Parenting Solo: Can Parenting Make You Fat?

I’ve finally figured out the mystery behind my girth. The thing that propels me into a potato chip and brownie binge. I believe parenting is to blame. Yes mothering has made me fat – long after pregnancy. Well technically the cupcakes, cheeseburgers and candy are the culprits but what is the reason I inhale those things? My answer is the stress of parenting.

Why? Because being a parent raises your standard of living. Not financially. As I have said many times before, being a parent is the financial equivalent of taking your wallet and setting it on fire. By standard of living, I mean that any real parent can’t live the same way after children as they did before children. It’s like all of a sudden doing your best has become your new normal.

But for me that new normal has turned me into an addict- a stress addict. Yes I’m a stress head, a stress aholic, a stress junkie. All the things your mother warned you about. I am “stressed out” most of the day. When I’m stressed, I eat too much, yell too much and worry too much.

In an effort to find a cure for my condition I found out that stress, to the body, is actually as physical as it is emotional. When the body senses stress it tries to protect itself by burning fewer calories. I mean really what sense does that make? How can I be protected by having bigger thighs? And I read that women’s bodies are prone to store fat around the abdomen. Oh great, not only do we have to endure tight muscles, clenched jaws and insomnia – but we get to look like sumo wrestlers in the process!

I, for one, can’t put up with it a moment longer. I have compiled a list of suggestions that should blend together to create a recipe for relaxation.

1. Eat regularly and often. Who knew that the American mantra of breakfast, lunch and dinner is actually contributing to us being an obese nation? Healthy snacking in between meals keeps your blood sugar from plummeting and causing your body to think its starving to death.

2. Keep healthy food handy. With the temptation of fast food all around us we have to adopt the boy scout motto of “Be Prepared”. Make sure that you keep nutrient rich foods close at hand so you are not tempted to order from the dollar menu.

3. When it comes to dinner, less is more. Many people, including me, look forward to a nice big dinner. Who knew I was adding to my own stress by eating late? Cortisol, the hormone the body produces when it’s under stress, is secreted when you are trying to digest food and you wind up keeping yourself up by eating late.

4. Become sleeping beauty. Most nights I could star in my own movie, “Sleeping is the enemy”. Stress will definitely interrupt your sleep pattern and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it. Practice the habits that will allow you to fall asleep naturally – eat light at night, breathe deeply to relax and cut out all screen time long before you go to bed. That’s right, it is actually better to turn off the television, laptop, tablet, e-reader and cell phone long before its time to retire for the night. Yeah I’m addicted to my electronics too so that is a hard one.

5. Move more. Daily exercise is essential to healthy living so this one should come as no surprise. Physical activity is a natural stress reliever so even walking helps your body to run like a well oiled machine.

6. Learn to play again. Children have the right idea when they laugh and play at recess. Many adults have lost the ability to be light-hearted and just have fun. How many children have ulcers and insomnia? Find something you can do just for the fun of it.

Stress doesn’t have to be a way of life – even for the solo parent. It is possible that I may be blaming my daughter for bad habits that I caused myself. Well then who is responsible for my wide behind – certainly not me. Its just easier to say that parenting did it.