You’re a busy mom just trying to do your best, but every time dinner rolls around you can’t help but either feel exhausted from cooking that Pinterest-worthy dinner, or you’re feeling that tinge of guilt that you didn’t try harder to make sure your whole family is getting every nutrient on their plate.
What is healthy eating anyway? Is it Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Carnivore, Organic, Whole 30, Veggies Most, what is “Clean eating?”
What nutritionist Danica Mills is here to share with us today might just ease that meal time stress you’re feeling. You see, “healthy” foods are relative. It’s less about what the world says (that’s always changing!) and more about getting reconnected with your body and mindfully asking: what does this food make me feel like?
Personally, I’ve been on a few diets (for health reasons) and while some things made my body feel better, they also crushed my spirit. It gets easy to jump full speed into these health kicks, end up overwhelmed, with a fridge full of food you’re not excited to eat, then cycle back into the unhealthy eating habits that make your body feel like a trash pit.
Tune into this episode (or read the transcript below) to hear all the expert advice Danica Mills has for us busy moms who are overwhelmed by the idea of healthy eating, yet burdened by the guilt of our current food habits.
Brittni: Hi friends. I’m so glad you’re here with us today to listen to this amazing episode with Danica mills. Danica, tell us about you.
Danica: Hi everyone. My name is Danica and I am a nutritional therapy practitioner and mom of three kids, a homeschooling mama, and I help women and moms get to the root of their symptoms through functional nutrition and reconnecting with food and themselves, and really learning how to make wellness work for mom-life.
B: So I feel like there are so many different opinions out there. There’s so much noise about healthy eating. So how, how do we know that the choices we’re making for feeding our family are good choices? How do we know that we’re actually getting a nutritious meal on the table and avoiding all the things that we really should not have?
D: Yeah. That’s a really great question. It’s a question that I’ve asked myself a lot as well over the years. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into a lot of different things and trying to figure out what’s the right way. And you know, you see a lot of other people telling you what works for them and they’ll swear by it. And it’s the only way to do things. And I think there is a lot of noise out there and there’s a lot of confusion and honestly the best way to kind of just, you know, get through all of that noise and figure it out is to listen to yourself. And to reconnect with yourself and what feels good to you. You know, tuning into what we need and what our body needs and what works for our family is so important.
And I think we’ve lost a lot of that connection. I feel like we look outward a lot to other people to tell us what to do and you know where to go next and the next steps to take. And it’s so important to turn inward and look at that and reconnect with ourselves and our food as well. And that can be hard to do, because I think a lot of us haven’t done that in a really long time, or if ever, and so it can take some practice.
I think when we start to pay attention to that, we can really learn the things we do well with, the things that we can eat and do feel really great with. And then the things that we eat that don’t feel so great. And that may be different than what we’ve been told is healthy or not healthy. You know, you may be able to drink dairy or eat bread and have it be totally fine for you, even though that’s a quote unquote, “bad or unhealthy” food.
Then there’s other things that are super healthy for some people that you may eat and just not do well with or certain practices that just don’t work for your family. They’re just not realistic, not attainable. So it doesn’t mean that you can’t give your family or yourself what you need. It just means that we need to spend a little bit of time figuring out how that works the best for us.
And just remember that we’re all different, you know? What I need is gonna be different than what you need, and it’s gonna be different than even somebody who we’re related to needs and learning those things and taking the time to tune into that is really gonna help point us in the right direction.
B:I love that every-body is different. That is really mind blowing advice that I feel like should have been really intuitive to know, like, I know what foods make me feel like crap. And what foods feel like, like they’re waking up something in my body, you know, what actually kind of energizes you and fuels you versus what’s clogging you up and making you just Ugh, all the time.
D: Exactly. Yeah, I think we do. I think we do know in the back of our minds, and I think leaning into that and just letting that be, you know, if you know, then, you know, and you don’t need to go look at somebody else, you know, who’s telling you the thing that feels really good to you is bad.
D: Or, you know, like if you know that it works and you know that it’s good, then go with it, then, you know, lean into that. Give yourself that power.
B: Wow. Okay. Yeah, that just brought up in me thinking like it’s sort of just another comparison trap.
B: That I wasn’t realizing is out there is, you know, you could be eating and feeling good about what you’re eating and you don’t feel bad about it until you see someone else sharing a totally different way to eat saying this is the only thing that’s healthy for you or sharing, you know, something that’s bashing some of the food that you’re eating, saying how bad it is for you and if you feel good, like your body actually feels good eating it.
D: Yes, exactly.
B: Amazing points. So what are some ways that like the busy moms can make putting these better choices for them into their, like, make it simpler putting it into their busy lives. Cause I know sometimes preparing the healthier option that we know feels better. Isn’t quite as easy as the convenience go-tos that we have.
D: Yes, definitely. It’s becoming, I feel some days it’s harder and harder to make time to. You know, get healthy food or, or find it even, or it costs way more and so it’s so much easier to just buy something that’s easy and, you know, readily available and it tastes so good. And so it can be tricky. It can definitely be hard. I think one of the biggest things that we can do is just keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. You don’t need to make Pinterest worthy, beautiful, gorgeous, healthy meals, you know, three times a day. And that’s all you eat. You can just keep it really simple, just, you know, fresh veggies and fruits and protein, whatever your family likes. It doesn’t have to be something new every day.
I feel like when we first start going on, you know, trying to eat healthier, trying to, to eat more.
You know, fruits and veggies, for example, or something that we kind of go all in. We have this all or nothing mindset of like, it has to be a certain way and it’s, we’re gonna just switch over overnight and go into it and make it really complicated and go to the grocery store and buy this whole list of all these new ingredients we’ve never tried before.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. It can just be simple, you know, finding the things that we are already comfortable with, that our family is already enjoying. And then, you know, that way they will actually get eaten and we’re not wasting our time. And I think that makes us, you know, feel a little less overwhelmed as well.
B: Yeah, I’m definitely guilty of that. Thinking that it has to be an overnight change. Everything, throw out the junk food, go refill the whole fridge with stuff that I’m not as excited to eat.
B: Have time and have to reference all the Pinterest recipes to remember what I was trying to cook. And then you just get burnt out and you’re like, no, I need some comfort food now.
D: Exactly. Yeah. And you probably already have things that you and your family enjoy. There’s probably already things that everyone likes. And so just start doing more of that, start working that in more, you know, and, um, like for me, my kids love raw veggies. They actually don’t like it as much when I cook them, and so I’ll serve raw veggies a lot of the time, even just on the side for them to have as a choice. And then that’s one last thing for me to cook. And one less thing that I have to like spend time prepping and all the things it’s just, it’s just there. And then I just have to cook protein and then it, we have it and it’s so much simpler.
B: Oh yes. That is something I tend to forget until we start getting into the hotter weather and then it’s like, I don’t wanna be cooking at all because I wanna be outside until it’s dark.
B: And I tend to forget until that season rolls around. That’s like, I. Buy a pre-read veggie tray and serve that as half of dinner and then heat up some meat to go with it. Like it doesn’t have to be insanely complicated and I definitely felt guilty for trying to make it complicated.
D: Yeah. I feel like, going back to what you were saying about the comparison, I feel like we do look out and we see a lot of people doing.
A lot and making these beautiful, amazing things. And it’s like, okay, well, if I don’t do that, then it doesn’t count or it’s not good enough. And it doesn’t have to be that complicated, just, you know, reconnecting with food and the simplicity of it and doing the things that come easy and that you enjoy, that’s all you need. It doesn’t have to be, you know, anything over the top.
B: I love that. Okay. So with making all these kinds of shifts, Do you have any additional tips for the picky eaters in the house who might kind of not be on board with serving more of the good stuff? Cause, I mean, I know I have three boys and none of them have the same taste in food at all.
Like I have one that goes through kicks where it’s like, he loves watermelon and raw broccoli with everyone. And then there’s one that’ll eat almost anything, and then the other one is like, I just want pizza.
B: So are there any simpler tips for kind of just adding it in without feeling like you’re super overwhelmed and being met with meltdowns?
D: I would definitely keep buying the things that your kids enjoy. There’s no reason not to give them, you know, especially like broccoli, you know? Yeah. That’s great. So keep that going. If that’s something that’s welcome and enjoyed, there’s no reason not to. And then if you wanna add in additional things, if you want them to start trying a little bit, you know, something else, just serve that along with it, make it an option, bring it to the table, you know Offer them a small piece of it and just see how they do no pressure, but at least they have something still that they do really like, and you can feel good that like, okay, at least at least they ate, you know, something instead of, instead of nothing and just keep bringing them, keep having it available. The more often that they see something, the less scary it will be and a little more welcoming.
And so if it’s around a lot, then maybe they’ll try it, you know, maybe not, maybe not the first day or the second day, but if it keeps showing up, they might be a little bit more likely to give it a shot. So my son is the same way with cucumbers. He can eat cucumbers all day long. And so I try as often as I can, until he eats them all to have them around, because I know that at least if he doesn’t want something else that I’ve made, we always have cucumbers.
So yeah. There’s nothing wrong with that.
B: Right, awesome. That definitely puts a lot of things into perspective. Do you have more to add here?
D: I did. I made a couple notes that I didn’t forget to tell you stuff. Not for that, this though, but like back to just making things easier.
So one thing that I like to do to keep, just to make it easier to have things around is to buy frozen, frozen veggies. Pretty often I always have something in my freezer and I think that it really helps in a lot of ways.
First of all, frozen is almost exactly the same as fresh as far as nutrients go, so there’s no shame in buying frozen veggies and most of the time they’re often, you know, prepped for you as well. So think of buying a whole head of broccoli and having to cut the stem off and chop it up and all of that. And then if you go buy a bag of frozen broccoli it is already done. So that’s one less thing that you have to do. Right.
Having that on hand can really help. And then I think it also just eliminates that pressure of, you know, when you go buy a bunch of fresh things and then they’re in your fridge and then like a day or two later, that kind of starts this race of, okay, now I have to use it all and it’s starting to go bad and what am I gonna do with it?
And then I don’t really feel like cooking right now, but I have to because I spent the money and it’s in there. And so buying frozen kind of eliminates that pressure as well. So, that’s definitely something that we do all the time and I just have them, and it’s no pressure to, to do all those things and do the prep as well.
And then, also something that I’ve been doing, I think a lot of us have been, you know, at least did over the last couple years, but I’ve really been taking advantage of lately is grocery pickup or delivery because that has saved me so much time and energy, honestly. If I go to the store and I go do a whole big shopping trip, or if I have to go to several stores, I do all the shopping and then I come home, and the last thing I wanna do is prep or cook anything. I don’t even wanna put it away. Like I just have my kids and my husband helps me just help me put the things away and then I don’t wanna touch it.
So just having grocery pick up and having somebody else do that for me, where all I have to do is go drive and pick it up, has saved me so much energy that I actually have, you know, time and I’m like prepared to spend some time on cutting veggies or putting things away, or like spending a little bit more time doing some prep and getting things ready so that they’re more easily available for grabbing and snacking and all those kinds of things.
So definitely utilize that if you can in your area and sometimes even delivery too. I know the price varies from store to store and everyone’s city and all that. But if you can have the budget for that, and sometimes it’s even just worth it to save me the sanity once in a while, I’ll just have it delivered. And then I don’t have to do it. I don’t have to go anywhere and I can spend more time doing things like prep, um, things that I normally wouldn’t do if I just spent hours at the grocery store.
B: Oh yes. I’m glad you said that. It actually came up in another recent episode. About grocery pickup. Like everybody should just be doing that at this point. Don’t feel bad about it. Just do it because… especially if you have multiple kids. Like I remember before I had kids, I used to go, um, I would drive cause I live out in the country and I would drive like 30 to 40 minutes to go to where there’s like three big box stores, so that I could get everything the cheapest.
And just do like a big two week stock up of food and everything. And then I had my first kid and it went for maybe six months or so until I couldn’t like baby-wear him anymore. And I was like, what am I doing? And then when COVID hit, I finally started doing the grocery pickups and I’m like, why am I even trying to take three kids into the store? This is so much better.
B: Like taking kids in the store is exhausting. There’s no way I’m gonna go. We always end up doing frozen pizza on grocery day. And now with a family of five, we have to go get groceries at least once a week – especially if you wanna try to have fresh stuff. Oh. So yeah, definitely.
If you know, anyone’s listening and you’re not doing grocery pickup yet, just do.
D: Yes. It’s so much easier. No guilt at all. Yes. Do it, take advantage of it? it’s right there. And then get your time back. You can, you know, not even for like meal prep, you don’t have to spend your free time on that, but you can, if you want to, if that’s something that you’re trying to do and you want, you just need more time then.
Absolutely. But you know, just time back in your life and your days. It’s made things so much easier. I love it. I wish I had done it years and years ago.
B: Absolutely. All right. So you’ve given us a lot of great information and tips and this whole topic feels a lot easier to me even.
D: Oh, good. I’m so glad.
B: Yeah.We’ve gotten a lot of really great takeaways from this. Um, so where should I send the mamas who wanna dive deeper into this and learn more from you?
D: Yeah, so my website would be the number one place. It’s got everything on there of what I do and who I work with and a little bit more about me. So that would be the best place to start. And that is http://www.danicamills.com.
And I’m also on Instagram, over @DanicaMillsWellness, and you can connect with me there pretty much daily. I try to show what we’re doing in our life and kind of the behind the scenes reality of trying to do all of this with kids in the house.
And, I’m also the host of Nourished, which is an empowering wellness podcast for moms. And so you can find me over there as well.
B: Great. And I will link all those in the show notes below too, to make those super easy for my listeners here to find. So thank you, Danica for coming on and sharing all of this with us.
D: Of course. No problem. Thank you so much for having me.