Where I’m Coming From (my background):
I honestly didn’t struggle with weight problems until after my 4th child was born. I don’t know if it was the fact that he was number four, or the fact that I am getting older, or the fact that I quit breastfeeding him when he was just 6 weeks old (and my youngest before that was Abigail at 3 months old)… but whatever the reason, I suddenly had to work at losing my pregnancy weight.
Of course, I have always needed to work at toning my body and slack in that area way too much! But to actually have to watch what I eat was something new. So, when my 4th baby was 2-3 months old, I still had a good 20 pounds to lose before I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I came up with an eating plan that seemed to work for me and lost that 20 pounds in about 6 months (the first 10 pounds came off in just 1 month), at which time I became pregnant again.
My new, healthy eating habits kind of went out the window when I got sick and I ate pretty much whatever helped make me feel better. I wasn’t so sick that I couldn’t eat (like I was with some of my pregnancies), but I was sick enough that I had to take special measures to not throw up. Lucky for me (haha), one thing that helped me feel better was simply eating. Often, and not always healthy foods!
Now at 20 weeks pregnant, I have gained more than I usually do and I’m scared that I will gain way more this time around, have an even tougher time losing the baby weight after baby is born, get pregnant again weighing even more, etc. It’s a vicious cycle… and before I know it, I’ll be many pounds overweight (it’s a fear I have).
My whole point is that I’m trying to get back into my healthy eating habits again so as to not gain an outrageous amount of weight this pregnancy. I thought I’d share the guidelines I try to follow to have healthy eating habits. I don’t agree with dieting that requires you to buy special foods or do special things to stay within the guidelines. I believe that eating healthy should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes taking of care of your mind, body, and spirit. It should be a habit. This is our goal as a family.
(Update: Though it is still interesting to read below how we intended to improve our health as a family, we have since learned so much more about nutrition and health. As a result, we have since changed our overall outlook about being healthy.)
As a family:
We eat organic foods whenever possible.
Sometimes it is only organic fresh fruits/veggies, eggs (we were eating our own farm fresh eggs, but our hens haven’t been laying often), and dairy that we are able to afford when we make our monthly grocery trip and other times we are able to include meats, canned foods, breads (or I make homemade bread using organic ingredients), and other things. We were very strict about eating only organic for several months, but it’s really so expensive that we’ve had to buy some things that are not. We also lucked out recently and bought a ton of organically/grass-fed raised beef from my midwife (it’s delicious meat, btw!).
We avoid refined sugar and things with added sugar if at all possible.
Sugar feeds bacteria, cancer, etc. It is simply not good for you. Our bodies need some sugar and we try to get our sugar from fruits/veggies, etc. We really notice changes with our moods when we eat refined sugar. It’s not good. We do not have candy, cold cereals, or soda pop in our home (never have really) and we rarely have chips or other snacks in our home. Again, we try to have fresh fruit and veggies on hand for snacks. Store bought bakery is not something we buy except for on rare occasions. All of this being said, we do go out for ice cream sometimes, eat at fast food occasionally (but we do choose a local fast food place that prides itself on being healthier than the rest and even offers some organic items), we have cakes for the kids’ birthday parties, eat sugary foods at Holiday gatherings (we try to limit the amount we eat, but it can be hard with the kids), etc.
The whole point is that we are doing our best to educate our children on what is healthy for us, and what we should avoid (sugar, processed foods, etc.). We want to walk the talk so that our children learn by example, and hopefully help them make their own healthy choices by habit. Our oldest has asthma and sugar causes it to act up, so that is another reason to avoid it for him. We all feel better when eating healthy!
I count calories. I have found what I feel is a healthy calorie intake (for being pregnant) and I do my best to stick with it. I eat a light breakfast, an average lunch, light snack, and an average supper. I do not eat anything after 7pm. I drink a lot of water and only a little nonfat milk (got to have my milk!). I drink water whenever I feel hungry and it’s not time to eat. I keep bottles of water in the fridge (which I refill with our own well water), so that I have cold water easily on hand to drink at home or to bring with me when I leave. I enjoy a nice-sized salad with only a little dressing with supper whenever possible to fill myself up without a lot of calories. I try to eat a good amount of protein (especially when pregnant), healthy carbs, and fresh fruits/veggies. I also take an iron supplement while pregnant because I am usually quite anemic and need more iron than I can get in my diet. (Update: I now try to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way and agree with their nutritional advice, which applies to the entire family!)
One area I need to work on is how active I am. I am caring for 4 children every day, so you’d think I’m pretty active, but I’m sure I’m not as active as I should be. We have a treadmill, so I should be trying to walk on there every day. Before I was pregnant I was able to get in 100 each of jumping jacks, sit-ups, and butt lifts doing it in little spurts throughout the day. I think it helped… if nothing else, it helped my mind! So, I need to figure out how to work in being more active. (Update: I have now found an amazing online program that is safe for mamas and specifically for toning the tummy. I love it!)
So, I’m hoping and praying I can stick to my healthy eating habits this pregnancy and that I can stay motivated after baby is born to lose the weight. It’s not just about how I look, but it’s about how I feel. I want to be healthy.
What about you? What are things you do to stay healthy, especially when it comes to eating? What changes in your eating habits have you made that you noticed a difference for the better with? How do you fight sweet cravings and/or ‘phantom’ hunger pains?