Sarah Remmer: The Non-Diet Dietitian


Meal Planning to Make Your Health a Priority

How This Will Make You A Better Mom

My guess is that lots of moms like you prepare healthy meals for your kids. But you? You eat the scraps and then snack on convenience foods throughout the day yourself. Sound familiar? According to a recent Becel survey, 48% of Canadian moms spend the majority of their free time planning healthy meals for their families while only 1 out of 10 spend that time preparing healthy lunches for themselves.

Is this you?

A young mom with two or three kids, always putting them first before herself. She makes sure that they are well fed, have the best clothes, are in the best activities, get the best grades and always have the best homemade costumes for Halloween. This mom may appear to be "Super Mom", but she's really not. In fact, she may be at risk of a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease and stroke is a leading cause of death in Canada for women. That includes moms.

The reality is that this particular "Super Mom" also hasn't exercised in years (she just doesn't have time!), she eats when she remembers to eat (and grabs whatever is easiest and quickest—a granola bar or muffin from a coffee shop) and has no energy.

Her self-esteem is at an all time low, partly due to the extra 20 lbs that she is carrying and can't seem to lose. She hasn't been for a yearly physical in years because she doesn't have the energy to book an appointment, let alone go. "Between all of the kids appointments and activities?! Ya right!" she might say.

I must admit, I've always felt a bit guilty and maybe even a little judged by other moms for taking time for myself. And to be honest, I probably do take more "me" time than the average mom.

Some moms might say "well that's good for you, but it's just not possible for me." In fact, according to the Becel survey, the majority of Canadian moms (60%) say that they don't have enough time to take care of themselves. I just don't buy it. You've got to make it happen so you can continue to be here for your kids.

I know firsthand how challenging motherhood can be, and trust me, I'm not perfect. I know too how hard it is to juggle work and home life, trying always to find the perfect balance (which doesn't exist, by the way). Now that I have another baby on the way, I'm already trying to figure out when I'm going to fit in "me" time (insert panicked look on my face), but know that I will somehow. I know that taking that time for myself every day makes me a better mom. Yes, my son may not have the most up-to-date toys or trendiest clothes. But he has a mom who is healthy, happy, and for the most part, full of energy. I may not spend every waking moment doting on him, but when I AM with him, I'm fully present and ready to play. 

It's important that you start making yourself a priority and taking care of your heart health. A good way to start is to eat healthfully. Planning meals can be as easy as sitting down with your family on the weekend, brainstorming some yummy, healthy meal ideas that everyone enjoys and jotting them down for the week.

Here's the meal planning template that I created for my clients (we use it at home too). Feel free to click to download and use it yourself.

Even if you don't plan out every single meal and snack, plan out most of your suppers for the week so that you aren't scrambling at the last minute, only to pick up the phone and order in. Taking a little bit of time to plan meals will allow you to not only feed your family healthy meals and snacks, but also to enjoy them yourself. So you too can eat balanced meals and snacks, rather than scarfing down your kids' scraps and then binge eating when the kids go to bed because your body is so starved.

By taking the time to take care of ourselves and through healthy lifestyle choices, women can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80%. Here are some healthy meal planning tips to get you started:

Eat when your kids eat

I know it sounds impossible, but it's not. When you prepare your kids breakfast, make an extra serving for yourself. When you pack your kids lunches (or make them lunch), make an extra sandwich and wash and cut some extra veggies for yourself. Instead of just sitting with your kids at dinner, eat with them. Eating with your kids will allow you to eat at healthy intervals throughout the day so that you don't become ravenous. Your meals will likely be more balanced, your mood will be better and you can improve your metabolism. You'll also be modelling healthy eating to your kids—after all, they are modelling after you! There are many short- and long-term benefits to family meals too. It's a win-win. 

Get your kids involved in meal prep

Including your kids in meal planning and preparation has a whole host of benefits—from decreasing kitchen chaos to improving your child's self-esteem and long-term health. Getting your kids to participate by stirring ingredients, adding herbs and spices, setting the table, or even preparing the entire meal will make your life easier, add more fun to meal prep and benefit the whole family. 

Write a grocery list

After you've done a bit of meal planning, write down what you need from the grocery store and use it as your guide. Otherwise, you'll forget key ingredients that you need for your healthy meals and instead, buy foods that appeal to you at that moment and that you don't really need (e.g., potato chips and candy).  We've all done it, right? Do yourself a favour and bring a list.

Experiment with some new recipes

If you're growing weary of the 'same old, same old,' which we all do, try some new healthy recipes. Becel has many easy, healthy, and tasty recipes for you to try. My favourites right now are the Tortilla Crusted Chicken Fingers and the Whole Grain Cinnamon French Toast.

We all struggle as moms to find the balance between taking care of our kids and taking care of ourselves. We often put our kids first, at the expense of our own health. But it's important that we start making our health a top priority.

If you know a mom who needs to be reminded of this, please personalize and share this video from Becel with them.

Encourage a Mom to take care of herself today! 

In its role as founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, Becel wants to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do for others.

To help spread this important message, Becel made this amazing video:

You can go to the Becel website to easily personalize and send the video to moms in your life to remind them to take care of themselves too!

Encourage a Mom today!

She’ll thank you for it. And so do we!