Congratulations on your pregnancy! While the first few months postpartum seem like a blur, ensuring you are adequately nourished is not only important for your energy levels but also for your recovery. Before you get too concerned with how to shed your baby weight, I encourage you to focus on incorporating wholesome foods into your diet.
The truth is, there is no magical way to snap back to your pre-pregnancy body. The body goes through wear and tear with each baby. However, new moms need nutrient dense meals for recovery after labor/delivery as well as for energy to get through the initial few months of motherhood.
Here are my top 5 nutrition tips for a healthy postpartum slim down.
Incorporate small, frequent meals
If meal prepping seems daunting, try to snack prep. Smaller meals i.e. mini-meals are approximately 200-300 calories and should contain a combination of macronutrients. Having these options on hand will help you feed your hunger without having to cross that line on bingeing with whatever is in sight! Consuming 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day (and night!) is an excellent way to transition the body through a healthier weight loss process, as well as enable you to eat within portion. Try to stock your fridge and pantry with good food pairing options. Protein-packed and fiber-rich foods, along with low-fat dairy products, are good staples to keep handy in your kitchen. For snacks, think hummus, peanut butter, whole-grain crackers, avocado toast, string cheese, whole milk yogurt, super seed blends of granola, and hardboiled eggs.
Water is an essential nutrient for our bodies throughout life and even more so during pregnancy and postpartum. Believe it or not, there are a variety of hormonal and physiological changes after pregnancy (night sweats, blood loss, constipation, swollen legs, etc). Adequate hydration through water rich foods and in beverage form has a therapeutic effect. It may even help you keep your energy up and curb unwanted bingeing. Not to mention, quenching your thirst when breastfeeding will ensure that you stay hydrated and may even help increase your milk supply.
Yes, you CAN go back consuming coffee liberally postpartum. However too much coffee could lead to dehydration. In addition, excessive consumption of coffee can also affect breastfeeding. Coffee is a stimulant and does assist with metabolism, but not to the extent of justifying excess consumption. Try to consume no more than 12 oz of caffeinated coffee per day otherwise too much of it can make you jittery, restless and anxious, which may even push you to crave additional calories. As mentioned before, it could also cross into your breastmilk and affect baby’s sleep. Alternatively, you can opt for a cup of green tea, which is also known to fight inflammation and stimulate fat burn.
Incorporate healthy fats
The good fats are good to include for each meal. Healthy fats, which you can find in nuts, nut butters, flaxseed, chia seeds, fatty fish and avocados, are excellent additions to balance a meal. Healthy fats contribute to satiety. You’ll also see the benefits throughout the body – your skin, nails and even hair may look better! Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to decrease the incidence of postpartum depression and are great to boost a child’s brain growth.
I feel like magnesium is underrated in conversation, but it is an abundant and VERY important mineral in our bodies. There is an evidence-based relationship between magnesium and blood sugar. If you find yourself with elevated blood sugar or HbA1C postpartum, don’t fret just yet. Focus on magnesium rich food sources such as spinach, black beans, quinoa, almonds, and avocado. You can also take a supplement once daily for an added boost. It also plays a role in elevating food and lowering blood pressure – just in case those are of concern to you postpartum.
Bottom line – the key is to take it slow. Allow your body to bounce back from labor and delivery, and balance your meals with nutrient dense food sources.