Are Kids Making You Fat?

A recent long-term study showed that compared to their child-free counterparts, moms with young kids eat about 400 extra calories per day.   The moms in the study consumed more sugary drinks and had a higher fat intake.  They also consumed fewer greens.  They also exercised less.  Fathers, on the other hand, showed no change compared childless men of the same age.
While the study didn’t explore exactly why moms with young kids are at risk of packing on the pounds, there are a few possibilities.  Below possible culprits for the extra pounds- and how to avoid them!
Lack of time and energy to prepare healthy foods.  Without a doubt, raising young kids demands a lot of time and energy.  If your sleep is punctuated with late night calls from your little ones, or if simply keeping up with your young ones leaves you drained, preparing a healthy meal for yourself may be the last thing on your mind.  Unfortunately, turning to processed convenience food only compounds the problem.  Filling the body with nutrient-poor foods will leave you feeling even more fatigued and lethargic.  On the other hand, fueling your body with nutritious foods will give you much more energy.  The extra energy can be used to spend more time playing with your kids, getting your own workout in, and preparing your next healthy meal!
Thankfully, with a little creativity, preparing healthy meals can be quick and easy.  The slow cooker is a great tool to preparing nutritious options with little effort.  Vegetables can be cooked quickly in a steamer or microwave.  Salads can be prepared in 10 minutes or less.  If you are really lacking time or energy, think ‘outside the meal’.  Eggs on whole grain toast with a piece of fruit and glass of milk make a very nutritious supper.   Cottage cheese or yogurt with nuts and fruit are also a great choice.
Not wanting to waste food.  When reviewing one mom’s food journal, I found things like ‘a few bites of bread with Nutella’ and ‘a few spoonfuls of spaghetti’.  A few bites here don’t seem like much, but they add up.  Kids usually know when to stop eating, and it’s usually before they have finished everything on their plate.  It’s not up to your job to finish it off.  Food is wasted whether it ends up in the garbage or it ends up on your hips.  To prevent wasting food, serve smaller portions and refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Eating too much ‘kids’ food.  Hot dogs, Kraft dinner, fish fingers and white noodles sprinkled with cheese should not be staples in your diet, or your kid’s diet.  Foods marketed to kids are generally high in sugar, sodium, and void of nutrients.  While getting young kids to eat anything healthy can be a struggle, it’s a battle worth fighting.  Keep offering healthy meals to your family.  Instead of Kraft Dinner, try making a homemade pasta sauce with lots of veggies (they are easily hidden once they are pureed).  Instead of fish fingers, offer baked fish with a sauce for dipping.  Yogurt, cheese slices and whole grain crackers make a great snack.  You and your family will benefit from healthier choices.
Getting too little exercise.  Lack of exercise is a huge culprit when it comes to gaining weight with kids.  If you don’t have time to fit in your own workout, be active with your kids.  If you’re heading to the park, push your little ones in the stroller rather than taking the car.  At home, put on some music and have a dance party.  Many young kids also enjoy exercising with their moms.  One of our clients purchased one pound weights for her daughter so they could exercise together.  Now that many of the ‘babies’ at our Stroller Boot Camp classes are walking and talking toddlers, they come out of the stroller practice their lunges and push-ups with mom.
Having young kids definitely adds extra challenges to maintaining your weight and keeping fit, but it can be done.  Not only are you taking care of yourself, you are setting a good example for your family.  The stronger, fitter, and more energetic you are, the more you will have to give to your little ones.
Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and Fitness Coach, specializing in weight loss, group fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and health and wellness programs.  She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, home to Ascend Fitness Boot Camp, Stroller Boot Camp, and personal training programs.  For more fitness tips go to

Download your FREE 7 Day Plan!

Listen to the Podcast!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email