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?
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.
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.
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