By Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN
After 9 months of pregnancy, all that is on your mind in those first few days after childbirth is the amazing little person you just brought into the world. But after you arrive home and settle in, the thoughts of getting your pre-baby body back may start to creep in. It’s important to allow yourself time to recover and embrace your new role as “mom,” however, you soon can start to make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to get you feeling back to your old self. With just a few simple steps, you can get back in shape before you know it!
If you are able to, breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby as well as yourself. Not only does breast milk provide an ideal source of nutrients for your baby, but breastfeeding also torches calories. It offers an increased calorie expenditure helping you to shed that baby weight quickly. However, breastfeeding also increases your nutrient need, which is why it is vital to continue to take your prenatal vitamins. My favorite choice is Rainbow Light’s Daily Duo, with Prenatal One™ plus DHA Smart Essentials™, as it provides a great source of DHA and choline to support baby's cognitive development and eye health while providing your post-pregnancy body with the nutrients you need to heal and thrive.
Have a stash of on-the-go snacks
Life after baby certainly changes. As you juggle diapers, bottles, and a fussy baby, preparing healthy meals and snacks may be the last thing on your mind. However, grabbing fast food or junk food won’t provide your body with the fuel it needs to care for your child, and it certainly won’t help you get back in shape either. Fuel your body with foods that will boost your energy and slim your waistline such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. For meals and snacks that are quick to make and great for eating on-the-go, try some of these options:
- Healthy trail mix made with 100 percent whole grain cereal, slivered almonds and raisins
- Hummus spread on celery sticks
- Whole grain pita stuffed with fresh spinach leaves, fresh mozzarella and chicken breast
- Hard boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt topped with chopped walnuts
- Banana with a glass of almond milk
- Smoothie made with one scoop of Rainbow Light Protein Energizer™ Creamy Vanilla blended with one cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- Dry roasted edamame
Each of these snacks provide your body with a source of filling lean protein to help control appetite, healthy carbohydrates for energy, and vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system.
Although you may feel like you are constantly busy, a new baby may have you sitting down to feed and rock them more than you realize. To get your body back, you need to get moving. In the first few weeks after your baby is born, you may not be cleared to exercise yet, however, you can increase your daily physical activity level as soon as you feel up to it. Try wearing a pedometer to track your daily steps. Use it for two days to get a baseline and then aim to increase your steps until you reach 10,000 or more each day (2,000 steps equals one mile of walking). Once your doctor clears you, start toning your muscles with plank holds, squats with light weights and bicep curls. Not only will these exercises tone and tighten muscles, but they will help you build up strength for carrying your growing child!
About Erin Palinski-Wade
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, is a nationally recognized nutrition and fitness expert who has contributed her expertise to national media outlets such as the CBS Early Show, The Doctors, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, Fitness Magazine, Consumer Reports, and Chicago Tribune. Website: www.erinpallinski.com