It’s 4am. And what do I decide to do? Write a blog post with nutrition advice for sleep deprived parents. Makes sense right?! That’s the funny thing about parenthood. When you CAN and SHOULD sleep, you’ll find yourself wide awake and productive. Anyhow, what makes me an expert on this subject? For starters, I’m a registered dietitian, a nutrition expert. I’m also the mother of a 10 week old and 17 month old. Therefore, I’m sleep deprived.
Google sleep and nutrition and the results are alarming: there’s a clear link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Why? When you are tired your body tends to naturally want unhealthy options. Plus, when you are tired and not in the mood to cook, there’s the temptation for FAST food. Fast food can be healthy, but a large fries and diet soda doesn’t cut it— even though it tastes so good! So, what’s a Mom to do when she wants to lose the baby weight but is plagued with limited time for exercise, healthy eating, and most importantly, SLEEP!
Get back to basics. Listen here Pinterest Moms [yes, I’m talking to myself here], now’s NOT the time to try making homemade crackers and cookie cutter sandwiches with roasted almond pesto hummus spread. Stock your kitchen with necessities, print 7-10 recipes that have less than 5 ingredients and take less than 30 minutes to make, and be OK with using some store-bought “helpers,” such as marinara sauce, pre-washed and cut fruits and veggies, and marinated meats. If you have the energy to cook, consider making meals that require minimal cleanup. I’ve referenced this healthy one pot meal round-up from my friend Meagan at A Zesty Bite plenty o’ times to fulfill my fix to cook and requirement for easy cleanup.
Have plenty of healthy snacks on-hand. When your little one is a cat napping, fussy nighttime sweetheart like mine, you never know what time you will get to bed OR when you will actually eat a full meal. But that’s no excuse for ordering greasy delivery- you’ll just have to heat it back up! Have some snacks on hand that you can easily eat while holding a baby, or fingers crossed, before drifting off to sleep. This list of energizing snacks serves a dual purpose: they are delicious and energizing!
Take free food. Ok that came out wrong. But remember it’s 4am and I’m not worried about speaking eloquently. When family and friends ask if there’s anything they can do, ask them to make you a meal. “What do you feel like eating?” “Anything that can last a few days in my fridge.” Suggest a hearty soup or chili, or lasagna with extra veggies. While a green leafy salad is nice [in theory], you need something that will stretch for a few days and freeze well. If your friend is stopping by for a visit and can hold the baby while you eat, then ok, go for the salad! Otherwise, I think chili is a great alternative: you can add spinach or kale [hey hey leafy greens], you can make it vegetarian or meaty, and duh, it freezes and reheats SO well! Not a chili fan? Consider bringing a new parent this simple Italian Beef Tortellini Soup or Roasted Garlic Chicken Noodle Soup. Both reheat VERY well! Hint hint friends…
Cut yourself some slack. While I’d love to be at my pre-baby weight as soon as possible, I remind myself it took 9 months to put on the baby weight so what’s the rush in getting it off?! Ha! It’s easier to type that than to actually believe it… but really, if you have that day or night with greasy delivery, it’s OK. The first few weeks or months with a newborn are all about survival. Your priority should be taking care of baby + you, and adjusting to life together. Then get some sleep. Then workout. So baby, sleep, workout, in that order! If you don’t the time or energy for a workout, at least try to get some fresh air. Pass the hot potato [aka baby] and get outside for some alone time and fresh air. I’ve done this in below zero temps and it’s woken me instantly!
When all else fails, remember this [parenthood] is a season in time. Your life will never be the same as it is this very instant. Your baby will outgrow his or her fussiness, and eventually get on a sleep routine. And if not, you’ll learn what works for you [extra help, quiet time for baby in his crib, etc.] so you can get that workout in, prep some fruits and vegetables for snacking, or take a 15-20 minute cat nap.Get some zzzz's and eat well with simple nutrition advice for new parents! Click To Tweet