So you want to lose weight, get healthier, and set a good example for your kids. That’s fantastic! How do you balance eating right, getting enough exercise, and the demands of being a parent? Here’s how you can break it down and tackle it. There are three rules:
- Food: Plan ahead
- Exercise: Think small
- Parenting: Get the whole family involved
Time is the most precious commodity for parents. So when you make any change, you want to set yourself up for success -- break it into small goals. With small goals, you’re more likely to be able to make changes, stick with them, and build upon your successes.
With food, you have to eliminate the dilemma of making decisions on the fly. When we’re rushed and stressed, our decision-making abilities can suffer.
We’ve all been there: "Ack! Only 15 minutes before the kids have to be at soccer! ... Well, the kids have to eat. We only have time for a drive-through snack."
Outsmart your unhealthy habits. Make making a healthy decision easier, say experts.
Food: Plan Ahead
"Prepare a list of dinners during the week and shop ahead," says Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition. "If you plan ahead and make sure there's healthy food around, you're more likely to follow through."
Keep these tips in mind when you're making your grocery list:
Serve a salad before dinner. "It's good nutrition and cuts calories," Crandall says. Grab some prewashed bag or bin salads.
Keep healthy snacks around the house. It’s a lot harder to eat junk food like chips and cookies if they are not in your cupboard. Cut the temptation and stock up on healthy snacks instead.
- Keep carrot sticks to dip in cottage cheese spiced with herbs or Ranch flavor.
- Have half a sliced turkey and veggie sandwich on one slice of whole-grain bread.
- Make your own trail mix and put 1/4 servings in baggies to grab-n-go. You’ll need: nuts, whole-grain cereal, mini pretzels, and dried fruit. Or whip up some healthy snack bars with whole grains and fruit. These travel well, too.
Plan for your habits. If you tend to grab something at the drive-through when you're in a rush, try carrying healthier fast food.
Now’s the time for that trail mix or those snack bars to come to the rescue. Fruits and vegetables are also portable and fast. They’re fast and high-fiber, so they will fill you up longer than a lot of processed snacks like chips, says Crandall. When you get home from the store, wash veggies like snap peas or cherry tomatoes and pack them in to-go baggies. Have them instead of fries when you’re craving crunch to avoid unhealthy saturated fats.