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Healthy Eating Habits Starts With Parents

Family gathering around table for meal Photo credit: Getty

Every parent understands the importance of a balanced diet for their baby, but what about for themselves? Too often, parents overlook the importance of their own nutrition. With food being the fuel that sustains them during long days and nights, what and how parents eat is crucial. To help you make more informed choices, we asked four parents to discuss the proactive steps they took to make better eating decisions for themselves after their baby was born. 

Take a Crash Course

“I wouldn’t describe myself as one of life’s natural chefs; grilled cheese was about the limit of my expertise. But when we were expecting our daughter, I made a conscious effort to master a few simple dishes. It wasn’t anything complicated, just stuff like beef stews, chili, and pasta sauce; the simple stuff you could make fast. It obviously never hurts to know how to cook a few basic dishes, but it’s especially important when you have a baby, otherwise you just exist on a diet of ready meals.”

Mal B., dad to Lily-Sun 

It’s Better in Batches

“Everything about a new baby involves planning, and that’s true of eating as well. Before your baby arrives, you can spend hours cooking up complicated dishes with fresh herbs and delicate sauces. Then your baby arrives, and you end up eating dry bread for dinner. Because you now have very little time, the trick is to cook ahead and freeze big batches of your go-to dinners.”

Craig G., dad to Oliver and Jasmine  

Lead by Example

“We’d been told during pregnancy that kids tune into their parents’ eating habits and follow their lead, so if they see a tomato on your plate, they’re more likely to want a tomato themselves. This is obviously not an issue until your baby’s a little older and you’re eating together, but when that time comes I think you need to lead by example. It wasn’t a seismic shift. We just made sure we ate a good, healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables on our plates and fruit instead of sweets. Or, at least fewer sweets. Our kids have always eaten pretty well and without the tantrums you hear some parents experience. I’d like to think we helped influence that.”

Nick M., dad to Frankie, Alex and Pearl

Cut Down on Caffeine

“I used to survive on five or six cups of coffee a day. The caffeine carried me through whenever I was feeling tired, but obviously caffeine and pregnancy don’t mix. When I became pregnant with Layla, I had to get my energy from elsewhere. Blueberries, bananas, almonds and pistachios are all really good sources of energy and easy to snack on throughout the day. And unlike a flat white, they give you slow-release energy, rather than a quick spike followed by a painful slump. Even after Layla was born, I cut down on the caffeine. When you’re surviving on a few hours of sleep every night, the last thing you want is for the caffeine to be racing through your system and keeping you wide awake.”

Jo A., mom of Layla and Ross


By Nick Harper
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