This article is also available on Nutrition in Motion's blog NIM Dish
Eating for One
Sarah Reid, RHNC
So you’ve just had a baby – congratulations! While the new bundle of joy is certainly something to celebrate and enjoy, the bump caused by the little one’s growth is still sitting there. So why do all those Hollywood celebs suddenly reappear as their old size 2? The fact is that those women have an arsenal of tips, tricks and professionals watching their every move and preparing every piece of their diet. They have the time and job necessity to hit the gym for hours at a time, and they have the staff to watch the infant while they are running the treadmill. But the very basis of their postpartum lives, under all the glitz and glam, is as common as the rest of us who watch them – and is perfectly achievable for any woman with a baby on their hip. Adapting a healthy, nourishing diet and moving a little more can even be done with your newborn, which is a great way to give them the “ground-up” love of being healthy. The harder part will be remembering to take time away from it all for you – but it won’t be as hard as their first day of school will be!
Food is always at the centre of losing the baby weight. Used to supporting a new, developing life, the body rightly had demands for extra calories, protein and fat. Though you are no longer pregnant, if you are breastfeeding some extra calories still need to be taken in – after all, you’re the grocery store for your child! And going – or keeping – organic is probably the best way to go if you breastfeed, since studies have shown that children whose mothers had the most pesticides in their bodies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding had IQs 7 points lower than those with minor exposure. Regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, a gradual reduction to your pre-pregnancy eating habits – including lots of water, lean proteins, low-fat milk or fortified substitutes such as soy, and a plethora of whole grains, fruit and vegetables – should be your focus in the store. Look for things you can use to make meals that you can eat one-handed, with minimal “in the kitchen” time, or elements for batch cooking the week’s lunches and dinners. Good ideas are sandwiches, veggies and hummus for crudités, bite sized fruit like grapes, whole almonds and nutrition-packed smoothies – and when you’re on your feet all day eating mini-meals like these might just suit you better.
Of course, burning off the baby weight is also key, but you have to give yourself a bit of time. Nobody wants you to wind up incapacitated after a 1-hour kickboxing class you signed up for two weeks after coming home! If the weather’s nice, drag out the stroller, bundle up the baby and power walk your neighbourhood. You’ll feel great, free your mind, and you and your child will get a breath of fresh air. “Mom-and-tot” classes are a great way to get moving and get social with those just like you as well, and you might even make a few friends for your child’s later playdates. Muscle toning, especially the abs and back, should definitely be a part of your regime, to help you carry the ever-heavier babe and all their gear. Just be realistic about your weight loss goals – 1 ½ pounds a week is perfectly logical to shoot for, half that while breastfeeding. Remember – the weight didn’t come on in a week, so it won’t come off in one!
All in all, enjoy your bouncing baby and your new (or renewed) status as a mom. You’ve done a remarkable thing by creating a perfect new life in only nine months, and that’s something only mothers – celebrity or pedestrian – can claim.
I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.
Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!