The Diet of a Busy Parent

I am rolling out of this season, back into reality. It has been a cheeseburger & chardonnay kind of a summer, and it is now time to reign it in and lose the extra five pounds I put on, affectionately referred to as my fun bloat. Doesn’t that sound so much better than fat? B.C. (before children), I could will away a few extra pounds just by putting my mind to it. Now, not only is my 40 year old metabolism sluggish and generally hung over, I am dealing with too many schedules, too many chicken nuggets and not enough salad. The summer is a hard time to lose weight because it is so social. The fall is a hard time because it is so busy. Seems there is no good time to be on a diet, but this fun bloat is really starting to get to me.

Here are five reminders to help you take control and avoid succumbing to the diet of a busy parent:

1. Waste food. I know, I know, people are starving. Send them some money. They are not going to be helped by you finishing off all the macaroni and cheese on your kids’ plates. Don’t let it sit there. Make your kids scrape it right into the garbage. Parents can end up ┬álike hungry dogs, picking at scraps. SCRAPE THE SCRAPS.

2. Eat each meal only once. If you are going to grab some breakfast at work, then do not eat with your kids in the morning. If you are waiting for your partner to eat, or waiting for some of the kids to get home, then wait for the right time and eat dinner just once.

3. It is O.K. to skip a meal. Despite our national focus on three squares a day, you will not lose consciousness if you are hungry for a few hours. Here’s the trap. You missed lunch because you were too busy at work or with the kids. You come home, gorge yourself on any snack food you can find in the pantry, and then eat a full dinner. Or, suddenly, it is 9pm and dinner just didn’t happen. Punish yourself and go to bed hungry. Do not go for the leftover Chinese food in the back of the fridge. You will survive.

4. Focus on the good stuff, not on the deprivation. Make yourself eat at least 4 servings of fruits or vegetables each day. Don’t wing it. Plan it in advance, and keep produce on hand, for yourself and your kids. Substitute starchy foods with veggies. Choose whole grains when possible. More good stuff simply means less room for the bad stuff.

5. Hydrate … with water. It is easy to forget to drink during the day when you are running around like a headless chicken. Thirst is often confused with hunger. Stay consistently hydrated by keeping a bottle of water with you at all times. This may be hard, if like me, pregnancy has reduced your bladder to the size of a peach pit. On the days, you are too busy to spend countless hours looking for a bathroom, at least, drink a glass of water before going for a snack. Check out these tips for increasing your water consumption. As a bonus, drinking more water is great for your skin.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.