All experts agree that the worst time to go on a diet is right after pregnancy. As much as you may want to lose the extra pounds you have gained while you were pregnant, avoiding highly nutritious food at this time in your life will put your and your baby’s health at risk, especially if you breastfeed.
In a study published in the New York Times a few years ago, it was found that babies whose mothers ate versatile food during pregnancy and breastfeeding would be more receptive to a wide variety of tastes as adults. The researchers found a direct correlation between the parents’ eating habits and the child tendency to obesity – highly relevant to U.S. population of which 70% are categorized as overweight.
During the first months after birth, your body is recovering and rebuilding itself. This body, which carried your lovely baby for 9 months and which is now breastfeeding her, deserves high-quality food. This food is meant to keep you strong and vital and at the same time prevent you from consuming unnecessary calories and, consequently, gaining weight.
The 9 foods nutritionists strongly recommend
Salmon – When nutritionists talk about the perfect food for new mothers, they probably mean salmon. Salmon is rich in healthy nutrients. Studies have shown that it positively affects women’s mood after childbirth preventing postpartum depression. Salmon is also beneficial to your baby’s nervous system and mental development.
Having said that, it is advised by the FDA to limit fish consumption to no more than 3 times a week to prevent exposing your baby to mercury found in sea fish.
Healthy breakfast – Most new mothers have no time to prepare a rich breakfast that contains all the main food groups. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t fix yourself an instant meal in the morning which is also healthy.
Nutritionists recommend whole cereals that contain either bran or oatmeal enriched with fresh fruits and/or nuts that will add essential vitamins and minerals to your meal.
Vegetables and green leaves – The main advantage of vegetables and leaves is that they can be eaten in their basic form without much effort. Vegetables in all colors are the best source of vitamins and minerals that will strengthen your body. They are low in calories and rich in essential nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, antioxidants and more.
Whole wheat flour and grains – the folic acid you used to take as a food supplement during pregnancy is abundant in grains and whole wheat flour, which is far healthier than white flour.
Lentils are rich in iron, protein vitamins and minerals. However, lentils cause gas in babies, so breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t eat too much of them.
Chicken and lean beef – Meat dishes are an excellent source of protein and iron. True, lentils and leaves also contain plenty of iron, but iron is absorbed better in the body when it comes from meat. As to protein, unlike most vegetables, the protein in meat (as well as fish and eggs) is whole. That is, it built from the 9 amino acids our body needs.
It is recommended eating chicken or lean beef low in calories and rich in essential nutrients.
Eggs are a good source of fatty acids and high-quality protein, so try to include them in your daily diet. You need not be concerned, eating an egg once a day or every two days will not raise the cholesterol level in your blood.
Dairy foods – Nutritionists disagree about the effects of dairy products on our bodies. Those who are in favor of them, point to the fact that they are rich in calcium, whole protein and Vitamins B and D.
In any case, you should avoid dairy food with high-fat percentage. Yogurt is highly recommended as it contains probiotics essential to digestion.
Water, water, water – The most important ingredient in a balanced diet is water, especially for breastfeeding mothers who are at high risk of dehydration. Nutritionists recommend drinking 10-12 glasses of water a day, which will help you preserve and even increase your milk supply.
Avoid drinks containing caffeine, such as tea or coffee, as they may harm you and your baby. Limit the amount of fruit juices you consume since they are rich in sugar and calories.
How many calories does a woman after birth need?
There is no clear-cut formula regarding the number of calories you should consume on a daily basis after pregnancy. It depends on various factors such as your age, your weight before pregnancy, your height and your lifestyle (i.e. are you physically active or not).
As a rule of thumb, the average number of calories you will need is around 1,800 a day. If you breastfeed, you need to add to that number 300-500 calories, no more than that. In any case (as mentioned above), nutritionists do not recommend going on a diet in the first 6 weeks after delivery. Your body needs some time to recover and regain its strength.