A rather unsurprising study has found that new moms' health can suffer because they don't have time to work out or make healthy food. But new dads' health remains unaffected.
According to CNN, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that new moms ate 400 calories per day more than non-moms, and also consumed fewer green veggies, more saturated fat and nearly twice as much soda. They also exercised 60-90 minutes less per week than non-parents, and had a higher average BMI, by about one point. These differences held even when the researchers controlled for race and income.
Of course, it's not such a shock that new moms might have higher BMIs than child-free women. They recently gave birth, and unlike celebrities, may not lose their baby weight instantaneously. Nor is the fact that they're consuming more calories necessarily cause for alarm, especially if they happen to be breast-feeding. It is a little distressing, though, that new moms aren't finding time to exercise or eat their vegetables. Says lead study author Jerica Berge, "Moms might be having multiple time demands and have to sacrifice making healthier meals. They cook high-fat, more palatable foods because they don't have time to do otherwise." She adds, "We found that they are trying [to eat healthy], but they are not able to do it all the time."
One possible solution to this might be for dads to pitch in a little bit more. Researchers found that while they also exercised less after the birth of their kids, they didn't suffer any dietary changes. Obviously nobody wants dads to become less healthy, but maybe they need to share the burden of cooking broccoli once in a while. Family physician Dr. Fran Biagioli tells CNN that she routinely talks to parents-to-be about diet and exercise — maybe such interventions could be tailored to help dads get more involved. And while parents' health is important, we should also remember that having a baby will necessarily shake things up a bit. Says Berge, "It's a new phase of life, they're learning to be parents, and there's a trade-off between parenting and taking care of themselves that they need to be able to balance." The key word, as in so many things, is balance — and if new parents are getting the nutrition they need, a TV dinner once in a while is probably okay.
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