How Single Dads Incorporate Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

By Eric LeClair, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 


Part two in a series.


Read part ONE


Recently I had the opportunity to interview and write about the hardships and triumphs of multiple single moms who ran into the common problem of trying to balance their everyday life with kids and finding time to cook healthy meals as well as find time to make it to the gym. Through these struggles came many triumphs and in this series, I want to focus on how these different family types triumphed or overcame these obstacles.

This week I had the chance to sit down and interview multiple single dads. In this article, I want to talk about single dad Jonathan Kidd. Jonathan had three kids and worked 5 days a week. Jonathan has taken on the hard task of providing for three children through his tough journey of finding his health.


A common issue with most of the single dads I interviewed who have made a transition to better their health have said the same thing, “When I was married, I never felt the pressure of having to eat healthy every day or go to the gym because I knew there was two of us and my life was pretty good the way it was.” Where most of the men I interviewed ended up getting divorced, Jonathan’s life was a lot different. Jonathan used to be a fitness guru at Chico state, where he attended college. This is also where we met his late wife Amy. Jonathan dated Amy for two years before they got married. When interviewing Jonathan he talked about the huge changes that marriage made in his health. “I had heard about people gaining weight once they’re married because they become stagnant and don’t find the time to take care of themselves, I just never thought I would be that person. “ Things didn’t get better after Amy and Jonathan started having kids. Jonathan remembers that through the first two kids, they would eat out at least 60% percent of the week. After Amy had their third child, the family received horrible news. Amy had been diagnosed with cancer.


Two years later Amy lost the battle to cancer and Jonathan was forced into the single dad life. It was at this time Jonathan said, “I knew I was the sole provider. I knew that my health and my kid’s health were the most important things and my top priority. I was 80 pounds overweight when Amy passed and I knew I needed to make changes for me and my kids”. Jonathan knew he needed to make changes in his life to become a better role model for his children. Jonathan talked about his multiple triumphs in finding ways to make his and his children’s life more suitable for a healthier living. When asked the question, ‘what are some major changes you had to make to cut almost 40% of the fast food out of your family’s diet and how did you find time to make working out a priority?’, Jonathan’s answer was simple, “I just budgeted. I realized that as a single dad and only having one income to provide the family with, eating out wasn’t a choice anymore. When we had two incomes, eating out as much didn’t make a dent but as soon we lost Amy we realized finances started getting tight.” Finances were just one of many things that helped get Jonathan started on the path to a healthier life.


Jonathan found that meal prepping the day before helped tremendously. He would cook chicken enough for a week so that he could have his meals ready and take them on the go as needed. This also helped him learn how to cook multiple dishes with fewer recipes for his kids that also brought nutritional benefits. After three months of Jonathan finding his way as a single dad, he had reached a goal weight and found life to be bearable after the passing of his wife. Through time management, budgeting, and a wanting to better his life for himself and his three kids Jonathan overcame the unexpected life of a single dad and triumphed over the obstacles most single dads have to overcome.



Takeaways for Single Dads

  • Budget! The difference between one income and two incomes can become overwhelming very fast. Sit down with someone and budget to help transition life a little easier. Find out what is a necessity to have and what is a want.
  • Prioritize. Even if the other parent is still around, you have to prioritize and find ways to incorporate healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle for you and your children. By prioritizing you can budget your time better and capitalize on the small amount of extra time you have.
  • Meal prep. This is a proven time saver. Learn how to cook multiple meals with fewer ingredients, have a meal ready before and after your workout, and have meals ready for your kids for school and when they get home.
  • You’re not in this alone. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you are widowed, divorced, or have always been a single parent. Seek advice and see what has helped other single dads in your situation achieve their goals.


Jonathan’s story was just one of many single dads I talked to. Each one had a different take on life and found ways to achieve their goals. Men and women may be very different but when it comes to their health and their children, when put to a challenge they both always find ways to come through and triumph.


For more articles about helping your kids eat healthily, visit Fill Your Plate. Check out the recipe section for healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspiration!

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