What does health mean to you? As a working family man it's likely no longer about being ripped and beach-ready, and more about being there for your children and partner, and being fully involved in your children's lives as they age.
For my friend Mike, now it's simply a matter of being able to hold his daughter's hand as she takes her first steps without his lower back hurting so much he needs to take a break. For John, it's just keeping up with his son so he can be there for her when he needs him to be.
They both want to be back in the shape they used to be in before they had kids, so they can play with, support and enjoy life with their families.
If that sounds like you, I've made a short list of simple but high impact changes you can add to your eating habits that can help you improve your health and don't take much effort leaving you with plenty of time to still spend with your family. This doesn't touch on exercise, which is a very important part of the process as well.
10 "first steps" to getting back in shape after becoming a father
- Change soft drinks out for water, and do it gradually. Processed foods and drinks are believed to bypass the body's food regulatory systems and not cause satiety. That means you could drink all your calories and still have room for food - leading to excessive weight gain.
- Grocery shop and prepare several of your lunch meals on the weekend! Cooking several servings of rice and chicken at once makes it easy to avoid eating out at work because you'll have your prepared lunch with you.
- Cut/prepare vegetables the night before (like peppers or broccoli) so you have a healthy alternative to snacking at work, and can control your appetite.
- Eat protein more regularly throughout your day and with every meal - protein bars, almonds, greek yogurt are great high-protein snacks. Protein is not stored like carbohydrates and fats, and instead stored as a pool in your bloodstream that needs constant replenishment. Our bodies can't function well at all without proteins and amino acids because they're needed to produce important molecules in our body, they help replace worn out cells, and they aid in growth and repair. Also importantly, proteins can help release free fatty acids from adipose tissue - in other words, your body fat will be sent to cells for fuel instead of hanging around your midsection!
- Get an omega-3 supplement - This can greatly reduce your risk of disease, and help lower your blood pressure.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you - dehydration is responsible for grogginess or fatigue, headaches, feeling lightheaded and having a dry mouth. Your body depends on water to survive!
- Observe how your food makes you feel! We often eat more than we need to absent-mindedly or choose our portion-sizes based on what we're used to having. Eat till about 80% of feeling "full" - and notice how that makes you feel.
- Don't think about "dieting" - consider it gradually changing your eating habits to better reflect your goals.
- Have protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats with every meal! Precision Nutrition's "How to fix a broken diet" article is great for this topic
- Add a multivitamin to your diet! You may not have the time to always eat the way you'd like to, so a multivitamin ensures you're still getting all the vitamins you need for proper functioning of almost all the processes in your body (including growth, digestion, nervous system function and even energy transfer)
Obviously this list just lightly touches on several aspects of improving your eating habits, and isn't an in-depth guide to changing your health and fitness, but it might be useful for someone who is starting out and needs to get their momentum going again from scratch.
Your goal in this is to slowly change your diet to have more whole foods, more vegetables, and more lean protein, with less processed foods and sugary drinks to improve your energy, look and feel like you used to by losing any excess weight you've gained, and still have time for your family.
By making changes to your diet to improve your health and life, you ultimately become the role model your children need to live healthy and balanced lives.
Hope this was helpful!