Ask the experts: Postpartum nutrition and weight loss

By Published On: July 2nd, 2012

To kick-off our nutrition month, we’ve asked Elizabeth Somer, MA, […]

To kick-off our nutrition month, we’ve asked Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy” to share her expert tips on taking control of our postpartum bodies and minds.

plateoffoodReigniting your mojo after the baby is born takes planning and patience. Pregnancy and childbirth are the body’s equivalent of completing a triathlon, so give it a few weeks to heal while providing it with quality fuel to repair and revitalize, and you’ll be turning heads in no time.
What should my postbaby diet look like?
To produce enough milk, lose weight, maintain energy to meet the demands of mommyhood, and regain your health and sexy self after the baby is born, every bite must count. You need foods that supply the most nutrients for the least calories. Load half the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. The other half is for whole grains, nonfat or low-fat milk products, and some iron-rich proteins, such as chicken breast, seafood, and legumes.
I’m feeling blue since the baby came, which puts a serious damper on sexy.
The omega-3 fat DHA can help. It shows promise in treating postpartum blues. You are likely to be low in this healthy fat, especially if you are breastfeeding, while boosting intake can help improve mood. Aim for two servings a week of fatty fish, such as salmon, and include foods fortified with an algal- or vegetarian-based DHA (it will say life’s DHA on the label). Take an algal-based DHA supplement daily, like Expecta Lipil or Target’s up & up DHA prenatal supplement.
I’m not getting enough sleep, so I’m just too pooped to pucker.
Not only does lack of sleep affect mood, it also interferes with losing excess baby weight, since the body holds onto fat stores when it is sleep-deprived. The diet solution is to drink lots of water, eat regularly, avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, etc.) after noon, limit sugary processed foods, and eat a light, low-fat dinner, since heavy meals interfere with a good night’s sleep. Until the baby is sleeping through the night, take advantage of doze time and take a nap too!
I don’t have time to prepare healthy meals now that the baby is here.
Sorry, that excuse doesn’t fly. It takes as little as five minutes to fix healthy meals and no time at all for a healthy snack. Breakfast is as easy as a bowl of whole grain cereal, low-fat milk, and a big handful of blueberries. Lunch can be a bag of salad greens, leftover chicken, and low-fat dressing. Dinner is a broiled salmon fillet, a microwaved sweet potato, and steamed frozen green peas. Snacks include yogurt, string cheese, baby carrots, fruit, tomato juice, a glass of milk, and/or a handful of nuts and dried fruit. Keep the kitchen stocked with these healthful foods and always bring food with you, and you’ll be well on your way to eating healthy in minutes and feeling sexy in no time!