LESS time to exercise, more sweets in the house and usually finishing off the kids lunch leftovers
Yes, the long school holidays are almost upon us. . . another reason why your weight may creep up as you get older.
Among mums, from toddlerhood onwards, the arrow on the scales shoots up an average of 3lb.
And “dad bods” are called them for a reason.
A study in the US found men gained 3.5lb to 4.5lb in the year after the birth of their first baby.
But you can manage weight gain while keeping the family well fed.
Parenting expert Tanith Carey, author of Mum Hacks: Time-Saving Tips To Calm The Chaos Of Family Life, explains how.
NEW parents lose an average of 109 minutes of sleep per night for a baby’s first year, according to the Sleep Junkie tracking plan.
Just ten percent get the recommended seven-plus hours a night in that first 12 months.
You won’t just be exhausted the next day. You are also likely to eat more, gain weight and have a higher risk of becoming obese.
Why? Lack of sleep causes a drop in levels of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, while levels of the hormone ghrelin rise, which causes hunger pangs.
What’s more, when you’re exhausted, sweet choices become an attractive quick fix.
Dr Greg Potter, sleep and diet expert and author of The Principles Of Resilient Nutrition, tells Sun Health: “Poorer sleep can then mean that you do not regulate your food choices as well the next day.
“On average, we consume about 250 more calories per day after insufficient sleep—about the energy in a Snickers bar.”
What to do: For the first year, keep your baby in a cot in your room so that your sleep is not interrupted for so long when you get up to soothe or feed him.
Sleep during the day when your little one sleeps, if you get the chance.
If you’ve had a sleepless night with toddlers, don’t reach for a sugar-laden coffee to perk you up.
Make a cold, protein-based version with plant-based milk, ice, nuts and seeds plus 20g to 30g of protein powder.
Studies have found it can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full for the rest of the day.
An unfinished fish finger here, a few chips there. . . those extra calories add up quickly.
One survey by LighterLife found that moms and dads are pinching an extra 443 calories a week by eating leftovers.
While picking at your child’s food every now and then won’t make too much of a difference, consistently eating 100 more calories a day—the equivalent of two fish fingers—can add up to an extra 10 pounds a year.
Eating after your kids go to bed and sneaking in a glass of wine or beer can also add calories.
Dr Potter says: “During the day your biological clock prepares you for physical activity and food intake. At night, your body is prepared for rest, fasting and regeneration.
“So if you eat late at night, your digestion will tend to be worse, your blood sugar will fluctuate more after food intake, you will burn fewer calories after eating and over time you will tend to store fat more easily. “
What to do: Serve smaller portions to your kids and ask them if they want seconds.
It will also help them take note of their appetite, the signals that tell them when they are hungry or full.
Children are more likely to finish what they have if they are not overwhelmed by a lot of food.
When eating, try to use your child’s smaller plate. It tricks your brain into feeling satisfied sooner. By halving plate size, studies have found, people tend to consume a third less than normal.
Eat with your family to avoid that late night crash.
On the alcohol front, remember that a large 250ml glass of wine is equivalent to an ice cream and a pint is equivalent to a sugar cone.
Then brush your teeth when the kids are at bedtime. You will be less likely to snack or have another drink.
CHILDREN may be hardwired to nag us for sweet treats.
Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia say this is an evolutionary trait because children need more energy as they grow.
Although adults don’t need the same amount of energy, in one survey of 3,000 parents, 12 percent admitted to eating their children’s snacks every time they pass one out.
In adulthood, those extra calories are more easily stored as fat, and mothers tend to eat 368 more calories per day than women without children, according to the University of Minnesota. Fathers are less tempted.
What to do: Try to break the cycle of automatically giving your children chocolate or sweets to keep them quiet or for good behavior.
It’s also good for the kids because it means they don’t grow up thinking of food as an emotional reward, according to research by New York’s University of Rochester.
Instead, reward their good behavior with stickers, games or stories.
And if you and the kids crave something sweet or salty, have healthier alternatives on hand, whether it’s a bowl of pomegranate seeds or almonds roasted with soy sauce or dusted with cinnamon and cocoa.
Run mom, run
IT may feel like you’re always running around after the kids, but a lack of dedicated exercise has been shown to be one of the main reasons parents gain weight.
On average, mothers get just over two hours of moderate activity weekly, compared to three hours for women who are not parents.
This may help explain why the American study also found mothers had a slightly higher average BMI than childless women.
Fathers also lost two hours of physical activity compared to men without children, but did not gain weight, according to the research.
What to do: Instead of watching from the park bench, get involved.
Wear trainers and a comfortable sports bra so your breasts don’t hold you back, and see a trip to the playground as an opportunity to exercise.
Use play equipment like monkey bars as a gym circuit to burn almost 300 calories in an hour – the same as the average gym session – while keeping the kids entertained.
Even a quick catch can work wonders.