Women’s Day: Reflections from Dr Hassina Kajee

Women have come a really long way in history! We can now do absolutely anything we want to do (within biological limits). From not being allowed to vote, we can now rule a country, go to Space, win a Nobel Peace prize and Influence the direction of the world in ways that were previously impossible to achieve. From pioneers like Marie Curie to Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Simone Biles, we are now firmly on the map. But read much loved children’s novels from just a century ago and it stands out starkly how very different life was for women at that time. For example, even for very small children, chores and expectations were so different for girls vs. boys. Girls were expected to be the ones who clear away the dishes, tidy up and make beds. This was not expected off boys! If we’re honest, many of us have grown up in homes like this where the bulk of the household chores was the job of the ‘fairer’ sex. If we’re being even more honest we will agree that though women have come a long long way, in many ways, sadly, nothing has changed. In many homes, even if you are the CEO of a major company, dinner and managing the household and the family is still your responsibility too.

At the same time, many modern families are sharing the home responsibilities with no chore (except pregnancy and breastfeeding) being exclusively gender dependant. If both partners work then both partners are responsible for the home and family. As a mother of a young boy and a girl, it’s really important to me that children to have this type of lived experience. Both girls and boys need to be responsible for their own existence, whether this relates to keeping their household or to earning a living. I see this as a form of empowerment for both genders and just as my 9 daughter learns how to build a deck and use power tools as well as folding laundry and other household chores, my 6 year old son can equally balance biking and hammering with experimenting in the kitchen, making his bed, unloading the dishwasher and vacuuming the house. It’s a life skill- as simple as that.

Food preparation is a vital life skill. Many studies show that what we eat and how we live is responsible for at least the next 4 generations! So it’s vital we get the food part right. As a wife and mum of 2, homeschool teacher, doctor and career women, I know how difficult it can be to get a healthy life balance. Even with a hands-on husband, I, like many of my female colleagues, still bear the mental load of mother. Planner (meals, appointments, online orders), calendar organiser (school, birthdays, violin rehearsal, extramural), connections (with grandparents and extended family, nurturer….in short- mother!

The COVID-19 pandemic changed many lives dramatically. For many – irreversibly. As the mum and only ‘work from home’ parent, I was grateful to be able to be in a position where I could adapt my life to the new situation but boy was it tough! My responsibilities escalated overnight to include cleaner, homeschool teacher, next level planner, housekeeper, chef, wife to a frontline worker and I still needed to make it possible to do mall this and keep up with am be productive in my own career. My kids were 5 and 8. I had to think quickly to make sure I could cope. How do we even begin to get this right? Here are the vital aspects that I kept in mind to guide me.

The components of health:

I’m grateful that what I never compromised on was food. Real food is the best way to keep the immune system strong and that to me was of utmost importance.

Sleep, exercise, rest, mental wellbeing, spirituality and nutrition are all pillars of health continue to remain the goals I have for myself and my family.

1) Faith and connection through prayer.

2) Planning- what this looks like: Get clear on family responsibilities. Prep as much as you can the night before. For me this means cleaning, food prep, work prep, homeschool prep, starting the day knowing whats expected is more productive.

3) Me time- what this looks like: To bed early and then waking early. 4am-4:30am depending on what my work goals are. If the planning process is in place, this means I get 2-3 hours of quiet time to work before the household starts stirring.

4) Sleep: Prioritise consistent sleep. You know what’s best for you. Look after your circadian rhythm and it will look after you!

5) Exercise: I use Dr Ben Bocchicchio exercise routine with resistance bands and make sure I do a selection of either pushups, leg lifts, squats, dead lifts or plank daily. Do what works for you. Short, consistent is better than nothing.

6) Mental wellbeing: Prioritise those closest to you. Spend the most time on what’s most important to you. Prioritise self!

7) Rest: Make time for rest. We all know how to work hard but rest is really a necessary part of productivity and a happy healthy life. Slot in those breaks whether its a 5 minute sit down with a cuppa to watch the sky or a longer break when you cam Consistency pays here!

8) FOOD: How did I manage to not compromise on food quality: I am so deeply immersed in Nutrition Science that it’s something I’m completely unable to do, be lax with food. I know that sugar bingeing depresses the immune system and boosts inflammation and I know that obesity and the internal milieu of the body is so switched on and inflamed when we eat a diet high in refined carbs and seed oils and above your personal threshold for insulin resistance. What this looks like for me: Breakfast for my kids is eggs (scrambled, omelette, fried, boiled and devilled or as egg only crêpes.) Occasionally it’s a high protein egg heavy pancake with very very low sweetener. For me breakfast is whenever I’m hungry but usually around 10am (Which means that I practice a natural form of intermittent fasting most days). For lunch the kids have what’s left of breakfast (I make extra) OR last nights leftover supper.

Because breakfast has enough protein and fat and is low in sugar, they seldom go to the kitchen to forage even though they are home all day. Lunch is around 1 or 2pm. Supper is around 5pm. Meat and veg eg: Roast chicken with avo or gemsquash, pan fried steak with or without veg, grilled fish with or without veg. We try to batch cook when we can but if we don’t my hubby usually takes something out of the freezer ~(raw, frozen, unmarinated) the night before and many times is the one prepping the meal when he gets home from work. (1-5 pm is usually the time I get the rest of my own work done). This all sounds smooth and planned but it’s not. Life goes pear shaped. You get thrown curveballs. What’s important if you fall off your ’life goal’ wagon is to take some time to figure out why you fell off. Whether this is food, sleep, exercise or something else. Get back on but figure out why.

As women in the 21st century, we have so much we can do. Let’s make sure what we choose to do is what’s best for us!


About the author

Dr Hassina Kajee Board of Directors, The Noakes Foundation; Medical Director, Nutrition Network; Medical Director, Eat Better South Africa and Integrative Specialist Physician

Dr Hassina Kajee is co-founder and Medical Director of The Noakes Foundation ‘Eat Better South Africa’ program and was instrumental in overseeing and facilitating the Foundation’s first ever Eat Better South Africa! intervention programme conducted in the Ocean View community. She has since advised on a number of the Foundations subsequent interventions. Her enthusiasm and passion about the LCHF eating science emanates through her. She believes that prevention starts with educating and empowering her patients and the general public with knowledge of the tenets of optimal health including optimal nutrition backed by robust science.

Dr Kajee turned her clinical practice towards chronic disease prevention after years of practicing ‘palliative’ chronic medicine at the tertiary level where she headed up the High Care Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital. She currently practices privately; in addition, she advises as Medical Director of Eat Better South Africa, The Nutrition Network and as a director on the Board of The Noakes Foundation. As a wife and mother of 2 young children, she is passionate about preventative health care and believes in supporting prevention as early as possible- at the prenatal level.



 A foundation to question The Science™️ 


Get the latest news & updates

Copyright (c) 2023 The Noakes Foundation™️ – Cape Town, South Africa. The Noakes Foundation is a trademark of The Noakes Foundation PBO, established in 2013. All rights reserved.

error: Content is protected !!