Navigating Food, Love, and Motherhood as a Professional Athlete

Words by: Sarah True

As is true for most new parents, the weeks following my son’s birth were a blur. Days passed in a flurry of diaper changes, visitors, and blissful moments of baby sleep. I took advantage of the quiet times to nap, exercise, shower, cook, and relax. Multi-tasking became a new friend: I learned to nurse while eating, that I could hold a baby while riding my bike on the indoor trainer, and the fact that stroller runs provided not only exercise for me but entertainment for the little one. After the initial rush of chaos, however, I realized the importance of carving out more time to take care of myself and to make my meals purposeful moments of self-care.


Food as fuel

As a professional athlete, I’m accustomed to thinking about food as fuel. I train for many hours swimming, biking, and running; nutritious food powers me through the activities I pursue. During pregnancy I applied the same mindset: I was eating to fuel the growth of my baby. Even when nausea made eating a chore, I dutifully ate a range of nutritious foods, visualizing the benefit to the life inside me. Breastfeeding is a natural extension of that philosophy; I’m eating to fuel myself and my training, as well as Haakon.


The benefits of eggs for pregnant and nursing mothers

Although I loved eggs before becoming a new mother, it didn’t occur to me how indispensable this powerhouse of nutrients would be when I had a growing baby to feed. I have always been aware of the long list of health benefits that eggs come with; protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B12...the list goes on. What I didn’t realize is that many of these nutrients have enormous benefits for pregnant and nursing mothers in particular. So much so that in recent years, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee updated the US Dietary Guidelines to recommend eggs as a valuable source of nutrients for new and expecting mothers, as well as a beneficial first food for infants and toddlers.

For example, eggs are one of the best sources of choline, a nutrient that’s essential for proper function of the brain and nervous system and plays an even more critical role in fetal brain development and placental function. Choline deficiencies are common in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and just two eggs a day can provide around half of their daily needs. Folate, another vital component of an egg’s nutritional makeup, helps protect against serious birth and neural tube defects. The never-ending list of benefits that eggs offer to new mothers like me has deepened my appreciation for high-quality organic, free range eggs from Pete and Gerry’s even further, and has made this simple, whole ingredient a must-have as I navigate each new stage of parenthood.


Food as love

Food isn’t just about the consumption of calories; it is also an expression of love. I enjoy feeding the people around me and a thoughtfully prepared meal is one of the best gifts that I can provide friends and family. I center my cooking around locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, an act of love and gratitude for the farms in my community. Whether it's local produce or Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs produced by organic hens raised on small family farms (some of them in my very own home state), having access to ingredients grown with care is a privilege that compels me to cook for the ones I love. Thinking about and producing a meal for others brings me joy, as I feel that a great meal can sustain both our bodies and our minds.

As a new mother, I quickly learned that feeding my child is the purest form of showing love through food. And yet, this experience has also made me realize how easy it is to ignore my own needs in the process. After the initial rush of being a new mom wore off, I became painfully aware that I had forgotten to treat myself with the level of care that I needed and deserved. While I was feeding myself enough, scarfing down cold leftovers and random bits of food when I could, I ignored the important fact that I also needed to eat for reasons beyond fueling my body and my baby.

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During the process of navigating this new normal, it eventually became clear that taking extra time to make myself a real meal and to eat thoughtfully is a form of self-care. Being able to reach for Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs when I'm cooking a thoughtful, comforting, nutritious meal for nobody but myself is just as important as accessing those same local, small family farm raised ingredients when cooking for others. Even cooking something as simple as an omelette or making a batch of baked oatmeal can feel like an indulgent act when you're a new mom. But doing so is a demonstration that I am worth the time and energy. If making food for others is a sign of my love, aren’t I also deserving of that same love? Through feeding my body, I fuel my child and my activities. Through making and enjoying a meal, I am feeding my soul. sarah-true-motherhood-ig-3

Sarah True is a 2x US Olympic Triathlete and Ironman who resides with her runner/coffee-roasting husband and dog in New Hampshire. Pete and Gerry's is proud to call Sarah an ambassador, to fuel her training, and to sponsor her athletic career and pursuits.


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