The New Mummy Diet

HELP! I want to get my body back.

You have a new baby.

You are shattered.

You feel less than blooming.

Your pre-pregnancy wardrobe is neither practical (especially if you are breast feeding) nor flattering – that’s if it even goes over your hips. And you are just all a bit jiggly. Plus to top it all off you have neither time nor energy to shop/eat/cook/all of the above.

So how do you get your pre-pregnancy body back?

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NEWSFLASH: You won’t. That’s not to say you can’t have a body that you love but it will always be different. A scar here or (down) there; wrinkles on your tummy; or stretch marks on your boobs (which may also have gone down there). But it’s okay. You’re a mum.

Wear your baby badges with pride.

GETTING THIN AGAIN: Please please please know that this is the least important thing right now. Until your baby is letting you sleep for a good seven hour stretch and you have stopped lactating, it is not the time to consider cutting calories or dieting for the way you look. And I promise you, there’ll be a time in the very near future when you are so busy running around after your toddler that eating at all will become a challenge.

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THE NEW MUMMY DIET

So here’s the good news. My new mummy diet is what you really need to consider eating and drinking to cope with the now. To enable your body to cope with the demands of being a new mummy and perhaps feeding a new baby. And as luck would have it, a diet to cater for the above, is just the sort of diet your body needs to lose fat – so these are some good habits to get into.

What do you really need from your diet?

  • You need energy;
  • You need good quality sleep in the patches that you get it;
  • You need fuel to heal, repair and produce milk that satisfies your baby;
  • You need foods that help to stabilise your energy levels (and with that your emotional state); and
  • You need nutrients to keep your immune system high and pass that on to baby.

So what are my recommendations for THE NEW MUMMY DIET?

1. CUT OUT REFINED SUGAR AND REFINED CARBS

Yes this means chocolate, bread, sweets and cakes.

It sounds impossible, especially when you’re sleep deprived and you feel like you need a quick pick me up. But sugar highs will lead to massive sugar lows, which can affect your energy levels, milk supply, hormone balance and emotions. It’s also pretty bad for your health.

If going cold turkey feels like too much, start by cutting back. Your tummy fat will start to reduce in days if you cut out refined carbs.

2. CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE

If you’re breastfeeding this probably goes without saying but did you know that caffeine has a seven hour half life? So if you need to sleep when baby sleeps keep your coffee to the morning.

Evidence suggests that drinking more than three cups of coffee in a day massively reduces your sensitivity to caffeine, so you won’t feel the benefit anyway.

Stick to one caffeinated drink only.

3. SLEEP/REST

This is a toughie when you have a new baby. You just need to do what you can. If day naps are a challenge, try to at least rest.

When you miss out on quality sleep, your hormones are affected and can make you crave sweet foods.

So rest whenever you can and call in the troupes to help you get sleep if you have some available.

4. EAT PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL/SNACK

When we pick at foods, good quality protein sources can be the first thing we lose from our diets.

Protein is essential, especially when you are healing and perhaps feeding a new life.

The easiest way to ensure that we get enough is to include it with every meal or snack. This will also help keep your energy levels stable. So an egg at breakfast, some nuts with a piece of fruit, some humous on toast and a piece of fish or meat with your lunch will all help you to feel fuller and more energise.

5. EAT A PINT OF GREEN VEG

To ensure you get your vegetables in, visualise how many it would take to fill a pint glass. Try and eat this amount throughout the day.

You could invest in a high quality blender to get your greens in that way. Greens are important for your health, will help keep your vitamin levels high and are great for your digestion.]

Oh and drink loads (of water that is).

These are just guidelines for what to put into your mouth. Yes I’d recommend post natal specific exercise too but if all you can do is eat well, that’s a great start and is absolutely something daddy or friends/family can help you with.

Be flexible and realistic though. Don’t be hard on yourself for eating a biscuit (or two) but know if you are hungry, tired and grumpy and hour later, that’s why.

If you’d like more information like this on post natal health, read my most popular blog all about post natal recovery: The Princess, the bump, your body

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist.

Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.

Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.

Read the latest Fit School newsletter here: Fit School News

TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Chocolate Polenta Cake

This cake evolved from a Nigella recipe and a rainy afternoon activity with Isaac, who is rather partial to chocolate cake and munching on walnuts while mummy mixes (many batches of banana cake from spotty bananas have meant walnut munching is now a baking staple).

I didn’t intend for it to be a polenta cake but had no ground almonds in (shocker for me) and was amazed by the result. I also didn’t intend it to be dairy free but my butter was in the fridge and I couldn’t be bothered to dirty a pan melting some.

So here it is. I just made a little cake which struggled to make it to day 2!

Naomi was happily sat in her chair watching proceedings so it is fully family proof!

Ingredients:

  • 30g cocoa (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 90 ml freshly boiled water
  • Generous tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g fine polenta (cornmeal) – Nigella’s original recipe uses ground almonds so you could try a mixture
  • 100ml olive oil (light – you could also use sunflower)
  • 1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 100g coconut sugar (this is what makes it sugar free since coconut sugar is GI neutral but you could use unrefined sugar if you don’t have any)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs

Method:

Combine the boiled water and cocoa in a small boil until they are a cream like consistency.

In a separate bowl mix together the polenta, salt and bicarb.

Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, olive oil and sugar for a couple of minutes until they are really thick and light.

Finally combine all 3 mixtures maintaining as much air as possible

I used an 8″ lined, round sandwich tin.

Cook at Gas Mark 3 (170) for 20-30 minutes or until just coming away from the sides.

Et voila!

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Toasted Coconut Shortbread Hearts

It’s never too late for a Valentine themed biscuit and given we had friends over for dinner on Friday, in the middle of my sugar fast, I had to come up with something quick!

I first created these biscuits a few months ago, when I discovered raw coconut sugar. Raw coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut blossom. It is processed at very low temperatures (hence it’s a raw ingredient) which means it retains all of its nutrients including magnesium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins and amino acids. It also has a low glycaemic index of 35 (similar to skimmed milk), so won’t create the sugar spikes in your body that traditionally processed sugars will. I love it because unlike processed sugar replacements, you can use it in baking and it tastes really sweet so you don’t need so much.

cracked coconut with splash

The obvious (when you come to buy it) downside to coconut sugar is the price tag. But I roughly totted up the cost of my scrummy shortbreads and 24 biscuits, the equivalent of two packets of high street biscuits, cost under £2, similar to a packet of high end supermarket brand, luxury nibbles.

I’ve also packed these biscuits full of almonds to help combat the refined flour that I’ve added. You could try an alternative but for this recipe, the biscuits are so crumbly and short that you need a little gluten to hold them together.

INGREDIENTS (I’ve used cups mainly since I made it up and of course, baked them with Isaac):

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4oz unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (to taste)

Pre-heat oven to 150/GM3

Start by toasting the coconut. Tip the coconut into a flat, baking or roasting dish (metallic) and spread evenly. Toast in the oven for around 5 minutes. You’ll need to keep checking since it will suddenly turn. You’re looking for a light golden colour rather than brow.

In a large bowl mix the remaining dry ingredients together and give them a good stir. Add the toasted and cooled coconut and finally the butter, diced.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients as if you were making scones or pastry. Go lightly, rubbing the fat in until it’s incorporated, then you’ll be able to create soft balls of dough. The dough will seem really soft and unworkable but if you stick with small cutters you’ll be fine!

Watch out at this point if you’re cooking with children. They will want to eat the lot!

Roll out each ball of dough to about half a cm and cut out biscuits. Re-rolling is more a question of squidging the stray bits together!

Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness) until golden underneath and leave to cool.

Best eaten on the same day but will store in an airtight container (they just go a bit soft).

These would be brilliant served with thick, greek yoghurt and griddled pineapple for a no sugar dessert.

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