Being a new parent is really hard. There is very little time for yourself, and most likely, that time is spent washing bottles and baby clothes, or taking a beloved five minute shower. When my son was born it seemed like I would never again find the time to cook and eat my once healthy Paleo meals. It was frustrating in the beginning finding time to eat, let alone prepare a meal. As a parent of a newborn, the idea of three leisurely meals a day became a joke, and the idea of going through a drive-through window, or sitting down with the baby and a bag of chips became all the more tempting. Yet, I knew that eating well would give me the energy to conquer the long, sleepless nights, and sometimes longer days. In fact, the one thing I’ve learned in this journey is that taking the small amount of time you do have, to prepare healthy meals, is completely worth your time, and has long lasting beneficial effects.
When it came to preparing food, I kept it very simple. I chose a few meals I knew would be satisfying, and I would continuously repeat those meals. Satisfaction aside, I needed meals I could eat with one hand, often over my newborn’s little head. Yes, I hear you, repeating the same foods sounds boring, and it often was lackluster. But, most of the time, I was just happy to have something in my stomach!
Limited time and a hectic schedule are no excuse to eat whatever you want. And, to be honest, the few times I did get overtired and reach for the donuts or muffins, I woke up the next morning feeling miserable and barely able to get through the day. I knew a slippery slope was quick to happen if I continued down this path. So, I used a food delivery service, allowing me to easily order my groceries from my phone. No excuses, healthy options, and the promise I would feel my best putting good in my body.
As a mother, my son’s nutrition took on added importance. When it came time to start my son on solid foods, I discovered something wonderful: I had serendipitously chosen a Paleo pediatrician! She bucked the trend of starting a baby on oatmeal or rice, and we chose sweet potato instead.
People think it’s crazy that I’m not giving him “traditional baby foods,” but I actually find it so much easier! His food could not be more simple to prep. If I’m eating a sweet potato, I’ll mash him some, with coconut milk and cinnamon. I’ll make a thick fruit smoothie of blueberries, bananas, and coconut milk, and freeze portions in non-bleached cupcake cups. When I make a pot of chicken soup with carrots, onions, parsnips, and fresh chicken, I simply blend some for him and freeze it for dinner.
Families often buy special foods for their kids, babies, toddlers, and even teenagers. My son eats what we eat, just a little more mashed up. If I’m on-the-go, I toss an avocado or banana in my bag to mash up for later. We all know food is best shared and having a Paleo baby means we can enjoy it together! Sometimes I’ll just whip up a giant batch of coconut milk-sweet potatoes, and we will eat out of the same bowl.
I’m not going to lie, finding time to prepare food isn’t easy. However, if I’m going to find time for anything in life, it is to make sure that I’m leading a lifestyle which will enable me to feel my best, and be the best parent I can be.
Children learn by example. When you commit and steer clear of the “traditional” baby (and adult) foods your kiddos will follow suit. I’m not wavering when it comes to my health, and especially the health of my child.
Olivia Howell is a new mom living with her son, Weston, and husband on Long Island. When she’s not blogging about parenthood, she is teaching middle school Latin and Ancient History. She is also a quilter, Paleo cook, and loves rearranging her living room on Saturday nights.