As a busy mom who makes it a point to exercise regularly, it can be tough to also take the time to plan/prepare the right food to fuel my body. When I found myself either gagging on a rubbery so called “healthy” protein bar because it was convenient, or mindlessly scarfing down my child’s leftover macaroni and cheese, I realized something has to change! I was unfulfilled, tired, and just downright unhealthy! As a Dietitian, I knew better than that! But as a busy mom…I was in survival mode!
Can you ever relate to that scenario? Or maybe you could just use some fresh nutrition ideas that fit into your busy “mom” life? Here are some top tips to FUEL YOUR BODY!
- Plan ahead! Rather than relying on “in the moment” decisions about what to eat, make a plan to set yourself up for success!
**Here are just a few ways you can plan ahead:
1. Designate some time on a certain day of the week to grocery shop, and to prep meals and snacks ahead for the week.
2. Write down what you plan to eat for meals and snacks each day
3. Pack lunch and/or snacks the night before to prevent impulsive choices or eating out
- Healthy carbohydrates for energy pre-workout. Ideally, fuel your body 1-3 hours before a workout with carbohydrate (the fuel source for your muscles). Some good carbohydrate choices include a piece of fruit such as a banana, berries, dried fruit, oatmeal, whole grain dry cereal or crackers, or a slice of toast.
- Refuel your body within a half hour after exercise. As soon as possible (or at least within 30 minutes) after a workout, consume carbs and protein. This gives your muscles an opportunity to restore glycogen lost during exercise, and to repair muscles. A 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is recommended.
**Here are some ideas:
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Yogurt with fruit
- Smoothie made with low fat milk or yogurt and fruit
- Turkey or tuna sandwich with veggies
- Apple or banana with 2 Tbsp. peanut or almond butter
- Hard boiled egg with a few whole grain crackers
- Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
- Fiber and protein combo for sustainable energy. Because fiber cannot be digested and absorbed by the body, it takes longer to pass through your stomach, keeping you full longer. Protein also has a satiating effect. Therefore, including these 2 key nutrients in meals and snacks throughout the day, will support energy level, stable blood sugars, and appetite control.
Fiber rich foods include: fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as whole wheat or rye bread, popcorn, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain cereals (bran, oatmeal, etc). Beans or hummus are also great fiber sources.
Protein rich foods include: eggs, Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, lean meats such as fish, chicken, turkey, and lean beef. Some good plant-based protein options are nuts/seeds and nut butters, beans/peas, tofu, and edamame.
- Stay hydrated! Hydration plays an important role in energy level, exercise performance, and preventing fatigue. Fluid needs vary from person to person, and will depend on your size, the temperature, and the amount of sweat lost through your physical activity. A basic rule of thumb is to aim for at least half your body weight in fluid ounces (i.e. 70 fluid ounces for someone who weighs 140 pounds). Or you can monitor hydration status by paying attention to urine color. A lemonade color (or lighter) is a good rule of thumb that indicates adequate hydration. Also, keep in mind that the sensation of thirst is the first sign that your body is already slightly dehydrated.
**To help yourself meet fluid needs:
- Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning
- Keep a glass or bottle of water on your nightstand, work desk, or other common areas
- Take a large bottle of water with you when leaving the house
- Keep water with you when exercising, and take drinks at periodic points throughout your workout (i.e. every 5 minutes, every mile, between sets, etc.)
- If you have a hard time drinking plain water, add squeezed or crushed fruit (or small amounts of 100% fruit juice) to enhance flavor
Take Action! Could you make some improvements in any of these 5 areas? Pick one to get started with, and make a plan for what you will change to better fuel your body….OR… have you already made some nutrition/lifestyle changes that are working well for you? Please share!
Meet the Contributor: Jenna Brannock is a Registered Dietitian and health coach with over 12 years of experience. She resides in Fort Collins, Colorado and runs her own online-based nutrition consulting and health coaching business (Nutrition Consultants of the Rockies). Jenna enjoys running, hiking, cooking for her family and friends, and playing with her very busy 2 year old daughter Millie.