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  • Caroline

How are you fuelling your body


Growing a baby is a big deal and it uses up an extraordinary amount of energy and nutrients. After going through pregnancy, birth and possibly breastfeeding, a mum's body is low on calcium, zinc and other vital nutrients and it can take a long time to restore it to optimal levels, especially if you've had several children close together.


Many mums I meet are well-informed when it comes to nutrition and know what to eat to feel better (physically, mentally and emotionally). However, there are three things that can impact on this:

1) The postnatal body has slightly different requirements in terms of healing and restoring strength.


One of the most important things to eat after childbirth is protein and many mums I meet don't eat nearly enough. Protein builds muscle and tissue and we should eat a palm size of it with every main meal when we are re-building the body. Choose from lean meat such as chicken or turkey, oily fish (eg salmon), red meat, or vegetarian options such as tofu, lentils or chickpeas. We also need healthy fat to absorb important vitamins as well as build our brains (hello salmon!), and we need fibre to keep our gut healthy and to avoid constipation.


If you focus on these three (protein, healthy fat and fibre) at mealtimes, you will notice a big improvement in your blood sugar levels which help to reduce sugar cravings. Your body will heal faster and you will have more energy to look after your little one. One of my favourite superfoods that contains protein, healthy fat and fibre (as well as important minerals) is flaxseed. Try adding a spoonful of it into your morning granola, smoothie or pancake mix.


Eating balanced meals will also help to lose any excess weight in a gradual and sustainable way. Some mums I meet get a distorted view of what their bodies should look like after pregnancy and childbirth. It's important to remember that what we see online isn’t always the full picture (and you can make almost any body look amazing with the help of the right clothes, camera angle and light!). Furthermore, many celebrities have nutritionists, cooks, nannies and personal trainers on hand to recover faster after childbirth.

2) The sleepless nights that come with having a baby wreak havoc with our hunger hormones.


The disrupted sleep is so tough on so many levels (I talk a lot about the effect on our mental health in other blogs) and the reason it's so hard to not reach for a quick sugar fix when we're tired is because our hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin have been compromised. So when you think that you're lacking willpower or motivation, know that it's not you - it's your ghrelin levels that have increased which signals to the brain that you're hungry!


If you can, eat something savoury first to satisfy your hunger, and then add a smaller sweat treat afterwards. That way, you're balancing out your blood sugar levels because fat and protein reduce the spike that sugar creates. This means that that you're less likely to eat the whole box of chocolates in one go. Drinking lots of water will also help as will exercise as it's a natural appetite suppressor.


Many mums I eat crave something sugary in the evening after their little one has gone to bed. A few ideas that might help if this is you: add honey to a nice cup of herbal tea, eat some fruit (which is sweet but contains fructose and vitamins), phone a good friend, have a nice bath with Epsom salts (the magnesium will relax tired muscles which may reduce the need to soothe with sugar) or go to bed early with a good book. Or maybe even have sex with your husband!! 😉

3) Being on call 24/7 to care for a baby can disrupt the best of plans and intentions when it comes to eating well.


The best way to solve this is to meal plan in advance, for example on the weekend, when many of you have hopefully more time and a partner or family around to help out. Batch cooking works really well in the autumn: think soups and stews. Homemade energy balls are also good (with eg almond or peanut butter, dark chocolate and dates etc). If you make and bring your own snacks, you're definitely less likely to reach for that sugary cake at the cafe post-Buggyfit.


If you’re like me and don’t like planning too much (I’m the spontaneous type), focus on eggs, avocado, nuts and brown bread and you have a quick, nutritious and tasty lunch. Dips such as hummus with veg work well too. A recent favourite of mine when I’m really short of time is toasted whole wheat bread with a spread (eg almond or peanut butter) and sliced banana on top. Yum!


If you are out of the baby phase and sleeping better but still find nutrition challenging and need help to put in place some healthy habits, feel free to get in touch for a discovery call.


Caroline


#foodfornewmums #postnatalhealing #eatingwell #healyourbody #foodismedicine #balanceyourbloodsugars #protein #healthyfats #fibre #healthymindhealthybody

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