By Vicky Warr, pregnancy and postpartum fitness specialist
When it comes to getting back into shape your postnatal nutrition will not only play a huge part but choosing the right kinds of foods will also nourish your body to speed up your recovery after birth. A good postnatal meal plan together with the right kind of postnatal core exercises means you will heal your body from the inside out. By fuelling your body with the best foods, essential fats, good quality protein and lots of vitamins and nutrients you’ll heal your postnatal body and recover from a c-section more easily than just doing exercise alone.
Good nutrition after having a baby doesn’t mean dieting, counting calories or drinking diet shakes. It’s about fresh, unprocessed delicious food in the right quantity which doesn’t require hours in the kitchen, especially when you having to prepare milk bottles or prepare weaning foods. When I had both my babies, I made it a priority to eat well, it requires a little bit of planning and being prepared – having a good shopping list and meal plan are key tools to help you eat well. My TheBeezKneez postnatal food plans provide just that plus my hand selected recipes and my own recipes include foods that are real, delicious and healthy. It’s well balanced meals and food ideas in the right amounts to give you more energy, to balance your hormones and get you back into shape.
Here are my top five tips to use as guidelines for your postnatal nutrition.
Choose to eat the right protein at every meal. The best protein is found in lean meat and fish and eggs, quinoa and tofu. These foods have protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids that will help your body heal, improve your energy and sustain your appetite. Choose leaner cuts of meat; chicken and turkey and cold water fish; cod or hake. Wild salmon is also an excellent source as it also contains essential fat, the type that will help heal and strengthen the connective tissue, at the mid line of your abdominals, post pregnancy. Eggs for breakfast are a far better choice than cereals as they are rich in protein to support healthy post baby weight loss, improve energy levels and increase muscle tone to heal the abdominals from the inside.
Eat 2 fistfuls of vegetables or salad at every meal. Vegetables contain phytochemicals – natural plant based chemicals that help promote healing. They also contain a vast array of quality vitamins and nutrients, essential for optimum health and vitality during the postnatal period. Eat low sugar fruit too such as berries but ensure vegetables make up most of your meal. For some great ideas for incorporating veggies see the easy, quick recipes in our ‘Post Baby Belly Blitz Food Plan’. Use seasonal produce and organic ideally.
- Ditch soft drinks or sodas, energy drinks and fruit juices which are ’empty calories’ as they contain high quantities of sugar and because they are drinks you often won’t realise and they will make you feel lethargic. Consuming sugary drinks late afternoon and evening may also disrupts your sleep. Your best choices are water, green tea or herbal teas. I love adding a few berries to my water or a slice of orange to give it a little more taste.
- Choose wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates that are also low in gluten or wheat. Gluten and wheat are difficult todigest and can make you feel bloated and lethargic, the opposite of what you want to feel and look! Some oats are gluten free and also a good carbohydrate source of long releasing energy and porridge with berries and some natural yogurt is an excellent balanced breakfast. Or try my creamy overnight oats recipe. Aim for unprocessed, fresh grains such as brown or wild rice and sweet potatoes.
Eat essential fats which will help strengthen the connective tissue are good for you and There are 3 types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Eating all three kinds in a healthy balance can dramatically improve your health, and even help you lose fat. Your saturated fat should come from your animal products and you can even toss in some butter or coconut oil for cooking. Your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives and olive oil. Choose fish and leafy greens for your polyunsaturated fats.
Employ the 90% rule – because as soon as you deprive yourself of something you’ll want it even more! That’s human nature. 100% nutritional discipline is never really needed to completely change your body. The difference between sticking to the rules 90% of the time and sticking to them 100% of the time is very small. But here’s the catch: make sure you do the maths and determine what 10% of the time really means. For example, if you’re eating 3 meals per day for 7 days of the week – that’s 21 meals. 10% of 21 meals is about 2 meals. So you can “break the rules” for 2 meals each week by adding one cheat item to a meal.
Want a delicious meal plan to help get your tummy muscles back after having a baby?
Download your free copy, by clicking here which contains 12 delicious recipes from smoothies, soups and delicious pesto chicken and is completely suitable for breastfeeding. It is not a diet!