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House-bound mums have special problems when it comes to weight control. Like Garfield the cat, you are living at the best eating house in town – yours! – and it’s easy to fall into bad eating habits. This 10-point plan will help you cope with those common pitfalls and real life scenarios that diet experts somehow never see coming.

1: CRASH DIETS. You got sick of your reflection in the bathroom mirror this morning and since then you haven’t eaten anything but half a grapefruit and a lettuce leaf. Your willpower will keep you going for a while, but then you’ll get hungry and irritable.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Stop! Once you get caught up in this cycle, it’s very hard to get out again, and you’ll get fatter, not thinner. The plain truth about starting a diet is that you won’t fit into a size six by midnight unless you already are a size six. Take it slow, make it last – add a daily walk to your activities, cut out one piece of comfort food – the mid morning cookies or the late night snack. Gradually change your eating and exercise habits.

2: FAST FOODS. You’ve been shopping all morning, the toddler is whining, the shopping mall is crowded – and you’re hungry too. Funny how the only food you can find that is cheap and filling is the fatty fried stuff – donuts, French fries.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Take muesli bars or fruit with you, or buy them while you are shopping. That will be good for the toddler too. If the smell of the takeaway places is driving you to distraction, take your lunch outside, where the toddler can play. A tip for getting off the fatty foods merry-go-round for one week is to save all the fat you would normally use – trimmed off the meat, put aside from the oil, lard or spread you would normally use, and keep it in a container in the fridge. By the end of the week, it will revolt you, and may encourage you change your eating habits forever.

3: LEFTOVERS. No matter how well you plan your weekly menus, you will have leftovers, and it seems such a shame to throw them away when there are people starving in the world. So in spite of your better judgment, you eat them yourself.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Save it for the kids’ school lunches (serve `em right). Buy a dog. Create a compost heap. Oh what the heck – throw them away!

4: UNREALISTIC DIET PLANS. Many diets are just not designed for average people on average incomes, and few mums can afford to buy special food for themselves. Imagine eating lean steak while the rest of the family is eating hamburger!

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Learn to substitute the stuff in the diet plan for something more affordable – white fish poached in stock for salmon and lobster; grilled chops with the fat trimmed off for prime steak. Seek out cook books that show you how to prepare regular family meals the fat-free way. Serve your own portion on a smaller plate.

5: WILL POWER. The hardest thing to acquire and the one thing you need most! There you are, bravely serving up celery sticks and cottage cheese for yourself, while the rest of the family wolfs down the tastier snacks.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Get the family involved. Healthy eating isn’t just a slimming thing, it’s not just a Mommy thing, it’s a family thing. Weight related illnesses like diabetes are on the rise for all age groups. Put some of those celery sticks in iced water with slices of capsicum and keep them in the fridge – watch them disappear before you get a chance to snack! Make healthy food attractive and available and betcha the family will want to join in.

6: STAY AT HOME BLUES: Being home with the kids is great, but even the most devoted stay-at-home mum needs time for herself. What do you do when you snatch some Me Time? Are you so exhausted you curl up in bed with a trashy novel and a packet of cookies?

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Make Me Time fun time. Have a shower, dress up, go out and visit a friend. Take up jogging, or power walking. Get a dog and take it to the park for a Frisbee match. Soak in a hot bath and count your blessings (it really works!) The pay off is, the healthier you are, the better you can cope with the business of running a home and a home business.

7: BIG BONE SYNDROME. Sometimes even the best diet faithfully followed can fail to give the desired result. You realize you are a big girl and destined to stay that way.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Learn how big girls shine. Dress like the big girl you most admire. Don’t diet for slimness – study what food does for your body and eat for sparkling eyes, silky hair, strong nails and healthy skin.

8: GUILT: That’s what we feel when we think the hubby, the kids and the house are suffering because we dare to take time to look our own needs.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Remind yourself (and them!) that a wife and mother below par can’t take care of anyone. As a full time professional mum, it’s your duty to keep your machine running smoothly. Learn to feel guilty if you neglect yourself.

9: MID LIFE BLUES. Do you want to live forever? Maybe not, but you do want to get the best out of life, even when you are up to your ears in kids and a mortgage! You feel that life is passing you by and the only comfort you can find is a box of chocolates.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Get laughing. Tell everyone you come from Mars and only have a birthday every second year. Celebrate your 21st birthday instead of your 42nd.

10: MEN: Let’s face it. Men make you fat. Snuggling up with them on a pizza night – buying you chocolates for Valentine’s day, getting you to cook big roast dinners. Then you catch them ogling Alyssa Milano in Charmed.

HOW TO HANDLE IT: Stick a picture of George Clooney on the fridge.

Written by Gail Kavanagh exclusively for