toofab contributor and nutrition expert Heather Bauer shares her healthy eating tips for moms and their families. The registered dietician is the founder of Bestowed.com, a subscription service that offers consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop and learn about the best nutrition and lifestyle products on the market. She also founded Nu-Train, a diet and nutrition counseling center whose clients have included numerous celebrities.
As a mother of three, I know all too well the struggles that busy mothers face when it comes to our own health. It's easy to place all of our attention on our children, and as a result we neglect our own nutritional needs. Skipping breakfast, having two dinners, snacking while packing lunches … sound familiar? Luckily, with the following five simple tips, I have developed an ideal formula to get busy moms back in tune with their own health needs.
1. Get the right start to your day
Mornings can be scattered and hectic. You can barely coerce your kids to finish their food, let alone enjoy a meal for yourself. Or, if you're able to eat at the kids' table, you may end up having the mischievous Breakfast #2 at the office or once the kids are off to school.
To avoid these challenges, create a plan for yourself. Mothers who spend mornings at the breakfast table with their can enjoy a small bowl of fresh berries along with coffee or tea. Then, save your actual breakfast for your commute to work or once the kids have left. Something easy and portable is best, such as a breakfast bar that is high in fiber and protein. KIND Nuts & Spices Vanilla Almond Bar, with 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 4 grams of sugar, is your best friend. Pair it with an 80-calorie Greek yogurt for a complete and enjoyable breakfast.
Another quick and easy idea is to throw a handful of organic blueberries in a baggie, mix it with a serving of gluten-free KIND Healthy Grain Clusters (be sure to measure!), and use that to top off your Greek yogurt once you're at the office. A third option that takes away unnecessary morning stress is hard-boiled eggs. To really prep, make a few at a time as you get the kids ready, as they keep for up to three days. Pair your egg with a few fiber crackers and piece of fruit, and you're good to go.
2. Control the afternoon snack attack
Once your kids get home in the afternoon, its practically protocol that they have a snack. So naturally, mom snack with them to catch up on the day. It's important that this afternoon snack be kept finite and controlled. We want to avoid the mindless hand-in-bag syndrome! In this case, a KIND Bar filled with protein and fiber is ideal, or two fiber crackers with 2 light cheese wedges. An apple with a single serve 80-calorie packet of almond butter will also do the trick.
3. Solve the dinnertime dilemma
Come dinnertime, the "Devil Dinner" issue arises: are you just feeding the kids their dinner, or are you eating as a family? Often young children eat before 6pm, and mothers want to eat with their partner, which may not be until 8:30 or 9pm. If you try to eat with your little ones and then sit with your spouse, you may accidentally end up eating a second dinner. In this situation, you should ask yourself, "If I eat with the kids now, can I really sit here later on and not eat?"
If you have that discipline, great! Eat early. If not, prepare for what's coming. It's okay to say to your kids, "I'm waiting for mommy/daddy to come home." Or, have a small bowl of cut-up raw veggies with no accompaniments (guacamole, hummus, dressing) for they draw you into keep eating.
Then later on, when the kids are asleep, sit down and have an enjoyable, balanced dinner with protein and healthy fats. Amy's Frozen Organic Meals, which are low in sodium and calories, are a great option; I love to serve them over steamed vegetables for a filling and nutritious meal.
4. Beat the snacking while packing problem
It's 9pm. Your kids are asleep, you're tired, possibly even a little stressed, and its time to pack tomorrow's lunches. The temptation is there to start snacking. When those night hungers strike, avoid an over-indulgent snack session. Have something small like frozen Greek yogurt. This is a great option because it takes some time to eat, making it somewhat of a project. There's no mindless snacking involved. Something else to have on hand is sliced turkey; it's a great source of protein, and definitely not something you have trouble putting down.
5. Dealing with dehydration
Amid all the carpooling, food prepping, and million other things we get done in 24 hours, most moms do not drink enough water. Hydration is absolutely vital for our health, brain function, hunger levels, and skin. Dehydration can lead to snacking, bloating, constipation, and water retention ... no thank you! The best tip for getting your water in is to work on it all day long. Aim to drink one full liter by lunchtime and a second liter after lunch. If you start your day with this much H20, you'll set yourself up for a super-energized day with less hunger and more focus. For you coffee drinkers, intersperse your cup of joe with water, so that you don't fill up and skip breakfast as a result.
-- Heather Bauer, RD
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