Metro DetroitMay 7, 2014
Motherhood: Body, mind and spirit
By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer
METRO DETROIT — There’s a good reason Mother’s Day is one of the most popular gift-giving holidays in the United States — moms do a lot. They teach, they feed, they listen, they heal, and of course, they love.
While they’re busy taking care of everyone else at home, sometimes moms forget to put themselves on their own to-do list. Local wellness experts say that just won’t do — there’s no reason to lose sight of your own health and happiness.
Mona Alaudhi, of Belleville, teaches food and culture, as well as careers in nutrition, at Eastern Michigan University. She’s a registered dietician and a certified personal trainer. It’s fair to say she knows a thing of two about wellness, and if you ask her, getting healthy starts from the inside out.
For two years now, since she was tipped off to the popular movement by a client, Alaudhi has been following the Paleo diet. She described the regimen as “going back to basics” and eating what our ancestors ate centuries ago, including meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Dairy products, sugary foods and alcohol are all off the shopping list.
“It removes a lot of junk. It removes a lot of things that are inflammatory by nature,” she said. “If you remove everything that might cause digestive or joint inflammation, you’ll live happier, healthier and thinner, for a lot of people.”
Alaudhi said she had to get very creative with her cooking once she started following the Paleo diet, trying to make foods she would enjoy without the usual processed foods the recipes call for. It seems drastic, and it took some getting used to, she admits, but the results are well worth it.
“I’m more focused and a little sharper. I’m fuller for a long time, which a lot of women struggle with, and it’s helped me maintain weight, which is kind of nice,” she said. “Think of it as cleaning your house — it doesn’t just happen; you have to do it slowly. Afterwards, though, it looks phenomenal.”
Alaudhi, a mom herself, said she’s asking for a vegetable spiralizer for this coming Mother’s Day. The kitchen gadget turns veggies and fruits into noodles, which she said is great for making grain-free dishes that would normally call for pasta.
“I (advise) mothers to ask for gifts that can help in their healthy lifestyles. It can be cookware, or an activity monitor (like) Fitbit, a gift card to a natural store or even cooking classes,” she said.
Alaudhi offers Paleo cooking classes at different community centers around southeast Michigan, including The Community House in Birmingham. Jessica Conti, of Hazel Park, also holds wellness classes at The Community House. Her specialty is all-natural household care and relaxation through essential oils and aromatherapy.
“There are 10 basic essential oils I believe every household should have. They’re affordable and multipurpose; you can use them for anything from cleaning your toilet bowl to a facial toner,” said Conti.
Conti was a self-proclaimed “germaphobe and bleach addict.” Then, when she was pregnant with her now 3-year-old little girl, she started researching what was in all the products in her home — and she didn’t like what she found.
“I wanted a really organic, natural environment for her,” she said. “There are a lot of stand-up products on the market that are all-natural, but I wanted to save money. Sometimes, you’re just paying for the packaging of those products. So I started looking at the ingredients in those products. I’m not a chemist, but I started practicing and fine tuning those recipes.”
Now, Conti said, she feels better than she has in her adult life. She has a history of medical problems, and her new chemical-free lifestyle has helped her tremendously, she said. Her pocketbook isn’t hurting, either.
“There are so many things I’d rather spend money on than moisturizer,” she said.
Though Conti typically has between 30 and 40 essential oils in her home at any given time, she encourages those interested in oil therapy to start with a basic few.
“Lavender, lemon, tea tree oil are a few. I like to have orange or tangerine, and clove and cinnamon,” she said. “All of those oils are antiseptic, antibacterial and have multiple uses.”
Citrus oil, she explained, is a natural antidepressant. Lavender is relaxing but also healing for burns, cuts and bruises. Clove and cinnamon, she said, are two of the most potent germ-fighters available, while tea tree oil is a close second with its antifungal properties. Conti said it’s great for treating acne, eczema or even toe fungus.
“I teach classes, but I also do parties. Ladies get together, bring some wine, and I just explain all of these products. I could sell them, but I don’t. I just want to teach other moms how to do it and take that information home,” she said.
Classes centered on self-care are a big focus for long-time yoga instructor Katherine Austin. She’s the owner of Karma Yoga in Bloomfield Hills, and in recent years, she’s been building a section of her practice that caters to families, mothers and expectant moms.
“One of the things I love the best is teaching prenatal yoga,” said Austin. “I work with a younger generation of parents, and it’s more than just yoga for exercise. I talk with new moms about still taking care of themselves after they have the baby.”
She offers prenatal sessions four times a week at her studio, as well as family yoga and “Spirit Baby” classes for moms and their new little one to enjoy together. The benefits of yoga to a mom’s physical and mental well-being can impact the whole family, Austin said. Getting rid of that stress and deep emotional baggage can ensure you’re not bringing that negativity into your parenting.
“Whatever it looks like, whether you’re making sure to get to yoga regularly or meditating, taking a hot bubble bath or going out with girlfriends, (moms) need to make sure that, every day, they’re doing some kind of self-care,” she said. “Their soul is important, too, and they’re setting that example. Their kids will grow up to be adults that self-care, as well.”