Balancing Physical Health and Diet as a Parent [Interview with Frances Largeman-Roth] — Womanhood Unwrapped
Frances Largeman-Roth and I met, via Zoom, from across the country, in the common areas of both of our homes — me in my pocket office and her in the kitchen. The situational similarity immediately struck me. I had been scrambling to drop off my kids at school and hadn’t had time to change out of my sweaty workout clothes. Frances ran late to our meeting because her kiddo was under the weather. But when we were able to connect, I could feel both of us relax and settle into a great conversation!
A nutritional expert, author, and former food and nutrition director at Health Magazine, Frances is no stranger to busy days, working to juggle life, family, and career. You can learn more about Frances on her website.
When we sat down, we quickly started talking about parenthood today, in a post-pandemic world, and I fell in love with Frances’s insights about how health fits into life as we now know it. So let’s dig in!
ME: TO SAY THAT PARENTS IN 2022 HAVE A LOT OF ADDED STRESSORS, CONCERNS, AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR THEIR CHILDREN IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. YOU ADVISE PARENTS AND INDIVIDUALS ON HOW TO LIVE AND EAT HEALTHILY. HOW HAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS CHANGED IN THE PAST TWO YEARS?
Frances: The advice I’m giving parents and other folks now includes a much bigger focus on mental health. Of course, putting healthy foods on your plate is essential, but I don’t want parents or anyone else to stress over making perfectly balanced meals every day.
Thankfully, there are many healthy convenience foods these days, which help make mealtime easier for everyone. I love and utilize the following brands on a regular basis:
- Chickpea pasta from Banza
- Better-for-you natural meats from Applegate Farms
- Salad kits — really any brand is good
- Grocery delivery from FreshDirect
ME: WITH THE NEW PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT OF WORKING FROM HOME, DEALING WITH GAP WEEKS AT SCHOOL, MANAGING EXPOSURES, AND OTHER STRESSORS THAT HAVE BECOME A PART OF MODERN PARENTING, WHAT DO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DO TO STAY HEALTHY AND STILL ALLOW FOR FUN IN YOUR LIFE?
Frances: We started doing Just Dance together this winter. My son is a pro now! I stopped sending the kids to their Ninja Warrior class because it didn’t feel safe, and the kids needed another outlet for healthy movement. I thought dancing would be a fun distraction, but it is an excellent exercise if you keep leveling up! We also have movie night every Friday. Since my husband and I both work from home, we can easily let the workday go past 6 pm — a challenge many families are dealing with right now. But knowing that we want to get a movie started for the family by 6:30 pm helps us unplug.
Plus, it gives me a chance to actually sit down on the couch and snuggle with my kids, which sometimes doesn’t happen enough during the school week.
ME: YOUR FAMILY MOVED DURING THE PANDEMIC IN 2020. WHAT WERE YOU SEEKING WITH THE MOVE, AND HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY ADAPTED TO BEING IN A NEW PLACE AT AN UNPRECEDENTED TIME?
Frances: We were initially looking for a better school system, but the added benefit of moving out of Brooklyn has been increased exposure to nature. I am looking out of my office window right now and can see buds forming on the trees. Sometimes we open the front door, and a deer is standing there!
It’s fantastic to have a walking trail right up the road, which means I can take our mini doxie, Latke, for a daily walk in the woods. It helps me clear my head, and I always feel better after being in nature, even if it’s just 15 minutes. No matter what, I recommend getting outdoors as much as possible in life, and that’s what we were looking for with our move.
ME: WHEN DO YOU GIVE YOURSELF CHANCES FOR SELF-CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH MOMENTS AS A WORKING MOM? WHAT DO YOU TRY AND DISENGAGE FROM, IF NEEDED? WHAT DO YOU MAKE SURE TO DO OR MAINTAIN?
Frances: Self-care is SO important! I exercise most mornings, which helps me clear my mind and have a productive day. Also, I try not to look at emails after putting the kids to bed at 8:30 pm.
And, just as important, I avoid doom scrolling-it’s just not productive.
Another way I take care of my mental health is to thoroughly “check out” from social media when we go on vacation. I realized that social media would be there when I return, and I don’t need to take it with me on vacation!
Also, when I just need to escape but have nowhere to go, I take a bath.
I light a candle, use bath salts and bring a book or a magazine. I also tell my family to please not bother me, thank you very much!
ME: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP GO-TO MEALS OR SNACKS FOR THE FAMILY ON BUSY DAYS?
Frances: My oldest daughter, Willa, doesn’t eat meat, so an excellent flexitarian meal that we all love is taco night.
I usually serve black beans to Willa and everyone else enjoys grass-fed beef or a combo of beef and beans. Plus you can dress them up with colorful slaw, avocado, radishes, salsa, and cilantro. Easy and healthy! Here’s my recipe for Lamb Tacos. If lamb isn’t your thing, you can easily use ground beef, bison or turkey.
Another way I save time and energy is by making extra pancakes on Sunday. It’s super easy meal prep!
That way I can reheat them in the toaster oven and top them with peanut butter for the kids on busy mornings. And any time I have a little extra time in the kitchen, I cut up fruit and veggies for us to snack on during the week.
What I love is finding easy ways to meal prep, and make the weekdays more relaxed.
ME: ARE THERE ANY OTHER DIETARY, OR PHYSICAL RECOMMENDATIONS YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH BUSY WORKING PARENTS?
Frances: Kids don’t always want to go outside when the weather isn’t good, especially as they get older and are on screens more. But just like it’s essential for an adult’s mental health to spend time outside, it’s also incredibly important for kids. In addition to the exposure to sunlight, which is vital to making vitamin D, it also gives us a chance to notice changes in the neighborhood, especially as spring arrives.
Read the full interview, or check out other stories on Womanhood Unwrapped. Link below.
Originally published at https://womanhoodunwrapped.com on March 11, 2022.