How My Eating Habit Has Changed Since I Became A Parent

Becoming a parent wrecks your diet, right? With all the new time constraints and added stress, it's easy to lose track of good habits. But becoming a mom made me more aware of how and what I eat. Here's how I've changed, and what I've learned. For more articles like this, visit RewardMe today!

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To understand my eating evolution as a parent, I need to take us back. Way back.

I came into my marriage with some junky cookware and some platters.

As a single gal, my idea of meal planning had been to hit the prepared foods bar at the grocery store on Sunday night and tag off containers of chopped veggies, lentil salads and hearty soups throughout the week.

As a bachelor, my husband frequented the restaurants where his friends worked during the week.

As a couple, we were comfortable eating a dinner of crackers, cheese and having pad Thai takeout three meals in a row. Then, like most newlyweds, we upped our collective culinary game after the wedding so as to break in our registry loot.

We purchased a farm share, picking beans and tomatoes in the morning and making bright salads and stir-fries in the evening.

We held a weekly potluck with friends for three years, trying to impress one another with simple but unexpectedly flavorful dishes made from local meats and veggies. (I’m sure we were as insufferable then as we sound to me now.)

So when the time came to make a baby, I honestly didn’t give my diet much of a thought. I’d been a vegetarian for more than a decade at that point and didn’t worry about the types of food I was eating. So I stopped my weekly cocktails, started taking prenatal vitamins, and (finally) got pregnant.

And there went any of my good eating habits for the next three years. Here are the (oft-unappetizing) highlights.

Pregnancy: Hello, Simple Carbs
I’m starving all the time, but too tired to cook. Big batches of soups and stews and trays of lasagnas last for days.

Fearing we won’t be able to go out to eat for the next few decades, my husband and I eat at our favorite restaurants every night for the last month before my son is born.

Even the mention of produce could send me sprinting to the bathroom.

Eight to 12 teeny meals per day. Lots of sandwiches and noodle dishes — anything carb-based with trace amounts of veggies and protein. I miss cooking, but am spent even at the prospect.

Late-night cookies are a must.

Dairy cravings on the hour.



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Parenting Year One: One-Handed Foods
Months 1-3:

I subsist on nibbles and bites of graciously delivered food from friends that my husband cuts up for me. Nursing requires me to use one arm, so ideal foods are rolled such that I can shove them in my mouth easily.

Breastfeeding every 30-40 minutes around the clock leaves me hangry.

Bottles of water and bags of nuts are strewn around the house.

Months 4-12:
Scarf that salad while the baby isn’t crying in the swing for 90 seconds.

Nearly choke on a burrito because a friend has offered to hold the baby while I eat, and I don’t want to abuse her time.

Calories > nutrition at this point.

I gobble more than my own share of teething crackers.

Parenting Year Two: “Want to Try What Mama’s Having?”
I’m blessed with an un-picky eater, which means every meal is dinner theater. “Oooh, this is squash. It’s a little chewy—watch me chew it! Nom nom nom!”
My son grabs any handfuls of food he can reach, so I’m suddenly conscious of what’s on my plate at all times.
I attempt cooking again: Simple fish dishes, rice and beans, easy vegetable casseroles.
My son isn’t the type to sit contentedly with a toy while I cook, so the process feels harried and less creative than cooking felt before he was born. (Duh.)

Parenting Year Three: Nutrition? What Nutrition?
I’ve gone back to work full time but I only have part-time daycare, which leaves me working into the wee hours after my family’s asleep.

I re-enlist my second trimester cookie habit to keep me awake.

During the day, I subsist on coffee, toast and cereal.

Dinners are still pretty balanced as we all three eat together, but crunchy, sugary, chewy foods are my weakness.

Parenting Year Four: Balanced Meals and a More-Balanced Me
My son is now a “threenager.” His mood rules his food choices, though in fairness he still has a varied palate. That means that he’ll mainly eat everything I serve for dinner, so I can once again play with menus and cruise the Internet for vegetarian family meal ideas.

I’ve settled into a routine of preparing as many dinner ingredients as possible before work in the morning so that I can just dump all the cut ingredients in a pan at 4:30 pm.

That midnight cookie break? I’m working on it.

Just as parenting these last nearly four years has been a wild ride, so too have my eating habits. All the same, the lessons have been, well, delicious.

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