4 Reasons Parents Of Young Children Often Gain Weight (And What To Do About It)

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Raising children is one of the most selfless things you can do.

At times, it may just be so selfless, that you question your decision to have kids in the first place.

You are literally giving your life away for a decade, perhaps longer if you’re Catholic.

By the time your children are finally dependent and able to exist on their own, you’ll be at the stage of your life when you’re eating dinner at 4 pm and munching on Werther’s Originals in Florida.

Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad. Parenting has a multitude of positives, but the positives aren’t what this article is about.

We get applications for our online fat loss programs every day from new parents.

Not only is it possibly the most strenuous and difficult time period of your entire life, but it’s a time period that often adds unwanted pounds to your midsection.

Staying lean, being active, AND figuring out how to raise a helpless puke factory can be done simultaneously.

But there are some big time roadblocks to staying trim and raising young children that you need to be aware of.

Here are 5 of the biggest:

Roadblock #1:  The African Baby Syndrome

We’ve all been there before.

You likely remember when you were a kid and you were staring down a plate of lima beans with fury.

You just wanted a bowl of ice cream, but you HAD to eat those (disgusting) green things.

And your Mother decided to chime in with:

Dear, there are starving children in Africa that would love to eat those lima beans.

Finish your plate, or you get no desert.

Never mind the ridiculous logic behind this weird statement.

I hope giving kids this advice has fallen by the wayside. I have never resorted to “African Baby Tactics” in order to get my daughters to eat anything.

But there’s a different side to this “African Baby Syndrome” that often ends up making new parents eat more calories than they intend to eat.

We make our kids a fantastic dinner. Perhaps a crispy, gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or some chicken nuggets and french fries.

Then, as kids tend to do, they leave half of their delicious meal on the plate.

They’re finished. Completely done. And now, that tasty morsel of food is staring at you as you ponder your next move.

Do you throw the food away?

Put it into a plastic baggie and store it in the fridge, never to be seen again?

Or do you devour the food?

It’s a tough call. It’s a decision I have had to make many times.

We inherently feel guilty about throwing away food. We think of how lucky we are to be able to provide our family with such “treats” when so many people of this world struggle to nourish themselves for even a day.

The “African Baby Guilt” which has been instilled in us from an early age rises to the surface, and we eat the food.

And of course, it tastes fantastic.

Let’s think logically here:

==> Will any actual, starving children be “saved” by eating that food? Nope.

==> Will your child be more “nourished” by eating that food? Nope.

==> Is always finishing off your kids’ plates a good use of calories for you? Nope.

What exactly will this accomplish?

Adding unwanted food into your diet, possibly sabotaging your nutritional goals.

Go ahead, throw away that food. Your waistline will thank you.

I promise your Mother will never know.


Roadblock #2:  Viewing Food As Money

This is perhaps even more dangerous than the African Baby Syndrome.

We live in a capitalistic society.

Everywhere we go, we hear about “ROIs” and “efficiency” and the cost of the goods and services we purchase.

If you are financially savvy, you’re always looking for the biggest “bang for your buck”, so to speak.

You might hear your Mom talking about starving children when you’re thinking about throwing food away, but you may be more likely to see dollar bills being flushed down the drain as well.

Admittedly, this is a bigger deal to my subconscious than starving African children. Please forgive me for saying that.

But all I can think about when my kids don’t finish their plates, at home or at a restaurant, is the debit-card-swipe that occurred in order to purchase that food.

It’s enough to make a penny pincher like myself cringe.

If you can relate to this, there’s a little mantra I say to myself in similar situations:

Jason, this is a sunk cost.

That money has already been spent.

There is no getting it back.

It’s not like devouring that half-eaten cheeseburger and fries will put half of the $8.99 back in your pocket.

Walk away. Life will go on.

This helps me to re-frame the situation, and also stick to my diet better as a result.


Roadblock #3:  Lack Of Sleep

If you were unaware of this, kids don’t have the same sleeping schedules as adults.

We have tried everything to get our kids to sleep past 8.

Later bed times, darker shades, cooler rooms, hotter rooms, more blankets, more pillows.

Nothing works.

As soon as the sun comes up, those kids are bouncing off the walls, ready to face the world.

Please remember this article if you’re on the fence about children.

Brooklyn was born in 2010. That was the last time my wife and I slept past 8 am unless the girls are spending the night elsewhere. Weekends and holidays included.

And it’s usually 6:45. Good times.

This lack of sleep not only raises cortisol levels and causes additional stress and anxiety, but inadequate sleep often manifests itself in hunger.

You will “feel” hungry, even though you are fed and there is no physiological need for more food.

Having a consistent intake, and monitoring your diet closely is your best weapon to insure you don’t inadvertently overeat as a result of not getting a full night’s rest.


Roadblock #4:  Kids Love Junk

One glance at our pantry will tell you the whole story.

Animal crackers, Twizzlers, Coco Puffs, granola bars, Goldfish crackers, popcorn……you name it, we got it.

We never had food like this around the house before children.

And although we try to feed our daughters nutritious, healthy food, we also are realists.

Kids love junk food. 

It’s well documented that our taste buds change over time.

At a young age, we are programmed to enjoy sweets. Eventually, this develops and we begin to enjoy bitter, fermented, and sour foods.

This explains why when I had my first sip of beer at 15 (oops, sorry, 21), I thought it tasted disgusting. And now, I drink the most bitter IPAs I can find and relish every drop.

Just because your children eat the junk food in your pantry doesn’t mean you have to.

It’s okay to have “your kids food” be separate from “your food”.

Keeping these foods separate and steering clear from those “kids’ munchies” will go a long way towards keeping yourself fit and trim as you raise your children.


Yours in parenting,


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