How To Parent When You’re On a Diet

Parenting on a diet

When your child looks good enough to eat. Literally.

Parenting is hard enough without being so hungry you want to eat your children. Of course, I would never do such a thing (I’m veggie, after all), but talk to me all you want about slow-release carbs and level blood sugar – if I’m restricting my calorie intake, I’m not the only one to suffer.

It’s that time of year when everyone is on a diet, or so it seems. I’m never normally one to join them, but turns out that as the years creep on, you can no longer drink your body weight in Baileys with impunity. The Christmas bulge is harder to lose, and, as mentioned, the years are creeping on. In fact, I am going to be 40 in seven short weeks, and my Baileys belly is not invited to the party!

Eat nice, play nice?

I’m well known amongst family and friends for being a *bit* snappy when hungry. And my kids are annoying enough (LOVE THEM!) anyway. Combine the two and you have misunderstandings, sharp words and, I’m afraid, some downright shouting. Of course, even after a four-course meal, my children have the capacity to goad me, but when I am counting the minutes to my next (sorry-excuse-for-a-) meal, I find it particularly hard to exercise the patience and tolerance necessary for harmonious family relations.

Sugar crash clash 

This occurs when the mother (me) is halfway between meals and goes to collect her children, who haven’t eaten for a barbaric three-four hours depending on the lunch rota. Sometimes I’m surprised the car doesn’t go up in flames before we manage to rip the snacks open. But still no snack for mummy.

A similar phenomenon is found in the morning, when the children, high from their breakfast, contrast with their mother, who is so wound up with getting the three of them out the door, she has not been able to eat even if she’d wanted to. Even if the kids’ breakfast is not that sugary, they are still on a different plane to me, and the result is explosive.

(Stealing food) from the mouths of babes

You don’t want that last chip, do you darling?

Even if don’t get hangry like me, there are other subtle effects dieting has on parenting. Watching your child’s every mouthful and pouncing on every unsuspecting slip of the fork. Dumping salt all over leftover food to stop you picking at it – and then eating it anyway. Deceiving your children so they don’t realise you’re on a diet, to avoid introducing the concept at an unnecessarily early age. (Although of course it’s a good thing to teach them healthy eating habits by example.)

A mum marches on her stomach

Mums need fuel.

  • We do a lot of physical labour: hoisting kids, kit bags, overloaded laundry baskets – and our asses – around all day. Add in emergency sprints to avert accidents at any given moment and you are clocking up quite a burn.
  • We don’t get much sleep. The energy has to come from somewhere.
  • We need brain power. If the doctor’s receptionist asks our child’s date of birth, we must not fail to answer as we’re gazing dreamily at the left-over Cheerios on the worktop.
  • We need comfort. Yeah, yeah I know we’re not supposed to comfort eat in this new juicing age, but sometimes you need a little something when you’re tired, lonely, frustrated, bored, going mental or many of the other feelings common to mums.

So how to combine Parenting and Dieting?

I’m not saying you can’t diet and parent. Obviously. Although in moments of extreme ‘hanger’, you might find yourself thinking dark thoughts about how it’s your child’s doing that you’re in this shape in the first place (incorrect, in my case, the blame is fully at Cadbury’s door) it isn’t fair to take your diet out on the children. My adequately-fed self knows this. So before you snap at your child, ask yourself, is he really being annoying or does mummy need a snack? If after a hasty oatcake you still find them being unreasonable, then welcome to parenthood.

The Mum Snap Continuum









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