Eating healthy after childbirth is very important for you, as a new mother. More important than losing your baby weight is that you eat a healthy diet. Eating right can provide you with what your body needs, to replenish your vitamin, mineral, and iron stores that were lost with your birth. This is all easier said than done!
When you sit down to feed your newborn, take something to snack on for yourself. Keep a basket of healthy snacks next to your feeding chair. You can stash a banana, dried fruit, nuts, raisins, and other non-perishable snacks in your feeding area. You can also put a snack bowl or bag in the refrigerator that you can bring with you when you sit down to feed the baby. Keep some cut up carrots, peppers, celery, cucumbers, apple, other fruit, or slices of cheese on hand in the fridge. Yogurts that you don’t need two hands for, like ones you can squeeze or drink with a straw, are also good and easy to eat when your hands are full.
Keep it simple by choosing foods that are whole (foods that have not been processed or contain artificial ingredients) and healthy, but do not need too much preparation. Nutritious foods that are fast, easy, and simple include fresh fruit, raw vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, dried fruits (such as figs, dates, cranberries, and raisins), nuts, seeds (such as sunflower seeds), nut butters, cottage cheese, energy bars, or cereals. Try easy-to-prepare meals, such as sandwiches on whole-grain bread, finger foods (see the healthy snack list below), hummus, and whole grain crackers. For breakfast on the go, you can make a smoothie or protein shake. Use milk (skim, almond, soy, or coconut) or fruit juice, fruit, such as berries or frozen fruit, a banana, and some protein powder or a tablespoon of nut butter (such as peanut, almond, sunflower, or cashew), and you have a whole meal. A smoothie is perfect to sip on when you sit down to feed your newborn.
When friends and family ask what they can bring when they visit, don’t be shy about asking them to bring healthy foods. Tell them you will appreciate meals that are simple to heat up, such as soups, a roasted or rotisserie chicken, beef stew, or whole-wheat pasta with fresh marinara sauce.
Protein: high-quality, protein-rich foods, such as beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, lean meat, chicken, and fish
Carbohydrates: whole wheat, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, barley, oats, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta
Vitamins/Minerals: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, whole grains, supplements (prenatal vitamins, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, calcium)
Fats: Be aware of “good” versus “bad” fats. Nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and healthy oils (such as olive and canola) are considered sources of good fat. Stay away from hydrogenated fats, as are found in margarine or shortening, fries, cookies, cakes, pastries, desserts, and chips, to name a few. Your body has to work harder to process these foods, making your body that is already depleted from pregnancy and birth even more deficient. Butter is a better option than margarine. If you avoid these foods, your excess weight will come off easily, your mood and emotions will be more stable, and you will sleep better.
Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. You need to drink a certain amount of ounces of fluid for every pound of your body weight, roughly half of your body weight in ounces. For example if you weigh 150 pounds, you will need to drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. Breastfeeding will make you thirsty as a reminder to drink. It does not have to be strictly water. It can be broth, herbal teas, and soups. Purchase a water bottle that holds up to 64 ounces, and carry it with you throughout the day. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice, orange juice, sliced lemon, lime, or oranges to your water to add flavor. Foods, such as coffee, tea, alcohol and sodas are diuretics, which deplete water from your body. Observe your urine: if it is dark, concentrated, and amber colored, you are not getting enough water; if it is clear and light colored, you should be well hydrated.
Quick Healthy Meals and Snacks
Hard-boiled eggs stored in a plastic container.
Cut up vegetables, such as carrots, celery, peppers, beets, or cucumbers; eat plain, or dip in tahini or dressing.
Cooked vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, or chilled steamed vegetables (good plain, or dipped in low-fat dressing, or in a salad).
Canned tuna or salmon with cut up red onion and low-fat mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
Frozen, boneless chicken breasts in individual portions for quick grilling or baking with seasoning and olive oil
Nuts and seeds
Applesauce or yogurt, adding berries or granola to either
Smoothies: use milk (skim, coconut, soy, or almond), or fruit juice, 1-tablespoon nut butter, flax, or chia seeds, and a banana. You can add a protein shake with spirulina powder, whey, or egg powder for protein. Put all ingredients in a blender.
A slice of whole-grain bread with nut butter, or slices of turkey
Grilled salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper, and brown rice
Soups: Buy a package or dry soup mix that contains most of the spices and ingredients you need for a good hearty soup. Just add onion, carrots, and broth, or, you can make your own and freeze.
Use a slow cooker, or crock-pot. There are many recipes available in books or on the Internet. Throw in all the ingredients and it cooks itself. Use potatoes, vegetables, and a protein (meat cut up, or chicken), add some broth, and you have a whole meal a few hours later, with little effort.
If you are a vegan and eat no animal products, you will need extra Vitamin B12. Check this with your health care provider. Make sure you consume enough protein. Legumes, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and rice, are all good foods for vegetarians. If you are vegan, and don’t eat fish or eggs, you will also need iron supplements, as you need to be careful to avoid becoming anemic.
Whole wheat breads
Peanut butter and crackers
USDA: Health and Nutrition Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
NHS Choices: Your health, your choices
WomensHealth.Gov: Office on women’s health, U.S. department of health and human services
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