Whether you want to shed those pregnancy pounds or just want to feel better both emotionally and physically, it is important to eat a healthy post-pregnancy diet along with getting plenty of exercise. Your diet after your pregnancy should include balanced nutrition like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while also controlling the number of calories you eat. Keep in mind that a post-pregnancy diet does not mean cutting back drastically on your caloric intake. In fact, postpartum women need a minimum of 1,200 calories a day and sometimes as much as 2,200 calories a day.
Do not start dieting the minute you get home from the hospital. Though you might be itching to start losing the weight you gained during pregnancy, give your body a few weeks to recover. A good time to start dieting is after your six-week postpartum checkup. Women who are breast feeding should wait two months after giving birth to start dieting.
A sensible, post-pregnancy diet should include an array of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are low in fat and high in fiber. Getting enough protein is also key. Low-fat, protein-rich options like fish, chicken and beans are a good choice. To help strengthen your bones, look to foods high in calcium, like cow or soy milk, cheese and yogurt. For snacking, keep apple slices or wheat crackers handy.
Try to up your daily protein intake to one gram for every pound you weigh, and be sure to eat some nuts, leafy greens or fish like mackerel and salmon, all of which contain essential fatty acids like omega-3s that helps your baby’s growing brain. To stay hydrated, increase you water intake to about 3 quarts a day and monitor your urine to make sure it is pale or clear, not concentrated in color. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a cup of coffee or glass of wine is okay, but drink it after the feeding session.
A healthy post-pregnancy diet should avoid high-fat food, especially foods that contain trans fat. Trans fat is found in a lot of processed, fried, and fast foods, as well as baked goods that use vegetable shortenings or margarine. Breast feeding mothers should also avoid any fish associated with high levels of mercury, which includes swordfish and tuna steak, as well as limit their intake of canned tuna.
While it is easier to say than for a new mom to do, sleep is an important part of a healthy postpartum diet. A 2007 Harvard study found that getting less than five hours a day can lead to weight retention of 11 pounds or more. One reason for this may be due to hormonal changes that take place in sleep-derived people which stimulates hunger. Also, when you are tired it is easy to let your guard down and make poor food choices, like grabbing fast food at a drive-thru. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep a day.