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Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Mum Diaries: Dietician shares health tips for ‘mums on the run’


Registered dietician Abrar Naely knows just how busy mums can get during the week. Here are some helpful tips from the expert on how to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle.

Mums are busy – we all know that. Whether it is school drop-offs and pick-ups, deadlines for work, school projects that require multiple craft store visits, grocery runs, and sometimes, all of the above, mums are always on the run.

While this causes a whole range of issues, it can also leave mums with little time to no time to focus on preparing balanced meals and exercising. For this reason, Doha News spoke to Abrar Naely, the founder of Naely Nutrition for some helpful and realistic tips for mums interested in a gradual lifestyle change.

First and foremost, the dietician suggests it is essential to celebrate progress no matter how small it may be. Similarly, being overly strict with diet and exercise can sometimes be counterproductive. Instead, enjoy your favourite food in moderation and avoid the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Doing a 15-minute workout instead of the 45-minute workout you planned is not at all a failure and should be counted as a win.

For busy mums interested in preparing balanced meals, Abrar advises dedicating a day to focus on cooking food ahead of time.

Read also: Spotlight on Mum: Finding myself as a former accounting director turned full-time mum

“This saves both time and money and that way you’ll have healthy and delicious meals for the week. You can even utilise the same ingredients for a number of meals. For example if you cook a big batch of grilled chicken, it can be used for sandwiches, salads, and tacos in the same week.”

When it comes to preparing quick and edible meals, Abrar notes that it is important to choose lean protein, a carbohydrate, a healthy fat, and to fill half the plate with vegetables. There are some tricks that make preparing easier and more affordable, such as “buying a ready rotisserie chicken from the store can save money and is a great source of protein,” she says.

“Frozen vegetables that come in a steam-able bag that you just need to microwave for a few minutes are nutritious and a time saver. Pre-cooked lentils that you can buy are also a great source of protein and a great source of fibre and can be prepared quickly.”

Throughout the day, it’s easy to grab quick snacks to enjoy. Switching to healthy alternatives, like rice cakes, is simple and can also be quite filling.

Rice cakes are lower in calories and carbs than bread, and you can still add your favourite toppings. Abrar also recommends a side of hummus and cucumbers, avocado and feta cheese, or peanut butter and raspberries. The dietician also advises health-conscious individuals to try out hummus with either carrots or celery sticks as another great and nutritious low-calorie snack.
If you are looking to change things up, Abrar recommends a handful of nuts and low fat cheese, both of which provide you with heart healthy fats and protein. For those looking for a sweet treat, greek yogurt and berries is a great, filling snack filled with protein, probiotics, and antioxidants.

Abrar understands the importance of breakfast and insists it can also be healthy. Her tips for an enjoyable and well-balanced breakfast is to have fun with the options.

Abrar’s breakfast recommendations:

  • Greek yogurt, fruit and one to two hard boiled eggs
  • Overnight oats (prepared the night before and ready to go in the morning)
  • Chia seed pudding (prepared the night before and ready to go in the morning)
  • Avocado toast and an egg
  • Whole wheat toast topped with a nut butter and low fat cheese on the side

While eating right is valuable, it’s also helpful to include workouts for a more rounded healthy lifestyle.

For the full-time stay at home mum or those working, incorporating workouts in an already busy can be a bit challenging. That is why Abrar recommends working out at home.

“At home workouts can be effective and a great way to get some movement in. There are plenty of videos to follow and most are body weight workouts so that means no equipment necessary. However if you do want to use equipment, investing in some dumbbells and bands are great for at-home workouts. The workouts don’t need to be super long, 30 minutes to one hour is all you need.”

Maintaining a good diet and exercise requires effort and dedication. Abrar recommends striving for consistency, not perfection. She says that it helps to maintain consistency with your diet and exercise as this will soon develop into health habits that will be hard to break.

Read also: Spotlight on Mum: Surviving a pandemic as a full-time teacher, PhD student and mother of four

Once you make healthy eating and exercising a habit then it will become easier for you to keep it up and turn your new routine into a beneficial lifestyle, she insists.

“You mums are killing it right now. It’s definitely not easy being a mum during this pandemic so be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself. You will reach your goals even if it takes longer than you hoped for.”

You can find more of Abrar Naely’s tips on her instagram, @naelynutrition.

Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.

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