By Krissy from Her Nourished (Certified Health Coach)
Today on the blog we have the lovely Krissy from Her Nourished sharing her TOP 5 TIPS on how Mums can balance their weight without having to resort to restrictive dieting. Our bodies go through so much change when we become Mums, from pregnancy to post pregnancy and beyond, and weight gain can be a major pain point for many of us. I personally had a very strict ob/gyn when I was pregnant who constantly kept my weight in check due to family history of gestational diabetes. With my firstborn I dropped all the weight plus more very quickly due to a thyroid issue and major anxiety borne out of sleep deprivation. This didn't happen with my second! However, after I stopped breastfeeding and when I knew I was "done" with having babies, I then began the slow process of working on my health and weight. My youngest is now almost 3 (where does the time go!!) and it's still a work in progress, but most importantly I feel healthy and strong, which in turn makes dealing with motherhood that little bit easier!
I love the tips Krissy has shared below - they are all extremely achievable. Especially point 3 - which Mum hasn't snacked off their kids leftovers? Make sure you read to the end to grab an amazing FREEBIE too - Your Simple Wholefoods Recipe Guide for Busy Mums!
Walking is one of the most underestimated forms of movement out there today. Once you have medical clearance to walk, walking is incredibly beneficial, not only for your body but also for your mind. Being a mum is challenging and tests you in ways you never knew you could be tested. As a health coach and psychology graduate, but also as a mum of two, I know that when I walk in nature I feel more balanced.
Fasted cardio (walking before eating) is a great option to balance your weight without placing great deals of stress on your body, impacting breastfeeding or requiring money/care options to attend a gym. I mention fasted cardio because activities that continue for more than two minutes, such as walking, result in the body using fat as it’s preferred fuel. However, a walk is a walk and any movement is great for your mind and body.
I personally chose to eat before walking and then slowly incorporated fasted walking a few times per week if my days allowed for it (still aiming to eat within an hour of walking).
For me, walking (with the kids in tow) gives me an opportunity to connect with my thoughts, feelings and emotions and re-charge my own batteries. I love listening to podcasts while walking and having a little “time-out” even though the kids are right there with me. They also love walks which is an added bonus!
2. EATING VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL
Yes, even breakfast!
I once saw a restrictive diet plan that encouraged the restriction of vegetables because “they too are carbs”. While it’s true that vegetables are a source of carbohydrates, they are so so so much more than that. Vegetables contain essential and valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as one of my favourite nutrients, FIBRE! Fibre is what helps you to feel full AND what helps you to be more regular, if you know what I mean.
So how is eating more (vegetables) helpful for weight balance? While I despise calorie counting without purpose (I just don’t think it’s necessary for you to count calories - leave that up to the professionals), most of you will know that vegetables are not energy-dense (they are low in calories). Despite this, vegetables have an amazing ability to help you feel full when eating, therefore making it more challenging to overindulge/overeat foods that are less nutrient-dense.
I personally aim to fill over half of my plate with vegetables at any given meal, including breakfast! I LOVE zucchini oats, adding greens to my smoothies and even savoury breakfasts with spinach and tomatoes.
If you are short on time (if..? who am I kidding. We all want time-saving tips as mums!) my favourite tip is to prepare a large salad or bowl of lightly steamed vegetables once or twice a week that can simply be served alongside your meals.
3. REDUCE STRESS
You’re saying “but how Krissy, I get up through the night to my baby/ies, I can barely find time to eat, I am constantly covered in spew and I repeat the same phrases multiple times per day”. Lovely, I totally get it! Stress is inevitable, and actually it’s not the worst thing in the world in small amounts. We need a little stress in order to get us by. But your body isn’t designed to deal with ongoing and prolonged emotional stress. Even as a mum there are some simple and effective ways to reduce emotional stress as much as possible.
These are my favourites, and ones I try to adopt as often as possible, if not all the time:
- Turn off the news (this isn’t about being ignorant, it’s about knowing where you draw your energy from). I personally feel deeply emotionally triggered when I hear sad or disturbing news events (I’ve also worked in the social work field for several years so I’ve seen perhaps more than the average person). I know that by listening to the news I am not able to serve myself, my family or others in the best way possible, therefore I choose to turn it off.
- Social media switch offs. If I ever feel stretched too thin I turn off social media. Even if it’s just for an hour. That hour is bliss.
- UNFOLLOW. Persistent negativity has no place in my life. If I see ongoing negative or down-right mean stuff I will simply hit unfollow. I used to feel incredible guilt for doing so but now my social media feels so inspiring and uplifting. It’s a nicer place to hang out. This can also be practiced in real life by spending less time with those who may bring your energy down.
- Meditation. I used to laugh at anyone who said “just meditate”. I was like, “have you seen my house! I can’t even go to the toilet in peace let alone meditate”. In fact, I once took my toddler to a mums and bubs yoga class. That was possibly the least relaxing yoga class I’ve had to date. I get it, I honestly do. But choosing to take 2-5 minutes or even 10 deep belly breaths any time life feels chaotic has changed my life. It reminds me to be present, to reconnect with ME and allows me to GIVE MORE to my family. If you are new to meditation I suggest trying guided meditation.
4. REDUCE HABITUAL SNACKING
Habitual snacking (eating out of habit, not hunger) is so easy to do. And most of the time you won’t notice that you are doing it unless you give it full attention. One of the most common habitual snacking for mums is eating your children’s left over food, toast crusts (this is one I was doing ALL the time!), and sugar because you haven’t had a chance to sit down and eat all day.
For those of you who struggling with late night sugar cravings/binges please know, it's not that you have no self control or "can't do it"! Those late night sugar cravings are always serving a purpose.
Many women I work with eat sugar at night, not because they don't have self control, but because it serves as a release for them in some way or another. In fact, some of the most successful "A type" personalities struggle the most (myself included).
Before looking to change those habits, look to WHY you are eating late at night or craving sugar. The food serves a purpose and once you identify it's purpose you can create change that much easier. Some common reasons for late night sugar craving:
- you've held it together all day and you just need a release
- you've had a busy, stressful day and sugar makes you feel comforted in the moment
- you are tired and your body is telling you it needs sleep or energy, so you are choosing sugar in place of sleep
- and sometimes...it's a habit.
Once you identify the purpose the food serves look for non-food ways you could address the need. Do the non-food activity before eating (or at least take 2 big deep breaths before eating) and see if it helps you to make more mindful choices when you do choose to eat. I am incredibly passionate about reflective mindful eating as a way to explore your relationship with food as well as how the food you eat is serving you.
5. PRIMARILY EAT WHOLE FOODS
Whole foods are foods that are in, or as close to, their natural state. Food such as vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are perfect examples of whole foods. They require little-to-no processing and often don’t require a nutritional panel.
Restriction has no place in my life nor should it have any place in yours. Instead of focusing your energy on ‘what should I cut out’, bring your attention to ‘what can I swap’. Focus on filling up your plates with primarily whole foods and then enjoy those extras or indulgences whole-heartedly and WITHOUT GUILT.
I personally feel most balanced (both mentally and in my weight) when I eat whole foods 80-90% of the time. This is where my weight naturally balances and I have the time, energy and emotional capacity to do the things I love to do!
Krissy - Her Nourished (Holistic Health Coach)
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I’m Krissy, the founder of Her Nourished and your Holistic Health Coach. Based on the beautiful Gold Coast of Australia, I live with my FIFO husband and two wee kiddies (Mr 3 and Miss almost 1). I’m passionate about holistic health and a non-diet approach to balancing weight because I struggled for many years with disordered eating myself. You name a restrictive diet and I’ll tell you that I’ve tried it. I’ve been able to heal my relationship with both food and myself through a combination of support, guidance, changing my food language and learning to eat intuitively from a place of love (not fear) and I want that for you too!
Email Krissy for enquiries, custom menu plans and personalised support