5 Simple Things Moms Can Do to Stay Healthy Now
December 3, 2009 by Stephanie O'Dea
Please welcome Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD, who has written this wonderful guest post for us with fantastic advice on how moms can keep healthy and happy while tending to little ones. –steph
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen is a registered dietitian, mother of two and creator of www.RaiseHealthyEaters.com, a blog dedicated to providing parents with the most credible nutrition advice.
Motherhood is a vulnerable time for the health and well being of women. As a practicing dietitian, clients always tell me that each child they’ve had brought a few (stubborn) extra pounds. Over the course of several years this gradual weight gain adds up.
I now understand how easily this can happen. The old me had plenty of time to workout, get all the sleep I needed and stay focused on, well, me. But I’ve learned that I can still make my health a priority even without big chunks of time. I just have to accept that the way I go about my healthy habits will be new and improved.
So here are simple ways moms can take care of themselves despite having the most intense, all-consuming and rewarding job in the world.
1. Focus on the how much of eating: When moms think they have to eat ultra healthy to lose weight, the time barrier always gets in the way. But the real secret to weight management is learning how to eat just the right amount of food your body needs. And you do this by getting back in touch with your hunger and fullness signals.
In order to do this right, you need to eat regular meals so you don’t get overly hungry. Eat slowly, enjoy every bite and pay attention to when you start to feel full. This is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to stop.
2. Start small with exercise: I had my second child 8 months ago and when my son
was about 2 months old I went for spontaneous 10-15 minute runs right outside my house. I also incorporated a 15-minute post-partum DVD on certain days. My runs gradually increased in duration to 25-40 minutes and the DVD time to 20-25.
By taking it slow, I’ve watched my exercise routine evolve into something that works for my new life. This gradual process also helps me know just the right time to step it up a notch.
3. Try new foods along with your kids: On my blog,
Raise Healthy Eaters, I write about feeding strategies that help parents raise healthy and happy eaters. But my advice always focuses on the whole family.
That’s because studies show that the best way to get children to eat a variety of foods is repeated exposure and role modeling. That means children are more likely to eat certain foods (like vegetables) if they see their parent eating them too.
I recently made zucchini cakes for me and my picky 3-year old daughter’s snack time. Even though she turned her nose to them, I got the benefit or eating more vegetables (and they were yummy).
4. Go to bed earlier: Research shows that sleep deprivation is associated with
excess weight. Apparently a lack of shut eye makes people hungrier due to appetite hormones getting out of whack.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that postpartum women getting less than 5 hours sleep lost less weight than those getting more than 5 hours of sleep.
So no matter how tempting it is to stay up late and get things done, make sure you get enough rest. If anyone needs the rejuvenation time, it’s moms.
5. Seek foods that keep you full: Research shows that protein-rich foods (lean
meats, poultry, eggs, fish and beans) are the most satiating. Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies also do a good job at keeping you full. Add a little bit of healthy fats to a meal and you’ll be even more satisfied.
So include protein-rich foods at most meals with a variety of whole grains, fruits and veggies and healthy fats (olive/canola oil, nuts/seeds, avocado). Moms need the right fuel to do the hardest job on earth.
All of these steps are easy enough to start doing now. And who knows? By this time next year, you could be a lean, mean, mommy machine. And what kid wouldn’t love that?