All women gain weight during pregnancy and many struggle to lose it afterwards. Thus, popularizing the terms “mom bod” or “mom body.” Trying to work out can seem close to impossible while tending to a baby or toddler all day. So how can moms lose weight and get in shape? Here are some tips. We will discuss tips for diet here and then tips for working out while strapped for time in Part 2.
I constantly emphasize the importance of diet in your quest to lose weight and improve health because it’s true. (See my prior article on the importance of diet for weight loss.) Even if you don’t have time to work out, losing weight isn’t hopeless if you focus on improving your diet. I have heard moms say that they lack the time to make healthy meals, or are constantly tempted by their kids’ snacks. Healthy meals don’t necessarily take longer to prepare than unhealthy ones. Just revamp what you are currently doing to be healthier. For instance, if you often rely on frozen meals, then buy healthier frozen meals. Or if you rely on quick boxed meals, find healthier quick meals. Healthy alternatives do exist. (See this prior article for tips on eating healthy when you can’t cook.).
When short on time (or the motivation to cook), we often heat up leftovers for meals or eat snacks, but healthy snacks. Some healthy snack ideas: yogurt, cheese, jerky, fruit, boiled eggs, smoothies, nuts.
Have your kids eat healthy
As mentioned, some moms list the temptation of kids snacks as a setback to eating healthy. Why not have your kids eat healthy as well? If you are striving to clean up your diet, you should include your whole family’s diet. After all, it could only benefit them. Some people believe kids can run off any sugar or junk food that they eat. While true that kids can be more active than adults, today’s foods contain an increasingly larger amount of chemicals and other unhealthy substances than prior decades. Child obesity rates continue to increase over time, so clearly, kids cannot afford to eat without guidance.
I don’t keep typical kid snacks in my house such as cookies, crackers, and juice. By no means am I a food nazi with my kids, but do limit processed foods and added sugar. (See our prior article about the dangers of sugar.) I allow them to eat sugar from whole foods, such as fruits, or honey in plain yogurt, because these foods contain other healthy nutrients or minerals. Processed foods with added sugar, on the other hand, usually lacks nutritional value or contains other ingredients that are unhealthy. Although kids can be picky eaters, they will adapt to what is available at home. If your home lacks unhealthy options, then no one (including you!) can be tempted by them at home.
Ensure your diet is actually healthy
People have different notions of what “healthy” is. For instance, some people regard low-fat or fat-free products as healthy (See our prior article challenging that notion.), or that eating whole grains instead of refined vindicates carbohydrates (See our prior article about carbs.). But are you actually eating healthily? Remember, just because a product bears a healthy-sounding label such as “organic” or “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean that product is healthy. (See our past article about deceptive food labels.) Though eating unhealthy foods in moderation can keep ill-effects at bay, the more whole and unprocessed foods your family eats, the better. Seek foods in their whole, natural state (e.g. produce, uncured meat, cheese) and avoid packaged or processed foods (e.g. mac ‘n cheese, frozen lasagna, flavored yogurts). If a product contains more than basic ingredients (e.g. water, salt, eggs), then best to avoid it. Processed foods often contain unhealthy oils, additives, and added sugars. Also, avoid excessive consumption of refined or unrefined carbs, unless you are so physically active to require the extra energy.
Being a mom doesn’t have to mean keeping a “mom body” for life. Yes, devoting time to yourself is harder when you’re tending to others, so tweak things within your control. Diet is something you can control, and I cannot overemphasize how important diet is for weight loss or maintenance. Working out is secondary, but also contributes. In our next article (Part 2), we will discuss ways to try to stay physically active while being a busy mom, so stay tuned!