7 tips for parents who aim to stay fit while raising kids
After spending so much time and energy on their kids, many parents feel there is little time leftover to take care of themselves.
A study published online April 11 in the journal Pediatrics found that mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women. Dads and moms in the study were also less active than their peers without kids.
For some quick and easy tips, we sought the advice of two MultiCare experts who are also familiar with the challenges of staying fit while chasing children.
Claire Kjeld is a registered dietitian with the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living and the mother of a 15-month-old girl. Taryn West is wellness coordinator for MultiCare’s [email protected] program and the proud aunt of five kids.
They offered these seven tips for eating right and staying active:
1. Go for a power walk. Grab the stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood or nearby park. If the weather is unpleasant, go to the mall and walk with the stroller indoors.
2. Preparing healthy meals is difficult without children. When you add kids in to the mix, getting dinner on the table is even more challenging. Make family meals a priority. If you know your time will be stretched at the end of the day, plan to cook more on the weekends, days you have more time, or after the kids go to bed, so that you will have leftovers available on your busier days.
3. Use your child’s playtime for your exercise time. Instead of sitting on the bench watching your child play at the park, get up and get moving. Running around with your child can help you fit in some extra activity into your day.
4. Create a home gym. Invest in some dumbbells and exercise DVDs. Get in a workout when your child is taking a nap or playing at home. Remember, if you can’t devote a full 30 minutes to exercise then break up your activity into 10 minute increments throughout the day.
5. Find other parents to exercise with. Sometimes we need that extra motivation to get us going. If you stay at home with your child, most likely there are other stay-at-home parents who are looking to exercise as well.
6. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Create a weekly dinner meal plan, including entrées and sides to balance your meals. Create a grocery list, consisting of ingredients needed for dinners, and standard items needed for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Aim to base meals and snacks around whole food choices; ones that can be easily categorized as a member of one of the food groups (grains, fruit, vegetables, milk, meat/beans). If you’re unsure if a food fits into a food group, it likely doesn’t. When planning meals, aim for at least 3 foods groups to be represented.
7. Keep “sometimes foods” to a minimum in your household. These include foods that don’t easily fall in to a food group. Examples are snack crackers, cookies, desserts, chips, pop, Pop Tarts, and sugary cereals. Stock your cupboards and fridge with healthy foods including fruit, vegetables, low fat milk and yogurt, whole grains, lean meats and beans.
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