November 21, 2017
When talking with Mums one of their biggest concerns is the impact studying has on their health. It seems many women put on weight while studying – think of all those hours spent sitting at the computer/desk and the meals and snacks eaten on the go. I suffer from the terrible disease called ‘reward yourself with food’ and my thresholds are very low so I often reward myself for just writing a list of things I SHOULD do. You can imagine the feast that follows when I actually get things done…anyway, I digress.
One of the aims of this website is to bring relevant and useful information to Mums who Study. In this article I have interviewed Anna Rakoczy, CEO and Co-Founder of
Anna is a former lawyer from Perth, Western Australia, who moved to San Francisco in 2011 with her husband. After completing graduate studies, Anna founded Homemade Cooking in 2013. Homemade Cooking is a company that aims, through teaching people how to cook, to take control of their health and achieve optimum weight. It is based on sound medical evidence (one of the Co-Founders is a medical doctor) and promotes the idea that food is medicine: eating properly can change your health and your life. So, of course this is very relevant and important for Mums who Study…but the question remains: how to incorporate healthy, homemade cooking into an already full life? Well, hopefully by the end of this article you will have some ideas.
Hi Anna! Welcome to the Mums who Study website…You were a corporate attorney for 6 years before you changed careers and founded Homemade. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and why you started your own business?
Throughout most of my life, I really struggled with my eating. I was always trying to lose weight, even though I was athletic, fit and healthy. I tried everything from fad diets, to special pills, keeping food diaries, counting calories, and weighing myself a million times a day. I was tortured by food, going from severely restricted calories, to binge eating when my body's need for energy overtook me. I thought I was just weak and undisciplined, and always vowed to do better next time.
One day, I had enough and decided to stop. I stopped restricting my eating and started listening to my body. I ate what I wanted, and as much as I wanted. I did all the 'wrong things' - like eating carbs and fat and gluten and lots of fresh fruit and eating whenever I was hungry, until I was satisfied. I focused on 'well-being', which took me to eat fresh, home cooked meals made from whole ingredients, instead of processed foods, or packaged so-called 'health foods'. And to my surprise, instead of gaining weight, it dropped off me.
I never looked back. I got back to my 19 year old weight, and have easily maintained it for more than 10 years, without ever dieting. In 2013, I left my career as a lawyer to pursue this passion full time, and I launched Homemade-cooking.com. Since then, I have worked with thought-leaders, nutritionists, dieticians, holistic chefs and medical doctors to develop the Homemade program. Our members have lost up to 30 kgs per person, reversed diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions, as well as reported better sleep, digestion, energy, skin and moods. Homemade is my dream of helping other women (and men) to transform their eating and health in a way which is joyful, sustainable and empowering.
Many mums struggle with healthy eating and weight management while studying - what advice can you give us?
There are 3 secrets that will help you stay on track with healthy eating and weight management:
What tips or tricks can you offer time-poor mums who also need to consider the tastes and preferences of children?
Since we've been running Homemade, we have had so many countless delighted families give us feedback that their kids (and husbands) love our food! Fresh food is delicious. The trick is not to overcook veggies, and don't be afraid to use real fats and carbs in your cooking. And even real sugar or salt. The amount of fat, sugar and salt home cooks use is always less than anything you get from processed or restaurant food. But salt and fat is what makes food taste good - and activates the body's satiety mechanisms.
Finally, if you have fussy kids, try not to give in to the 'white diet' (bread, crackers, etc.). This is a phenomenon of the West - in Asia and Europe kids eat what the rest of the family eats. Just keep experimenting until you find things your kids love! Also another great trick is to involve them in cooking - it makes it 100 times more likely they will eat what you prepare together.
What do you say to those of us who sometimes think that shopping for, and cooking, healthy foods falls into the 'too hard basket'?
I say you are aiming too high! 'Cooking' (and shopping) has a bad name. People think it means hours of planning and prep and following long lists of ingredients on recipes (when half the time you don't know what those things are and will never use them again!)
Re-imagine your version of what ‘cooking’ means. There are so many healthy things you can make yourself for every meal of the day which don't require any cooking or can be made in under 15 mins... and which have 5 ingredients or less. So basically, start really, really simple and build up the habit... then go from there onto more complicated things.
Breakfast: Smoothies. Oatmeal. Eggs. Breakfast sandwiches.
Snacks: Veggie sticks with hummus or guacamole, smoothies. Handful of nuts. Natural yoghurt with honey or berries you add yourself.
Lunch: Sandwiches, wraps, salads,
Dinner: Any cooked protein [Tip: just add oil or butter and some spices to a pan on medium heat... you can't really go wrong!] with cooked grains [Tip: 1 cup grain to 2 cups water generally is perfect] and raw or cooked veggies.
So there you have it! Some great tips and recipes to get the new academic year off to a healthy and nutritious start.
I especially like Anna’s comments about not aiming too high. It is not necessary to go crazy at the start: just take small steps. Let’s face it we all know the realities of life with kids. As someone who can’t follow through with the ‘eat this or there is no more food until breakfast’ threat, sometimes dinner really is cruskits with butter. But that doesn’t mean I give up. I can never be accused of not trying.
Make it your aim to try one of these recipes and even if you don’t get that far stock up on some healthy snacks you can eat on the go, like nuts if you aren’t allergic (and it’s best if they aren’t keeping some chocolate company and hiding under a red and yellow wrapper) or some easy to transport fruit.