Five Tips for Shifting with Children

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1) Disconnect the Garbage Disposal. It happens at almost every meal. The kids don’t finish their plates and before they hit the sink, Mom proceeds to eat the scraps like a human garbage disposal. Those little bits of food accumulate to extra portions, which mean extra calories, carbs and fat. At each meal, make yourself a plate and stick to your portion. Another helpful tip is to have the kids clear their own plates. A three-year old child is typically capable of this chore. Moms also tend to snack on the kids snacks. Resist munching on GoldFish at the park by packing some healthy snacks for yourself. Fruit or a healthy trail mix are good alternatives for both kids and Moms.

2) Pass the Cake. Birthday parties and group activities are Shift saboteurs. When you have 15-20 kids gathered in one place, you can bet there is a lot of unhealthy food and desserts. It can be hard to be the parent that declines a piece of cake, a slice of pizza, a cupcake or some pretzels but it can be done. Perfect the pass by getting used to saying, “no thank you.” Some parents can be persistent in wanting you to eat but hold strong. You can also try to get engaged with the kids to help distract you and pass the time. Your kids will think you are the coolest Mom there if you actually get in the bounce house. You could also hide in the restroom or step out for an “important call.” If it seems unavoidable that you must have a plate of cake in your hand, take one bite and then toss it.

3) Prep Without Partaking. Young children have different dietary needs and preferences than an adult making a Shift. There are going to be carbs in the house. You are going to have to prepare pasta and rice. Many Moms will say “I cannot prepare separate meals for myself and the kids.” A solution is to prepare a healthy carb, protein and vegetable for every meal. Cook extra protein and vegetables. If the kids are having chicken, pasta and broccoli. Make yourself a plate with broccoli and chicken. Prepare the kids’ healthy carb in a smaller portion. This will eliminate leftovers, your temptation to eat them and keep your kids’ portions in check as well. Even if the kids refuse to eat vegetables, continue to present them with a vegetable option at every meal. By repeatedly presenting foods the kids wouldn’t eat, I discovered my 5-year-old likes cucumbers and broccoli, my 8-year-old loves mushrooms, my 3-year-old enjoys crunching on lettuce and my 1-year-old gobbles down mashed cauliflower.

4) Get In and Get Out. When it comes to the kitchen, your goal is to get in and get out with military precision. Set times for your kitchen to be open for meal preparation and remain closed. When the kitchen is closed, it is closed for everyone. Have the kids color a sign that says, “STOP! Kitchen Closed!” Just like you, most kids will have 3 meals a day and 2-3 snacks. Portion out snacks for the kids and keep in the pantry or fridge for easy quick access. It will eliminate having a huge bag of Trader Joe’s Puffs splayed open on the counter with both the kids and you munching away. Instead of hiring a babysitter so you can get housework done or get a break from the kids; hire a cleaning person to help around the house and so you can go out with the kids. Go to the park, go to the gym, go for a walk — go anywhere and be active with them. The key is to stay out of the kitchen when it is not open.

5) Share Not Compare. When groups of Moms get together, there is a natural sharing of birth experiences, nursing stories, bad habits, good habits and everything in-between. The playground is a hot bed of personal information. Moms routinely talk about their weight, as opposed to work settings where there are usually personal boundaries. You will know about your neighbors’ hemorrhoids, her inverted nipples and how much weight she gained and lost with each pregnancy. Just like your birth story, your weight gain and loss story is yours and yours alone. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to other Moms and instead form bonds and relationships that bring out the best in you and make you feel good about yourself and your Shift.

Katherine Howell, M.S. is an education professional, turned Stay at Home Mom of four young children. Katherine shifted from being a woman who put herself on hold for her family, to one that now views motherhood as an opportunity to unleash your deepest potential. You can read more about how to be a smarter, stronger and healthier Mom at

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