Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

Have you recently had a baby? In the coming months, you will feel the pressure from images on Instagram, family and complete strangers to get your body back. As a first-time mom to an eleven-month-old, I’ve been there, uncomfortable with a softer mid-section and fuller cheeks. What eating and exercise looked like pre-baby isn’t the same due to a new and unpredictable schedule, a body that is recovering and sleep deprivation. The pressure to ‘get your body back’ in the midst of this can be overwhelming.

The truth is, your body is going to change throughout life as you experience pregnancy, the dawn of a new decade or menopause. Instead of trying to get back what was, accept this new stage of life with these five steps.

1.    Embrace the fourth trimester -Whether this is your first or fifth child, the fourth trimester is real. In this time of transition, give yourself grace. Gratefully accept the tasty meals brought by friends and family, and spend your time loving and learning about the little one that has turned your life upside down. These precious moments are fleeting and don’t need to be spoiled by obsessing over whether or not you fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans.

2.    Eat intuitively when you can– We talk a lot about eating intuitively on the blog. In this phase of life it remains relevant, offering a helpful approach to eating. Set aside some time to enjoy your snacks and meals. Tune into your body’s signals of hunger and fullness. Pay attention to cravings and consider how to best satisfy them. It can be tough to set aside time to eat in this way when you can barely find time to take a shower, but nourishing your body is important. Take a look at this dietitian’s version of What Intuitive Eating Looks Like As a New Mom. 

3.    ...and when you can’tIf you find that making time to eat is difficult, use the 4-6 rule. Aim to have a meal at least every 4-6 hours (set a timer if you have trouble remembering to eat). Depending on what your meals look like and your hunger, you may need to include snacks. This is especially true if you’re breastfeeding. I ate banana chocolate chip muffins at all hours of the night in the first week! Nourishing your body regularly will keep you from becoming ravenous and reaching for whatever convenient food is in sight.

4.     Make nutritious foods convenientSometimes you just want a cookie, and that’s completely fine. But cookies may become your default whether you want them or not if you don’t have other options available. Here are some quick and easy healthful ideas for meals and snacks:

·       Ricotta toast

·       Carrot sticks and hummus

·       Frozen fruit, spinach and yogurt smoothie

·       Frozen stir-fry mix and rotisserie chicken

·       Salad mix, dressing and tuna or canned pulses

In addition, all moms need a multivitamin with 0.4-mg of folic acid. If you’re breastfeeding, you need at least 13 cups of fluid daily. Including 1-2 cups of milk will provide valuable nutrients and fluid. 

5.    Consider how you want your child to view food, exercise and their bodyAlthough your baby will spend the first weeks sleeping, those little pair of eyes will soon be following your every move. How you view food, exercise and your body will shape how your child views food, exercise and their body. Reflect on how you want this to look. For example, I hope my son will have a healthy relationship with food find movement fun and not spend a lot of time thinking about the shape or size of his body. When it comes to feeding your little one, consider reading Ellyn Satter’s work on eating competency.

At this point, you may be wondering what these five steps have to do with getting your best body. Consider that your best body is the one in which you

·       are gracious to yourself in times of change

·       honour hunger, fullness and appetite

·       nourish your body regularly with a variety of foods

·       enjoy movement

Your best body may not look like the images of ‘post-baby-bodies’ on Instagram, but remember that one size does not fit all. Your best body will enjoy food with your family, fuel yourself to keep up with your children and settle at a weight that you can easily maintain and where you feel healthy.

AFLCA members

Are you looking for practical nutrition tools for your clients? Log in to the AFLCA Members section of the website and order free resources today! A great option to compliment this blog is Healthy Eating Tips to Help New Moms Thrive.

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Kristina Isaac, RD.

Registered Dietitian

Kristina (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian and blogger for Nourish Move Thrive. She enjoys finding creative, fun and simple ways to communicate the science of nutrition.

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