Melissa Hartwig changed the way many of us eat. The co-founder of Whole30, Hartwig is also mom to a 5-year-old son, and last year she launched Whole Mamas, an online community supporting women in all stages of motherhood in as they navigate their family’s nutritional needs and everything else.
On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, Hartwig tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about becoming a single mom as a new mom and why the world needs Whole Mamas now.
Hartwig’s son was born as Whole30 was becoming a cultural phenomenon, and shortly before her marriage ended. For many people, juggling such huge personal changes while riding a wave of professional success would be enough to drown them, but for Hartwig, it was her inspiration for lifting other women up.
Along with Stephanie Greunke, a registered dietitian (R.D.) with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in prenatal/postnatal health, Hartwig began to reflect on how pregnant women are so vulnerable to information overload and conflicting opinions from experts, friends and even strangers.”I had access to all of the top doctors and nutritionists and researchers and registered dietitian and midwives like I had more information than ninety-nine percent of the population. And I was still overwhelmed,” she explains.
“I still felt like there was a lot of fear-mongering and I completely underestimated the amount of input that other people would feel like they deserved to have in the life of you and your family and your unborn child,” continues Hartwig. For her, the best way to cut through the overload was to choose three or four sources of information that she could trust and tune out the rest.
Later, Hartwig and Greunke set out to create a trusted source of information for other mamas. She believes that by introducing real, whole foods early, and not leaning on sugar and quick fixes, parents can set their children up to have a healthy relationship with food, one that will last a lifetime.
And the seed of that relationship is planted at the dinner table. “I think eating meals together with your child from a very early age and family mealtimes are really important,” says Hartwig, who believes in the power of letting kids take part in making meals, too. “Like my son had a little kiddo kitchen set and was helping me chop and prep food and his meals very early on,” she explains.
Many parents start out serving the healthiest food they can, but find kids become pickier (and less interested in veggies) over time. Hartwig admits that’s even been the case in her house, and says the trick is to keep trying. Kids’ tastes and preferences are constantly evolving. If your child hates a certain food in March, they might like it when it comes back on the menu in May.
“Last week he loves sweet potato. This week he doesn’t like it,” she explains. “So [I’m] constantly reinventing and bringing food back in maybe in different ways or with different dipping sauces.”
According to Hartwig, you can get kids to eat just about anything if you serve it with dip and a toothpick. Even whole, real foods.
To hear more about Melissa Hartwig’s experiences in motherhood and advice on nourishing our children and ourselves, listen to The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, for the full interview.