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Breaking Up With The Diet Mentality

Breaking Up With The Diet Mentality

What is the diet mentality? 

Even though you may not be consciously “on a diet,” our culture automatically feeds into the diet mentality. It’s the underlying ideas about things like” willpower,” the need to trick or ignore hunger cues, moral judgment of foods, or punishing yourself for things like “falling off course.” 

Many of us experience diet mentality without even realizing it. This mindset blends in with the background of what’s normal in our culture. You may notice yourself doing things like weighing yourself each day and putting a lot of value into that number. Maybe you withhold food from yourself if you feel you “overindulged” at a previous meal. Or perhaps you make judgments about different foods such as vegetables being “good” and cupcakes being “bad.” 

How the diet mentality holds us back

It’s not uncommon to want to pursue health. What we often get confused about is the message that weight = health. These are two very different things and the pursuit of weight change, rather than health, can often lead us to unhealthy places. Have you ever made changes to your “lifestyle” with the intention to lose weight, find that you aren’t losing the amount you expected, and turn those changes into more severe and rigid plans? Have you ever thrown out health changes to your lifestyle due to a lack of “results” in the form of weight loss?

Or perhaps you’ve chosen a diet plan that seems “healthy” but you just can’t seem to stick to it? Here’s the deal – any time you find yourself asked to ignore or manipulate your hunger cue, it’s a diet. Anytime you aren’t allowed to eat until you’re satisfied and choose a variety of food you enjoy and that fuel you, it’s a diet. These things eventually backfire. Sooner or later, you’re going to have what the diet industry calls a “loss of willpower.” Spoiler alert: it’s actually completely physiologically normal for these efforts to “backfire!”

But this is a false idea and the trap of the diet mentality. 

You didn’t lose willpower. And you didn’t mess up. And you don’t need to punish yourself by working out harder the next day or having even less to eat. 

The Cycle of Diet Mentality

When we have been limiting ourselves and trying not to respond to our hunger, we often end up eating more food at our next opportunity. This is a normal physiological response to not having had enough to eat. It is NOT a loss of willpower. When this repeatedly happens, over the lifetime of the diet (or many diets), many people start to experience things like obsession with food, low energy, and disordered eating habits. And even if it results in weight loss in the short term, studies show that in the long-term, 85%+ people regain weight that was lost and can actually end up weighing more than when they started the diet. 

Weight, Diets and Motherhood

As moms, we are given a lot of messaging that getting your body back is something that’s attainable and desirable. Most workout and nutrition programs are marketed to moms in this way.

After having children our bodies have changed through pregnancy, delivery, and motherhood. On some level, many of us don’t recognize ourselves (physically and mentally) or our lives. Some find a sense of security and familiarity in dieting if that’s something that’s been used in the past; it’s what we know because of our culture of the diet mentality. We tend to believe if we want to feel better, we have to change the way our body looks and we’re constantly told in times of change in our lives that the way our bodies look matter – puberty, college, marriage, motherhood, menopause and even divorce! We CAN opt-out. Now, no judgment if that doesn’t feel like an option right now. Perhaps just consider this an invite to dip your toe in and consider an alternative.

The Healthier Option to Dieting

My goal is to provide a safe space for women who want an alternative to the dieting cycle. There is an alternative to choose whatever you want to do with your body and your health. It’s a false belief that the only option is the automatic desire and response of dieting. 

Intuitive eating is something that can bring more peace to your own eating experience and your body image. It will also help you when feeding your family and fostering a healthy body image. This is why clients usually come to my practice; they have experienced a poor relationship with food, and they’re stuck in the diet mentality. They want something better for themselves and their families. Now that they have children of their own, their worst fear is for their children to grow up feeling the same way. While you don’t have full control over this, there is a lot you can do and it starts with you.

You can find peace with food. You can be in charge of your eating experience. You don’t have to live in a constant state of monitoring, limiting, counting, and restraint. This is such a big and powerful step in intuitive eating and a boost in confidence. If you want to learn more, check out my FREE Busy Mom’s Starter Guide to Making Peace With Food!

Finding Your Voice During Pregnancy and Postpartum w/Crystal Karges

Finding Your Voice During Pregnancy and Postpartum w/Crystal Karges

graphic for crystal karges' podcast interview on embodied and well moms show

Listen + Subscribe on ITUNES or STITCHER 

We’d greatly appreciate a podcast rating and review so that we can reach more mamas and families!

– Search for the podcast in your podcast app (The Embodied & Well Mom Show)

– Scroll down and click 5 stars

– Tap “Write a Review” & enter brief review

– Press send


Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mama of four (almost 5). With a San Diego based nutrition practice, Crystal helps mamas nurture a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies at any stage of the motherhood journey. As a survivor of an eating disorder and postpartum depression, Crystal is passionate about empowering mothers to nourish themselves first, so that they may better nourish their families.

Crystal infuses both personal and professional experience into her nutrition counseling practice, with over 10 years of involvement in the fields of maternal health, child nutrition, and eating disorder recovery. By serving mothers and families through her online blog and locally, through her private practice, Crystal is committed to creating a community of strong, thriving mothers, who are learning to nourish their families’ minds, bodies, and spirits.






  • In this episode, Crystal shares about her transition to motherhood. She opened up about her experiences with eating disorder recovery, postpartum depression and how she uses those experiences to help advocate for her clients. Crystal highlights that motherhood is defined by growth and is about being adaptable and open to learning. She emphasizes the importance of learning to lean on others for support who care and understand what you’re going through.
  • Crystal talks about the pressures and frustrations that most women go through during pregnancy particularly about developing insecurities when it comes to what to eat during pregnancy, the pressure to gain a certain amount during pregnancy and the expectation to “bounce back” after baby.
  • Crystal also encourages moms to be advocates for themselves. She encourages moms to find their voice and to communicate what they need. She also emphasizes the importance of finding a support group that can help you maintain a sense of peace during the pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Realistic Postpartum Meal Prep Plan

Realistic Postpartum Meal Prep Plan


Realistic Postpartum Meal Planning

Note: Some links contained in this article are affiliate links and I have clearly indicated which are affiliate links in the article itself.

graphic advertising special discounts on meal planning software

Let’s be real. The idea of prepping meals ahead of time before baby comes is much easier said than done. I don’t know about you but when I’m in those final weeks of pregnancy the last thing my body wants me to do is to stand in the kitchen for hours cooking. Cue pain in feet, legs, hips, back…no good. However, once your sweet baby is earth-side you’re going to wish you had at least planned a bit since there isn’t a ton of time to cook between feedings, diaper changes, snuggles and your own personal recovery. I’m currently 38 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child so I figure this is perfect timing to develop a REALISTIC postpartum meal prep plan that will not only benefit my family but hopefully yours too.

This is what I came up with…

Make ahead and freeze:

Although my husband and I have planned ahead to figure out how to have him home for a bit longer this time (3 weeks vs. 6 days) I know that I will inevitably find myself alone with a baby (and likely a  toddler) and need food that is ready to eat and extremely easy to prep (bonus if it can be consumed with one hand). However, I also know that I’m just not that mom (or dietitian) who has the energy or motivation to prep 21 postpartum meals at the end of my pregnancy. So I had to prioritize. I chose to focus on a couple of breakfast items, a killer snack option and then purchase several ready-made frozen foods to have on hand. 

Currently in my freezer:

Freezer Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches by Emily Kyle, MS, RDN*

Freezer Breakfast Burritos by Jessica Penner, RD*

*(I slightly modified both of these to suit our needs and you can easily do the same!)

Smashed Tuna Sandwiches by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD

The patties are in the freezer.

5 Ingredient Energy Bites by Chef Savvy 

These energy bites are so yummy and easy to make! Recovering from delivery and nursing can make you super hungry so these little suckers do just the trick when I’m in need of a nourishing snack that will leave me full and satisfied!

Freezer meals I purchased from Trader Joe’s:

  • Family Style Meat Lasagna (will pair with pre-mixed salad like the Broccoli and Kale Slaw Salad at TJ’s)
  • Tempura chicken, brown rice, edamame, pineapple and broccoli
  • Frozen pizza (Yup! No shame in my frozen pizza game)
  • Pad thai single meals
  • 3 x chicken burritos
  • 2 x grass-fed ground beef (to include in instant pot recipe mentioned below)

Instant Pot Recipes

I LOVE my Instant Pot (affiliate link). It’s been a lifesaver during dinner prep with my toddler so I know it will be the gift that keeps on giving when I have a toddler AND an infant making their demands while I try to get food on the table. Here are the recipes that we’ll have set up on Plan to Eat. More on Plan to Eat towards the end of this article.

Creamy Beef Pasta Shells

Oh my gah this pasta dish is SOOO easy and I’m telling you it is RESTAURANT QUALITY. You can also modify it in a thousand ways – you could do a non-creamy version or throw some zucchini and eggplant in there. The options are endless.

Instant Pot Classic Beef Chili

If it ever rains in San Diego this season, we’ll be whippin’ this sucker up for sure!

Instant Pot Artichoke Chicken Orzo

This one takes a tad more time than the others but it’s worth it!

Pressure Cooker Chicken Black Bean & Rice Burrito Bowls

We either top this with chopped bell pepper, cabbage, avocado and sour cream and include a side of chips OR use the filling to make burritos. This is great as a make-ahead and freeze meal, too!

Snacks to purchase ahead of time to stay on top of your and your children’s needs (if this isn’t your first rodeo):

  • KIND Bars (affiliate link)
  • Lara Bars (affiliate link)
  • Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Granola (OMGGGEEEE this ish is a-ma-zing)
  • Just Mango Dried Mango from Trader Joe’s (In addition to fruit leather and dried fruit bars I’m actually planning to include these as a snack early on in labor).
  • Omega-3 Trek Mix from Trader Joe’s or this Omega-3 Deluxe Mix (affiliate link)
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Cheese sticks
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut Butter Pretzels from Trader Joe’s
  • Plantain chips from Trader Joe’s
  • Fresh fruit

Finally, the most important part of this entire meal planning process is our regular use of Plan to Eat – a software program that will seriously change your life (PROUD affiliate link). This program allows me to:

  1. Upload recipes from online or manually enter them so that they’re all in one place
  2. Create menus that I can save and re-use
  3. Generate shopping lists with the single click of a button!

Do you know what that means for postpartum meal planning? Once I make the menus, it’s done! I can generate and send that list off to my husband or another family member. I can even ask someone to use it to load into a grocery delivery system.

Use my referral link for a free 30-day trial. You can also request to be my “friend” and get access to all of my recipes and saved menus!

Even better? I have a FREE TRAINING that will teach you how to maximize the use of Plan to Eat! You’ll also be subscribed to my list

I combine my skills as a dietitian, meal planner for the masses, and experience as a mom, to help you use Plan to Eat like a pro! Once you’re on my list, you’ll also get plenty of resources for living well without being a slave to the scale.

Episode 023:  One Mom’s Story on Going From 1 to 2 Kiddos with Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

Episode 023: One Mom’s Story on Going From 1 to 2 Kiddos with Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD


Listen + Subscribe on ITUNES or STITCHER 


We’d greatly appreciate a podcast rating and review so that we can reach more mamas and families!

– Search for the podcast in your podcast app (The Nurtured Mama Podcast)

– Scroll down and click 5 stars

– Tap “Write a Review” & enter brief review

– Press send




Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist whose mission is to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She is the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel fabulous about food!”
As a Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian, Jennifer combines her expertise in medical nutrition therapy, psychology, and physiology to help clients understand their eating behaviors, and gain the insight needed to make positive changes for their health. She is an expert in the field of eating disorders, and a proud advocate for the Health at Every Size movement.


Jennifer has created the business, Pursuing Private Practice, along with authoring a book series of the same name, to help other healthcare professionals reach their goal of owning their own business. She also offers an e-course on Pursing Private Practice to help all healthcare professionals achieve their business goals. She offers supervision to other dietitians in the field of eating disorders.


Jennifer is a frequent guest in the media, often talking about positive nutrition, body image, healing from dieting, and educating others about eating disorders. She also loves to talk about all topics related to private practice! She has given presentations at conferences and workshops to audiences from 10 to as many as 1,000 people, and has been featured in news articles and on podcasts. For Jennifer, each presentation is an opportunity to share with her audience her positive message about food.






Twitter: @jenmcgurkrdn

Instagram: @jennifermcgurkrdn




  • Jennifer shares about her family’s experiences during their transition when they welcomed their second child at home.
  • She also gives emphasis on giving assurance to the first child that nothing will ever change in how he/she is loved and cared for despite the fact that there’s a new addition to the family.
  • Jennifer discussed how she planned differently for her 2nd birth, pregnancy and postpartum. She also shared a tip about not having so many expectations when it comes to the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum.
  • For Jen, change is the only constant. She shares that she’s learned it’s okay for things not to fall into the timeline. It’s okay to take a step back and reflect. Later on, things will fall into their own place.
  • She also gives advice to mothers on being compassionate with themselves. Leave guilt and shame aside. Whatever decision you make that you think is best for your family is okay.
  • According to Jen, what your body needs is important. Yet, it’s also important to take care of your mind and soul. Motherhood is a tough job and it’s okay to ask support.








Episode 014: Virtual Doulas – What they do & how they can help with Jessica Zablan

Episode 014: Virtual Doulas – What they do & how they can help with Jessica Zablan

Listen + Subscribe on ITUNES or STITCHER 

We’d greatly appreciate a podcast rating and review so that we can reach more mamas and families!

– Search for the podcast in your podcast app (The Nurtured Mama Podcast)

– Scroll down and click 5 stars

– Tap “Write a Review” & enter brief review

– Press send


Jessica Zablan is a Maternity Consultant, Baby Gear Expert, Doula, a Certified Car Seat Technician and the owner of The Birth & Baby Company. She is a Baby Planner University graduate, has completed the National Child Passenger Safety Certification and she is an active member of ProDoula. Jessica has been featured on parenting websites as in Romper, Gugu Guru, Blossom To Be Fit and MBA To Motherhood. Her business is also in the starting phases of launching Virtual Services to be able to consult with families all around the world. Jessica, her husband, their two child and two huskies currently live in Boise, Idaho but are going to be making the big hop over the pond to Italy in 2019.






Jessica shares her story of pregnancy at the age of 19 and describes her transition as quite difficult at first. Now that her eldest is 8 years old, she felt that her experience at an early age has helped her support her friends as they embark on their motherhood journies. It also proved to be a catalyst for pursuing a career in the care of mothers during pregnancy and postpartum.


  • Jessica opens up about her journey to becoming a doula and how her passion for helping parents in giving birth to their babies gives her the capacity to support them in the early days of parenthood. She started as a doula while she lived in Japan when her husband was stationed there in the US military. This gave her a unique perspective on the differences between birth culture in Japan vs. the US. Over time, Jessica became a postpartum doula, a maternity consultant, and maternity concierge.
  • Jessica talks about the reason of her transition from being a birth doula to a postpartum doula.
  • She elaborately explains what to expect if you hire a birth doula, virtual doula and/or postpartum doula.
  • Jessica shares about her virtual doula services and how this set-up works to cater her client’s needs.
  • According to her, many people think that a doula is only for homebirth but she clarifies that her doula services are geared to provide support for all types of birth scenarios.
  • Jessica also discusses what it means to be a maternity concierge and what moms can expect if they are able to hire one.

Episode 013: Healing Your Core with Yoga After Baby with Catherine Middlebrooks, MA, Certified Yoga Instructor

Episode 013: Healing Your Core with Yoga After Baby with Catherine Middlebrooks, MA, Certified Yoga Instructor


Listen + Subscribe on ITUNES or STITCHER 

We’d greatly appreciate a podcast rating and review so that we can reach more mamas and families!

– Search for the podcast in your podcast app (The Nurtured Mama Podcast)

– Scroll down and click 5 stars

– Tap “Write a Review” & enter brief review

– Press send


Catherine Middlebrooks is the founder of BRB Yoga, and the creator of the Heal Your Core With Yoga program. She helps busy moms restore their core strength and find calm in the beautiful chaos of motherhood.

She has more than 10 years of yoga teaching experience and a master’s degree in experimental psychology.

Catherine is currently traveling the country in an RV with her husband and two young children. Find her at




Transition to Motherhood:

Catherine described her transition into motherhood as a very peaceful period for their family. She enjoyed the process of being pregnant, and thus she felt really strong coming out from her childbirth experience. But as each day progresses, Catherine realized that her baby would be just as hard as everybody else’s. As she tried to get back to yoga, she noticed that her body was not recovering after her childbirth.

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Catherine explains why and how some of the yoga poses she practices on a regular yoga setting seemed to be contributing in maintaining instability in the core. In addition, she explains the cause of abdominal separation.

As she started to learn more about this, it started to impact the way her business evolved. She realized that there are lots of online yoga programs out there where you can get quick videos from various online sites but what isn’t out there is a really good resource for how you can do yoga in a way that not only is safe for diastasis recti but actually helps you bring back the integrity of your core and the pelvic floor.

According to her, that’s where Heal Your Core With Yoga Group Program came from. It really was designed to let people use yoga as a way to feel calm and feel strong but also really find proper alignment in their body and find that core strength that they need to regain after they have a baby.

The reality is, there are lots of women who don’t have a separation who are still doing stuff that’s putting strain on their core and their pelvic floor.” ([14:39])

Some of the key symptoms to look for that indicate that you can benefit from core strengthening are incontinence, hip pain, back pain, and just the general feeling of lack of support in the core area. Catherine also shared her thoughts about the 6-week postpartum “cleared for exercise” recommendation and how it affects women post-partum when it comes to having a realistic expectation of how long it’s going to take for their body to function the same way as it was before pregnancy.

Catherine shares that, yes, an hour of yoga a day can help but what’s a lot more determinant of your core strength is what you’re doing the rest of those 12-waking hours. That’s going to have the biggest impact on how strong you are physically throughout your day. Yes, we need to talk about yoga but we also need to talk about the way you stand, the way you sit, the way you move and pick things up. Aside from yoga, she also discussed the common symptoms every woman experiences postpartum that are common but not normal.

Referenced in the Show:


Heal Your Core With Yoga Group Program

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