We all know that having a healthy diet and exercising are among the top ways to get back into shape and have a body that feels healthy and fit. Consuming a diet that is filled with a variety of healthy foods is important not only for a new mom but also her baby. A healthy diet will help you maintain you energy levels, help you produce and provide your baby with good breast milk, and help knock off those few extra pounds as well.
What Should I Eat?
Like any other diet a variety of foods will help provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Consuming a diet that is mainly made up of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will provide you with the energy you need to keep up with that new little busy body. Try consuming foods that are high in fiber (high fiber diet) such as whole-grains, vegetables, beans, and fruits! This will help keep your body regular and also help you shave those few extra pounds. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important; especially water in order to rehydrate your body and flush out your system.
During your pregnancy you probably ate quite a few snacks throughout the day, right? If you said yes than keep it up; eating small snacks throughout the day has been proven to keep your energy level up (this means healthy snacks by the way). Going a long period without a meal or skipping a meal is not a good idea and will only make you feel worse. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and other drugs if you are breastfeeding as they can get into your milk and harm your child. A healthy diet helps you produce the milk you need to feed your baby so contaminating it with alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs only leads to a win-lose situation.
Of course your healthy diet should also be paired with exercise and much needed rest. Normally, it is safe to return to your normal exercise routine or begin exercising four to six weeks after giving birth. However, checking with your physician first is always a good idea!
While breast-feeding you should continue to consume on average 500 more calories per day. However, if you are a very active person, have more than one baby to feed, or lose weight at a rapid pace you may need to consume more than just 500 extra calories per day. This should be discussed with your physician and/or registered dietitian. Following the guidelines from above also apply to those who are breast-feeding. However, a healthy diet helps you produce the milk you need to feed your baby.
Sources of foods that contain good nutrients include:
- Lean proteins: fish, poultry without the skin, legumes, and low-fat milk products
- Carbohydrates: whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes, and low-fat milk products
- Fats: unsaturated fats (olive and canola oil, nuts, and fish)
Legumes include: peas, beans, and lentils
It is also very important to make sure that you are getting the recommended amounts of minerals and vitamins needed each day in order for your body to properly function and bounce back from the toll pregnancy played on it. A multivitamin such as the Health Beacon Multivitamin http://healthbeacon.co.uk/articles/featured/health-beacon/2013/07/optimum-nutrition-complex-what-is-it.aspx would be ideal.
Many physicians will recommend for new mothers to continue with their prenatal vitamins while breast-feeding ensuring they are consuming the amounts needed in order to keep their body and milk healthy. For women who do not consume enough calcium through their daily diet, do not eat meat products that provide important vitamins and minerals, or consume a poor diet a multivitamin is very important. Many women who are unable to provide their self with a healthy well-balanced diet due to a number of factors (income, age, etc.) may benefit from the help of a registered dietitian.
How Does My Diet Affect My Milk?
If you are consuming a healthy diet there is not much to worry about as most foods do not affect your milk in any way, they just help you be able to produce it. One concern however may be milk and dairy products made from cow’s milk. Some infants can develop a sensitivity to the proteins that are found in cow’s milk through the mothers diet. If this happens cutting milk and other dairy products made from cow’s milk out your diet is idea.
Caffeine may be another concern for those who are avid caffeine drinkers. Consuming a diet that is high in caffeine can affect your infant, as caffeine can be passed through your milk. Infants who consume caffeine can become restless and irritable, meaning less sleep for mom and the baby. Remember caffeine is not only found in carbonated beverages such as soda, but also in CHOCOLATE and tea as well.