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Trying to stay slim while juggling a hectic lifestyle seems impossible, yet some people manage it. What can we do to achieve a healthy weight, and sustain it?

We all probably know that superstar working mom who is brilliant at her job, has awesome children and, by the way, easily slips into a size 10 dress. We can probably put it down to this paragon’s genetic good fortune, lucky girl, or maybe she just manages things well.

For the rest of us mortals, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact environmental and social factors play in our daily diet and weight, and making good choices is important not only for our own health and well-being, but for the health of our children as well.

A new study published in the journal Child Development has found that the more years a mother works, the more likely her children are to gain an unhealthy amount of weight. The reason for this is probably self-explanatory (as any busy mother will tell you), with little time to prepare healthy meals, mothers often resort to more “instant” food, which is often high in fat and sugar. Surveys have also shown that the reason most diets fail is that women, in particular, are just too busy to eat healthily. We don’t want to advocate diets, but rather healthy, sustainable eating choices, which become a fundamental part of the healthy lifestyle habit for your whole family.

Identify your eating style
Most of us fall into one of the following categories of eater:

  • The picker – usually eats balanced meals, but needs a little something mid-morning, mid-afternoon and after supper.
  • The binger – manages to live off virtually nothing for days, but then binges.
  • The rusher – skips breakfast, overeats at lunch, might have a TV dinner at night.
  • The socialiser – eats and drinks too much with friends.
  • The rewarder – eats to cheer oneself up. This type of eater can usually find an excuse every day for a little reward.
  • The settler – cooks huge amounts of food for a husband or boyfriend and then joins in.
  • The comforter – eats to forget life’s problems. Becomes a vicious circle as eventually weight becomes the problem.

Which of these resonate with you? Be honest, and try consciously to break any unhealthy habit. The picker is probably the healthiest of these, but make sure your snacks are healthy. Researchers in the US asked 500 women to classify themselves according to these seven archetypes, and almost 70% described themselves as a “rusher” – they blamed their bad eating choices on the fact that because they’re always on the go, they don’t have the time to eat healthily. With cafés, supermarkets and Mr. Delivery within easy reach, it’s all too easy to reach for a ready-made sandwich or dial for a takeaway.

10 Simple tips to help you break the habit
The secret, and it’s really no secret, is planning. Think about all three meals as well as snacks for the family.

  • Make a weekly calendar which includes all the family’s activities – as well as meals – and stick it on your fridge. This way you won’t be tempted to try to cook something that takes two hours when you only have an hour between collecting the kids from sports practice and getting them back to school for something else.
  • Shop according to your meal plan and you won’t be tempted to buy those little extras.
  • Take care about what you put in your mouth. It’s easy to enjoy lighter foods like salads in summer. A balanced diet with mostly raw, fresh veggies and fruit and some lean protein (chicken or fish) is optimum. Because our body burns fat best early in the day and stores fat at night, if you can, eat your biggest meals earlier and have a light supper, or have your dinner by no later than 7.30pm.
  • Get hold of a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie —or browse his range of recipes on his website – or any other recipe book with time-saving, cost-effective recipes. Save with Jamie includes quick and delicious recipes using leftovers.
  • Aussie nutritionist-blogger Jessica Sepel has a wealth of delicious and nutritious recipes, including snacks and desserts, which will satisfy the family’s palate, while ensuring they’re healthy. If you’re rushing around all day, prepare one of Jessica’s healthy smoothies and keep it in a chilled cooler for lunch on the go rather than reaching for that BLT.
  • Not many of us can devote an entire morning or afternoon to preparing meals for the week, but we can find moments in the day to do a little extra. While cooking tonight’s dinner, stick another pot on the stove and boil some eggs for easy breakfasts. If you’re making a salad, chop the entire cucumber, lettuce, carrots, etc. Use what you need and keep the rest for the following day’s snacks.
  • Keep a healthy bag of nuts and goji berries in your desk drawer for snacks and replace all fizzy drinks in your home and work fridge with water. Put a few slices of lemon, orange and cucumber in a jug of water and keep this in your fridge for a refreshing and calorie-free drink.
  • Summer plus: If you struggle to drink your litre-and-a-half of water, keep a jug of it chilled and add some flavour with a bit of fruit juice, chamomile tea, lemon, or mint. Set your timer for every two hours and drink a glassful.
  • Say yes to yourself and your family and no to (almost) everything else. If you’re constantly out and about saving the world, chances are you’re going to neglect yourself and your family. Focus on making sure you and your family eat correctly and get enough exercise during the week.
  • Lastly, remember that you are in control of what you put in your mouth. When we choose convenience foods and take-aways rather than freshly prepared foods, we really have no idea what we are eating and may unconsciously be piling on the calories. Keep in mind how awful you feel when you eat badly. Take a proper lunch break at work and eat slowly. Also, try to eat your evening meal relatively early so that your body has a proper chance to digest it.

Healthy gut
If you’re doing everything right and are still struggling to shed the muffin top, maybe your gut is not functioning efficiently. If you aren’t already taking probiotics to help your gut with friendly bacteria which allow you to absorb the nutrients from your food efficiently, now is the time to start. You can also reinoculate your gut with good bacteria from fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, Bulgarian yoghurt with live cultures, kombucha, and the fiery Korean cabbage kimchi.


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