I went grocery shopping yesterday, and as I was leaving the store I saw another mom doing the grocery store juggle. She had an infant on one hip and a toddler in a race car cart. She was trying to lift the infant carrier out of the cart and into the car, but it kept getting stuck on the side of the cart. The baby was getting agitated and the toddler was demanding a snack “right now!” It was a struggle.
“Need some help?” I said. But she replied, “Nope, I got it, but thanks!”
And yep, like any mom can, she miraculously unlocked the car seat from the race car cart with one hand and deftly swung both car seat and baby into the car within a split second. Strong Mommas status, right there.
But as I was driving away, a thought came into my mind:
There is no way this mom of two little ones has the mental energy to eat a perfectly healthy diet.
Most likely, she was going to scramble home, throw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich together for her toddler, feed the baby, and then put the groceries away, hoping that nothing spoiled. Her lunch? The discarded crust from that pb&j.
The last thing overwhelmed moms need is a diet with restrictions and strict rules. That's so defeating.
But I guarantee that moms do want to eat healthier and choose better foods so they feel better and look better in their clothes. So how do we go about it so that nutritious eating isn’t just one more burden?
Here are four easy guidelines for healthy eating that even completely overwhelmed moms can still do:
1. Eat like a woman, not like a toddler. You need to first set the mental stage for eating like a grown up. You are worth far more than pb&j crusts and leftover Dino bites.
This doesn’t mean you need to create a fancy affair with every meal, but it does mean that your meals may need to be different than they currently are. Get your mind in the game that you’re going to take the extra small steps necessary to feed your body well…and not like a toddler.
2. Do your best to not skip meals. You don’t get any “extra calorie credit” if you skip a meal, trust me. It just sabotages your metabolism and makes you more likely to be nutrient deficient. When we miss a meal, we miss out on an opportunity to get good, important nutrients into our bodies.
If it’s a mealtime, you MUST eat! On the rare occasion that you miss a meal (cause…life), then make a point to eat more food at the next meal to make up for any missed nutrients.
3. Use “Eat Your Pro’s” as your guide for choosing food. When you do encounter a meal, you need a basic guideline for what to put on your plate. Instead of haphazardly throwing food together that you “think” might be healthy, or will at least just fill your stomach, always choose a PROtein source and some fresh PROduce.
This could be as simple as a couple hard boiled eggs (for the protein) and a whole apple (for the produce). Or my all-time favorite lunch is half of a bagged salad (fresh produce) with some diced rotisserie chicken from the deli (for the protein). Don’t worry about carbs or fats or anything else right now…just get a bunch of protein and as much fresh produce on your plate as possible!
4. Limit your choices to reduce decision fatigue. The worst feeling is arriving at lunch or dinner time and having no idea what to make. You suddenly have to pull a rabbit out of a hat, and it’s just too much! I get it. (Usually in this moment, the kids are already pelting you with “what’s for dinner” questions. Nightmare.)
Instead, do this: take out a piece of paper and jot down 3 breakfast ideas, 3 lunch ideas, 3 snack ideas, and a minimum of 7 dinner ideas. Each of these meal ideas should be grown up food and include PROtein and PROduce. Don’t pick fancy things…make them familiar and doable.
Here’s what this might look like in real life:
Tell me that’s doable, right?
Even if you’re completely overwhelmed with littles or any of life’s other burdens, you should still have a simple way to eat well and nourish your body. Don’t make it complicated, don’t let it add extra stress, and get a clear game plan in pace.
Would it be easier if I did all the work for you? I've put together four full weeks of meals that are easy and healthy. They use Strong Mommas recipes, or none at all because they're so simple. Click here to download Four Weeks of Meal Plans for the Real World Mom for FREE! Print out these beautiful weekly meal planners and put them on your fridge. **BONUS! They come with grocery lists to make it crazy simple!!**
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