Motherhood: The Vacuum Cleaner Diet

or, A Diet Better Nutrition for Busy Parents

Photo by Rich Pompetti

What would you grab first? (Photo by Rich Pompetti)

Okay, I’m not about to tell you that housecleaning will get you in the best shape ever. I’m the mom whose vacuum cleaner sits stoicly in the corner of the pantry, waiting in vain to rescue our Pergo from its filmy scrud. My kitchen floor boasts layers of archaeologic proportions. I try not to sweep until everything is nice and crusty: sodden gloms of noodles and dirt gross me out, especially when I have to actually bend over to remove them by hand from the broom bristles. But inevitably, a stowaway disk of flattened food will stick to the bottom of my shoe—or worse, my bare heel—depositing smashed peas and streaks of ketchup all over the house, where they will slyly collect cat hair and dust until someone more industrious than me finally swipes them up with a rag.

The filthy underside of this mom gig I have...© 2013, amomnextdoor

The filthy underside of this mom gig I have…
© 2013, amomnextdoor

No, by “vacuum cleaner” I’m referring to the eating habits of my early motherhood years. At mealtime I’m usually standing at the counter, frantically delivering foodstuffs to my starving children—meanwhile carefully assembling my own plate of grown-up options—while they scarf everything down. When I finally manage to sit down with my food, they scamper off to their room where they spend the next thirty minutes of my mealtime attempting to throttle each other, by the sound of it. After three or four parental interventions, I usually give up trying to eat a sane meal. There’s only so many times I’m willing to reheat my food in the microwave.

Given that I generally get to the dishes stage of the meal before I’ve managed to steal a bite for myself, I end up scarfing the crusts from my children’s plates, eating the end of the cheese, heating up the back-of-the-fridge leftovers that no one else will touch. Or I forget about my meal entirely, as my calorie-deprived brain attempts to determine who-had-what-first for the fifth time. Then, when I open the fridge to prepare the next meal for my children, my body asserts its vacuum cleaner function: I grab the quickest, easiest, most-calorie dense food available and suck it right down.

I have not lost any baby weight on this diet, let me tell you.

This year will be different. This year I will be one of those hip moms tapping up lentil-and-herb salad recipes on my iPad, chopping vegetables and ginger the night before for my morning’s cleansing juice, resisting all cheese and especially half-chewed rinds of kiddie cheddar. Yes, that’s right, I’m actually following the Whole Living Magazine’s detox diet that comes out in every January issue, and for once in the short span of my motherhood years, what I eat will come first.

I will keep you posted on how it really goes.

2 thoughts on “Motherhood: The Vacuum Cleaner Diet

  1. Well, I hope something about it goes better than this sounds like it will.  Good luck!! 🙂  I like your title – I hope you still have someone coming in to clean the house once-in-awhile!


    • You know, I have help with housecleaning twice a month. So the floors I’m describing accumulate in just two short weeks–it’s amazing to me! And you did hear me describe myself with the broom, right? I do actually sweep, and the children both help with that on occasion. I remember visiting schools in South Africa–it was the children’s job to sweep the school. Nothing more adorable than industrious five year olds wielding their brooms. With my own children, alas, it took four years for me to convince my son that brooms are designed to be pulled, not pushed (or waved around overhead).

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