Secrets from a Mom’s Food Diary

Secrets from a Mom’s Food Diary

Being a mom has impacted the way I eat — for better and worse! Here’s what I’ve learned.


By: Lexi Walters Wright

Getting married and becoming a mom have been two of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. I’ve changed in so many ways, especially how I eat (from what I eat to when I eat it and if I’m proud to admit it). Here’s how I finally got on the upswing toward sustainable, healthy meals.

What Meals were like Before Marriage 
This story starts with a hard truth: I came into my marriage with some junky cookware and a couple platters.

As a single gal, my idea of meal planning had been to hit the prepared foods bar at the grocery store on Sunday night and live on containers of chopped veggies, lentil salads and hearty soups throughout the week. The cookware was for special nights and the platters for the occasional party.

As a bachelor, my husband frequented the restaurants where his friends worked during the week.

As a couple, we were totally fine eating a dinner of crackers and cheese or ordering pad thai takeout three meals in a row.

Wedding Bells Ring in a New Culinary Era 
Like many newlyweds, we upped our collective culinary game after the wedding so as to break in our registry loot.

We purchased a farm share, picking beans and tomatoes in the morning, which we chopped into bright salads and stir-fries by evening.

We held a weekly potluck with friends for three years, impressing one another with simple but unexpectedly flavorful dishes made from local meats and veggies. (We were probably as insufferable then as we sound to me now.)

When the time came to make a baby, I honestly didn’t give my diet much of a thought. I’d been a vegetarian for more than a decade at that point and considered myself pretty healthy. So I stopped my weekly cocktails, started taking prenatal vitamins, and (finally) got pregnant.

What happened next? I said “hello baby” and “goodbye healthy eating habits” for the next three years. Here are the (oft-unappetizing) highlights.

Pregnancy: Belly Gets What Belly Wants 

  • I was starving all the time, but too tired to cook. The result? Big batches of soups and stews and trays of lasagnas last for days.
  • Fearing we wouldn’t be able to go out to eat for the next few decades, my husband and I ate at our favorite restaurants every night for the last month before my son is born.
  • Even the mention of produce could send me sprinting to the bathroom.
  • 8-12 teeny meals per day. Lots of sandwiches and noodle dishes — anything carb-based with trace amounts of veggies and protein. I missed cooking, but was spent by even the prospect.
  • Late-night cookies were a must.
  • Dairy cravings every hour.
  • Heartburn-a-go-go.

Parenting Year One: One-Handed Foods

Months 1-3:

  • I subsisted on nibbles of food graciously delivered by friends, which my husband kindly cut up for me. Nursing required me to use one arm, so ideal foods were rolled such that I could easily shove them in my mouth.
  • Breastfeeding every 30 to 40 minutes around the clock left me hangry.
  • Bottles of water and bags of nuts were strewn around the house.

Months 4-12:

  • Scarfing salad in 90-second windows while the baby tolerated the baby swing.
  • Nearly choked on a burrito because a friend offered to hold the baby while I ate, and I didn’t want to take advantage of her time.
  • Calories > nutrition.
  • I gobbled more than my own share of teething crackers.

Parenting Year Two: “Want to Try What Mama’s Having?”

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  • I’m blessed with an un-picky eater, which meant every meal was dinner theater. “Oooh, this is squash. It’s a little chewy — watch me chew it! Nom nom nom!”
  • My son grabbed any handfuls of any food he could reach, so I was suddenly conscious of what was on my plate at all times.
  • I attempted cooking again: Simple fish dishes, rice and beans, easy vegetable casseroles.
  • My son wasn’t the type to sit contentedly with a toy while I cooked, so the process felt hurried and less creative than cooking felt before he was born. (Duh.)

Parenting Year Three: Nutrition? What Nutrition?

  • I’d gone back to work full time but I only had part-time daycare, which left me working into the wee hours after my family was asleep.
  • I re-enlisted my second trimester cookie habit to keep me awake.
  • During the day, I subsisted on coffee, toast and cereal.
  • Dinners were still pretty balanced as we all three ate together, but crunchy, sugary, chewy foods were my weakness.

Parenting Year Four: Balanced Meals and a More Balanced Me
We’ve finally arrived at the present, and I’m proud to say I’ve made a lot of progress.

  • My son is now a “threenager.” His mood rules his food choices, though in fairness he still has a varied palate. That means that he’ll mainly eat everything I serve for dinner, so I can once again play with menus and cruise the Internet for vegetarian family meal ideas.
  • I’ve settled into a routine of preparing as many dinner ingredients as is possible before work in the morning so that I can just dump all the cut ingredients in a pan at 4:30 p.m.
  • That midnight cookie break? I’m working on it.

The moral? Just as parenting these last four years has been a wild ride, so too have my eating habits. All the same, the lessons have been, well, healthy — in more ways than one. I’ve learned to be OK with my less-than-perfect eating record.

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