Healthy Eating Tips for Postpartum Weight Loss
During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time doing two things: marveling at the ultrasound pictures of our baby boy and eating as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted. Well-meaning friends and family encouraged me to indulge in cravings for milkshakes and french fries, using the age-old adage that I was eating for two. It was only after I returned home with my newborn sleeping soundly in his crib that I braved the mirror to assess my postpartum body. I told myself that I had just had a baby, that I couldn’t expect to be svelte in a matter of days. I assured myself that I had gained the requisite 25 pounds that the pregnancy books said I would. Yet there was a nagging voice in the back of my head that said I would’ve had less work ahead of me if I’d ingested fewer fries beforehand. What I didn’t realize then that I do now is that there is a difference between a 25-pound gain with healthy eating and exercise and a 25-pound gain without it.
Adjusting my diet and making time for exercise helped me drop the pounds surprisingly quickly, and by quickly, I mean within eight months. Patience is key! With patience and dedication, you can drop the weight too.
The most crucial part of your weight loss is going to come from your diet. Have you heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”? It’s true! Whether you’re aiming for a six-pack or just wanting to melt the muffin top, you’ve got to focus on what you’re eating and how much of it you’re eating. The article “Weight Loss After Pregnancy: Reclaiming Your Body” on www.MayoClinic.org highlights four ways to adjust your eating habits.
- Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods high in fiber…provide you with many important nutrients while helping you feel full longer.
- Eat smaller portions. Experts recommend that you eat five to six small meals a day. This keeps your metabolism level and doesn’t leave you with hunger pains and consequent food binges.
- Avoid temptation. Surround yourself with healthy foods. If junk food poses too much temptation, keep it out of the house.
- Eat only when you’re hungry. Many eat when they’re bored, sad or stressed. Instead of focusing your emotional energy on food, redirect it to a hobby or activities you enjoy, such as spending time with friends, engaging in a sport or rewarding a particularly rough day with a pedicure.
Christine O’Neal, KC mom of four, says, “I opted for snacks with a veggie and a protein. It’s very important to eat smaller meals and a few snacks to keep your metabolism running! My go-to snacks are almonds and baby carrots with hummus. I also cut out most sugar, but when I wanted to splurge, I did. I just made sure to keep it in check.”
Christine says she also cut out soda and increased her water intake. Sometimes when we feel hungry, it’s not hunger. We’re actually thirsty. Staying hydrated keeps our appetites in check, as well. www.LiveStrong.com highlights the USDA recommendation for water intake: 2.7 liters for the average adult woman and 3.8 liters for breastfeeding moms. That may seem like a lot of water, but just remember that we do receive some of that from the foods that we eat, especially from fruits, such as oranges, melons and apples.
Once your diet has been adjusted, you’ll have more energy, too. Use it to ease back into exercise. KC mom of three Chrissy Sandifer says, “I walked a lot with all three. I also loved doing sit-ups with them on my belly or holding them while doing squats. It made it fun and allowed me to spend time with them simultaneously.”
Above all, be realistic. Remember when I said that the weight didn’t magically disappear after a week the way I had hoped? It takes time. It takes dedication. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You grew precious life within. Your body stretched in ways that may have seemed unimaginable to you pre-pregnancy. Your body is strong and capable and beautiful, and that baby cooing at you is so very worth it. Take heart, Mama; you’ll get there.
Jennifer Bosse lives in KC with her husband and two sons. She enjoys living a healthier lifestyle.