You've just welcomed your little one into the world and you couldn't be happier—or more exhausted! The thought of doing anything other than eat, sleep, and take care of your newborn may seem to be an impossible task, but throwing smart weight loss into the mix is possible. After all, you may be proud to be a mommy, but that doesn't mean you want the tummy to prove it!
Eating right is the first step to losing weight and living healthily, but as a new mom, it can be difficult to prepare nutritious meals or even sit down to eat regularly. That is why "one-handed health eating," is so important for new mothers, says Lisa Talamini, RD, chief nutritionist for weight-loss program Jenny Craig. "Focus on easy-to-eat, nutritious foods that can be eaten as you hold your baby," Talamini suggests. Items such as tuna kits, handheld soups, veggie sticks, and fruit make excellent "anywhere" snacks.
Talamini also suggests breaking away from the traditional meal plan most people follow. "A baby is not on a three meal-a-day schedule," says Talamini, adding that "eating multiple mini-meals during the day can help keep your energy level up for the new demands of motherhood."
The main thing to keep in mind with these "mini-meals" is balance. Be sure each has a little bit of protein, fat, and carbohydrate to keep you going throughout the day. Talamini suggests simple meal ideas such as cheddar cubes with apple wedges and a small handful of cashews, or a mix of carrot sticks, broccoli florets, and pea pods with smoked turkey slices.
To maintain your overall health, nothing is more important than staying hydrated, especially if you're breastfeeding. "Water, milk, coffee/tea and fruit/vegetable juices all count towards meeting your fluid needs," says Talamini.
Focus on Health, Not Weight
An important thing to keep in mind when trying to shed those pregnancy pounds is to be realistic. "A good goal for weight loss is one to two pounds per week," says Talamini. This slow and steady weight loss enables moms to safely lose weight and maintain the extra energy needed to fulfill the roles of motherhood.
If you are breastfeeding, your weight loss goal should be even lower at about one-half to one pound per week to maintain a healthy milk supply for your baby. It may not seem like much, but keep in mind, "It took nine months to put the weight on, so give yourself nine months to take it off," says Lisa Druxman, owner and founder of the fitness program Stroller Strides.
Likewise, it's best to wait until six weeks after delivery and receiving your healthcare provider's consent to dive into exercise. "You'll want to return to your old routine gradually to allow pregnancy-stretched muscles and ligaments to return to normal," says Talamini.