Three Healthy Eating Tips for Military Separations
When your spouse is gone, sleep usually falls to the wayside. I mean, what military spouse doesn’t hear every noise and find completely relevant blog posts and tv shows to watch until midnight? So, it is even more critical than usual to keep your nutrition on point. As tempting as it is to turn to cereal, pizza, and ice cream every night (hey, have at it the first week - you deserve it!), it pays off for your physical and emotional well-being to be mindful of your eating habits when you’re flying solo.
1. Remember to eat.
The first tip is very basic, but important. Remember to eat! Being the only hand on deck has you running every which way, and you sometimes forget to feed yourself in the midst of keeping everyone else alive. We’ve all heard the eat-five-small-meals-a-day advice, but it is so true when it comes to keeping your energy up and patience level steady. These little meals need to be more than just a snack. They should include protein, carbs, and veggies to round them out. I like tangy chicken, rice, and roasted broccoli, or a smoothie with fruit, greens, fiber, protein, and fat.
2. Make bulk meals.
Bulk meals are my go-to when my hubby is in the field or deployed. I’m not talking about meal prep, because ain’t nobody got time for four hours of cutting and cooking and storing when you’re the only person allowed to hold a knife currently in the home. Pick one meal and eat off of it for a few days. Have some backups for the kids if they can’t handle the three days of the same meal as happily as you can, or start off picking one you know they like and switch up the sides each night. If my little guys aren’t having it by day three, I’ll add some peanuts, string cheese, or yogurt to get protein and fat, diced apples with cinnamon for a serving of fruit, and a piece of whole grain bread with butter for some carbs. If you do have to cut some veggies for the initial meal, do it throughout the day and store them in the fridge to be used later, so when you go to cook you don’t add an extra half hour to cooking time. I’m telling you, there’s nothing better than opening the fridge and seeing an already-prepared meal staring back at you. Can I get an amen?!
3. Drink Water.
And last but not least, drink water. Water is essential for optimal health. It is used for pretty much every function in our bodies, including helping to fight fatigue. The late nights and the extra demands of being on your own tax those systems even more than usual, so making sure you are drinking enough water to fulfill your body’s needs is important. You can use an app like Daily Water Tracker Reminder (iTunes/ Google Play) for calculating how much water your body needs for its shape and size, and for tracking your consumption throughout the day. For whatever reason, I always drink more water on the days I use the app. Apparently, I like to have competitions with myself! A couple of tricks I use to make sure I am getting enough water is any time I do pick up my glass, I chug as much as I can. If I didn’t rely on this tried and true college pastime, there is no way I’d meet my goal. Also, as soon as you take the last drink, fill your cup up. It helps to have it accessible when the thought crosses your mind.
Eating healthfully, at least a majority of the time, when you are under stress and alone can be challenging, but it can be done. And trust me, you’ll thank yourself later! Here are a couple of my favorite recipes to try: Tangy Pulled Chicken and Strawberry Basil Smoothie.
Amy is a Marine Corps spouse of nine years, mom to three boys, and the owner and director of Tiny Troops Soccer® (a developmental program for ages 2-4 near 31 bases). She is a fitness fanatic with American Council on Exercise certifications in group exercise, youth sports, and behavior change. She loves playing soccer (in over-30s leagues!), exploring the beautiful landscape of her current duty station in Hawaii, and is a strong advocate for military spouse employment.