Eating Healthy Post-Baby
Let’s be honest. Eating healthy hasn’t always been my strong suit. Luckily I have always LOVED to workout, so haven’t had to worry too much about watching what I eat. But then this happened.
and now my life is COMPLETELY different in more ways than I can count. My body shape is different, my free time has transformed into “Hadley time”, and my fitness level is nowhere near where it used to be. But guess what? I got this adorable little baby to show for it. And honestly, I would trade just about anything for my sweet Haddie girl.
So now that things have settled down a bit around here, and I have gotten better adjusted to motherhood, I decided it was time to take it to the next level. To stop justifying eating any and everything I wanted just because I was breastfeeding. To begin putting more nutritious things in my body and to start setting a good example for my daughter. If you read my previous blog post, you will see that eating really “good” food was one of my resolutions. I don’t just have myself to feed, but my baby too! She relies on ME to feed her well and also will look to me as a role model when it comes to health.
Life with a baby makes things that used to be easy MUCH more difficult. Some days I cant make it to the grocery store because Hadley is having a REALLY bad day, and some nights both the kids have overlapping soccer practice making a sit down family dinner together impossible. Evenings are also Hadley’s fussiest and neediest time of day where she wants to be held and fed constantly. With so many factors working against me making my family a healthy dinner, how do I manage to feed my family of 5 nutritious meals?
Here are 6 steps to ensure you success in eating healthy EVEN with a baby:
1) Plan meals:
Every Sunday, I take 15 minutes to plan our meals for the week. This way, I don’t have to worry about what to make in a rush when the kids have soccer and basketball in the evenings. I then make a grocery list and hit up the store Monday morning with Hadley before nap-time.
Quick Tip: When you are at the grocery store, pick up a few bags of frozen veggies and some frozen chicken breasts. That way you can never use the excuse “we don’t have anything healthy” when you didn’t have a chance to make it to the grocery store that week. When that happens for me, I grab some frozen chicken, and frozen veggies and make stir fry! NO EXCUSES!
2) Prep ahead of time:
Evenings are the hardest time of day in our house because it’s when Hadley is the fussiest. So instead of waiting until 5 or 6 to start cooking dinner, I use 20-30 minutes of her nap-time for prepping. For instance, if I’m making chicken and black bean enchiladas (recipe below) with a salad on the side, I make the enchiladas in a casserole dish, cover them and put them in the fridge . That way, when dinner time rolls around, and Hadley is demanding my attention, all I have to do throw the enchiladas in the oven, add dressing and voila!
On nights where both the kids have events going on and we can’t eat dinner together, I make each of our dinners in tupperware and put them in the fridge. That way, each person can heat them up around there schedule. As much as I LOVE all sitting down together, some night we just can’t. This way at least I can ensure that my family is getting a healthy meal.
Pictured below is a very simple chicken stir fry
3) Make easy swaps:
I was shocked when I realized how easy it was to improve my diet with just a few easy changes.
Here are some the easiest changes I have made that have immensely improved my fiber and whole grain intake, lowered my sugar consumption, and increased the amount of veggies I am eating each day.
-Using Sandwich Thins in place of white breads
-Buying lower sugar yogurts (swapping Yoplait Greek 100 for Activia Greek saved me 10 grams of sugar!)
-Having two vegetables with dinner instead of having bread, rice or potatoes. For example we might have turkey burgers on Sandwich Thins with spinach salad AND steamed asparagus on the side.
4) Organize your fridge and pantry:
Keep healthy snacks visible and unhealthy ones out of reach. This has worked WONDERS for me. When I am hungry, I feel like I can’t put food in my mouth fast enough, causing me to reach for a granola bar or the bag of pita chips. But with a little oranization, I made the healthy stuff MORE accessible than the unhealthy things.
Here is what the inside of my fridge looks like now. I got these storage bins for a dollar each and use them to keep food accessible and organized. I know veggies and fruit are supposed to go in the crisper drawer but guess what happens when I put them there? They get forgotten about! So now, I keep a few healthy snacks at eye level such as Greek yogurts, celery, baby carrots, and deli turkey. When I am hungry I am more likely to grab a few carrots and a yogurt than I would have been before.
I also keep the stash of sweets on the very top shelf of our pantry. Out of sight, out of mind. You will be surprised by how much making something less accessible, makes you SO much more unlikely to eat it!
5) Keep it simple:
Unless you are having some very important company over for dinner, nobody cares if meals are fancy. Some of my favorite meals look more like dog-food than human food (see sausage veggie scramble below), but trust me when I say that it is best to keep it simple when you are cooking with a baby.
So where do I get these healthy meal ideas you might ask? I have accumulated them over time from cooking magazines, Pinterest and friends and family. Most them I don’t even use a recipe because they are just THAT easy. I also take meals that were once not that healthy, and swap whole wheat products or skip the sauces and cream to make a healthier version.
In order to keep all of these recipe ideas in one place, I keep a list of them in the notes section of my iphone. That way, when I can’t think of dinner ideas and start to get frustrated, I have a great list to go to. I also do it for lunch ideas. As I think of new ideas I just add them to my list. Here are just a few of the recipes ideas I have on hand.
Here are my top 5 healthy and EASY dinners the last few weeks. I don’t use recipes for any of these, so if you would like me to try to come up with one for any of the following, let me know and I will do my best.
1) Stuffed chicken: While it may sound difficult, it is actually really easy! Just pound out a large chicken breast until it is thin enough to roll. Add whatever ingredients you like such as cheese, pesto, spinach, or my favorite – honey ham, swiss cheese, and stuffing to make chicken courdon bleu! I made it a few weeks ago and paired it with rosemary sweet and red potatoes and a mixed green and feta salad. It seemed “fancy” and was really satisfying!
2) Salad: I never used to think I could eat JUST a salad for dinner and be satisfied. Then I realized how fun it was to get creative and use virtually any and everything from your fridge and pantry. Be careful not to overdo the dressing, cheese, or croutons to keep it healthy!
In order to make a really good salad, I always use at least 1 item from the following categories:
*I always build my salad in this order because I want my salad to contain the largest amount of # 1 (lettuce), and the least amount of #6 (nuts).
- A base: Fresh mixed greens, kale, spinach or romaine. Try to avoid iceberg lettuce as it has little nutrition.
- Veggies: Carrots, celery, cucumber, grilled asparagus or zuchinni, mushrooms, or steamed brocolli
- Protein: Chicken, ground turkey, tofu, bacon, hard boiled eggs or grilled shrimp or steak. I usually grill up pounded chicken breast, slice it, and then keep a bunch in the fridge for the week.
- Fruits: It may seem weird but fruit does WONDERS to a salad. I love gala apples, pears, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, or peaches. If I don’t have fresh fruit I will throw on a handful of craisins or raisins for a little sweet factor.
- Cheese: Be careful to use cheese sparingly or your healthy dinner will turn into a high calorie meal in no time. Feta or gorgonzola are my personal favorites but any kind will work!
- Nuts: I love candied pecans, sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, or walnuts
- Dressing: I love balsamic vinaigrette on most every salad, but my current favorite it Kraft’s Light Raspberry Vinaigrette.
3) Chicken Tortilla Soup: I love soup all year around. Even when it’s 110 here in Arizona, I am known to turn the air up in the house and get out my crock pot. This soup is my entire family’s FAVORITE. I even love it so much I make it for company. The recipe is linked HERE.
4) Rotisserie Chicken enchiladas: This is an incredibly easy meal. All you need is a rotisserie chicken, whole wheat tortillas, a sweet onion, some jack cheese, and a can of green enchilada sauce. This is such a great meal to make in advance and makes great leftovers! I pair it with a big salad and whole black beans.
5) Veggie and sausage scramble: We always have eggs in our fridge which means I always have a healthy meal option. I LOVE making scrambles for dinner so that I can use up lots of veggies that might go bad otherwise. I also always keep a few packs of Trader Joes Chicken Apple Sausage in my freezer because I am OBSESSED with it. I also put it on pizza and with red sauce over pasta.
Here is my FAVORITE ingredients to whip up a little breakfast for dinner: It may not look pretty but it sure is delicious and packed with protien!
6) Track Your Nutrition:
When I started writing down everything I was eating, I was absolutely SHOCKED at what and how much I was putting in my body. No wonder I wasn’t losing my last few pounds of baby weight or feeling my best. I also wasn’t eating near enough protein or healthy carbohydrates. I now use the MyFitnessPal app on my iphone every day. You put in your weight, height, and how many calories you want to eat per day. It tracks EVERYTHING from the percentage of calories that come from fat, carbs, and protein, as well as nutrient details. It also have a place to enter workouts so that you correctly subract them from your calorie intake. I also subtract calories for breastfeeding so that I make sure to eat enough to feed by little H.
Most people think they know what they are putting in their body, but I challnege you to try tracking it. I guarantee it will help you chose healthier foods! I actually look forward to entering my meals, snacks and exercise each day.
Here is what the daily log looks like:
It feels SO good to put good food in my body. This way I am not only fueling my body well, but also my baby’s. Anyone have any easy and healthy meals to share? What do you do to make sure dinner gets made for your family?