Research Shows Why Motherhood is Exhausting
Research has confirmed something that women have long suspected. Motherhood is exhausting. New research from the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women has found mums take an average 9,000 steps a day as they look after children, pick up toys and clothes, prepare meals and finish housework.
But many mums are struggling to fit in the recommended amount of moderate physical activity and a nutritious diet into their busy day - two key elements of a healthy lifestyle.
"Young mums are good at making sure their children remain healthy but that leaves little time or energy to look after their own health needs," says Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dr Catherine Lombard.
"Young women are gaining around six to seven kilos per decade, putting them at risk of developing serious health issues such as diabetes and heart disease at midlife. Pregnancy and a change in lifestyle following the birth of children contribute to this weight gain."
"Whilst women are generally confident they can change their diet, they are not so confident they can change their activity patterns," says Dr Lombard.
"Most mums (72%) say they have limited what they ate in order to lose weight," she says. So how can busy and exhausted mums improve their diet and exercise behaviours?
Focus on preventing weight gain, rather than weight loss: The first step in improving your health is simply to prevent weight gain.
Make long term plans for a healthier lifestyle: Set a realistic health goal, make a plan, find a friend to support you and monitor what you do. Try the 10-week plan from the Dietitians Association of Australia or get help from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Reschedule your day: Schedule a walk in the morning when you have more energy and leave housework until the afternoon. Even a 10-minute walk in the fresh air will make you feel more energised and help you to perform better all day. Meet a friend in the park and take turns to watch the children while the other person walks.
Eat breakfast every day: Breakfast is a good source of carbohydrates and B-group vitamins for energy, a source of calcium for bones and provides fibre for bowel health. Eat wholegrain cereal, wholemeal bread, low fat milk and fruit. Avoid sweet, honey-toasted, crunchy cereals.
Have lunch with your kids: Eat like your children at lunchtime, Have a sandwich with salad and lean meat or tuna, some fruit and some low fat milk, yoghurt or cheese for bone-strengthening calcium.
Don't be afraid of carbohydrates: Don't be too strict with carbohydrates, particularly if you often feel tired in the afternoon. Bread and cereals - especially wholemeal varieties - are important for nutrition and energy.
Decrease saturated fat and eat more fruits and vegetables every day: Choose lower fat versions of three foods you eat often, such as lean meats and low fat dairy foods, and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Move more every day in as many ways as possible: While your children are playing outside steal their skipping rope and skip for five minutes, or do step-ups on a back step. Walk to the shops or to school with your children.
Eat regular meals and eat only when hungry: You will have more success in managing your weight if you have regular meals and healthy snacks and avoid eating because you are tired, alone, upset or anxious.
Plan ahead for changes to your exercise and eating routine: Watch for times when your eating and activity routine changes - such as during school holidays. Plan ahead for how you will maintain some exercise then, whether that's walking, dancing, swimming, cycling or surfing. Include healthy foods in your diet daily during these times and then you can enjoy some treats.
Further health information for women is available from the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health tollfree on 1800 151 441 or online at www.jeanhailes.org.au