CAN I EAT THIS?

You’re ex­hausted and over­whelmed as a new mum, yet you’re anx­ious to get back into shape, fast. But be­fore you start di­et­ing, watch out for th­ese nu­tri­tion traps that can sab­o­tage your health, says SASHA GON­ZA­LES.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Be­fore you start di­et­ing to lose your baby weight, watch out for th­ese nu­tri­tion traps that can sab­o­tage your health.

YOU THINK

Eat­ing for two is all right be­cause I’m nurs­ing

EAT BET­TER Well done for per­se­ver­ing with breast­feed­ing! It’s true that lac­tat­ing mums need to eat more – as much as 500 calo­ries more a day – be­cause you’re pro­duc­ing food for your lit­tle one, Sarah Si­naram, man­ager of the Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics Depart­ment at Mount Alver­nia Hos­pi­tal, points out.

But be aware of the qual­ity of calo­ries that you are con­sum­ing. “Make sure they are healthy calo­ries, not empty ones,” says Susie Rucker, a nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist at Body With Soul health-care cen­tre.

Nu­tri­tious op­tions in­clude lean meat and fish, whole­grains, seeds, fruit, veg­eta­bles, and good fats like olive oil, co­conut oil and avo­cado.

“To boost milk pro­duc­tion, in­crease your in­take of oats, sip on fen­nel tea, and make sure you get suf­fi­cient rest,” Susie rec­om­mends.

YOU THINK

Who has time for break­fast?

EAT BET­TER Your de­mand­ing new­born has been keep­ing you busy and you sim­ply have no time for a morn­ing meal, and per­haps even lunch. By din­ner time, you’re so rav­en­ous that you wolf down ev­ery­thing at the table.

Eat­ing too much too late in the day is not good for your di­ges­tion, says Susie. It can also in­ter­fere with your sleep and con­cen­tra­tion. And if you don’t have the op­por­tu­nity to burn off the calo­ries, this bad habit can lead to weight gain.

Even though your morn­ings may be hec­tic, it’s im­por­tant to set aside time to eat when you wake up. If break­fast is re­ally not pos­si­ble, at least have brunch, and eat a small serv­ing ev­ery three or four hours.

“Choose un­re­fined and un­pro­cessed food, such as salmon, eggs and avo­cado, which have protein and healthy fat, and fibre-rich grains,” says Susie.

YOU THINK

Every­one’s di­et­ing to lose preg­nancy weight, any­way

EAT BET­TER The en­ergy and nu­tri­ent needs of a nurs­ing mother are higher, so you shouldn’t cut back on your meals, says Sarah. “The good news is that, be­cause of the in­creased en­ergy re­quire­ments dur­ing breast­feed­ing, most new mums will ex­pe­ri­ence some weight loss dur­ing this pe­riod,” she shares.

Fo­cus on pro­vid­ing good nu­tri­tion in the form of healthy food to your child and your­self in­stead. You can start to lose the post­na­tal weight once you have weaned your baby off breast milk. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion rec­om­mends nurs­ing for up to two years or more.

YOU THINK

I just had lunch. Why am I still hun­gry?

EAT BET­TER With so much to do, you can’t help mul­ti­task­ing dur­ing meal­times – rock­ing your child to sleep, catch­ing up on In­sta­gram and think­ing about your gro­cery list.

It’s there­fore im­por­tant to learn how to eat mind­fully, that is, with in­ten­tion and at­ten­tion, says Sarah. “This means elim­i­nat­ing or min­imis­ing dis­trac­tions so you can be tuned in to your meal – its flavour, aroma, tem­per­a­ture, tex­ture and taste. Then, you can lis­ten to your body’s cues of hunger and full­ness.”

She sug­gests plan­ning your meals around nap times or ask­ing some­one to keep an eye on your baby while you eat. YOU THINK

I don’t have time to make din­ner. I’ll buy a burger

EAT BET­TER When you don’t have time to pre­pare a healthy meal, it’s easy to fill your tummy with a burger-and-fries combo or greasy fried noo­dles. Items like th­ese may sat­isfy the taste buds and be cheap and con­ve­nient, but they are of­ten de­void of nu­tri­ents.

Susie rec­om­mends pre­par­ing and freez­ing healthy meals, like soups and casseroles, ahead of time. You can also stock up on frozen veg­gies so you can pre­pare stir-fries in a pinch. If you have to re­sort to a take­away meal, note that some cuisines are health­ier than oth­ers.

So choose Thai or In­dian dishes over, say, pizza and burg­ers. “It’s fine to cut cor­ners, but not at the ex­pense of your baby’s and your health,” Susie adds. Re­mem­ber, too, that what­ever you eat will be con­sumed by your breast­feed­ing baby, re­minds Sarah.

YOU THINK

I’m al­ways ex­hausted and stressed; don’t bug me about my diet

EAT BET­TER Com­fort eat­ing is a bad habit, so try not to suc­cumb to the temp­ta­tion. If you’re feel­ing low, reach for good food that will in­crease your en­ergy while help­ing to al­le­vi­ate some of your anx­i­ety.

“Cot­tage cheese, chicken and turkey con­tain tryp­to­phan, which helps pro­duce sero­tonin, a mood-boost­ing chem­i­cal; while avo­cado and salmon con­tain healthy es­sen­tial fat, which can im­prove your mood,” says Susie.

Avoid re­fined and pro­cessed car­bo­hy­drates, such as cook­ies, cakes and candy bars. “Th­ese pro­vide no nour­ish­ment and will only make you feel more tired and down,” she adds.

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