Your body needs time to recover from labor and delivery. Give yourself at least 6 weeks before you start watching your calories. And if you’re breastfeeding, I recommend that you wait until your baby is at least 2 months old before you try to lose weight.
Starting a diet too soon after giving birth can delay your recovery and make you feel tired just when you need all the energy you can muster to adjust to life with your newborn. In addition, if you’re breastfeeding, dieting can affect your milk supply and release toxins into your blood stream that are stored in your body fat and then into your milk supply.
Most women need between 1,500 – 2,200 calories a day. If you’re breastfeeding, you need 2,000- 2,700 calories a day to nourish both yourself and your baby.
Weight loss of about ½ kilo per week is safe. To achieve this, cut out 500 calories a day from your current diet (without dipping below the minimum) by either decreasing your food intake or increasing your activity level.
Sure, who has the time or energy with the new baby and schedule? But here are some simple practical ideas that can help you achieve your weight-loss goal in an effective way.
- Don’t skip meals (especially not breakfast), this will decrease your metabolism, make you feel tired, crave “treats” and more likely to over-eat in the next meal
- Eat 6 meals a day; 3 small main ones and 3 snacks. Every meal should have a portion of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, brown rice, quinoa), lean protein (skinless chicken, fish, low fat dairy, eggs, beans/lentils) and good fats. Snack ideas include: fresh fruit, low fat natural yogurt, vegetable sticks with hummus, handful of raw unsalted nuts and seeds, air popped popcorn
- Fat is not your enemy; including some fat at each meal will help you stay full and keep you from overeating carbohydrates. The trick is to choose “good” fats rather than “bad” fats. Good fats include: olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, tahini and fatty fish like salmon. Avoid trans fats found in many fried foods, snack foods, and convenience baked goods.
- Drink between 10-12 glasses of filtered water a day. Watch what you drink, a surprising number of calories can be hidden in juice, sodas, and coffee
- If you can manage to breastfeed even for the first three months, you will experience far faster weight loss than if you bottle feed right from the start. The baby is taking nutrients that your body has stored up in the form of fat cells, thus depleting the fat cells. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories per day so the longer you breastfeed, the more calories you burn.
Aussie Karin Reiter is a mama and nutritionist whose company Nutritious & Delicious can help you and your family work towards creating a healthy (and yummy!) lifestyle. Contact Karin by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation – whether you’re dealing with picky eaters, feel tired and lacking in energy, or just want to drop a few pounds and not regain them the very next week!