Remaining Healthy Before & After Child Birth
A big question for new parents is: How To Keep the Family Healthy With A New Baby?
When there is a new arrival coming into your family it can be a pretty chaotic time for everyone. I have recently experienced this for the first time myself with the birth of my daughter. Fortunately, I am pretty organised when it comes to the kitchen and eating healthily but I knew this was going to be a time that would be a completely different level than what I was used to. With this in mind, I set out around 3 months prior to the due date to make a plan to ensure both me and my wife would be able to eat healthily in the days and weeks before and after our little bundle of joy arrived.
One of the big reasons for this planning was that it is well known that with a newborn on the way there is a lot of time required to get everything set up and ready, then once baby arrives your time just flies by as well as the extreme tiredness that will likely lead to you putting cooking on the back burner and getting takeaways or processed microwave meals which will have an impact on your health. Hence the well known, ‘dad bod’.
I also have a huge love for cooking and I didn’t want to be forced into spending hours in the kitchen when I was very tired and busy to cook healthy meals and end up losing my passion for it. With this in mind, I made a plan of steps I could take to make the whole process easier, which I am sharing with you in this blog to hopefully help you and your family prepare for the arrival and make the weeks after it much easier a little bit less stressful.
Cooking In Bulk
This is something that I would strongly recommend doing anyway, whether you have a baby coming or just want to improve your health or sports performance. Having foods on hand in the freezer is extremely useful for a number of reasons. 1. It saves time 2. It saves money and 3. It means you always have something on hand if you get stuck.
Whenever you make something that is freezable or can store well you should go for it. Instead of just cooking a meal for 1 or 2, make it for 8+, eat what you need and put the rest in the freezer or however it should be stored. This might add an extra 30minutes or so onto the cooking time but it is much better than having to cook the same meal on 4 separate occasions. Although you will have to spend a bit more money to get all the extra ingredients to make the extra portions, it will save you money in the long term. When you buy food in bulk it usually works out cheaper than if you were to buy smaller sizes a few times. For example. If you were to make a meal in bulk using 2kg of chicken breast compared to making it 4 times using smaller packs of chicken each time you would save £4.29. A 525g packet of chicken breast in Asda works out at £7.62/kg whereas a 2kg pack comes in at £10.95.
A big issue I come across regularly with clients is that something often crops up and gets in the way of the normal planned meal. This could be work, traffic, public transport delays etc which could mean you don’t have time to make what you have planned. If this situation occurs then you will have something in the freezer that you have made previously that you can quickly defrost and cook to make sure you are still getting something healthy rather than having to stop off at a fast-food takeaway which is often the outcome.
When you have a newborn baby there is always something happening that will mean you don’t have time to make what you planned. By filling up your freezer with a good variety of different meals means you can take something out in the morning to defrost or even defrost it in the microwave if applicable and you can quickly make a healthy meal.
There are so many recipes that can be made in bulk and stored for later use. Some good ideas for freezable meals you can make in bulk are:
- Chilli Con Carne
- Homemade Pizzas
- Homemade Breaded Chicken
Cook Recipes That Have Multiple Uses
This is something that can really make a difference when it comes to eating healthily. When you make foods in bulk there are still things you can do to them to get a bit more variety and can make meals that bit more exciting. Cooking the base for meals means you only need to cook or prepare the side dish to go along with it which generally won’t take very long. For example, a Chilli con Carne could be served with rice, pasta, spaghetti, on a baked potato, on a baked sweet potato, in a tortilla wrap or even for a Friday night treat on some nachos once the baby has settled down. Once you know what foods you are making, have a think about what else you can do with them to ensure you are not just eating the same meals every time.
Have Healthy Snacks On Tap
Healthy snacks are probably one of the most important and useful tips for when times are a bit chaotic and random. Usually, you will be able to have meals at the same kind of time. However, when a baby comes you might end up having long periods without a good meal due to things popping up all the time. If you have healthy snacks on hand then it is much better to grab these when you are hungry than sweets, biscuits, cakes etc which will likely cause you to gain unwanted weight.
A lot of people reach for unhealthy snacks are a much more convenient option when they are in a rush or short on time. However, the idea that you can cook or prepare a large number of healthy snacks that can be stored and kept for days after means that with a little bit of time spent sorting them out you will always have a healthy snack you can reach for when needed.
Some ideas for healthy snacks include:
- Cutting up a large amount of fruit and storing it in a container in the fridge. This way you have bitesize bits of fruit that can be quickly grabbed when required and doesn’t need any preparation once you have done it. It also ensures you are getting a variety of different fruit into your diet that you would likely have been missing out on.
- Homemade falafels
- Homemade granola (this can also be used for breakfast if required)
- Boiled Eggs
- Keeping mixed nuts in a bowl or tub
Hydration is another really important thing that a lot of people can forget about when trying to juggle a baby and everything else going on in life. A good way of ensuring you stay hydrated is to keep a large jug or several bottles of water in the fridge so you can quickly grab one or pour a quick glass of cold water when you are in the kitchen. For most people, cold water is more palatable and means you will drink more of it which can really help you to stay hydrated.
It might also be a good idea to get a metal reusable bottle. I got one earlier on in the year and it has been amazing. It keeps hot drinks hot for about 12 hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24hours. I have been putting a few ice cubes in with the water and that means I can carry it around with me and I always have a nice cold drink of water.
Cook Ingredients In Bulk
Similar to the previous point about making foods that can be used for a variety of different meals, you can also save a lot of time and money by cooking individual components of a meal that can also be used to create different meals and even snacks from them.
One of the best things I made was bits of cooked chicken. Simply roast some chicken breasts in the oven, allow to cool then slice up. This can be frozen and can be used to make a huge range of high protein meals in a short space of time. Things like stir-fries, salads, fajitas, lunch wraps, pizza toppings, pasta dishes etc don’t necessarily need the chicken as an ingredient but adding it in can really help you achieve your nutrient goals like protein. With this chicken already cooked means you don’t need to worry about the extra cooking time or the extra clean up required. Chunks of chicken are also fantastic as a snack option too as they can be seasoned according to your taste and are much cheaper than if you were to buy them pre-packed in a supermarket.
Other good ideas for precooked ingredients include:
- Lean Steak Mince with spices (great for quickly rustling up things like tacos, wraps etc)
Keep Track of Things You Need As You Run Out Of Them
Food shopping can be a stressful thing at the best of times and is often something that people put off doing or just do without any kind of plan and end up buying unhealthy things or missing out on things they actually need. Trying to keep them healthy whilst juggling a stressful, random lifestyle can be very tricky if you don’t have put in a bit of organisation. One of the best tips for this time or even if you find that you don’t really enjoy food shopping is to have a checklist stuck on the fridge of all the items you use regularly. Whenever someone in the house uses it up or finds that a new one is needed, tick the list so whoever is doing the shopping knows what is needed. This is a much easier way of doing it than trying to ask each other and remember what is needed.
I would recommend writing a list of the common things you get regularly and leave space at the bottom to write anything else in as you think of them.
Another very useful thing is supermarket online shopping. This has been an absolute lifesaver for us during the first 5 weeks of having a child. I have been using Asda Click and Collect service as it is the closest supermarket to my house and they allow you to allocated a 1-hour time slot for collection. This means you can order everything you need, pay for it online then nip to the shop and pick it up. Making use of friends and family can also be useful with this if something pops up unexpectedly. As the order has been paid for you could get someone else to go and pick it up for you which I have had to make use of on a couple of occasions.
If You Have Cravings, Don’t Deprive Yourself!
Remember, this is a very stressful time and having a bit of something you enjoy with your partner once the baby has settled down the evening can really help you keep motivated. If that bit of enjoyment comes in the form of a biscuit or a slice of cake with a cup of tea then go for it. You deserve it!
As I always say, don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy as it will just make you want it more and if you are aiming for a goal, there is a good chance you will quit.
One of the most important things to remember if you are in this situation is to enjoy yourself. Remember what you have gone through and all of the exciting times you have ahead of you you shouldn’t be putting additional worries on yourself with your nutrition. If you can keep yourself and your family healthy with a little bit of planning and organisation then you will set yourself up for a much more relaxed household.
Check out the recipes section of my website for some delicious ideas.