Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Mom Diet

When people hear the word “diet”, they generally think of a weight-loss diet. But the word diet simply means “a particular selection of food”. For example, a vegetarian diet includes no meat or animal products, a high-fiber diet is high in fiber, etc. I’ve always eaten a reasonably healthy diet, probably kind of skimpy on fruits and vegetables, but with a good balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and low-fat dairy products. When I became pregnant with Ryan, my diet consisted almost entirely of grilled chicken, Ensure, and cinnamon Altoids. But it’s changed even more radically since he’s been eating more table foods, and eating at the table. I’ve declared my new eating habits the “Mom Diet”.

When he began eating baby food once or twice a day instead of just having a bottle, I found myself either skipping breakfast or having it quite a bit later in the day. Feeding him just took too much attention and concentration to feed myself at the same time, and once he was finished he was never content to sit and wait while I ate my breakfast. So if I did have breakfast at breakfast time, it was often a piece of toast (or half a piece of toast, depending on how energetic he was that morning) or a few bites of a granola bar and a couple of sips of coffee. When his naps began to fall consistently around lunchtime, I was very good at having a sandwich or a bowl of soup for lunch before he woke up and wanted his own lunch. But when his schedule changed so that he was getting up just when I was ready for lunch, my lunch menu turned into a glass of milk and a piece of deli turkey, or occasionally a flour tortilla with a handful of cheese melted onto it. Often I didn’t even get that lunch until 2 or 3 o’clock, but that actually worked out well because Herb and I soon gave up on having dinner when Ryan did and waited to eat until after he was in bed, which resulted in dinner at 8:30 or 9pm. But at least then we all got a real dinner, complete with meat, vegetables, and bread. So that was generally my nutrition for the day.

But now that I’m trying to get Ryan to eat more table food than baby food, I find myself making meals out of his leftovers more and more often. My breakfast is now the Cheerios that I pick up off the floor as he tosses them down (don’t be too grossed out: I wash the kitchen floor frequently, I stick to the 5-second rule, and I avoid the damp O’s) or the majority of the piece of toast that he’s eaten the crust of. I just bought a tub of vanilla yogurt that I’ll mix with fruits to go with his lunch, and I’m sure I’ll end up eating whatever he doesn’t finish. I’ll pack a handful of few animal crackers or Cheezits for an afternoon snack when we’re out shopping and I’ll eat the rest of the baggie when he loses interest (just so they don’t get stale, of course). And if I’m making something for supper that he can share, like mashed potatoes or squash, I’ll put an extra serving on my plate which of course he won’t finish but I will. So essentially, the “Mom Diet” is actually the “Leftovers Diet”.

And you can see that such a diet will never be confusing with a weight-loss diet. In fact, it’s likely to be a weight-gain diet if I don’t watch out. With only a few minutes to prepare and eat breakfast or lunch, it’s very tempting to just grab a pop-tart or a granola bar or a buttered roll or a handful of tortilla chips. With my hopeful outlook, I’ll always put a larger portion of food on my plate than Ryan will eat, plus it won’t occur to me to take a smaller portion for myself.

Fortunately, he’s still enough of a bag of rocks that toting him around burns off quite a few calories, and once he starts walking on his own I have no doubt I’ll be running around more often than I am now. So for the moment, my energy intake is still balanced by my energy output. I just need to remember that the “Mom Diet” is only successful when it’s used as a very temporary measure. But then, by the time Ryan is a teenager, it’ll probably be all I can do to grab enough calories to barely sustain life before he’s eaten everything else in the house.

Eh, it’s all good. (And I'm not just saying that because today's lunch consisted of some chocolate ice cream that Ryan and I shared.)

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