really diligent about eating enough nutrient-rich foods and drinking enough water. Instead of plain oatmeal in the morning, I’ve been adding flaxseeds and almonds and making it with full-fat milk.
I’m conscious not to skip meals and I am staying hydrated. I’ve also been taking fenugreek supplements to boost milk supply. It all seems to be working.
What is your go-to snack? For you and your kids?
Apples! For all of us. My kids love them and they’re such an easy thing to throw in your bag. Plus no packaging and no waste. A true ‘super’ food.
Any tried-and-tested “tricks” for encouraging your clan to eat nutritious food?
Thankfully my kids are pretty adventurous eaters and we don’t have to do a lot of coaxing. They were happy to eat spicy curries in Sri Lanka and raw fish for breakfast in Japan!
“I think it’s important to get children excited about the foods they’re eating. Encourage them to help in the kitchen, get them to help choose the vegetables at the farmers’ markets, etc.”
I think it’s important to get children excited about the foods they’re eating. Encourage them to help in the kitchen, get them to help choose the vegetables at the farmers’ markets, etc. My kids are always eager to eat anything they’ve helped to prepare.
What’s your favourite family go-to meal when you’re strapped for time?
Pasta. We always have tinned tomatoes and garlic in our pantry, so we can prepare a pasta sauce quite easily whenever the fridge is empty or we are strapped for time.
We often make a puttanesca sauce with olives and capers, and sometimes we’ll throw in a can of tuna too. Everything for this easy meal comes from the pantry except for the fresh basil.
How do you find cooking, eating and food shopping differs between America, London and Australia?
There are so many differences, obvious and subtle ones. Whenever I’m in America, I find there is much more emphasis on food science, rather than food quality. I think it’s marketing – competing brands striving to find a point of difference. Each package promises to be ‘low-fat’, ‘low-calorie’, ‘gluten-free’ or whatever the latest fad is.
It’s hard to walk into a grocery store in America without feeling you’re being sold to. Also, there are so many more options in American grocery stores – I often don’t know what to choose.
In Europe, and also here in Australia, there are fewer options, which, in a way, makes it easier to shop. In our little town in particular, there is a community interest in local, seasonal, real (as opposed to processed) and genuinely healthy food, which makes a visit to the market inspirational and enjoyable.
“It’s hard to walk into a grocery store in America without feeling you’re being sold to.”
Do you find time to fit exercise into your busy day – and if so, what type?
I’m not much of a traditional exerciser – I haven’t had a gym membership since college! But I do find that chasing after all the kids helps keep me quite active. Now that we’re in a small town in Australia I really enjoy walking the kids to school.
If I have time, I also enjoy doing a bit of yoga. Michael and I used to take yoga classes together when we lived in London. Now we just do yoga at home with our former teacher, Nadia Narain’s, DVDs . She offers 20-minute yoga sessions, which is great because it’s easier to find 20 minutes for yoga at home than a 1.5 hour class out.
How do you encourage movement and creativity with your children in everyday life?
Thankfully my kids don’t need much encouragement when it comes to being active and creative. We spend a lot of time outside together, and I always find that my kids play so well together when we’re outside. It helps to live near the beach where we all enjoy spending time.
If the kids aren’t surfing or swimming, they’re building sand-castles or forts. It also helps that we don’t own a television and our children don’t have electronic devices… but that’s a different topic entirely.
What helps you to stay calm and positive in those chaotic moments we all have with our kids?
To be honest, this is not my best quality. Thankfully Michael is a much more patient parent and he often reminds me that this chaos is normal when you have a big family. I’ll get frustrated with the kids, for example, when I have to ask them repeatedly to put their shoes on.
Michael will look at me and say “They are kids. What do you expect? You’re going to have to repeat yourself for the next 18 years!” I think I’ve gotten better in the past couple of years though. It helped that we jumped off the relentless treadmill of city life and opted for a slower pace.
“Are you going to be stressed about this in three years? Or even in three months? Are you even going to remember?”
What have been the best golden nuggets of advice given to you for motherhood and life generally?
A few years ago, during a particularly stressful time in London, a good friend stopped me at the school gates and pulled me aside. She asked “Are you going to be stressed about this in three years? Or even in three months? Are you even going to remember?” She made me realise that what I was stressing about in that moment was really insignificant in the bigger picture. I try to remind myself of her advice whenever I feel overwhelmed.
In terms of parenting advice, I always have my dad’s words in the back of my head. Every time I speak to him he reminds me “These are the best days of your life and they go so quickly”.
Favourite food indulgence?
Dark chocolate after dinner, almost every evening. Best paired with red wine.
Favourite non-food indulgence?