The easiest and usually most effective way to replenish your body is through good nutrition.

Most of us have a diet that is very different from the one that we are adapted to through millions of years of evolution - a diet of mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat. Humans first started eating whole grains and dairy foods like cheese only ten thousand years ago or so - a blip on the evolutionary time scale. And it's only the last fifty years that have seen the widespread use of refined grains, sugars, and oils, as well as packaged foods, pesticides, and artificial ingredients.

Although in the short run some people seem able to get away with this diet without too many bad consequences, the statistics on the dramatic increase in obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in the last century are cautionary at the very least. Further, anyone who is working hard needs a better-than-average diet - especially a mother: bearing, breast-feeding, and rearing a child are physiologically demanding activities like no others, and pulling them off while staying truly healthy requires that you honor the fundamental biology of your body and nourish it in ways that may have been less crucial before you had children.

Eating right provides a good model for children, too. And it helps their parents stay good-humored and patient with them, even when the oatmeal starts flying.

With this in mind, here is your daily Mother Nurture recipe, designed specifically with a parent's nutritional needs in mind. It's got just seven ingredients to help you eat right. (By the way, this recipe is good for anyone, not just a mother!)

The Practice.

Ingredient #1: Eight to twelve ounces of protein a day; protein with every meal, especially breakfast

  • When you want something sweet, have some protein instead, like a hard-boiled egg, hummus on crackers, or a piece of turkey jerky. That will satisfy your hunger and keep your blood sugar on an even keel.
  • You can get protein conveniently from eggs, nuts, soy, hummus, cheese (from goats, sheep, or cows), protein shakes, combining grains skillfully, fish, and meat.

Ingredient #2: Five to seven servings of fresh vegetables, and one to two fruits

  • Eat raw vegetables when you can.
  • Make several days' worth of vegetable snacks at a time.
  • Enrich salads by adding carrots, beets, or dark leafy greens.
  • Eat fruit when it's fresh and whole instead of canned, frozen, or juiced.

Ingredient #3: Unrefined oils and essential fatty acids instead of refined or hydrogenated oils, or trans-fatty acids

  • Make virgin olive oil your everyday oil.
  • Avoid trans-fatty acids.
  • Use flaxseed oil in salads and grind flax seeds to use on vegetables and bake into bread.

Ingredient #4: Two to five servings of unrefined, varied whole grains

  • Try to get grains intact, not ground into flours.
  • Replace refined wheat flour with whole wheat pastry, rice, or soy flour.
  • Try pasta made from brown rice.

Ingredient #5: Organic foods when possible

  • Avoid foods with artificial ingredients such as preservatives, color, or flavor enhancers.
  • Check out the local farmers' market or co-op for organic meats, soup, cheese, milk, and even wine.

Ingredient #6: High-potency nutritional supplements

  • Unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise, take a good "multi."
  • Use supplements whose minerals are chelated, which aids absorption.
  • Add calcium, magnesium, and B complex supplements.

Ingredient #7: Zero or very little refined sugar

  • Try to understand the forces that keep you hooked on sugar.
  • The easiest way to eat less sugar is to cut out soda and juice.
  • Find brands of packaged food without added sugar.
  • Avoid temptation by not keeping cookies, candy, and ice cream at home.
Author's Bio: 

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His six books have been published in 30 languages and include Neurodharma, Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Just One Thing, Buddha’s Brain, and Mother Nurture - with over a million copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 220,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial needs. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the CBS, NPR, the BBC, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.