Pick and choose from different recipes and snacks to build a week-long meal plan that will fit you—and your family's—needs, while helping you achieve your health goals.

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It is no surprise that finding the time and energy to prioritize health and weight loss as a parent can be challenging. It can feel like you have no time left in the day to take care of yourself, while taking care of everyone else. However, a few tweaks to your meals can make the biggest difference when it comes to achieving your health goals—like weight loss. Here you'll find key tips about how to lose weight the healthy way, even as a busy parent, plus a build-your-own meal plan to help you reach your goal.

How to Lose Weight as a Busy Parent

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Rotisserie Chicken

Here are some top tips to consider for healthy—and sustainable—weight loss.

1. Prioritize protein and fiber

A very important concept to understand when it comes to weight loss is to focus on adding rather than eliminating foods and food groups. One of the biggest mistakes I see happening when it comes to weight loss is the idea of needing to eliminate an entire food group—for example, carbohydrates. As parents who are already deprived of energy, you need carbohydrates to sustain you and keep you focused on daily tasks. Instead of eliminating carbohydrates, focus on where to add protein and fiber at each meal to keep blood sugar levels (read: energy) balanced. Plus, prioritizing fiber and protein, as well as healthy fats, can help you feel satisfied throughout the day and not hungry an hour after your meal.

2. Aim for set mealtimes

One of the most common challenges when it comes to weight loss as a busy parent is the constant need to snack throughout the day. It can be so easy to get caught up with your kids' needs that you don't take care of your own needs. Have a set eating schedule for mealtimes to make sure you're setting aside time to feed yourself. These regular meals can help cut down on ravenous snacking. Do your best to sit down and enjoy your meals mindfully rather than multitasking and feeling unsatisfied with what you just ate. This also sets your kids up for healthy lifelong eating habits.

3. Lose the parent guilt

Prioritizing your health and weight loss goals is not something to feel guilty about. In fact, it's so important to be a good role model for your children and realize that by taking the time to make healthier choices, you're setting a healthy example for your children.

4. Take 5 minutes to plan your meals for the week

Pick a day—maybe Saturday or Sunday—to plan your meals for the week and shop. This helps to save time during the busy work week and keeps you focused on your weight loss goals. To make the planning part easier, we've listed some options below, that when put together, forms a healthy meal plan that both you and your family will love.

Taco Lettuce Wraps

Build-Your-Own Family Meal Plan

When it comes to weight loss, the best way to keep the weight off is to form habits you can actually stick with for life. That's why this plan involves foods from all the food groups, so your body get the nutrients it needs to support a healthy body and make losing weight easy.

Each meal provides a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay energized, curb cravings, and help you lose up to two pounds per week. The daily total adds up to 1,500 calories but feel free to load up on veggies and a few ounces of protein at any point if you feel like it's not enough food to keep you full and satisfied.

You can mix and match meals with the following meal plan to give you more variety and freedom to choose what you are craving that day.

Breakfast (aim for about 330 calories)

Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin

Recipes to try:

Snack (aim for two snacks per day - about 250 calories)

apple peanut butter with cinnamon

Ideas to try:

  • 1 apple with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any nut butter of choice).
  • Pair 1 container of nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries.
  • Pair 1/2 cup grapes with one string cheese
  • Pair 2 tablespoons hummus with 2 cups sliced bell peppers for dipping
  • Whole-wheat pita pizza (on ½ whole-wheat pita, spread 2 tbsp pizza sauce and ¼ cup shredded low-fat cheese, and toast until cheese melts).
  • Mix ½ cup dried fruit with ¼ cup nuts
  • 1 ounce nuts and 1 piece of fruit

Lunch (aim for about 330 calories)

Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

Recipes to try:

Dinner (aim for 330 calories)

Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli recipe on a plate

Recipes to try:

Bottom line

Weight loss can feel daunting, overwhelming and confusing when you are a busy parent with little time for yourself. However, it is important to remember that health and weight loss is a journey and every small step counts. Be kind to yourself and focus on your overall health and not just the number on the scale.

Ayat Sleymann is a registered dietitian nutritionist whose passion lies in helping women live their healthiest life. Ayat works with women around the world, helping them achieve their weight-loss goals without diets and deprivation. With a "plants-most" and "self-love" approach, she has helped clients manage weight, improve their health, and increase energy and productivity without giving up their favorite foods.