The Postpartum Diet Plan That'll Help You Recover
A dietician breaks down how you should adjust your diet right after giving birth.
It might be tempting, but going on an extreme diet in hopes of losing pregnancy weight is not the way to go. (And, it's worth mentioning that you shouldn't feel like you need to lose weight right away.) When you're adjusting to life with a new baby, the last thing you need is to throw off your body with major restrictions. Don't let food worries add to your stress and sleepless nights as you adjust to your new schedule. Instead, eat these foods to stay fueled, nourished, and encourage recovery. (Related: Everything You Should Know About Postpartum Weight Loss)
Spread Your Meals Throughout the Day
The key to your energy isn't just how much (or little) you sleep each night. What's on your plate also plays a part. "One of the main things a healthy diet can do is give new moms energy," says Kathy McManus, R.D., director of the department of nutrition at Brigham Women's Hospital in Boston. "It's important to spread food throughout the day so that you get an even amount of calories. This will give you lasting power to take care of your baby and yourself." (Related: Kayla Itsines Shares What Inspired Her to Launch a Post-Pregnancy Workout Program)
Create a Postpartum Diet Plan
When you eat foods rich with nutrients, you'll notice that your calories go a long way. You'll feel fuller longer, and will have the get-up-and-go mentality you need for those 3 a.m. feeding calls. McManus suggests fueling up on these healthy foods:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean protein, like fish, beef, and soy foods
- Skim or low-fat milk
- Leafy greens
- Iron-rich foods, especially if you suffer from postpartum symptoms. You can get iron from fortified cereals, prune juice, and lean meats.
- Vitamin C-rich foods, which can help with wound healing for mothers who delivered via C-section. Try oranges, tomatoes, and natural fruit juices.
Add Snacks to Your Postpartum Eating Plan
If you're in the mood for a snack, McManus suggests picking from the following:
- Whole-grain crackers with hummus
- A cup of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk
- A hardboiled egg with some carrots
- Low-fat cheese with a piece of fruit
- Peanut butter on an apple
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries
Eat a Diet That Leaves You Satisfied
You had the baby, and now you should pick up with your favorite weight-loss diet, right? Wrong. McManus says many women make this mistake because they're focused on trying to lose their pregnancy weight. "Being a new mom means you're going to experience serious fatigue until you adjust to your new routine, so you need a diet that can help carry you, not one that will leave you constantly hungry and feeling deprived," she says. (Related: 6 Sneaky Reasons You're Not Losing Weight)
To keep your spirits up, McManus suggests prioritizing nutrient-dense foods. "Treats here and there are perfectly fine, but tons of refined carbs, white breads, and sugary foods will have little gratification and will just end up spiking your blood sugar, making you more tired than you already are."
Accept Help from Friends
Whenever a friend asks you how they can help, ask them to pick up a few groceries. "People hate to come empty-handed when visiting you and your baby for the first time," McManus says. They'll feel helpful and you'll have one less obstacle to eating all the nutrient-rich foods you've decided to add to your diet. Ask them to pick up some yogurt, a can of nuts, and whatever other food you may need to keep your energy levels high.
"Your eating pattern is important not only for your energy, but also in determining how quickly you'll feel back to your old self," McManus says. "The more you stick to a healthy diet, the faster you can recover and get back to your exercise and daily routine."