In celebration of all the amazing mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day! Today, our TNC Super Mum, Pooja, shares with us her inspiration behind The Nutrition Clinic and how she balances work and motherhood.
How does what you do at TNC, influence you as a mother?
TNC is so closely linked with my entire experience as a mother. My fascination with nutrition started some 15 years ago when I was dealing with fertility issues. That’s when I quit my job in venture capital to study– I went on a mission to research and understand how nutrients and toxins can impact fertility. I look back now at how I just jumped in and had this faith that I could do this– I remember saying to my gynae, after she recommended I explore IVF, that I wanted some time to try something different, and if it doesn't work, I’ll come back. I felt in my bones that I had the ability to do this. There was doubt– Lots of it! And there was deep fear. The biggest worry I had was that I was being a foolish optimist about this, that these “biohacking” years were a waste of time– Time that every woman who is trying to have a child knows is precious.
The last decade has been one of watching my two babies grow– my daughter Ishika (12 years old this October) and The Nutrition Clinic (9 years old in September). Throughout this time, there have been many situations where I have asked myself when do I trust my gut instinct and when do I on the side of caution. Both my babies have pushed me in the most unbelievable ways– To let go of preconceived ideas, to learn more, to be better at what I do, and to be ok with mistakes. And as we head into the teenage years, I have no doubt that the learning will grow!
What is your philosophy around nutrition for Ishi?
When Ishi was younger, I was quite strict. She didn't get sugar, everything was homemade and she lapped up these green drinks that even I wouldn't take. There is no way I can get away with that anymore. As she started growing up, I have definitely learnt to relax. I do strongly believe that we have to allow kids to explore and enjoy food and to not mess with their relationship with food, in the process of fixing their nutrition. My approach at home is really around crowding out the things we want less of. We have a few guidelines we follow around sugar and how meals should be balanced– And beyond that I give Ishika a fair bit of choice. A few years ago, she developed eczema and she had to strictly avoid some of her favourite foods for almost a year. There was a fair bit of teaching her about her body’s reaction to these foods, a lot of negotiating, and some tears– But we got through it. But just as you think you have it figured, kids change. As she has grown older, she naturally wants more freedom and I can see that the next stage will be about letting go further and trusting her.
What are your non-negotiables, what do you let go?
Till now, she has not had any fast food or canned soft drinks– These foods just don't enter our home. If she wants to try them, I will be ok with that, because she has to have the freedom to do so. I do limit gluten and sugar because it triggers her skin– And that will remain. She can have some, but too much hurts her– and because it's something she knows and can see, she doesn't fight back too much.
How do you balance work and home time?
I like to start early. Before COVID, my work day started soon after I put her on the school bus at 7am. That meant that on most days I could get a full day in and be home by 4pm for the afternoon bus. As she has grown older, I have added a few days when I work later. During the holidays, it's a bit of a balancing act–– She gets to come in and helps us with odd jobs at the office. That's also the time Ishika gets to spend lots of time with my mum– It's lovely that they get the time together while I work. It generally works well and I feel so lucky.
How has that changed with working from home?
It's been wonderful! I’m finding that zoom appointments work extremely well– And I get to be home more. Being home more has also meant I have had time to cook more and do exercise with Ishika. Before this, I was typically going to the gym and she would swim a few times a week. With both those options gone, most of our evenings include a run or some exercises at home.
What is one piece of advice you wish to share with other mums?
Trust your instinct, stay true to your core and have fun. Okay, that's more than one. I do think parenthood brings with it so much self-doubt but there is that voice inside - listen to it. Stay true to what you believe. And have lots of fun. There is so much pressure–– And as parents we can't switch off from them. From academics to how kids behave to what to feed them. There is a lot to juggle. Don't forget to have lots of fun.