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