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I never really watched what I ate before February 1st, which was 3 months ago. Now that I have kept a food log of my daily intake, I have come to realize that I was really eating quite mindlessly, and that has only gotten worse since becoming a mom. I can only speak for myself when it comes to bad eating habits but here are some that I think are specifically motherhood-related:
1. Eating too much to make up for the morning sickness during pregnancy
When I was in my first trimester, I was really sick. I was not one of those pregnant women who wore their pregnancies well. I was so sick with my first pregnancy I had to stay in bed from week 6 to week 12. My nausea was so bad I literally could not get out of bed without the room spinning and causing me to throw up. My doctor prescribed medicine for me but it did very little and only made me feel a little better for about an hour when it should have lasted 6-8 hours. The nausea was so bad, I couldn’t even stay in bed and read a book or magazine or watch TV. As a result, I lost 10 pounds during my first trimester and when I started to feel better, I was like a prisoner out of jail. I didn’t binge like crazy but I did indulge in my cravings. I ended up gaining the upper limit of what I was supposed to gain for the whole pregnancy (35lbs during my first pregnancy and 25 for my second one).
2. Letting my hormones determine my intake
Being pregnant and then breastfeeding caused me to be more hungry than before. I was way hungry when as a breastfeeding mother — I ate more than my husband! You are supposed to eat more, but only so much more. During pregnancy, you are only supposed to eat about 300 calories more a day. And if you are exclusively breastfeeding, it is estimated that you expend about 500 calories. While that amount is nothing to sneeze at (it can be a full meal), you are not actually supposed to eat 500 calories more while breastfeeding since your body is using up the fat stores it acquired while you are pregnant. My hormones threw my hunger caliber so out of whack, I am now just starting to reset it. Thank goodness it is possible and not too hard to do, but it is a process and it takes time!
3. Eating too fast
Studies show that eating fast is linked to obesity. Slowing it down once you have young children to tend to is tough, since you can’t really eat in peace. Eating too fast leads to eating too much, because the brain doesn’t have the time to let you know that you are satisfied, and you are not paying attention to your body anyway. Do I still eat too fast? Most definitely. The only time when I eat like I used to is when I am on my once a month date night with my husband. Other times, I am still eating way more fast than I like. This is why planning my eating and logging my intake is absolutely necessary.
4. Skipping meals
Raising young children is a real chore, and at times stressful. You find yourself lacking time to sleep, take a shower, take a bathroom break, or eat a decent meal. A lot of basic things go out the window. I don’t think I have gotten 7 hours of interrupted sleep since 2009. We do not have families nearby so it can be hard to have a well-prepared meal. It’s too easy to be so wrapped up with your children to skip a meal, and that is bad news because then you overeat or eat poorly once you do get a chance to stuff something down. In fact, if you are skipping meals you are contributing to weight gain. I used to skip the occasional meal when I have a crazy project for work to complete sometimes, but there is no way I can sustain this kind of bad behavior and still be OK as a mother. Parenting is a marathon and not a sprint.
5. Eating your picky toddler’s leftovers
Toddlers are notoriously picky and mercurial, and it is not uncommon for them to take 2 bites and then decide that they are done (it is definitely common with mine and I have read that it is normal). I knew that I don’t want to be the parent who forces my kids to clean their plates like it was imposed upon me (because of the starving children in Africa nonsense), but unwittingly, I find myself cleaning my toddler’s plate (see how insidious that stuff can be?!). I had to quit cleaning my own plate ten years ago and I didn’t even realize that it creeped back in! Once I started logging my eating I discovered that I needed to stop this. I needed that constant note to self: stop being my son’s garbage disposal! It might seem like it is just a little bit of food but it adds up! Just toss it. It is unlikely that even if you put it back in the fridge that your kid will like it for their next meal anyway. Give yourself that note over the dinner table, kitchen counter, or on the fridge if you have to.
6. Too much takeout or delivery
My husband and I don’t have family nearby, so as new parents, it was hard to cook a nice meal sometimes. When it was just the two of us, it was easy to eat a nice meal either way. We can eat calmly and leisurely, chew our food and have a nice conversation along the way. All that went out the window once we had the little ones. God knows when both of us were working sometimes you are just too damn tired at the end of the day to make dinner. You picked up the kid from daycare and the last thing you want to do is put the kid aside and make dinner, so why not save some time and order delivery while you have some quality time?
Well the problem is that takeouts and deliveries mean that you don’t control what goes into the food and you might be consuming way too many calories and not even know it. I recently read Eat This, Not That! 2012: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution (a very eye-opening read from the publishers of Men’s Health magazine) and saw, for example:
Chili’s Fajita Quesadillas Beef with Rice and Beans = 2,240 calores, 92 grams of fat (43.5 grams saturated), 6,390 mg sodium, 253 grams carbohydrates
Olive Garden’s Chicken & Shrimp Carbonera = 1,440 calories, 88 grams of fat (38 grams saturated), 3,000 mg sodium, 80 grams carbohydrates
The most important thing I did as a mother since I became a homemaker was to educate myself about food and what I have learned is going toward cooking. It’s not exactly easy to be cooking with two little ones, so it takes some amount of planning, With some practice, even the more involved recipes can be done. It does get easier… and it is so worth it. I find it more stressful to eat out or eat takeout/delivery than to eat what I cook at home now anyday.
There are probably more bad habits out there but those are the major ones for me. What are the bad eating habits that you have picked up?