10 Health Mistakes Busy Moms Make

A caffeinated latte or diet soda may seem like just the quick fix for an afternoon energy slump, but it can lead to a crash.
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By Randi Mazzella for

Like many moms, I spend most summer afternoons and early evenings driving my kids to various ball fields for practices or games. This means less time to prepare dinner when I get home and more takeout than I would like (the pizza delivery man and I are on a first name basis.)

Just this past week, I was standing at the snack bar with my son and realized I had just gulped down three-fourths of a very salty stale pretzel because I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast. With summer in full swing, I definitely want to try to eat healthier and avoid gaining weight. I asked Jen Meister and her business partner Sarah Andersen, both holistic health care consultants and nutrition experts, for some advice on how busy moms like myself can make better food choices. Meister says, "Preparation is the key to success in health and wellness." Here are ten mistakes busy moms make and ways to get and stay fit into fall and beyond.

1. We Don't Plan Meals Ahead of Time.

Never leave the house in the AM without knowing what is for dinner in the PM. Food shop on Sundays and plan a weekly menu before you go. Take into account the daily schedule and prepare meals in advance so when you walk in the door, final prep for dinner is just a few minutes.

2. We Get Dehydrated.

A caffeinated latte or diet soda may seem like just the quick fix for an afternoon energy slump, but it can lead to a crash. Instead, carry a reusable water bottle and keep refilling throughout the day. Meister's rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Add some fresh lemon or lime for a little flavor. Herbal teas are also a good option for cool spring evenings.

3. We Don't Pack Healthy Snacks for Ourselves.

Would you send you kid to practice without feeding them and packing a water bottle? Make the same commitment to yourself and avoid having to grab something at the snack bar. Cut up veggies and fruit when making your child's lunch in the morning and store in reusable containers. On the way out the door for the afternoon grab these items along with raw nuts, hardboiled eggs or yogurt to eat during car rides or at while sitting at your kids' events.

4. We Make Bad Takeout Choices.

Sometimes the only option is takeout for dinner. Personally, I cannot resist a slice of hot pizza. But instead of making that a meal, eat one slice and also order a large tossed salad, clear soup or grilled vegetables to go with it.

5. We Eat Packaged/Refined Foods.

We need to eat real food! Most packaged goods are loaded with sugar, excess sodium, stabilizers, and preservatives. Meister says, "If you cannot pronounce even one ingredient, skip it. The fewer the ingredients, the better nourishment." If you have to grab something quickly on the go, look for fresh fruit or an energy bar with all natural ingredients.

6. We Eat "White" Food.

Meister warns moms to stay away from anything white -- including their child's half-eaten macaroni and cheese or peanut butter sandwich. White foods are less healthy and less filling. Instead, choose to eat whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice and whole grains such as quinoa, couscous or buckwheat. Again, try to prepare these foods in advance so it is ready to eat when you arrive home famished.

7. We Let Ourselves Get Hungry.

That gross, lukewarm pretzel I ate at the snack bar would not have tempted me if I had just eaten something substantial during the day. Meister says, "Eating every three hours will help keep blood sugar steady and decrease overeating at meal time."

8. We Skip Exercise.

Don't use running around with the kids as an excuse to skip your own workout. If you really have no time during the day, then wear your sneakers to the field and go for a run during your child's practice. Or just walk around the track and enjoy some fresh air while your children are doing their pre-game warm ups.

9. We Don't Eat Breakfast.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. If you are not hungry when you leave the house, pack something that will keep until mid-morning. Meister suggests preparing oatmeal with chia and flax seeds before bed and letting it sit overnight to enhance the flavor. Add some fresh fruit in the morning and then pour into in a reusable thermos.

10. We Multitask.

Driving too fast because you don't want to be late to the next activity or sending a quick text while driving are dangerous bad habits (and illegal). Try to slow down, take a deep breath and embrace the moment. If you have a few extra minutes at home, how about a quick game of basketball or a walk around the block? If you are watching your child play a sport, really watch them. Andersen says, "When you are spending time with your kids, really be there. Disconnect from technology and enjoy being a mother. It isn't all about 'getting it done'. Your kids really want to interact with you."

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