Parents face extra challenges when it comes to losing weight, but they also have an additional incentive. Eating healthy keeps you in shape as well as setting a good example for your kids.
If you suspect that having a family contributed to your weight gain, you’re probably right. Studies have found that parents put on significantly more pounds over a lifetime than those without children. They speculate that this is due to the physical effects of pregnancy and lifestyle changes like having less time to exercise.
Of course, the influence works both ways as your children will model what you do. Lead by example with these tips for healthy eating and regular exercise.
Healthy Eating Tips for Parents
1. Lose weight before pregnancy. While your doctor can advise you about your individual needs, 25 to 30 pounds is a reasonable estimate for how much weight you can expect to gain during pregnancy if you start out at a healthy weight. Taking off any excess pounds in advance can increase your chances for a healthy baby and a smoother recovery.
2. Watch your language. Teens are more likely to lose weight and avoid eating disorders when parents talk about healthy eating rather than dieting and being overweight. Encouraging a positive body image is good for both of you.
3. Involve your kids. Kids of all ages can learn by participating in family decisions, and they’ll be more likely to support changes that they had a hand in making. Collaborate on menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.
4. Schedule family dinners. There’s something magical about eating as a family. In addition to promoting a balanced diet, kids tend to do better in school and develop greater self-esteem.
5. Focus on whole foods. Replacing processed foods with natural whole foods is one of the most effective changes you can make. You’ll be on your way to eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting down on sugar, and consuming more fiber and nutrients.
6. Simplify your menu. Balanced meals can be fast food. Prepare chili and soups to heat up later in the week. Pack a cooler with cut vegetables and yogurt for healthy snacks in your car. Serve wraps or an omelet for dinner.
7. Study nutrition. If you’re eager to learn more, there are plenty of reliable sources. Check government and university websites or consult a registered dietician.
Exercise Tips for Parents
1. Move around more. An active lifestyle includes more than formal exercise. Take advantage of any opportunity to burn more calories. Climb stairs instead of riding the elevator.
2. Spread it out. If it’s difficult to block out 30 minutes for a workout, break it up into 10-minute segments. You could do some yoga or Pilates in the morning, at lunch, and before bed.
3. Speed it up. Exercising smarter gives you the same results in less time. Full body movements will condition your arms and legs in half the time you’d spend working on them separately.
4. Work out together. You and your kids can share encouragement and support. Buy a family gym membership at a facility that caters to all ages. Plan vacations around mountain climbing or skiing.
5. Play around. Exercise is better when it’s fun. Play volleyball with your kids. Head to the park and take turns tossing a Frisbee to your dog.
6. Bring it home. For busy weeks with no room for commuting to a gym, keep some gear around the house. Jump rope or install a treadmill in your den.
Advance planning and teamwork can help you juggle the demands of parenthood while you maintain a healthy weight. You’ll have more energy for keeping up with your kids while you teach them positive habits they can pass on to their own children.