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Top Tips to Prevent Au Pair Weight Gain

Prevent Weight Gain: for Au Pairs

Many of us are familiar with the infamous “freshman fifteen.” This is the typical weight gain for American freshmen away at college. One of the main concerns reported by au pairs in the first few months of coming to the states is the weight changes that occur.

Like a young person away at college without the benefit of a parent preparing meals and encouraging healthy eating habits, au pairs are in a new country for the first time and eager to experience everything it has to offer. For many this is their first experience with highly processed, calorie dense foods.

Let’s face it, Americans eat more, weigh more, and exercise less than most other European, Asian, and South American countries. When au pairs come here they are often overwhelmed and astonished by the abundance in our grocery stores. One of the most popular destinations when entertaining visiting family and friends is the American grocery store. Au pairs are excited to try all of our indulgent confections and drive thru delicacies. Eating habits change toward the American palette and au pairs find they are driving more and walking less. It is par for the course that weight gain becomes inevitable.

If you are conscious about gaining weight when coming to the states, there are a few simple rules that will help you navigate your next overindulgent feeding frenzy.

1) Try to maintain good eating habits while in the States. While there are many fattening choices in the American pantry, we are also blessed with fruits and vegetables from around the world year round. Take advantage of this opportunity and make an effort to try some of them.

2) Eat similar to how you did in your home country. Most Americans eat 3 meals a day plus snacks through out the day. Depending on size and activity level, most women need between 1200-2400 daily calories to maintain their current weight. This is sometimes the amount of calories found in one fast food combo meal or a large specialty coffee drink. If you find yourself driving through more than once a day, you could be doubling or tripling your needed calories for the day.

3) Limit fast food to once or twice a week and avoid late night drive through runs with your friends. These unused calories add up fast.

4) Remember that everything is “supersized” in the states so eat the portions you are used to or share that combo meal with a friend.

5) Exercise daily if possible. Joining a gym is a great way to meet new people. The more you exercise, the more energy you will have. You can also look for activities to enjoy with the host children to keep you all moving together.

There is nothing wrong with trying new foods and occasionally indulging with friends. However, when this becomes the norm, it is sure to show up in your waistline. As with anything else, having a consistently healthy lifestyle is the best way to ensure a healthy, fit year!

Lisa Bravo, MC, LPC, LISAC, NC
Cultural Care Au Pair
Program Counselor

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