Like many of you, I'm a very busy mom. I have three energetic kids whom I taxi around to play dates and activities, I work full time for my own nutrition consulting firm, and let's not forget my darling husband who needs my attention, too. So when it comes eating balanced and nutritious meals, I need to make sure I don't put my health and well-being on the back burner. And neither should you.
Many of my clients and friends toss good eating habits out the window because they believe healthy eating can't be achieved while running a hectic lifestyle. Not true. Eating healthfully during your childbearing years is imperative—it helps decrease the risk of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.
If you're looking to have more kiddos running around, you also need to keep your nutritional status in tip-top shape. You need healthy stores of folate to prevent neural tube disorder in your fetus while pregnant and calcium for healthy bones and teeth. As iron-deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, getting enough of the mineral is especially important if you're pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or just need to keep your energy levels up to keep up with your family (one of the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia is fatigue).
Letting healthy eating habits slide because you feel you're too busy isn't an excuse, but rather a recipe for disaster. Here are several mistakes mom's make that can pack on the pounds. Luckily, it's not too late to take action.
Mistake 1. Noshing and Nibbling
It's just too easy to grab a handful of crackers or finish up your kids' leftover chicken nuggets. Those small bites throughout the day can add up to massive calorie overload (up to 1,000 calories or more each day) especially if you're nibbling from several of your little ones' plates.
My advice: Get your own food! Make yourself a healthy meal or snack that'll give you the nutrients and energy you need to get through the day. If you need to keep your mouth busy while your kids are eating, sip a hot cup of tea or chew on sugarless gum.
Mistake 2. Dying for Drive-Thru
Do you go long periods of time without eating and end up at the drive-thru window? Burgers, fries, donuts, milkshakes, and fried sandwiches just don't cut it. Convenience doesn't have to trump your health.
My advice: Pre-planning can be a life saver! Locate healthy meal options in your area—there are apps that help you do it in a jiffy. If you know you'll be out and about for a long period of time (more than four to five hours), pack healthy snacks and even a quick PB&J on 100 percent whole-wheat bread.
Mistake 3. Skimping on Shut-Eye
A little extra sleep can make all the difference in the world. When you're overtired, you become irritable and slack on your healthy food choices. If you're the type of person who must stay up late to watch your TV shows or catch up on celebrity gossip (yes, I'm an E! fanatic), it may be time to call it quits (or at least DVR it).
My advice: It's important to get at least six to eight hours of shut-eye when possible. The celebrity gossip and other must-do tasks will still be there in the morning.
Mistake 4. Eating While Stressed
Kids got you wound up so tight that you've turned to stress eating? Or do you feel you "deserve" to unwind with a huge bowl of ice cream? We've all been there, but that's not a healthy way to let off steam. You'll only end up feeling guilty for overindulging and packing on unwanted pounds.
My advice: Turn to other means to decompress. Choose methods that don't relate to food such as exercise (try that new Zumba class), mani-pedi, or bubble bath. You can also approach your significant other with an indecent proposal—I'm sure he'll be happy to oblige.
Let's chat: How do you make healthy choices when you're busy?
Toby Amidor , MS, RD, CDN, is the owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition and consults and blogs for various organizations including FoodNetwork.com's Healthy Eats Blog and Sears' FitStudio.