How Single Moms Incorporate Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

By Eric LeClair, ASU Communication Nutrition Student

Part 1 of a Series

We have all made the excuse that we’re just “too busy” when talking about changing our diet and exercise habits. Single moms might find themselves saying this often because of their hectic schedules. For the next few weeks, I will be interviewing and discussing the health and exercise habits, or lack thereof of, of many different family types.


Recently, I went out and about and interviewed multiple single moms. I wanted to gauge and understand the average day of today’s American single mom who tries to fit in gym time as well as cooking healthy meals for her and the family. For three days, I went around my small town to interview single moms who live very different lifestyles and gave very different answers when I asked the question, “How do you stay involved in the gym and try and eat healthy with all that’s on your plate?”


Imagine a life where you are getting up at 5:00 AM every morning to take care of your one-year-old child only to immediately race to get your two Junior High kids’ lunches packed and off to school all before you must head off to work. At what point would your busy schedule allow you to cook yourself a healthy breakfast or pack some lunch and gym clothes. This is the life of Sarah Criss, a single mother who was taking on three kids and a full-time job.


Sarah used to live at the gym and cooking was one of her favorite passions. In the last year, though, she found it much easier to hand her cash over the counter for someone else to cook for her. Fast food chains have made it almost impossible to resist. It was only until this month where her kids started worrying about her because of her change in mood. Sarah never felt complete, she never felt content with where she was at because she knew what it was like to be able to be in the gym every day and have the time to put the chicken in the oven and create a dinner so delicious.


When I asked Sarah why she thought it changed her mood so much she said, “I just never felt like a successful mom. I see all these parents putting so much effort into their kids diet and life and I was just trying to get them moving everyday let alone worry about my own health.” She knew a change was the only way things would get better for her and her family.


When we got to the end of the interview and I asked her how she had made such improvements in her health and attitude she said, “I just didn’t let the expectations of the world get to me. I knew that I had to take it day-by-day and meal-by-meal because in the end, I was doing it for the wrong people and for the wrong reason. Once I realized that I started making strides.”


Sarah didn’t find ways to put more hours in the day though, so how did she do it? Sarah mentioned that for the first month, crockpot meals and meals that could cook throughout the day without real supervision or time were her best friend. Her kids could eat as they came home and as far as the gym Sarah could find the time to go while her kids did homework and ate dinner.


Like Sarah, multiple other single moms I interviewed had the same type lifestyles and answers. They were so stressed because of the world’s expectations of body types, health or family styles. When they started capitalizing on the time and combing things throughout the day, they were all able to find times to put their families’ health first.



The Tips

So, here are the following tips for single mom’s to have a healthy lifestyle for themselves and the family.

  1. Reject the world’s expectations, and design a plan around your style and ability.
  2. Capitalize on time by combining efforts and schedules.
  3. Maximize resources including getting the children involved in the lifestyle changes.
  4. Make it Fun.
  5. Most of all, don’t let the expectations of the world get to you.


Of course, I have gained a new respect for single moms. It’s one thing to be able to take care of your family, provide for them each day and then on top of that create a regimen to better their health every day. That’s something to write about.


Remember to check out all the resources on Fill Your Plate including our weekly blog and easy-to-do recipes for you and your family.



About Eric LeClair: My name is Eric LeClair and I am a senior at Arizona State University. I currently live in Southern California where I manage an AT&T while I finish my degree. I come from a large family of 10 where growing up I was very involved in sports and the health field. Since I was a kid I have wanted to help better people’s lives and knowing the feeling of being healthy gives you, I knew there was no better way to help someone. When I finish my degree I am moving to Washington State with my wife where I hope to work in a hospital and help patients who are recovering from a surgery, giving birth or any type of situation where they are looking to stay on a tight routine to get back to their healthy state. I love working with people and I love health. I look forward to learning and continuing my life in this amazing field.

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