Tips for Postpartum Weight Loss
It isn't always easy to remember to eat well while you're adjusting to caring for a baby. You may forget to eat all morning, then binge on junk when your blood sugar plummets, or find yourself relying on fattening convenience and fast foods because you're too exhausted to prepare anything healthier. Here are some tips for eating well even when you're short on time, energy, and patience.
Don't let yourself get too hungry! If you forget to eat or wait too long between meals, your blood sugar can drop, leaving you irritable and shaky. And your body may go into the starvation mode we talked about earlier, meaning you won't be effectively burning calories anyway. Keep your energy level up and your metabolism buzzing along by eating smaller, balanced meals throughout the day.
Studies show that most women can expect to take at least eight months to a year to return to their prepregnancy weight — and that's only if you gained no more than 30 pounds while pregnant.
Whether you're breastfeeding or not, the year after you have a baby is a time of huge physiological change, which means your body is concentrating on more important things than dropping weight so you can squeeze back into your pre-mommy jeans. If you focus more on eating to nourish your body and, in turn, your baby, you may be much more satisfied with the results of your “diet” than if you just count the numbers on the scale.
This can seem difficult to pull off if you're constantly juggling a baby under one arm, but one key to healthful eating is being aware of your hunger signals and paying close attention to what — and how much — food you're putting in your mouth.
Here are a few tips for eating consciously:
Don't eat while standing up at the counter. Sit down at the table, and use a plate — and utensils.
Don't eat while driving. Yes, going through a drive-thru can be a lifesaver when you've got a sleeping baby in the back seat, but at least stop the car while you eat your food. For one thing, driving and eating at the same time can be dangerous. For another, stuffing food in your face while you're paying attention to the traffic around you makes it hard for you to really enjoy your food or recognize when you're full.
Eat slowly, chewing each bite carefully before you swallow. Pay attention to the flavor, texture, and smell of your food. Resist the urge to shovel the food in. Your baby can snuggle in the sling or sit in a bouncy seat on the kitchen floor while you enjoy — instead of destroy — your meal.
Don't talk on the phone or watch TV while you eat. Multitasking can only go so far, and one of the drawbacks is that it's very difficult to pay close attention to the task at hand. Most moms develop supreme multitasking skills when they've got babies, but save them for tasks that don't require your full attention, like folding laundry or loading the dishwasher.
Eat only when you're hungry. When you get the urge to have a snack, pay attention to your motivation: are you truly feeling hunger pains, or is it something else? Stress, sadness, boredom, or low energy can all send you heading for the pantry when a nonfood fix would be a healthier solution.
Lay off the soda and flavored soft drinks. That goes for diet and calorie-free beverages, too: recent research suggests that diet soda may actually trigger more calorie consumption. It's thought that the sweet flavor of artificially sweetened drinks isn't satisfying, but instead creates cravings for something else to gratify the drinker's sweet tooth. Regular sodas and other sweetened drinks are full of sugar and have little or no nutritive value. Stick to plain water, milk, or herbal tea.
Make sure you're drinking enough water. Thirst can masquerade as hunger, and drinking enough water may help you feel fuller. Water with a squeeze of lemon or lime in it is a nice way to add some flavor without loading up with sugar.
Change Your Eating Outlook
If you're feeling deprived, it may be time for a different mindset when it comes to eating. Don't think of your eating habits in terms of dieting or restricting certain foods. Instead, try thinking about the foods you
Eat Balanced Meals
Eating protein with each meal will deliver longer-lasting energy. Many new moms skimp on protein in the morning, starting the day off with a sweet drink, sugary cereal, or pastry. Sugar-free yogurt — avoid the artificially-sweetened kind and go for the real stuff — cheese, and eggs will all give your breakfast more staying power and keep your blood sugar levels from crashing down midmorning.
Eat Healthfully on the Go
When you're eating on the go, be on the lookout for healthier alternatives to the usual burgers and fries. A baked potato, even with a dollop of sour cream or butter, is far healthier than fat-laden French fries. Many fast-food restaurants are beginning to offer surprisingly hearty salads; and as long as you don't drown them in fatty dressing, cheese, and bacon bits, they can be a healthy option. Also, when you're out of the house, take along baggies of your own favorite trail mix for a healthy treat.
Even with a perfect diet and exercise, you can expect your baby weight to take several months to melt away completely. In the meantime, the next chapter will help you choose a flattering transitional wardrobe that can help you feel pulled together and stylish while you're waiting to get back into your favorite prebaby clothes.