Oh mama, do we have a good one for you! Earlier this month, we sat down with the amazing Dr. Rachel Goldman (aka Dr. Rachel) for Bump Day, our pre and postnatal series where we chat with experts about all things womanhood and motherhood. Dr. Rachel is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and consultant who focuses on stress reduction, health behavior change, disordered eating, and weight management. In our chat, we talked specifically about self-compassion, body neutrality, and how we, as mamas, can take some time for self-care each day. If you missed the full recording, read on for a summary of what we discussed.
Bump Day With Dr. Rachel
Dr. Rachel, Alysia Page & Jessica Kilbane
How can we establish a healthy relationship with food?
According to Dr. Rachel, you have to first ask yourself what a “healthy relationship with food” looks like. This will be different for everyone and takes into account factors such as your current relationship with food, your lifestyle, what you are looking to change and what you are willing to keep the same.
During this process, it’s important to remember that food is not inherently “good” or “bad”. We want to move away from this labeling, and this type of thinking, as it typically leads to shame and guilt when we end up eating the “wrong” things. Remind yourself that your worth and value are not dictated by what you eat!
What does healthy eating actually look like? Does it vary from person to person?
Much like a healthy relationship with food, “healthy eating” can look different from person to person. Dr. Rachel first recommends that you take a step back and think about what “healthy” means to you specifically. We all have different health conditions, caloric needs, allergies, intolerances, etc. THAT is why we can’t make generalizations about what, specifically, one person should be eating and another shouldn’t.
“I like to think about this as striving for balanced eating as opposed to “healthy eating”, Dr. Rachel added. Remember that food is fuel and energy, but it is also so much more than that. Sure, we need it to survive, but we also need to take into account that different types of foods impact our mood, energy, concentration, and sleep differently. If you are wanting to make changes, take a moment to think about how the food you eat is impacting you throughout your day. Does it make you feel good, or is it making you feel sluggish? Make changes accordingly!
As moms, we are always on the go. How do we choose a nutrient-dense snack when a meal isn’t an option?
Again, Dr. Rachel reminds us that everyone is different and has different needs (are you seeing a trend here?). She says “I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, but I do believe that it’s important to choose snacks that are satisfying to you. One of my favorite snacks is an apple with nut butter. This satisfies me and makes me feel good.”
Society puts an unhealthy pressure on women to “bounce back” after pregnancy. What advice do you have for new moms for not only accepting their new body but loving their body?
We are constantly bombarded with messages about who and what we “should” be. Dr. Rachel’s top advice: “First, if you are following accounts or other people on social media that don’t make you feel good or that make you think you “should” have bounced back by now, or even need to “bounce back” at all… unfollow, mute, or block! Surround yourself with people (and accounts) that inspire you and make you feel good.” Just like in real life, if it doesn’t serve you, it’s time to let it go.
After we clean up our social media (and maybe the people we’re surrounding ourselves with in real life), Dr. Rachel recommends that we remind ourselves of all our bodies have done for us. We just grew and nurtured a baby. Your body allowed you to do that. Your body allows you to hold your child, snuggle with them, and care for them – and THAT is something to be celebrated.
The final step: be realistic! Like anything, it takes time to reach your goals– both mental and physical. Be kind to yourself and take it slow.
As moms, we tend to put everyone's needs before our own and neglect the self-care we need. What advice would you give the mamas out there who are in need of self-care?
This is tough. We are moms, and living during a pandemic. Of course, we are going to put everyone else first and ourselves last (isn’t that in the DNA of a parent?!), but let’s not think of self-care as an hour-long massage or bubble bath.
Think of self-care as anything we do for ourselves. For instance, sitting and eating lunch undistracted or sitting and being mindful while enjoying a cup of coffee can also be self-care. Think of it as doing something *for you* simply because it’s good for you and it makes you feel good.
The key is to find pockets of time throughout the day for yourself.
It can be helpful to start with micro-practices, such as taking a deep breath while you are washing your hands or taking a moment to yourself to breathe while you are cooking a meal for your family. Sometimes we have to get creative, but that is okay—we have to make it work for us.
Remember, self-care is not selfish. It doesn’t mean “me instead of you”, it means “me too”. You are important, you are worthy – and by participating in pockets of self-care, you will be a better version of yourself for your child and for others around you!
Body Neutrality: what is it and how can one practice it?
Body neutrality promotes body acceptance as it is and recognizes all our bodies do for us. Body positivity tends to focus on what our body looks like, whereas body neutrality focuses on what our body does (think appearance identity vs. functional identity).
Body positivity in general is rather unrealistic. We don’t just wake up one day and decide to love our bodies. Like most things in life, it is not an “all or nothing” situation. We may have days where we don’t love the way our body looks – and that is okay. Body neutrality is taking a neutral stance towards our body: we don’t have to love it, but we can accept it and appreciate it for all it does and has done for us.
Want more from Dr. Rachel? Head over to the FIT4MOM HQ Instagram page to watch this episode of our Bump Day Series and be sure to follow Dr. Rachel on Instagram! To learn more about what Dr. Rachel does in her practice or to schedule an appointment, visit her website.
About Dr. Rachel:
Dr. Rachel Goldman (aka Dr. Rachel) is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and consultant who takes a holistic approach to health. She specializes in the mind-body connection, including stress reduction, disordered eating behaviors, and health behavior change. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and has a private practice in NYC where she utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy to assist in behavioral changes. She is a sought-after expert who has been featured in many media outlets, including The New York Times, TIME magazine, CNN, USA Today, Shape, and Women’s Health. She is on the Wellness Board of VeryWell.com. She continues to live an active lifestyle in NYC with her husband and 3-year-old son, and she believes everyone CAN live happy and healthy lives!