Eat Well after Bringing Your Baby Home - 7 Tips for New Moms

Yesterday my precious baby girl turned a whopping 6 weeks old! I’d always heard my friends who had babies talk about how fast the time goes, but it truly has flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday we were driving to the hospital as the sun came up to be induced and ready to welcome her into this crazy world.

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So, at this milestone of 6 weeks for her, I realized I reached a milestone of my own. Two things happened that brought to light that I just might be starting to get a small hang of this mothering thing. 1) I actually made and ate a fresh salad and 2) I found the time to write this post!

Now, you might be thinking, what’s the big deal about making and eating a salad? Or finding time to hash out a blog post? Well, one of the things I didn’t fully realize before baby, was how little time I would actually feel I had to shop, prepare and eat food, or do anything besides cuddle, nurse, change baby and maybe catch a shower or some sleep. I feel like I’ve been in the twilight zone as far as meals and eating goes, and today I began (knock on wood) to turn a corner.

New parents are tired, worried, overjoyed, emotional and very, very busy meeting all of their baby’s needs. Yet, at the same time, as a mom who just finally made it out of 9 months of pregnancy, I know I was ready to start recuperating from labor and feeling better. Since eating can be a big part of feeling good and maintaining your much needed energy, I’m going to share some tips for eating well with a newborn based on what I’ve learned over these past 6 weeks.

1) You need protein often - most importantly this will help keep up your milk supply if you’re nursing. You need calories to produce milk and baby needs milk! It also helps you maintain your muscle and strength as you lose weight after pregnancy. Try easy grab n’ go proteins every 2-4 hours such as cottage cheese, Greek-style yogurt, nuts, nitrate-free deli meats, tuna salad (limit to once weekly while nursing due to mercury), roasted chicken (buy or make ahead and keep in fridge), milk, protein powder for smoothies.  Combine a protein with an easy carbohydrate such as fresh or dried fruit, whole grain bread or crackers, or frozen banana in a smoothie with yogurt.

2) Keep dinner easy - at least in the beginning, don’t try to be wonder woman and make dinner every night. Let friends and family bring you meals, get some healthful take out such as Mediterranean food, fish tacos, or Mexican salads with rice and beans. You’ll burn out and be let down if you expect yourself to cook too much. I’ve had cereal with nuts or peanut butter and honey sandwiches many nights over these past few weeks.

3) Listen to and honor your hunger - you may feel increased hunger when you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding increases mom’s calorie needs by around 300-600 calories a day, plus you are healing from the delivery or c-section, and you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off learning how to nurture and care for your sweet baby. So don’t ignore your body’s hunger signals or you risk shutting down your metabolism and possibly even slowing your milk production.

4) Don’t OD on the caffeine - as much as you may feel you need that extra large Starbuck’s every morning, try to take it easy on the caffeine and stick to the amount you had during pregnancy. The biggest benefit here is that you will be able to sleep when your little one sleeps. If you don’t take advantage of the nap time, you could end up majorly sleep deprived and left just with jitters and headaches. Studies show some caffeine should not interrupt your infant’s sleep patterns or give tummy aches, but each baby and mom will be affected differently.

5) Eat fat - it’s vital for you and your baby to have healthy fats in your diet. Every day try to eat 2-4 servings of nuts, natural nut butter, fish, avocado, or olive oil. This helps maximize absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and also helps keep you satisfied and energized. These fats are a rich source of nutrients and calories which your body will appreciate as it’s healing, recovering, and feeding a growing newborn brain which grows 1% bigger every day! Brain tissue is largely composed of fat, so make sure to take a good quality omega-3 supplement that contains EPA and DHA  which is readily passed on to your newborn through breast milk. If you’re not breastfeeding, feed your baby a formula that is fortified with DHA.

6) Don’t stress about your eating - no stress is good stress, so in the beginning it’s perfectly fine if you find yourself eating cookies and milk for breakfast and leftover pizza for lunch or just grabbing turkey slices out of the fridge with your free hand. Give yourself the time you need to even make simple meals come together. The bottom line is you need nourishment and calories - your body and baby will survive if you don’t have fruits and vegetables at every meal (or every day for that matter!) I know that for me, my entire mind was just consumed with meeting her needs and answering her cries and I didn’t even think about food for the first couple weeks. Keep taking a good quality prenatal vitamin, iron supplement and omega-3 daily to make up for any gaps in your diet. Everything will fall in to place as you learn how to be you in this new life of yours. Try some of the simple meals at the bottom of this post to get some balanced meals in.

7) Keep food in your diaper bag - I think almost every time I left the house the first few weeks I realized I was starving because my mind had been totally caught up in getting the baby ready to go on time that I forgot to feed myself. Keep almonds, dried apples and Larabars in the bag so you can get some calories and nutrition in when you need it. Sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office might be the best time for your breakfast!

Quick, Nutritious Meals for Eating Well with a Newborn

  • High fiber cereal with milk, nuts and fruit
  • Protein smoothie: water, plain Greek-style yogurt (protein and calcium), frozen pineapple (for Vit C), banana, natural peanut butter (fat), hemp protein powder (for omega-3 and fiber)
  • High fiber store-bought muffin or whole wheat English muffin with almond butter
  • Cottage cheese, fruit, nuts and granola
  • Peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with honey and cinnamon
  • Nitrate-free deli meat sandwich with cheese or avocado
  • Organic store-bought soup or chili with salsa and tortilla chips
Posted on September 23, 2014 .

Top 10 Reasons to Stop Dieting and Learn to Eat Intuitively

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I'm wrapping up a very exciting time in my life - co-authoring my first book! I can't wait to share the book with you when it's ready sometime this fall. But for now, what I want to share are my Top 10 Reasons to Stop Dieting and Learn to Eat Intuitively.

My co-author, who also happens to be a former client, recently gave me some feedback on the book writing process and something she said was really powerful. She said that what was making the editing to meet space requirements most difficult, was that I had so much content to share and so much passion to convey to the reader about getting off the dieting bandwagon, she couldn't decide what to keep and what to toss. This got me thinking - that she's right. I am incredibly passionate about helping people get out of food and dieting jail, and as cliche as it sounds, my passion comes from going through that very process in my own life.

Living through the hell of chronic dieting, weight concerns, self-loathing, food restriction and binging and coming out alive on the other side as a happy, peaceful, healthy person is what drives me to help others do the same.  Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Stop Dieting and Learn to Eat Intuitively, and I'd love to hear your comments about what all I've missed. I'm positive there are more than 10 reasons... so help me compile a list of 100!  Here we go!

1. No more waking up feeling bad about the day before - alternatively you can feel much better (physically and mentally) much more often!

2. Total, complete freedom to enjoy any food at the right time

3. No stress about what to eat - you learn to want the foods that make you feel great, and eat fewer of the foods that don't.

4. No more starting a restrictive diet - ever! (you may still have to put up with listening about other people's diets unfortunately)

5. Save all the money you would have spent on diets, books, pills, shakes, etc and spend it on something that makes you happy!

6. You don't have to exercise off the calories you feel bad about eating - exercise because you love the way it feels!

7. Actually learn to have love and acceptance of your precious body at any size - don't take it for granted.

8. You don't have to crash diet before an event or a vacation

9. There is SO much more time, space and energy in life for what really matters to you.

10. Dieting and deprivation actually create feelings of failure, depression, anxiety about eating, self-loathing and.... more emotional eating.

Posted on July 8, 2014 .

Sometimes You Just Need Some Inspriation

Here at Not On A Diet, not only are we here to help you find your way to feeling better and living more vibrantly, but we are deeply committed to preventing and healing eating disorders. One common thread among almost all types of disordered eating, is a hyper focus on the external appearance, with a loss of focus on the inside, the soul, the real person.

Give yourself a couple of minutes out of your day to watch this beautiful video, first introduced to me by Dr. Jeffrey Rediger at The IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals) conference last year. It offers a wonderful message that we all need to hear a little more often. Just one tip before you press play... get your tissues ready!

We have faith that you can overcome your fears, your negative self-talk, the body bashing, and the binging. There is so much more of the Good Life waiting for you and we're here to support you every step of the way!

Posted on June 19, 2014 .

Carrot Oat Bran Muffins

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These muffins are moist, flavorful and good for you! I adapted the recipe from the original recipe posted on Food 2 Please.  I fell in love with this recipe. They'll be great for a quick snack with peanut or almond butter, a tasty treat in my husband's lunches, or a quick bite of energy before my morning walk. My recipe made 19 muffins, but I fill the muffin tin pretty full so if you made smaller muffins you'd probably come out with 20-24 standard muffins. I love spicy flavorful muffins so I really boosted up the spices as well.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C. oat bran (I used a heaping half cup)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or omit the oil and use a full cup applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups (about 1 lb) grated organic carrots
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line standard size muffin tin with paper liners for easy clean up.

Sift together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, applesauce and sugar for about 60 seconds, until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients, mixing only until combined. Don't over-mix. Fold in the carrots and walnuts.

ENJOY!

Nutrition Facts per muffin: Made with 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup applesauce: 175 calories, 20 g carb, 4 g pro, 9 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 10 g sugar, 2.5 g fiber.

Nutrition Facts: Made with 1 cup applesauce, no oil: 125 calories, 21.5 g carb, 4 g pro, 3 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 10.5 g sugar, 2.5 g fiber.

 

Posted on May 4, 2014 .

The Importance of Dairy During Pregnancy

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As a first-time mom and health professional entering in to the end of my second trimester, what I put in my body has never felt so important. When you know what you’re eating will have an impact on your future baby, most of us want to do all that we can to ensure good nutrition and growth during these months. What a great gift it is to give health and a strong start to your little girl or boy. Many moms get consumed with planning for the future, preparing the nursery, and organizing for what will happen during maternity leave. As important as all those aspects of pregnancy are, try to not forget about getting the vital nutrients you and your baby need during this precious time.

Some of the most crucial nutrients needed for a healthy mom and healthy baby are found neatly packaged together in dairy products. The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women consume 3-4 servings of dairy daily. Achieving this will help provide the necessary amounts of calcium, protein, Vitamin D, phosphorus, and hydration.

Important Nutrients for Pregnancy Found in Dairy:

  - Calcium - daily requirement for calcium before, during and after pregnancy is about 1,000 mg daily.  One cup or 8 ounces of milk provides approximately 300 mg, one cup of low-fat yogurt provides approximately 450 mg.  

- Protein - essential for both growing baby and mom. Protein needs increase during pregnancy by about 60% compared to your needs before pregnancy. It’s important to consume a variety of proteins, including beans, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs and meats or fish*.

- Vitamin D –milk is an excellent source of vitamin D   and is a bone-building nutrient.

- Phosphorus - a necessary nutrient required for building bones in your growing baby and is also needed to help maintain your bone mass during this time.

  - Drinking milk is hydrating! A bonus from drinking milk and eating yogurt is that these foods provide fluids to your body which are in higher demand during pregnancy to support your increased blood supply. It’s easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy and staying on top of fluids is crucial to your daily well being and energy levels.

If you are pregnant and you experience lactose intolerance or have a sensitivity to lactose, try some of these tips to help you obtain the required amount of dairy you need:

1. Choose lactose-free dairy milk which has lactase added in. Lactase is the enzyme necessary to digest lactose (the natural sugar in milk). Lactose-free dairy milk is regular cow’s milk, with an added enzyme.

2. Try the Stir It option: Mix milk with other foods to help slow the digestion of lactose and allow the body more time to digest it. Try mixing milk with cereal, blend with frozen fruit for a smoothie or drink milk with a meal.

3. Eat yogurt! Greek and regular yogurt has live and active cultures which help digest the lactose making them lactose intolerance-friendly.

3. Use an over-the-counter lactase enzyme tablet when eating dairy products. They work naturally to digest lactose inside your gut, giving you the freedom to enjoy the dairy foods you want, when you want

4. Look for natural cheeses which have minimal amounts of lactose, such as low-fat Parmesan, Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss.

Find more information on Lactose Intolerance and Dairy.

 Important! Make sure that all dairy you consume during pregnancy is pasteurized. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommend choosing pasteurized milk as the safe choice to drink. Receive the goodness of milk and all of its 9 essential nutrients important for optimal health by consuming the 3 daily servings of dairy recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Read more about pasteurized milk here. http://bit.ly/19Nk7nj  

Some of my favorite meals and snacks for pregnancy:

  • Cheese sandwich with Swiss and aged Cheddar cheese, mustard and cucumbers on whole wheat bread.
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries, slivered almonds and sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Peanut butter and banana smoothie:  1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp natural nut butter, 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (use low-fat or fat-free lactose-free dairy milk for a lactose intolerance-friendly smoothie).
  • Chocolate strawberry milkshake: 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk (regular or lactose-free dairy milk), 1 cup frozen organic strawberries, 2 tbsp natural style cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp sugar or sweetener of your choice.
  • Celery sticks filled with pimento cheese. My Nana in North Carolina makes really great homemade pimento cheese similar to this and it’s great to keep on hand in the fridge for snacking.


*Warning: Do not consume fish high in mercury which can be toxic to the developing fetus. For more information read Mercury Levels in Fish.

Nutrition is so important during pregnancy.  If you or someone you know needs assistance, go to www.fns.usda.gov/wic or your local WIC office. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program provides foods, including milk and dairy foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

*This post was written while participating in my partnership with National Dairy Council, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Posted on April 15, 2014 .