Don’t over-complicate healthy eating – focus on what your body needs to be a strong running Mum!
As a runner, you’ve already made a fantastic choice to stay healthier, fitter, and stronger. But when you’ve got kids, the whole “healthy eating” thing can be more of a challenge. The truth is, female bodies need more of certain nutrients – and this is even more true once you’ve had kids.
So if you’re a Mum who runs, get ready to understand what your body really needs and which foods will help you find it.
Iron, calcium, and omega 3 (healthy fats) are important nutrients for all active women, especially Mums.
Most women know that the mineral iron is important, especially at puberty, pregnancy, and postpartum. It’s useful to know how to get iron from the food you eat, so you don’t have to rely on supplements.
Your body need a continual supply of iron to create new red blood cells (it can’t store it up). Any time your blood supply is under particular pressure, you might need more iron than usual.
Did you know that Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron? So try eating or drinking a Vitamin C-rich food alongside your source of iron. Citrus fruit, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, and strawberries are all good sources of Vitamin C and can easily be partnered with iron-rich foods.
Good dietary sources of iron are red meats, dried fruits, beans, peas, dark leafy greens, and (very) dark chocolate.
This mineral is crucial for bone health, which should be a health focus for all women but particularly older women. You’re already doing your skeletal tissue a great favour by running (the impact encourages better bone density). But make sure you eat enough calcium-rich foods.
Useful sources of calcium come from dairy foods, green vegetables, soya, tofu, and small fish where you eat the bones (sardines, mackerel etc).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Hopefully by now you know that fat isn’t the enemy. Fat itself won’t make you fat (unless you eat too much of it, but that’s the same for any kind of food). “Good” fats are actually crucial for our health, especially brain health and hormone health. So if your body has just gone through pregnancy or birth, healthy fats will help your hormones get back in balance.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are an important type of fat, which help protect your heart and fight inflammation. Our diets tend to be high in Omega 6 and Omega 9, so be sure to address the balance.
Good sources of omega 3 fats are oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), or flaxseeds. If you don’t eat oily fish, it’s a good idea to take a daily fish oil (choose one that’s good quality!)
As you can see, there are common themes running through these lists: oily fish, leafy greens, and bright coloured vegetables! But there’s also some chocolate in there… because balance is important!