The Easter Holidays are upon us so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and advice for busy parents. As women we’re often guilty of putting everyone’s needs above our own and I’ve seen many who would probably confess to the dog’s nutritional needs coming higher than their own in the priority list!
You may be looking to manage your weight more successfully, improve symptoms of an unhappy gut, account for a change in menstruation or just generally feel more energised in your day to day life. You may also feel you are officially ‘turning into your mother’ and are perhaps looking to what health problems she has incurred and how you can best prevent them. The right nutrition has a huge role to play in our well-being, performance and resilience in life whether our goal is to get the kids out of the house in one piece or to complete a triathlon.
Things that we may have done or ‘got away with’ in the earlier decades no longer seem as forgiving on our bodies. Strategies we used to make our nutrition work for us back then, now seem unachievable with all the balls we juggle. Habits form part of who we are – and changing them can be hard.
I always find it quite poignant to remember that children learn through modelling. But we are not perfect and we’re not supposed to be. This is what I tell myself when my three year old finds me with my head in the back of the cupboard and asks me what I’m eating. I once replied spinach – (I completely panicked!) To which he replied ‘But I can smell chocolate…’
So, I thought I’d share some common themes in the people I see and what has worked for them…
May I stress I am not just talking about weight management – eating right isn’t just about the influence it has on our dress size. 25% of those within the healthy weight range will have some sort of nutritional deficiency… and this will impact on us in all sorts of ways.
We always tend to prepare snacks for our family but not for ourselves.
If we could somehow become more proactive and less reactive about our own food choices we would be so much better off. Snacking is not bad particularly if there are big gaps between meals. We are more likely to snack on the healthy stuff if it’s right under our nose. Put the fruit bowl near the front door and always take some for yourself as well as the children.
3-5pm gets us every day!
Whether you’re heading to pick-up or trying to get through the last few hours at your desk, around 3-4pm is known as the witching hour. Snacking at this time is often very emotionally driven and not very nutritious and a recent survey reported 35% of us would find it easier to give us sex than snacks! It lacks planning and can cruise on through until 5pm when we’re feeding the family or facing the dreaded commute home. This not only contributes more calories than perhaps we needed but it is an opportunity missed to fire in some micronutrients which support our bodies and help us thrive.
Give permission for a pit stop and enjoy it! March into the office with your planned snacks held high and be proud of the fact you are proactively helping to avoid an unpredictable evening. Put protein and carbs together for the perfect balance – edamame beans, oatcakes and peanut butter, popcorn and a Babybel, a pulse and grain bar such as Perkier or a higher protein yogurt such as Skyr.
Same goes for kiddie tea time. If you’re not eating with them don’t make do with the scraps off their plates or the pan. Serve yourself a small bowl – sit down and allow your brain to register you’re eating it. Mindful eating will ultimately support a healthier diet, compared to grazing and picking continuously.
In the case of weight management, we let the scale influence our eating habits rather than the other way around.
Judging progress by the number on a scale is like judging an iceberg from the size of its tip. Body composition is so much more complex. Vast changes to diet often synonymous with diet programmes promising quick results, represent shifts in water and muscle and fail to equal the burning of body fat stores. Sustainable calorie deficits, not excluding food groups, with sufficient fuel to supply muscles both before and after exercise, will yield the best results. The scale also doesn’t record that pizza you had for tea with as much immediacy as you’d think, nor does it burn fat stores neatly in 7 day blocks ready for weigh- in day. Read weight management and nutrients – what you need to know for more detail.
We crave the headspace that comes from adult only time and this frequently is associated with alcohol or high calorie food aka ‘I deserve this phenomenon’
That precious time when your chores are done and you can ‘relax’ hopefully is often accompanied with food or alcohol. Complete denial of these essential parental coping strategies will not pave the way for success. But having some hold over quantity will. Drinking out of tall thin glasses, rather than large fat ones will reduce intakes, as well putting snacks into small bowls and squirreling the rest away in an opaque container at the top of the cupboard. And you know that bit when you really need to go to bed but you don’t have the energy to move, and your facebook feed suddenly becomes the most important thing you need to do in that moment. Well, it isn’t. Just go to bed. Lack of sleep robs your body of energy, stress hormones go up, your gut plays up as it plays second fiddle to your brains demands for fuel, and hormones needed for a healthy metabolism are secreted mainly when we sleep. So go on, go to bed…
If you think you’d benefit from some tailored advice and a session devoted to you, then please get in touch. I’d be happy to help.
Photo taken by the fabulous Rebecca Challis Photography – doughnut for photographic purposes only naturally!