For many moms postpartum, the pressure to bounce back to their pre pregnancy body can be overwhelming. Moms are constantly being targeted with postpartum diets – claiming to be the perfect solution to “getting your body back”. Unfortunately, these diets (like every other diet) are just smoke and mirrors. As a dietitian and mom, I wanted to share my insights into the postpartum journey along with a few tips that have helped me along the way.
Pregnancy is a magical and wild experience. Our bodies shift and stretch to be able to make room to grow another human inside. Think about that. A baby’s ears, heart, and little toes are all made inside another human. It truly is incredible what our bodies can do. Throughout the pregnancy journey, women are praised for their changing bodies, constantly hearing comments about their pregnancy glow and beautiful bellies.
But… the postpartum journey can be a completely different experience.
While it takes around 40 weeks to grow a human, there is a societal pressure to ‘bounce back’ as quickly as possible. Women are constantly being bombarded with diet messaging, but it can be even more intense postpartum.
As a Registered Dietitian and Momma, I know how dangerous and unrealistic the expectation to bounce back can be. You and your body brought a baby into this world, changing both of you forever. Between the hormones, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, and the new responsibility to keep this tiny human alive, the added pressure to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans can be overwhelming to say the least.
Postpartum recovery is a personal journey. There’s no one “right” path. It involves patience, compassion, listening to your body and serving it the best way you know how. In this blog I’m sharing some of my own postpartum insights but remember, you are the expert of your own body and experience:
- What is the Best Postpartum Diet?
- The Plate Method
- 5 Tips for Postpartum Nutrition
- Batch Meal Prep
- Snacks Are Your Friend
- Use Fast Foods to Build Balanced Meals
- Hydrate. Hydrate Hydrate
If you’re a soon-to-be-mom, currently postpartum, or just curious about this journey, then this blog is for you!
All foods fit in a postpartum diet! To help keep energy up and blood sugars balanced I recommend leaning into the plate method. More on that here.
In the early stages of postpartum, your body is recovering from childbirth and needs nourishment, rest, and hydration. Eat balanced meals regularly, accept help and meals when offered, and drink plenty of water. We dive more into this here.
What is The Best Postpartum Diet?
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I don’t subscribe to diet culture. Diet culture dictates what you can and can’t eat, creates strict rules around them and sets parameters on what is considered “good” food and what is considered “bad” food.
The result? The exact opposite effect you are looking for like:
- Feeling out of control and guilty around food
- Constantly thinking about food
- Intense cravings
- Disordered eating
So if you’re looking for an instant solution – I have bad news… there is no ‘best’ postpartum diet.
In fact, dieting postpartum can potentially be dangerous. Your body has gone through a lot – you not only grew a baby, you also birthed it. You need strength and energy to heal and be as present as possible!
In fact, I believe the best postpartum “diet” is one that includes ALL foods. When you give yourself permission to enjoy food without guilt, you can start to listen to your body’s hunger cues and can better honor your needs throughout the day. This is a key part of intuitive eating – a practice I have embodied that has been key to enjoying and being present fotr the things that really matter in this postpartum period rather than stressing about food and my body!
Explore not just what you eat but why you eat, how you feel when you eat and any patterns that affect how you feel or impact any choices you make and start your journey to food freedom today!
The Plate Method
If you’re new to intuitive eating or are learning how to trust your body again, I like to recommend using the plate method as a guide to building balanced, nourishing meals. The plate method is a great visual for creating a dinner – fill your plate with ½ non-starch veggies, ¼ protein, and ¼ carbs + healthy fats.
Using this as a guideline you will be able to design meals that optimally balance your blood sugars, give you a good proportionate balance of nutrients to energize and serve the extra demands of your body during this time.
5 Tips for Postpartum Nutrition
There are endless tips and information around post pregnancy nutrition which can make it super confusing. So I wanted to share 5 tips that I use to support my body in getting the nourishment and energy it needs so I can be the best version of myself (give or take a couple hours of sleep. Haha).
Batch Meal Prep (any chance you get)
I am a huge fan of meal prepping. Life with a newborn can be unpredictable. Knowing I have nearly instant meals in my fridge or freezer eliminates any meal time stress.
Before Indie’s due date, I would double or triple most recipes and freeze the extras in family size portions. Most people typically batch prep pasta sauces, soups, wontons and casseroles, but you can also freeze things like smoothies, quesadillas, tempeh taco filling, lettuce wraps, breakfast burritos or breakfast cookies.
You can almost freeze anything! Growing up, we would have a sandwich assembly line and freeze them – taking them out anytime we went skiing. So use your imagination and fill your freezer full of quick, 15 minute or less meals.
Snacks Are Your Friend!
As a dietitian, I am always encouraging my clients and community to look at what they can ADD into their diet (not what they need to cut out). Snacks are a great way to keep your blood sugars stable, energy high, and cravings at bay.
I recommend keeping one handed snacks easily available so you can enjoy them while you’re feeding your newborn. Some of my favorite one handed snacks include store bought granola bars (I love Made With Local), energy balls (like these coconut lemon energy balls), no-bake granola bars, and smoothie pops.
If you don’t have any grab and go snacks on-hand, use the PFF combo to create satisfying snacks.
What’s PFF? It’s a snack that contains protein, fat, andfiber. The protein and fat will slow the rate of digestion and help keep blood sugars rise steadily. The fiber (think fruit, veggies, and crackers) will keep you feeling full longer.
Try to have a PFF snack in between meals or anytime you’re feeling hungry, so your energy stays high (well as high as possible with a few sleepless nights)!
3-2-1 Method Meal Plans
Enjoy 4 weeks of done-for-you meal plans and get 3-5 hours of your time back every week!
Use Fast Foods to Build Balanced Meals
My version of fast foods isn’t the McDonald’s Drive-Through (although I’vebeen there too!)- I’m talking about nutritious, whole foods that take little to no extra prep but allow you to create quick and easy meals.
Think – bins of greens, frozen veggies, bagged salads, whole grain wraps, tortillas or buns, or frozen pizzas, frozen patties (like salmon, chicken or burgers).
These are staples in The 3-2-1 Method Meal Plans!
When you’re in a pinch, you can quickly create a plate method meal. When I’m pressed for time I like to throw a pizza in the oven and top with arugula or serve with a tossed salad.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
Hydration is so important for anyone but especially new moms. Water is essential to regulating blood flow, aiding digestion, maintaining a comfortable body temperature, and so much more. And if you’re nursing, you’ll really need those extra fluids! Dehydration can lead to feelings or irritability and tiredness.
Staying hydrated isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips to make hydration easy (and fun):
- Set a phone reminder every couple of hours to drink a glass of water. As you get used to drinking regularly throughout the day, you won’t need a reminder and drinking water will become a habit.
- Buy a fun water bottle that keeps your water cold. I really like the quality of Yeti products (like this water bottle)
- Use a tumbler with a straw -Ii always drink more when using a straw!
- Make it fun! Add fruit to your water jug . I like cucumber mint, rosemary lemon, and strawberry basil. I also like adding a few drops of electrolytes or flavor drops to my water!
Now over to you
- Have you ever felt pressure to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight?
- What comes up for you when you hear the term ‘bounce back’?
- Any other questions we may have missed?
Share with us in the comments below or take a screenshot and share it with us over on Instagram! And if you found this post helpful, pass it along to a friend or family member who could benefit from it too!
Looking for more support?
If you’re looking for guidance on where to start with healing your relationship to food, fostering trust within yourself and your body, and building confidence in your everyday eating, we’d love to support you! Book in for an initial assessment or schedule a free discovery call to get started.