Busy Moms Diet and Health Guide: Revitalize Your Health in Just 5 Simple Steps

You’re a busy mom. You don’t have time to try every new diet or commit to an hour of exercise each day. I get it. We just don’t have time to do ALL the things. This busy mom’s diet and health guide will help you narrow down the most important changes you need to make to improve your diet and health now and in the long run. 

Best part? These simple actions for busy moms will help you easily get started today, without feeling overwhelmed. So read on, and then…take action. 

Mom drinking coffee at a kitchen counter with a daughter on each side of her

Revitalize your Health in Just 5 Simple Steps 

Where did all the time go?! After having kids, it feels like everything in life is on fast forward, and the time set aside for prioritizing ourselves just seems to vaporize. 

Unfortunately, health doesn’t just happen; we have to make it happen. Especially for busy moms trying to lose weight. 

While I don’t believe there is a single best diet for busy moms, I do think that everyone can benefit from the basics: getting sufficient protein and including fruits and vegetables.

Here, I’ve laid out some simple strategies to help busy moms lose weight, stay healthy, and get fit without going crazy. Don’t overthink it; just do it.   

Let’s get started with step #1!

1. Plan Your Dinners for the Week  

Yes, it takes time to put together a plan, but far less time if you do it all at once for the week rather than going back to the drawing board every. single. day. 

Maximize Your Time by Creating a Plan

So, what does busy mom meal planning look like? Whether you’re a working or stay-at-home mom, it looks the same.

Set aside a day each week for planning dinners and creating a corresponding grocery list. Then, do yourself a favor and order your groceries online (this also saves you from impulse buys).

Have the groceries delivered or save the delivery fees and do drive-up/pick-up. Or even better…send your significant other to do the pick-up.

Either way, in just a few weeks, you’ll be feeling pretty impressed with your new organized self. 

Create a List of Go-To Dinner Ideas

To make the actual menu planning easier, start a typed or handwritten list of quick and easy dinners. These would be your common go-to dinner ideas.

Add to this list throughout the month (get ideas from friends, food blogs, or cookbooks) to build up a repertoire of quick meals.

Then, when you’re in a meal-planning rut, reference this pre-made list to save time and mental energy. 

The best options are meals that are healthy for you and adaptable for those carb-craving picky eaters (eh hem, your kids).

Think tacos for them, taco salad for you. Or burgers for them, and you swap the bun for jicama tortillas (yep, Trader Joe’s has these). Spaghetti for them, and you swap the noodles for spaghetti squash. Fewer carbs, more veggies…you get the point. 

Enlist the Help of a Meal Planner

And if you are totally super stuck then turn to a meal planning app to do the work for you. You can purchase access to my personal favorite meal-planning app on my website. 

It’s amazing for so many reasons: registered dietitian-approved recipes, meals personalized to meet YOUR specific calorie and macronutrient needs, easy meal swaps, food preferences/avoidances taken into account, and an automated grocery list. 

Plus it’s super duper easy to use. For real. Check it out. 

Now onto step #2…

2. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand

Although your cupboard may be full of “kid snacks,” you must ensure you also have some “adult snacks” on hand. Before we get into some good options for adult snacks, take a few minutes to do your future self a favor. 

Clean Out the Cupboard

Go into your cupboard, pantry, or wherever you keep foods easily accessible and do some cleanup to make healthy eating easier.

Get rid of all the junk food. Then move the less healthy stuff out of reach. Out of sight is even better (garage, separate cupboard or drawer. Maybe you get your own special cupboard so you’re not tempted by the other snack foods.

Eye level is where we want you to put your go-to healthy snacks so they are the first thing you see when you walk into the pantry or open a cupboard. Kids’ snacks could go down low and your spouse’s snacks could be up high.

Best Snack Options

The best snack options include a combination of protein and carbohydrates to keep blood sugar stable throughout the day. This combination will also keep you fueled and feeling your best all day. 

Your snack would include a fruit (healthy carbs) or veggie along with some protein and/or healthy fats. 

The protein and healthy fats help to slow digestion, which means the sugar is released more slowly from your carb-rich food. This prevents blood sugar spikes and keeps you feeling full longer. 

  • Individually packaged trail mix (Trader Joe’s has tons of choices)
  • Seaweed snacks + a beef stick (Chomp has grass-fed beef options)
  • Banana + peanut butter or almond butter (Justin’s little packets are perfect)
  • Apple + cheese slices
  • Boiled eggs + crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers, whole grain AND gluten-free)
  • Roasted chickpeas + grapes 
  • Healthy protein-rich snack bars (Kind bars, GoMacro bars)

Keep Fresh Produce on Hand

It’ll be important to always have some fruits and veggies on hand and ready to be incorporated into snacks or meals. This means unpacking your groceries, washing the produce, cutting it up (if needed), and placing it in the fridge.

If you need help with meal prep, check out Allison Hollinger. She offers regular free meal prep challenges to teach you ways to simplify and get you motivated.

Be sure to also place these prepped fruits and veggies in your fridge at eye level so you can easily find them. A carrot in the bottom of a produce drawer does not want to be found. 

Plan for a fruit or vegetable EVERY time you eat. Your gut will thank you for that fiber and your cells will love the extra nutrients and antioxidants.

I think you’re ready for step #3…

3. Don’t Skip Lunch! 

So many moms make the mistake of skipping lunch. You’re feeding the kids, doing dishes, folding laundry, making appointments…the list goes on.

Or maybe you’re back to work, trying to take full advantage of that lunch break by getting stuff done instead of eating.

You’re missing out on an opportunity for more nutrition, and it’s only going to come back and bite you in the butt.

Avoid Hunger Driven by Skipping Meals

If you skip lunch, you WILL regret it come 4 pm when the snacking urges become unbearable. 

And that endless post-dinner snacking that blows your calories for the day? That’s likely triggered by skipping a meal earlier in the day too.

Tame hunger and snacking urges by eating something for lunch every. single. day. While you’re at it, do try to sit down while you’re eating – your digestive system thanks you. 

In your busy mom life, this means you have got to have quick meal options on hand.

Easy Lunches

Okay, don’t worry, you can make this easy.

When you put dinner away at night, be sure to put it away into small individual-sized containers.

The next day, when you peer in the fridge, voila, there is your ready-to-go lunch. Then all you need to do is grab it, maybe reheat it, and get to the table before your toddler spills their milk and throws their PB&J on the floor. 

We are now on to step #4…

4. Incorporate Exercise “Snacks”

This has been a popular new term over the past few years, and for good reasons. Just as we need small amounts of food throughout the day to stay fueled, we also need movement throughout the day, and small amounts sure do add up.

Get Active Throughout the Day

These short bursts of activity could be 1 minute of vigorous activity 3-8 times daily or 10 minutes of moderate activity 2 times daily. Both options are beneficial in improving fitness and overall health (1). 

Anything 1-10 minutes is a great exercise snack.

Here are a few examples of exercise snacks, but get creative and add to this list!

  • 10-minute walk
  • 10 push-ups followed by 20 squats and repeat
  • Dancing with your baby to a few songs in the kitchen 
  • Wall squats while brushing your teeth 
  • Going up and down the stairs 5x
  • Walking a lap (or a few) while your kiddo is at their sports practice

Other Exercise Options

If you’re bored or feeling unmotivated about exercise, then you need to spice things up a bit. Try a new fitness class, listen to music or a podcast while walking, or involve a friend for accountability.

If your kids are home with you, consider incorporating your youngsters into your workouts.

Take them for a run in the stroller, have dance competitions (we love the Just Dance! Video game), or join a local Fit4Mom stroller strides group where you get to work out, and they get to play with friends afterward.

Just find a way to make it happen. 

And lastly, step #5…

5. Aim for at Least 7 Hours of Sleep 

None of the above can be possible without precious sleep. Living life in a fog just leads to bad moods, low motivation, increased snacking, and endless caffeine.

And then the vicious cycle is on repeat.

Sleep Impacts Your Hormones

Improving sleep allows you to make better choices around food – it’s even proven in research! Hear me out: when we don’t get enough sleep, our body produces more hunger hormones (ghrelin) and fewer fullness hormones (leptin) (2). 

Think back to the last time you got very little sleep, weren’t you soooo hungry and felt you couldn’t really get full? Yep! That lack of sleep was to blame for messing with your hormones. 

Sleep Impacts Your Decisions Around Food

And to make matters worse, lack of sleep causes the part of your brain that controls behavior to become more dormant and the reward center more active (3). 

This means your brain will be telling you, “Yes, that package of Oreos is a good idea” and nobody will be there to disagree. Don’t torture yourself like that…and while you’re at it, throw out the Oreos. 

Making Sleep Happen

I get it, maybe you’re in the throws of sleep regressions, or maybe you procrastinate your own bedtime because you need that last 3 hours of the night to be totally yours.

But really, if you’re too tired to make healthy changes, you need to rethink your priorities here. 

Do you need 3 hours of Netflix every night before bed, or would 2.5 hours suffice? Is there a sleep coach that can help you tackle the nighttime wake-up calls? 

Something’s gotta give because sleep is an integral part of health. Plus, you’ll be more fun to be around if you’re well-rested. 

Graphic of the 5 simple steps to for improving diet and health as a busy mom

Taking Action

I know, I know, I said 5 simple steps, and this all sounds like a lot! 

The best thing you can do right now is to pick only ONE thing from this list and start it today. Trying to do everything all at once and with no time would be an instant failure. 

Work one of these steps into your routine. Once that feels comfortable, then add another step.

Building new habits incrementally is more likely to stick than trying to change a whole bunch of things all at once. That would be overwhelming and unsustainable.

When things get tough, just remember YOU are worth it, and YOU are worthy of time. 

Oh, and don’t forget the major bonus! 

The great thing about YOU making changes (well, there are several great things), but the one you’ll really feel good about, is that you’ll be showing your kids what it looks like to take care of yourself and be healthy. 

Because that’s all we really want: to be happy and healthy moms who are raising happy and healthy kids. 

Remember, if you need help taking action on meal planning, then try out my meal planning app. It will make life so much easier. 

For more tips, join my community in the Facebook Group: Weight Loss Support for Moms with (and without) Insulin Resistance.

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