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 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 flavour.
- Have half a sliced turkey and veggie sandwich on one slice of whole-grain bread.
- Make your 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-fibre, 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.
Make family favourites healthier. At the store, look for lean meat. When buying ground beef, look for more than 93% lean. Brown that for your spaghetti sauce and serve it on whole-wheat pasta. There are lots of ways to slim down family favourites.
Have some non-dinner dinners. Do your children have a late practise or rehearsal? Plan quick dinners for those days, like a wrap, salad, or meatless burrito with beans, a whole wheat tortilla, and low-fat cheese. Or let lean chilli or soup simmer during the day in a slow cooker, so it will be ready when you come home. “You don’t have to always eat dinner food for dinner,” Crandall says. “An omelette with bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, and low-fat cheese and whole-wheat toast is a healthy quick fix.”
Make meals your kids can help with. Whether they’re setting the table, dicing vegetables for dinner, or helping you make snack bars or trail mix, kids can share the workload. And they’ll be more interested in eating foods they help prepare. When you get the whole family involved in your new healthy eating habits, you’re benefiting their fitness, too.
Exercise: Think Small
“Finding time to exercise is one of the biggest challenges for parents,” says Kerri Boutelle PhD, professor of paediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Remember: There are small things you can incorporate in your day and get your kids involved. Help them learn that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Moving and being active should be a normal, fun part of life. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can break it up into manageable chunks, like taking a 10-minute walk on your lunch break detoxic απάτη. Other ways to get exercise into your life:
- Drive your kids halfway to school and walk with them the rest of the way.
- Set an alarm on your cell phone to go off a few times during the day. When it does, go for a 10-minute walk.
- If you work in an office, sit on an exercise ball or use a stand-up desk. You’ll burn more calories than sitting in a chair.
- March in place when you watch TV.
“Exercise should be a family affair,” Crandall says. “If your family supports you and joins in, it helps you stay on track.” For example, after dinner, have everyone head out the door for an after-dinner walk before it gets dark. The dishes can wait. Turn the time that you spend watching TV in a game. Challenge everyone to get up and do jumping jacks during the commercials. Family activities — like hula hoop contests, creating a garden, or bowling nights — also keep kids involved.