Don’t forget to feed yourself right.
That’s Susie Burrell’s number one tip for busy parents who want more energy.
Susie, a mum to twin boys, told Kinderling Conversation that it wasn’t till she became a mum herself that she realised just how long and hard the days can be and the impact that has on nutrition and overall health.
“We are so focused on our little ones that they are eating right and that things are perfect for our kids. We completely forget ourselves. And that’s an issue because there’s not enough self-care for parents. It’s actually the most important thing. When a mum is eating well and prioritising her food, she’s going to be in a better position TO look after her kids,” said Susie.
Listen to Susie on Kinderling Conversation:
Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast
Susie told Kinderling Conversation that the first lesson for parents (particularly those with new babies) is to learn to eat their breakfast first because it helps us take control of our nutrition.
“If we skip breakfast, we end up going straight for the coffee and when we get the coffee, we’ll have a muffin. Then we get tired, so instead of eating lunch, we have a nap. And by the time it gets to 3 or 4pm, we start eating the kids' food!”
Getting your nutrition right starts with eating breakfast at the very start of your day.
1. What is the best thing for parents to eat at breakfast?
“Anything that is quick and easy because time is our most precious asset,” said Susie.
“You could start with a skim milk coffee, a Greek yoghurt in a tube, or making a piece of toast with a slice of cheese on it. Whatever you choose, eat it as early as possible and make sure it has protein/dairy in it.”
Best choices: Carmen’s nut bars are a great choice, and naturally low in sugar. They’re also portable so you can eat them on the run.
Worst choices: Banana bread, plain piece of toast or anything high in carbs because you’ll end up crashing later.
2. What should parents eat for lunch?
Lunch is the most important meal and it predicts your nutrition and prevents the late in the afternoon snack attack.
“Feed the main meal to kids in the middle of the day, that’s when they are hungry. The same applies to you, eat what you give your kids for lunch, because a hot meal will fuel you better,” said Susie.
It also takes the pressure off the second part of the day when you are likely far more tired, and often waiting for a partner to get home before you can eat dinner.
Good choices: Toasted sandwich with baked beans and cheese, a lean burger with lots of vegetables or some pasta with tuna and cheese stirred through it. Soup with a piece of toast and cheese. Ryvita with tuna or salmon, or the leftovers from previous night’s dinner.
3. The rules of dinner
"Keep it as simple as you can. Kids want simple food, so don’t overthink it. A sausage or a cutlet with frozen peas, or some cucumber and a chop. Keep it lighter at night for everyone,"said Susie.
From a weight control perspective, if you have a hot meal in the day you can have a really simple dinner that will help shift your metabolism, so you wake up hungry for breakfast.
Reminder for daycare and preschool parents: Your kids get a hot meal during the day, so they really don’t need another whole dinner. A little bit of cut up salad, some chicken or soup. That takes the pressure off you because you’ve also had a long day at work.
We get upset from putting in effort, that meal in the middle of the day takes the pressure off. The golden rule with recipes is they must be simple and they have to have a small handful of ingredients.
Good choices: A piece of fish quickly pan fried or tossed on the BBQ and some vegetables, a stir-fry, an omelet or a bowl of soup.
4. What about snacking?
“Snacking right really comes down to the length of your day. If you’re up at 4-5am you will need morning and afternoon tea,” said Susie.
If you’re active you are better to have an early lunch, like half a sandwich around 11:30am and then the other half, later in the afternoon. That’s better for your metabolism than constant grazing.”
Good choices: Protein is a must for snacks. Try cheese and crackers, a nut bar, some hummus and chopped veggies, or Ryvita crackers with goats cheese and tomato.
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