Once you become a mom, it's so easy to spend more of your time worrying about your child's health than your own. You worry about your children's nutrition, sleep, emotional development, social development, and every aspect of their health and well-being.
Meanwhile, you neglect to prioritize self-care because you're so busy. With all the demands, it's easy to develop bad habits—especially dietary ones.
So, how can you break these bad habits and prioritize your own nutrition? Sally Kuzemchak, a registered dietitian, writer and creator of Real Mom Nutrition, provides some tips for escaping these six common pitfalls:
Pitfall 1: Preparing the kids' healthy breakfasts but forgetting to eat your own.
How to beat it: Kuzemchak recommends smoothies. Before you think that's too complicated, look to her Make-Ahead Green Smoothie Packets that you can freeze and then pop into the blender. Another idea is overnight oats—combine milk, yogurt and oats in a jar and refrigerate the mixture overnight. In the morning, you can add your favorite toppings. "It's a really nice way to eat oatmeal in the warm-weather months and fix it ahead of time so you're not rushed in the morning," Kuzemchak says.
Pitfall 2: Stressing out about your diet and post-baby body when you're in survival mode with a brand new baby.
How to beat it: Lose the guilt, Kuzemchak recommends. "Remember that this situation is temporary and that you have plenty of time to get back on track, cook from-scratch meals and get all your fruit and vegetable servings—when life calms down," she says. And don't forget to ask for help. Moms need support and care, too, so let friends or family bring some healthy home-cooked meals or takeout for you.
Pitfall 3: Turning to emotional eating when you're at your limit.
How to beat it: That stash of cookies and chocolate can be a major pitfall. "Setting up your environment to support the healthy choices you want to make is important," Kuzemchak says. Of course, everyone turns to emotional eating sometimes. But if you're trying to lose baby weight or don't like how you feel after you go on a mini-binge, then toss the tempting treats. Or put them in a less convenient place. Replace them with some of your favorite, healthier foods like prewashed and precut fruit and vegetables. Kuzemchak says she avoids late-night emotional eating by brushing and flossing with her kids!
Pitfall 4: Eating all of your little kid's leftovers.
How to beat it: Unless your planned meal is your child's leftovers (hope not!), this is a habit you should really try to break. Eating leftovers is mindless eating because you're probably not hungry and you're probably not considering it a meal. It's just added calories! "Take all of the scraps you would have eaten and put them into a bowl on your counter," Kuzemchak suggests. "At the end of the day, when you see the bowl, it's extremely powerful and motivating." In fact, one of Kuzemchak's clients lost 10 pounds by breaking this habit!
Pitfall 5: Bingeing on a large meal because you've skipped meals.
How to beat it: Make some small additions to your meals or snacks throughout the day—especially protein and fiber—so that you're more satiated. The longer you're satisfied, the less likely you'll be to binge-eat. Kuzemchak recommends adding flaxseed or chia seeds to your smoothies, chopped nuts to cereal, protein-rich tuna or quinoa on salads.
Pitfall 6: Eating kid-friendly dinners to satisfy your kids.
How to beat it: If your child is a picky eater who only likes pasta or certain vegetables, it can get frustrating for the whole family to eat together. You might find yourself eating pasta more than you want. If trying some new, kid-friendly healthier meals doesn't work, then try meals that can be deconstructed. For example, if it's Mexican night, put food out as a taco bar so everyone can choose what they want. Mom can eat a taco salad while kids eat a traditional taco with their favorite toppings. If you made soup, maybe the kids prefer to eat meat and veggies on the side of a bowl of broth. "Don't be afraid of serving just one healthy meal," Kuzemchak says. "Just make sure there is at least something on the table your child likes, even if it's just fruit or a favorite side dish."
Not every day will be a perfect diet day. But if you can start to avoid some of these pitfalls, you can start to prioritize your nutrition and overall health, too.