As you might already know from my other posts I am a mother to 2 young boys, Isaac and Malachi. Just last night, after we had sat down for dinner, my husband asked the question. Does being a mother make you eat healthier than if you weren’t one?
This might seem like an odd question to ask and to be honest I sort of agree with you, it is an odd question. But when I glanced into the kitchen and looked at all of the different pots and pans I had created for all of the different vegetables that I had cooked it triggered the thought, would I put this much effort into my meals and create this much mess if I wasn’t cooking for my kids too? Would I instead eat meals that were more convenient than healthy? Or would I still make sure that I had a well balanced diet?
My first thought was that if I wasn’t a Mum I wouldn’t be at home as much as I am now, I would have a full time job outside of the home. So does that mean that by the time I got back from work I would have the time (or the discipline) to start peeling potatoes and vegetables?
Back to before the kids
It got me thinking back to before we had the kids to try and remember what our diet was like. I would have been on my feet for at least 8 hours straight, and then had to tackle the commute home which was usually a major stress. So by the time I got through the door I just wanted to collapse. It was pretty much the same for my husband too, most of the time we didn’t really have the energy to start cooking a proper meal. This did mean (unfortunately) that we often ordered takeaways, swapping between Chinese, Indian and pizza, mmmmm.
Now as much as I love a takeaway, I can’t kid myself that this was a well-balanced diet. So I did do some cooking after work. Leek and potato soup was one of our favourites, curry was often on the list too but I’ve got to hold my hands up and admit that back then it wasn’t homemade, instead the convenience of jarred curry always swayed me to go with the easy option. Thinking about it now, that was pretty much the way it was for most of our meals. If we weren’t ordering in, then we would just be opening a few jars or tins. Not the healthiest of diets I must admit.
How things changed
Then along came the kids.
It was actually before Isaac was born that my eating habits changed. I was suddenly very aware of the fact that whatever I ate, my unborn baby was taking in too. So along came the fresh veg and fruit and out went the rubbish. I pretty much stopped snacking on rubbish but replaced the unhealthy snacks with nuts, celery and yoghurts. Notice that I said ‘pretty much’, I was still a huge chocaholic! I also cut down my coffee intake to 2 cups a day and started to drink a lot more herbal teas, peppermint being my favourite.
But even then, it wasn’t till my Isaac was being weaned at 6 months old that our house was finally filled with a wide variety of vegetables. I loved preparing all of his meals. I was bought the Annabel Karmel’s Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book* and it was brilliant. It really helped me to wrap my head around what meals I should be giving my baby and when I should be giving them to him. It stopped me from being boring and doing the same meals over and over too. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that he wasn’t having any sugar (apart from those in the fruit) and salt. There also weren’t any preservatives in the meals either. They were all made from scratch and frozen in batches. 🙂
I used the Annabel Karmel book again when it was time to wean Malachi and he loved his meals too.
Now though, the boys are 5 and 4 years old and we obviously don’t use the weaning book anymore but I do try to make as many meals from scratch as I can, this way I have an idea of how much salt and sugar they are eating. I try not to cook with them but I then add it to my plate once I’ve dished up (naughty I know but I can’t live without a bit of salt and pepper). I also try not to use any jarred sauces but make them myself. Curry is always better if you have done it yourself and pasta is one of the simplest dishes you can make but it tastes lovely when it is homemade, especially with some fresh basil.
I also try to get as much of my meat as I can from the butchers. This way I know the quality of the meat is good. One of the boy’s favourite meals is ‘Bangers and Mash’ with a load of veg, so knowing that they are good quality sausages is really important to me. It is quite scary to think of the rubbish that gets pumped into the sausages in the factories! We always have a bowl full of fruit and no chocolate cereals can be found in the cupboards either. So I do try my best to give them the best meals and snacks that I can. I am far from perfect though and I do still let them have some sugary snacks. Friday night is their favourite, this is because once they have had a bath and are super cute and squeaky clean in their pj’s they get to have a treat night, which is basically a bowl full of sweetie goodies in front of a film. Some of you might think that this is terrible but I think that one night a week isn’t too bad. Now they’re at school and nursery they know that they have to be well behaved all week to enjoy their treat night. So it works well for us parents too.
So thinking about how having children has changed my diet, I am certain that I eat healthier because the food that I buy and the meals that I prepare are always bought and made with my children in mind. I wasn’t too bothered about what I was eating before I had kids. It wasn’t the worst diet in the world but it was far from the best. I don’t do everything perfectly, there are times when convenience has won but that isn’t too often. Me and my husband still do get takeaways too but only on a weekend and after the boys have gone to bed. 🙂
So how about you? Has your diet changed for the better since having kids or did you eat really well before you had kids anyway?