As a new mom, or a mom of young children, do you ever catch yourself eating your son’s leftover PB&J sandwich, and calling it lunch, as you are cleaning up from the lunch tornado? Or you’re waiting both patiently and “hangrily” in the carpool line at school and realize you actually haven’t even eaten a real meal that day? Sometimes us moms just tend to put our own needs on the back burner, even if they’re super basic needs, like you know, well, FOOD.
I’m Lindsey Mathews, or Trainer Lindsey, head trainer and nutritionist for IdealFit, a company that has designed a line of supplements for women at every level of fitness. I am the creator of the 15 Day Fit Body Challenge and 6 Week Fit Body Challenge. Having been a trainer and nutritionist for over 10 years, a nationally qualified figure competitor, and a wife and mom of 3 kids, I get what it’s like to be busy with little ones, and have my own health and nutrition goals lag a little bit because of the demands of motherhood and family life. But over the years I have found some tricks that work for me, that help keep my nutrition on point so my health and fitness goals can stay in motion, even when the chaos of normal life is going on around me.
Let me be more specific–did you know protein is the most important and vital macronutrient (macro) we can eat? It is an important part of every cell in our bodies. Hair and nails are made mostly of protein, as well as muscles, bones, skin, cartilage, and even blood; it helps repair and build tissue, it’s vital to makings enzymes and hormones. Also, something us women are probably most interested in, it keeps us lean and mean in our weight-loss efforts by keeping our metabolisms revving and muscles building. And, unlike fat and carbohydrates, our bodies don’t store protein, so it can’t draw on a reserve of it when it needs a new supply. So it makes sense that it should be the macronutrient we focus most on in improving our diets for long-term health and fitness (especially if you’re a new mama who is breastfeeding a baby and need a little extra protein as part of the extra calories needed to provide for your baby).
But us moms sometimes have a hard time getting enough protein into our diets. It’s easy to see protein as inconvenient or requiring too much preparation–you have to grill chicken or scramble or boil eggs–a lot of the time it needs to be cooked to be eaten. But I have a few tips for you to make it easy (and tasty!) to get that protein in.
Plan Meals Around Protein
Instead of grabbing a handful of chips or crackers, or dipping a spoon into the peanut butter jar, make yourself first decide on a protein to eat. And THEN, pair it with a carb and/or fat. Figure out your favorite sources of protein, whether it be chicken, protein powder, fish, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc., and keep those on hand to reach for when it’s time to eat. You can pair the meats with veggies and rice or potatoes, make a protein shake with some fruit and spinach, or add fruit to yogurt and cottage cheese. If you need more creative ideas for protein-filled recipes, check out this book–the recipes in it are some of my favorites! Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to leave the protein out. It will keep you full until your next meal and give your body the fuel it needs to accomplish all those important functions I mentioned earlier, and keep you lean.
Prepare Foods for Grab and Go
You may have had the thought “well that’s a great idea to plan meals around protein, but planning is hard when I need to grab and go.” I totally get it. I eat my meals more away from home than I do at home. Unfortunately when we are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, sometimes it DOES take some planning. But when you can fit in a little prep time, it makes the rest easy! I take a day or so a week to prepare some protein that can be combined with other carbs and fats throughout the week for my own fast food. And, my favorite secret weapon that needs no preparation, IdealLean Protein is always in my pantry, purse, and car for the ultimate quick and easy meal. If I’m on the go, I just mix it up with water or milk and drink it while snacking on some rice cakes. I can do that while I take my kids to school or watch their sports games and it gives me 20g of high quality protein with some pretty delicious flavor.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
When I help my clients try to shift their diets to include more protein, a concern I hear a lot is it’s difficult to consume higher amounts of protein. Some people don’t like a lot of meat, or they feel like it can just be a lot to eat in a sitting. I always recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals, so that eating more protein doesn’t seem so daunting. You can eat some scrambled eggs for breakfast, a protein shake for a mid-morning snack, a turkey sandwich for lunch, maybe some greek yogurt for an afternoon snack, and some grilled chicken for dinner. None of the servings need to be huge, but you’re stilling fueling your body with a little protein all day long.
Eat More Protein for Best Results
So, Healthy Moms, take my challenge and find ways that work for you to get more protein into your diets. You’ll feel stronger, more satisfied, leaner, and ready to conquer your busy and demanding days. It’s ok for us to put a little time and effort into our own needs, so that we can be at our best in helping our other loved ones with theirs.