Fatigue and being a mom go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is true that if only you could get some more sleep, exhaustion would not be the case. Fatigue is worse when you have a small infant and it gradually reduces as they get older, but there are plenty of situations where you are still just exhausted. Your kid is sick. Then the next one gets it. Then you get it. You are tired. When the bad dreams start, you are tired. The show on Netflix is just too good to stop watching. You are tired. And on it goes. As a mom, you are just tired. A lot. Is there anything you can do about it? YES!
Fatigue Fighter #1: Limit high sugar foods and beverages
Eating carbohydrates is our first response when we are tired and dragging. We crave sweets and bread and chips and any other snack food that is high in carbohydrates. Our bodies do this because our brain thinks that if we stuff our faces with this stuff, we will feel better, and we do–but only for a short time. The short term energy boost we get from these kinds of foods is often followed by a “crash.” The broken down carbohydrates, now sugars in our bloodstream, are gone, and we are right back to where we were, or worse!
When we limit high sugar foods, we can easily avoid the “crash.” A good rule of thumb is to limit “added sugars” to no more than 6 tsp per day. This is about 24 grams. This recommendation doesn’t include the “natural sugars” that are found naturally in fruits and many dairy products. Twenty-four grams per day of added sugars is equal to the amount in 2 fun size snicker bars. How are you doing with this recommendation?
Check this out for more info about sugars.
Fatigue Fighter #2: Take your prenatal or your multivitamin
I get discouraged with this one as vitamins and minerals can be tricky! There are so many options! Here are a couple quick and easy ways to find a good one. First, look for a certification from a third party company that verifies the contents of the supplement like USP (United States Pharmacopia). Second, find one that has about 100% of most nutrients. With vitamins and minerals there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Third, look specifically for these fatigue fighting nutrients: selenium, B vitamins, zinc, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D, and make sure your multivitamin has about 100% of each of these nutrients. Other supplements that may be helpful for you in your quest to gain energy include fish oils and probiotics.
Fatigue Fighter #3: Eat some veggies
I know you are all tired of hearing me talk about this! But seriously, vegetables (and fruits too) contain many of the important nutrients I listed above. They also give you loads of prebiotics (which is really just a fancy name for fiber). Prebiotics turn into Probiotics in your gut and do all sorts of good things for you including boosting your energy and your immune system!
Aim for 4-5 cups per day of fruits and veggies and work your way up to 7-9 cups per day. That is a lot, I know. But I can guarantee that if you are diligent in this step, you will feel excellent! Think of it this way, if you aim to have 1 cup of fruits or veggies with 3 snacks a day, there’s 3 cups right there. Then if you aim for 2 cups with each meal, you are at 7 cups and you made it!
To discover what vegetables are in season, check out this link.
Fatigue Fighter #4: Eat Regularly
This is one we mamas forget a lot! I am so busy taking care of my kids sometimes that I forget to eat! Don’t forget. You must take care of you in order to do a good job taking care of them, right? So what does eating regularly mean? It means you may need to include healthy snacks if you are going longer than 5 hours between meals. More often if you are feeling hungry or if you are nursing. (I was STARVING when I was nursing.)
Be intentional about your snacks and include a good source of protein each time you eat. For snacks that might be a string cheese, yogurt, nuts, nut butter, meat or tuna, or edamame. Of course, there are lots of other options for protein, but this will get you started. If you consider the fruit and vegetable goal from above, you should try to include a veggie or a fruit with each snack. Think about pairing an apple with a string cheese or some carrot sticks with peanut butter. Healthy snacks can be a great part of any fatigue fighting plan!
Fatigue Fighter #5: Exercise
I know you didn’t want me to say that word. And yes, I know this isn’t a nutrition tip, but it is sooooo important! I have many clients who tell me they are too tired to exercise. But I actually think the opposite it true! Exercise gives you more energy, right? (The answer is yes. This fact is scientifically proven). Then really, aren’t you too tired NOT to exercise?
It can be hard to fit it in, especially if you have young kids. I get that. There are many ways that I actually include my children in my exercise like doing piggy back rides while walking around the park or doing push ups over baby and giving kisses with each downward motion. I have also found it helpful to have a gym that has reliable child care so that I can have some much needed mommy time! Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or long or boring. Find something you enjoy doing and find a routine. When you enjoy it, it isn’t that hard to do it.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by all of these “to dos.” don’t be! Think about all of the benefits you will get and how much better you will feel! Your motivation to feel great will get you a long way. Let us know what works for you to fight mom fatigue!