Women In Wellness: Elizabeth Newton Of Well-Fed Mamas On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Women In Wellness: Elizabeth Newton Of Well-Fed Mamas On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Don’t accept things at face value, just because it’s what most people believe, think, or do. Ask questions, like “where did this come from?” and remain open to new ways of thinking. My nutrition philosophy has morphed and changed over the years, and I’ve come to realize that guidelines don’t always reflect the most current science. And science is always evolving! This is one thing that actually got me so fired up about prenatal nutrition — pregnant women just aren’t getting the most current information to support their health. We can do better.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Newton, RDN.

Elizabeth is a mom to three little girls, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), and a Specialist in Prenatal Nutrition. She has over a decade of clinical experience working with patients and clients, and over five years of experience in the prenatal space. Her private practice, Well-Fed Mamas, offers virtual nutrition and wellness counseling for pregnant women looking to maximize energy, minimize common symptoms, and grow the healthiest baby possible.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Shortly after I became pregnant with my first daughter, I had a major humbling moment — I was a Registered Dietitian with years of training and experience, yet I wasn’t totally sure how to best fuel my pregnant body and support my baby’s development. Naturally, I became determined to uncover as much as I could about optimal nutrition in pregnancy. When I started to dive into the research and stumbled upon the work of prenatal dietitian Lily Nichols, I realized that there was a TON of important nutrition information that wasn’t being shared with mamas in typical prenatal care. The little information that is shared is often outdated (largely because it takes >10 years for new research to make it into clinical practice and guidelines). Honestly, this got me really fired up — pregnancy is one of the most nutritionally demanding periods of the lifespan, so why aren’t women getting more personalized support and guidance? We’re talking about growing humans here!

At that point, I was working at the University of Virginia Nutrition Counseling Center. I dove head-first into the women’s health space and started seeing more pregnant clients. I felt so energized working with these women and was able to witness first-hand the difference our work together was making in their overall prenatal wellness and health. So, I collaborated with leadership from the UVA Employee Wellness Program to develop and offer pre- and postnatal nutrition visits to employees. I was also appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to the Virginia Maternal Mortality Review Team. As a part of this board, I worked with an interdisciplinary team to develop interventions that improved pre- and postnatal support for new moms, thereby reducing preventable deaths. It was an eye-opening experience that continued to show me just how much expecting mamas need more support, care, and education.

In 2021, I decided to start my own practice and offer the holistic prenatal nutrition and wellness program that I was searching for when my journey first began. I started Well-Fed Mamas so that I could focus 100% on educating and supporting pregnant moms. In my signature program, I help pregnant women confidently nourish and care for their bodies to maximize energy, minimize uncomfortable symptoms, and grow the healthiest baby possible.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

In the fall of 2020, I had the most incredible shock of my life — I was pregnant with twins! Prior to this moment of finding two little heartbeats, the thought of having twins had literally never crossed my mind. My twin pregnancy was more challenging than my first (singleton) pregnancy, and this helped me to better empathize with clients who experienced similar symptoms like nausea. As my pregnancy progressed, I became incredibly grateful for all I’d learned about prenatal nutrition over the last few years. I have no doubt it helped me avoid complications, have the energy to exercise until 37 weeks, and ultimately carry my twins to almost 39 weeks (also — they were both over 7 pounds!). Through the ups and the downs, I learned the importance of being gentle with my body, giving myself a ton of grace, and gathering my “team” of people to support my pregnancy and postpartum journey. Women, especially moms, need support and guidance — we can’t go it alone!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started creating and planning out my business, I got into major “DIY” mode — I was doing a ton of Google searches and trying to piece everything together myself. The problem was, I was in way over my head. My dietetics education and training provided little to no information on how to start or run a business. After about a year of struggling and feeling overwhelmed, I realized I needed help. So I enrolled in Laura Shoenfeld’s Nutrition Business Accelerator course — it gave me the coaching and roadmap that I needed to get started. We also started with mindset work, which made me realize I had several mindset issues that I needed to work though and reframe to be a successful CEO. What I learned from this experience was that it’s important to periodically pause, take a step back, and realize when we need more help or support. It ultimately felt good to invest in myself, and it definitely transformed my business and my confidence!

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

One reason why I love prenatal nutrition in particular is that my work has an incredible ripple effect. The woman I’m working with experiences a health transformation, and walks away feeling empowered and confident about how to fuel and care for her body. In addition, her baby (or babies) becomes healthier in the process. We know that the way a woman nourishes herself during pregnancy has an impact on her baby’s lifelong risk of metabolic dysfunction and disease. So this work directly impacts the health of the next generation — that’s powerful!

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1 . Balance your blood sugar. This one is HUGE. Blood sugar balance impacts everything, from your mental health to your thyroid to your hormone health, yet many people don’t know how to eat to support it. When it comes to food and eating, our blood sugar is impacted by several factors — when we eat, how much we eat, and the macronutrient composition of our meals. I see so many women eating a small, low protein breakfast — or skipping it altogether and just drinking coffee. This is incredibly stressful to your body and can put you on a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day. Try to eat a nutrient dense, protein rich breakfast within an hour of waking. This could look like 2–3 scrambled eggs + ½ of an avocado + a slice of organic sourdough bread + fresh fruit. Make sure you’re eating regular meals/snacks (every 3–5 hours) that include a balance of protein, fat, and fiber rich carbohydrates. Use mindful eating and tune into your hunger/fullness cues to make sure you’re eating enough and determine how much food is ideal for your body at meals.

2 . Increase mineral intake. Minerals are essential for optimal health but are often overlooked in the nutrition space. They help our enzymes to function and impact everything in our bodies, from digestion to hormone health to energy production. Most women aren’t consuming enough minerals like potassium, sodium, or magnesium — this is due to a number of factors, including changes in soil quality and increased processed food intake. To make matters worse, stress depletes our minerals more quickly. So essentially everyone needs to be more intentional about mineral intake, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or very active. Including a daily electrolyte drink can be a great start. Try this DIY recipe: mix 1 cup filtered water with ½ cup coconut water, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ tsp high quality, unrefined salt (ex: Redmond’s), and 1 scoop magnesium glycinate powder (ex: Seeking Health). Many women I work with who start to incorporate a daily mineral rich drink quickly notice a significant difference in energy levels!

3 . Slow down and eat mindfully to support optimal digestion. The importance of gut health is getting a ton of attention these days, and there’s been a lot of focus on things like prebiotics, probiotics, or specific “gut friendly” foods. While I think these things are important, we have to start with the foundations first — HOW we eat. So many of us live fast-paced lives, and sitting down to enjoy a meal can take the backburner. Most people eat quickly, on the go, in the car, at the computer or while scrolling through social media, etc. The problem with “throwing it down the hatch” is that our bodies MUST be in a relaxed state to properly digest and absorb nutrients from our food — ever heard of “rest and digest”? To access this state, we can slow down, take a few deep breaths, chew our food thoroughly, and eat with minimal distractions. I typically challenge my clients to enjoy at least one meal a day in a relaxed, mindful way. It can make a huge difference for people who experience bloating, gas, or other digestive issues.

4 . Get more sunshine. In our modern society, it’s incredibly easy to spend your entire day indoors. But sunshine is so vital for our mental health, our sleep, our hormones, and our immune system! If you reflect on vacations that you came back feeling the most energized and recharged from, I’d be willing to bet they were spent largely outdoors. Going outside and spending more time in nature can have an amazing impact on your overall well-being. And if you have any issues with sleep, getting some sun in your eyes for at least 10 minutes first thing in the morning can go a long way. Try adding in a midday walk, or eating a meal outside, and notice the difference in how you feel and your overall sleep quality.

5 . Trust in your body’s innate wisdom. Our bodies are inherently wise; they are designed to tend towards health and vibrancy, and are constantly communicating with us. But so many people are completely out of touch with their bodies. Many women look towards the internet, social media or other people to tell them how to eat, move, and live. I encourage the women I work with to get quiet, look inside themselves and ask, “What actually feels good to me? What kind of movement feels good to my body? What kind of meals feel the most nourishing and satisfying?” Experiment with making a change to your food or movement, and then check in. My favorite moments with clients are the “ah ha” ones that come from their own intuition after some open questioning, probing, and reflection. I love supporting women in getting back to trusting and listening to their bodies!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be a “one stop health shop” for pregnant and postpartum women — a collaboration of different health and wellness professionals that support women during these unique periods, when they tend to need it the most. These services would be covered by insurance to make them more accessible. I would include nutrition, physical therapy and pelvic floor health, fitness/movement, mindfulness, body work, lactation support, stress management and mental health, etc. Overall, this would make it easier for women to support optimal perinatal health, empowering them with tools and information to find more joy, ease, and wellness in their motherhood journey and beyond. As mentioned earlier, I believe when women invest in their health during these unique periods, it has this amazing ripple effect on their children, partners, and others in their lives! So ultimately the impact would be enormous.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Start with mindset work, and keep coming back to it. Mindset is so foundational and impacts our thoughts, behaviors, and actions. It’s so important to get curious about our beliefs and how they drive our business decisions. For example, I struggled with imposter syndrome in the beginning, and it got in the way of me putting myself out there! Once I realized this, I was able to dial it down with reframing, like reminding myself that I could help people even as I continued to grow in my knowledge and experience. And once I felt more confident in myself, I started to take more actions that helped my business grow.
  2. Make connections with others in your field, and who serve the same population as you. I’ve learned so much from connecting with other women business owners who support pregnant/postpartum women, such as lactation consultants, midwives, and physical therapists. It’s interesting to learn different perspectives, and it helps me get out of my own nutrition “bubble” and appreciate how others are helping women to heal and thrive. We need to support each other, connect with each other, and learn from each other! It allows us all to better serve our clients.
  3. Be your most authentic self, even when it feels scary or hard. You’re never going to please everyone, and that’s okay! It’s better to take a stand for the things you believe in; this will turn some people away, and attract people who are going to be a great fit for working with you. If you don’t feel excited to work with someone, it’s okay to say no. I’m more selective about who I work with than I was when I first started, and this feels really good — I have a better understanding of who my ideal, qualified client is. Those are the people who are ready and excited to make changes, who value my time, and who ultimately get the biggest transformation and value from my services.
  4. Don’t accept things at face value, just because it’s what most people believe, think, or do. Ask questions, like “where did this come from?” and remain open to new ways of thinking. My nutrition philosophy has morphed and changed over the years, and I’ve come to realize that guidelines don’t always reflect the most current science. And science is always evolving! This is one thing that actually got me so fired up about prenatal nutrition — pregnant women just aren’t getting the most current information to support their health. We can do better.
  5. You don’t have to do it all — often, we can do better by doing less. When I was first getting started, I felt like I was constantly trying to do “all the things.” For example, I wanted to do every training and educational webinar I came across, dabble in all of the marketing modalities, and help all women from preconception to postpartum and beyond. I felt scattered and overwhelmed, and came to realize that I needed to narrow my focus. For example, I decided to get specific with my niche and just do prenatal nutrition. This allowed me to really serve my clients better, because I can focus completely on this one life stage and be a true expert.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Of these important topics, mental health is dearest to me. Our nervous system impacts literally every other system in our bodies. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (aka PMADs) remain the single largest complication of pregnancy and childbirth; in addition, a woman’s mental health is going to impact the wellbeing of her entire family. Growing and caring for tiny humans is not easy, and moms need more support. This starts with better, more comprehensive postpartum care — many women only get one follow-up visit at 6 weeks, and 40% of moms don’t even attend this visit. We need more touch points to ask moms “Are you okay?” and then provide a safe space for her to answer this question.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Instagram @wellfedmamas, and check out my website www.wellfedmamas.com!

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .

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