I wanted to collaborate with Robin because I admire her work online and as a mama, nutritionist and dietitian, I knew she would have great insight into how we can deal with food right now in this strange time.
Mama MOE: Robin, tell us all a little bit about yourself and what you are passionate about.
Robin Glance: I live in beautiful Pointe-Claire, Quebec, with my husband, my two rambunctious boys and my cat Tetley. I obviously have a thing for food and love cooking and can’t wait to return to restaurants when we finally can! As an anti-diet dietitian, I am passionate about helping my clients heal their relationships with food, their bodies and rediscover the joy in eating.
MM: I am sure you have heard of the food-related hashtag in relation to self-isolation; #quarantinefifteen. As much as it was a joke, in general, many have been eating differently and some have been gaining weight, what would you like to say about this hashtag?
RG: Joking about weight gain, during the pandemic or ever, is never appropriate. It sends the message that gaining weight is the worst thing that can happen to a body, which couldn’t be further from the truth. These seemingly harmless jokes can be extremely triggering to those around us who have struggled with body image and / or eating disorders. We must be more mindful of what we share on social media. (to hear Robin discuss this further, click on this link)
MM: I can tell you in our home, we have not ordered out once since the pandemic started. Part of it has been because of budgeting. Families need to stretch their dollars and get the most out of their groceries. What can you say about making meals at home for your family when it comes to saving?
RG: There is no doubt that preparing our own meals saves money. With delivery just a click away, it is easy to spend a large amount on food during the week. I personally love to take a break from cooking once a week and order in, but taking the time to plan for, shop and cook your own meals does certainly pay off.
MM: Families meals have been something we have always done for dinners. But that isn’t the norm for all families and certainly not the norm for all meals, until now. What do you hope families can get out of eating meals at home together during this time?
RG: If there are any silver linings of this pandemic, having more time to sit down and share a meal together is one of them. With long work hours and many scheduled sports and activities for kids, it is normally the exception to the rule that a family will have a chance to eat together. It has been shown that the most important factor in having children develop a healthy relationship with food is the act of having family meals. Eating together creates an atmosphere of comfort, sharing and learning.
MM: Let’s talk picky eating. What do you suggest mamas do during this time to help their picky eaters try more diverse foods? Or is it even something to suggest right now? One week, was OK but we are going into 12+ weeks now…
RG: In what is already a stressful time, we don’t want to create more stress by fighting with our kids to eat! It is important to create a relaxed atmosphere at mealtimes so that children know they won’t be forced to eat anything they are uncomfortable with. Instead, try taking the time to cook and bake together as this can be a way to positively promote new foods and eating experiences.
MM: Grocery shopping has been a stressful activity for us all. Going into the store means being on high alert. What can you recommend for mamas as they maneuver the grocery aisles? Do you have staple items you are always picking up? Do you have a method to the madness for this time?
RG: Plan, plan, plan! The last thing we want to be doing is spending extra time perusing the aisles of the supermarket. Go in prepared. Make a meal plan for the week and have a list of all the items you need to buy to prepare those meals. To start meal planning, I suggest making a list of your “go-to” recipes t(no need to reinvent the wheel). Divide your list by meal type/ category and then assign a theme to each night of the week to speed up the decision process. E.g. could be a vegetarian dish on “Meatless Mondays”, something Tex-Mex for “Taco-Tuesday”, pasta on Wednesday, etc.
I personally have been shopping on-line and picking up my groceries. This allows me to simply add to my shopping list when I think of something I missed to avoid unnecessary trips to the store.
MM: I have always appreciated your real talk on sugar and balance. I seem to be leaning to sweeter things lately, which I could blame the concept of stress eating on. Do you have some easy go-to sweet dishes you hold on to when you need something extra?
RG: It is totally normal to crave more sweet foods when under stress. Our bodies naturally seek out these foods for their pleasure-inducing effects! Sugar has been demonized in the media over the past several years, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with having something sweet as part of your balanced diet! I personally enjoy chocolate covered almonds and make sure they are on my shopping list most weeks. I also have had more time to bake banana bread, cookies and energy balls these days.
MM: That makes sense! In fact, my boys are also asking more to have a little something sweet after meals. I don’t mind that they want something like a cookie or some ice cream..do you have suggestions for kids?
RG: It is natural for kids to love sweets and important for us to let them know that there is nothing wrong with eating them here and there! In fact, having something sweet after a meal helps us digest. As long as sweets are not taking the place of balanced meals, I see nothing wrong with that! I encourage parents to talk with their kids about the qualitative aspects of food (how they taste, make us feel, etc.) vs the health aspects to promote listening to one’s body cues.
MM: I love that. Speaking of stress, in the state of the world right now, I know mamas are living a very stressful life. What suggestions (in foods and beyond) do you have for us to better ourselves right now?
RG: We have to be very gentle with ourselves right now. It is only normal that with everything in our lives undergoing major change, that so too would our eating habits and even our bodies. The last thing we need is for food guilt to add to our daily stress!
MM: Another phenomenon right now is drinking. Jokes about wine, summer cocktails, etc. is higher than normal. And we’ve all heard the jokes about mamas needing a drink to survive the day. Personally, I have always hated that implication. But I did want to address it with you. Since we are home, and we are on a different routine (if at all), I know my husband and I have had a glass of wine with most dinners. Can you talk to us mamas truthfully about the impact of wine and alcohol on our systems?
RG: I agree that implying that we “need” alcohol to cope can be a dangerous joke. For many, pouring a drink is synonymous with relaxing or letting our guard down, something we may be needing more of these days. Whereas a drink or two can be very enjoyable, for many the day-after effects are less than helpful! I recommend practicing “mindful drinking”: asking yourself if you really want a drink or not. Some days the answer will be a definite YES. Some days we may realize that it’s actually not what we need. In regard to alcohol, we do know that women are advised to limit consumption to 1 drink per day given the association of high intake and certain disease states, such as breast cancer. One drink in the equivalent of 150ml wine, 1 bottle of beer or 45ml hard alcohol.
MM: And finally, Robin, do you have any other recommendations or advice for mamas right now or in general when feeding themselves and their families?
RG: Just a reminder to us all that we are dealing with a lot. Remember, when it comes to feeding ourselves or our families, fed is best. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit the definition of “healthy”, if it came out of a box or doesn’t look very pretty. We have to shelter ourselves from the pressures on social media to “keep up”. Do what’s right for you and your family!
Thank you, Robin!!
To learn more from Robin about food wellness and much more, visit her here: