If you’re a mother, you can certainly relate to first-time moms as they dream their dreams during pregnancy. We all did it. We dreamed of the new little face we’d soon meet, the blissful hours of snuggling, and we planned all the amazing ways we were going to educate, feed, and rear our baby.
I feel it’s fair to say I’m not alone in having most of those dreams dashed. Don’t hear me wrong, I fell in love with my son deeper than I thought possible. Our time together during his first few years was the most gratifying experience in my life. But it came with lots of tears (his and mine) lots of laundry, so many messes, lots of sleep-deprivation, so much poop, and a lot of saturated fat.
You read that right, saturated fat is part of the new-parent routine, unfortunately. According to a recent study, this chaos that hits new parents like a ton of bricks has lead to a trend in increased saturated fat consumption. CNN reported on a study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jen Christensen interviewed the lead author of the study, Dr. Helen Laroche. Essentially, the study revealed that parents eat more saturated fat than adults without children, especially within the first seven years of becoming parents. Laroche pointed to the fact that busy and tired parents tend to have more convenience foods in the home and many of these types of foods are high in saturated fat.
The study findings make perfect sense. I can recall many pre-packaged, on-the-go items in our cupboards during the early years of our son’s life. When you’ve got ten minutes and seven of them need to be dedicated to cleaning up a massive diaper blowout, a package of peanut butter crackers made a better breakfast than nothing at all… or so we thought.
A diet high in saturated fat is very dangerous and can lead to many ailments including obesity and its suite of related diseases like high cholesterol, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
As a new mom, there were many days it was considered a victory if I washed my hair. My perfect plans of cloth diapers, organic homemade food, and beautiful experiences didn’t always play out the way my maternity dreams desired. Add to all of the new parent craziness that my husband and I were full-time college students working part-time jobs. and it’s no wonder healthy eating was an afterthought. But not any more. Before our son was on solid foods we saw the light and made healthful changes that are the standard in our house even today, when our son is 8-years-old.
I always advise parents, especially new parents, to give themselves a break. Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever attempted. So, if the baby book isn’t complete, if the baby uses a non-organic soap, if you serve food from a jar from time to time, it’s really OK. But when it comes to the habit of your own diet, don’t cut corners. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly planned home-grown meal every night, but don’t live off of fast food and frozen foods either. If this habit forms in you, chances are high that you’ll pass them right on to your new little darling.
Keep dreaming lofty dreams of how you’ll raise your kids and go easy on yourself if you don’t meet every standard. And when it comes to your diet, go ahead and skip washing your hair if it means you’ll get the time to make real food for dinner. You and your baby will be grateful in the long run.
August 13th, 2012