(BlackDoctor.org) — Being a mom or dad comes with health benefits—lots of feel-good oxytocin from the cuddles, a reduced risk of breast cancer (really)—but a new study from the University of Minnesota Medical School pointed out some sneaky health traps parents can fall into, too. Avoid them with this expert advice.
You clean your child plate.
Calories add up quickly—the moms in our study easily took in 300 more calories per day than women without kids,” says study author Jerica Berge, Ph.D. “That could just be two leftover chicken nuggets.” Repeat after us: We are not human garbage disposals! Don’t feel bad about tossing your kid’s uneaten leftovers if they can’t be saved for another day.
Stress lives in the house, too.
Your many roles—chauffeur, nurse, mediator—can leave you frazzled. And chronic stress lowers your defenses against germs and viruses, and may increase your risk of depression, says Berge. So take some time to mother yourself.
“We need to fit in self-care, even if it’s just taking a shower with the door locked or getting a manicure,” Berge says. You could also squeeze in a little bit of exercise each day—even 20 minutes of yoga or walking can be a near-instant anxiety-
You’ve replaced sleep with sugar.
In her study, Berge found that moms drink more sugary beverages than women who don’t have kids. Why? It may be because sweetened drinks are around the house, and when you’re exhausted, you use them to fuel up. If you need a jolt, switch to antioxidant-rich green tea instead.
Your little ones are little germ bombs.
A Harvard University study proved it: Researchers found that the flu spread faster in neighborhoods with the most kids. Clearly, washing your hands and teaching your kids to do the same is imperative. But all of the other fixes on this list will let viruses and bacteria knows who’s boss too. “The immune system is stronger when you’re eating right and exercising,” says Berge.