Having a baby is a beautiful experience and you find your world revolving around your baby. Now that your baby is here, you have a lot to think and do. In addition to this, you are eager to look like your old self again or even better than before.
The number one thing you must have is a certain amount of patience with your body. It took you nine months to get there and what you eat now affects the quality of nourishment you give to your baby through lactation. It may sound strange, but going on an official “diet” could derail your post-pregnancy weight loss goals and affect the nourishment of your baby.
How to get back in shape
- Eat a well-balanced diet – It is a must as you are responsible for nourishing your baby. Madness over getting quick results can lead to loss of nourishment to the baby. Women often get confused with conflicting information on what to eat and how many calories to consume. The safest and most sensible thing to do is to focus on eating wholesome food – fresh, local and home cooked. A well-balanced diet includes foods from all food groups – cereals, pulses, nuts and oilseeds, dairy, lean meats, fruits and vegetables and good fats.
- Nothing drastic – The body needs calories post pregnancy to recover from the physical trauma. Crash diets are a common practice post-pregnancy, but diets like those are one of the major causes of the thyroid problems that many new mums develop. You are forcing your body to slow down its metabolism because you are reducing calorie intake by unnatural eating habits. In the long term, you’ll gain all the lost weight back within less than 3 months. Crash diets, the quickest way to lose weight, may help but mind you it’s all muscle that is lost, making you look flabby.
- Fuel up on galactagogues – Galactagogues are a group of foods known to enhance the breast milk production in nursing mothers. These food items when consumed replenish the nutrient sources in a nursing mother and enrich the quality of breast milk produced. Some examples of galactagogues are fenugreek seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, jaggery, coconut, cumin seeds, poppy seeds, dill etc.
- Post pregnancy portion control – One needs to be very much consistent on the proportion of food consumed. For the same, visualize how much food you want to eat on a plate. But, only take half of the three helpings you visualized onto your plate when it’s mealtime. Take additional helpings only if you’re still hungry, this will help you in controlling portions.
- Eat up and take your time – One of the effective ways to lose weight is by eating. Having said that eating every 3 hours and eating right ensure good nutrient intake and delivery. This also regulates your blood sugar levels & does not surge your insulin levels thus controlling hunger pangs as well. Nourish your body well and make up for the wear and tear that it has gone through.
- Refill calcium – In one pregnancy, a woman loses five years worth of calcium from her body. So giving up on the dairy is a big ‘No’. A glass of milk every night before sleeping ensures refilling calcium stores that lead to stronger bones. Also, dairy is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a component which helps to burn fat faster. You should make sure your diet is rich in milk and milk products, nuts and oilseeds and dals.
- Delete unwanted foods not loved ones – Eat what you love but be sure of what you love. Eating parantha is better than pizzas. Homemade buttermilk and fruit smoothies are better than chocolate frappes which are loaded with sugars.
- Load up on “super foods”- When you’re a new mother, your body needs maximum nutrition, especially if you’re nursing. Choose foods that are heavy in the nutrients
- Fish is one of these “super foods” because it’s packed with DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that helps your newborn develop a healthy brain and nervous system as well as speed up fat burning.
- Milk and yoghurt are also superfoods because they’re high in calcium you need to keep your bones strong.
- Lean meat, chicken, and beans are low in fat and high in protein and fibre. These foods give satiety, add good quality protein for recovery.
- Ghee is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that burns fat from stubborn areas.
- Kulith or horsegram – this pulse converts fats to energy and accelerates fat loss, helps in calcium absorption and deals with fatigue as it is rich in iron.
- Kokum – its HCA content accelerates fat loss.
- Drink up – Drinking plenty of water throughout the day prevents dehydration. It also fills you up so that you don’t eat as much. It clears toxins from the body thus acting as a natural and effective anti-oxidants!
- Move it! – It’s also important to not just lose weight but to rebuild your bone and muscle density. The more bone and muscle you carry the more compact you look. And the less bone and muscle you carry, the flabbier you look. Thus incorporating aerobic exercise (walking) and strength training exercises help you with a toned look. Focus initially on your nourishment and bonding with the baby. Start with mild housework, walks, stretches and Yoga and get into strenuous physical activity only after 3 months.
- Get some sleep – Improper sleep cycle delays recovery and releases cortisol hormones that are responsible for weight gain.
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Tackling other post-pregnancy issues
- Dark circles can be fixed by increasing the intake of Vitamin B12. Foods such as curd and til ka laddoos, are rich in B12. However, everything must be taken in moderate amounts though.
- Stretch marks – Antioxidant-rich foods such as all fruits and vegetables help to get rid of these. On the other hand ghee and omega-3 consumption in form of walnuts, flaxseed or fish supports the removal of them.
- Hair loss –Vitamin A, zinc, and protein-rich foods help curb hair loss. So make sure you are munching on carrots, nuts and egg whites as a mid-meal snack!
- Hemorrhoids and constipation – Fibre eases constipation; thus nachani or jowar bhakri at least once a day works best.
Feeling deprived of favourite foods while already stressed out by the new role as a mom could actually cause weight gain. So, if you just go back to eating healthy and eating for your hunger, you will find that the weight comes off pretty naturally.
by Akansha Jhalani Sinha
(RD, PG CND, FSQC)
Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveler and a happy yogi.
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