Between recovering from giving birth, sleepless nights and learning all about your new little person, working out how to prioritise your nutritional needs can seem like one more job too many. But, like with all things that are good for us, a well-balanced healthy diet will help to support your recovery, and your general well-being as well as support milk production, if you choose to breastfeed.
How to achieve a well-balanced healthy diet as a new mum
It can be difficult in those early postpartum days to eat enough healthy food, with the addition of fatigue and less time than you had before all having an impact on food choices.
Here are my top tips to help make your nutrition a little bit easier to manage:
1. Before the baby arrives stock up on healthy cupboard and fridge essentials that can be used to make simple meals and snacks. Importantly, be sure to include all three macronutrient food groups. These include;
· Carbohydrates; rice, pulses and legumes, potatoes, wholemeal bread
· Proteins; lean meats, oily fish (tinned is a great option), Greek yoghurt, tofu
· Fats; avocado, cheese, nuts and seeds
· Vegetables; green leafy veg, peas, carrots, squashes, broccoli
· Fruits; bananas, frozen berries, oranges, lemons
2. Have a couple of quick and easy go-to recipes which use your essentials for a healthy dinner or lunch. A great example would be a roasted chicken, hummus and salad wholemeal pita (thrown together in minutes and can be eaten with one hand) or roasted veg, baked potato and roasted salmon (a great one-pan dish).
3. Readily available snacks; by eating little and often you will be supporting your energy levels and avoiding massive hunger pangs that often lead to less healthy food choices. Smoothies, nuts, fruits and mini-meals, such as avocado toast, are great options and can be easily put together with little time needed in the kitchen.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Consuming enough fluids is incredibly important especially if you are breastfeeding, as the production of milk will dehydrate your body. It is often helpful to have a filled water bottle in a few places around the home to avoid going long periods without fluids. Teas, milk and flavoured water all count towards your fluid intake too!
5. Now is not the time to worry about restriction. We want to aim for balance across the week, not just in a single day. If friends or family bring around cake or biscuits, wonderful, enjoy a serving and ensure a healthy meal follows next.
6. Three structured meals per day, plus snacks is not always achievable with a newborn around. It is ok to be flexible with your meal timings. Having smaller more frequent meals throughout the day is totally acceptable, especially if it allows you to eat healthier and experience less stress trying to stick to a previous eating pattern. Some of my favourite mini-meals include scrambled egg on toast, a protein-rich smoothie, hummus and carrot sticks…even a good spoonful of nut butter.
7. Finally, eating to fuel your health and wellbeing is far more important than weight loss right now. Your body needs energy and sustenance to repair, fight fatigue and thrive. If weight loss is a goal, I often suggest waiting 12 weeks to allow the body time to re-regulate; both physically and mentally.
Even then, taking a healthy and well-balanced approach to diet would be advised.
Grace Alexandra Jupp