It’s amazing how much thought and preparation you put into planning your little ones meals – whipping up a storm of blitzing, pureeing and freezing wholesome goodness into teeny tiny ice cube trays. Yet when it comes to looking after ourselves the crusts of my peanut butter sandwich often served as my lunch, vowing instead that ‘I’d get something later’.
Having my second little boy was a real wake up when it came to managing my energy levels. Gone were the days when I could sneak in a little nap whilst my toddler was asleep – now it was full-on all day, and that combined with the interrupted nights was really starting to take a toll. Helping others to be at their best is what I do for a living – a huge part of that involves looking at what you’re fuelling your body with – so I really should have known better. However when you’re just dog tired its so easy to reach for a coffee and comforting cheese toasty.
Four months in I knew something had to change. I was getting ready to return to work and I was tired of feeling tired. Plus whilst I wasn’t in a hurry to shift my baby pounds I knew that if I didn’t get back into better eating habits I’d never shift the extra half-stone I was carrying.
Like me you’ve probably read about various eating plans that promise to give you more energy. Like me you’ve probably glossed over it or glazed over at this point. But guess what – it works. The first thing I did was to cut out bread. Within 2 days I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. It was much easier to wake up in the morning and I wasn’t hit by the post-lunch-sandwich slump. Buoyed by this I kept going and started to really clean up my diet. By clean up I mean removing all processed stuff and just eating good healthy, home-made stuff . I ate loads of scrambled eggs, chicken, salad, fruit and nuts. My husband followed suit and he too noticed a real difference in his energy.
Not only did I have more energy for my boys during the day, I also felt more inclined to do things in the evening – I started an exercise class and found I could stay awake long enough to read when I went to bed. Bonus.
A recent survey revealed that a mother who goes out to work should be earning an additional E49,500 on top of her actual salary because of all the things that we do when we’re not ‘at work’. So taking the time to fuel our lean, mean mothering machines is vital. Does it mean you can’t ever treat yourself – no of course not. But what I found was that a treat really became a treat – something to be enjoyed on a weekly coffee date with friends, not an automatic ‘I feel tired so I deserve a piece of cake’.
Here’s my top tips to finding tons of energy and managing as best you possibly can:
- Cut out (or at least cut down) on bread. Try soups, salads, quinoa, cous-cous instead.
- Snack on a small handful of nuts or if you feel like something sweet try a rice-cake and jam with your afternoon cuppa.
- Eat as ‘clean’ as you can – that means cutting out the crap and eating good wholesome food.
- Replace sugary cereals with porridge or scrambled eggs for breakfast (you can cook them in the microwave in less than 3 mins – the time it takes to make a cup of tea – trust me). A grilled cooked breakfast on the weekendis a brilliant energy booster.
- Water – drink lots of it. Two litres is ideal, but if that feels like a stretch, go for what you can. Filling a water bottle and keeping tally of what you’ve drunk will help motivate you.
- Preparation – cook in batches, order food online, have healthy snacks of nuts in your bag. Do what you can to make this easy and not yet another thing to think about!
- Finally – to get you going, keep a food diary – at least for a few weeks. Writing it down will keep you focused on eating well and you’ll see how ‘good’ you’re being. After a few weeks good habits should have started to form.
You deserve to feel at your best. You’ll benefit and so will your family and employer!