Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the post natal period, put a huge strain on you body; so before you think i’m going to go on about how you should eat kale for breakfast, i’m not. I hate kale, I try to convince myself I like it (even sneaking it into smoothies) but I don’t it tastes like tree; like your trying to eat an actual leaf off a tree. Now I think its important here to mention that while breastfeeding or pregnant it is not sensible to go on fad diets. In my eyes it is never sensible to go on fad diets, all they do is make you loose weight really quickly, then you put it all back on again, once the unsustainable diet is complete. My husband is fad diet fan number one, as you can tell I am super used to having this argument. This post isn’t necessarily about loosing weight; its about getting healthy, one will come with the other. I think there is far too much pressure put on us women to loose weight after having a baby and not always actually being healthy.
I would suggest eating healthy throughout pregnancy and keeping up with exercise, however having actually been pregnant myself I know how hard this is. All evidence (as much as we don’t want to hear it) does suggest this though, so I will mention it. I didn’t exercise as per normal in my pregnancy and I didn’t eat particularly healthy (unless battered sausage and hot sauce counts). Pregnancy is awful sometimes, there are some people who float through pregnancy like butterflies, but not the majority of people (as a lady on my birthing forum found out, after she posted about how she was having a fab time and wished everybody else on the forum would stop moaning. Seriously.) I say in pregnancy; everything in moderation. It doesn’t matter if you cant eat, because you are vomiting for twenty weeks, try and get whatever you can down your throat, if that is the case. If you have SPD and can barely walk just try and have a few minute walk a day, or a play on you exercise ball because anything counts.
I have struggled with this too, breastfeeding makes you hungry; really hungry. I lost my baby weight in a month and put it all back on again the next. Over time I have learnt how to control this a little better so here are some tips:
- Try to keep some healthy snacks in the house. Things that you can pick at no matter what time of day, i.e Kale (joke). I like beetroot crisps or french fries (not massively healthy but lower calorie for crisps), cooked chicken bits, yogurt, fruit (lots of different variety as I get bored with apples and bananas), pickled onions (only if you like them which I do) they seem to fill a hole, snack bars with oats in (good for supply).
- Eat little and often; eating smaller meals, but more often keep you fuller.
- Drink more water, (if I feel peckish I will sometimes see if actually it is because I am thirsty).
- Have the occasional ‘bad’ thing and don’t feel guilty, you are aloud some bad things occasionally, even once a day. (see slimming world tactics)
- If you do have a day where you eat bad, its ok, it happens just start afresh the next day, don’t give up.
- Your calorie intake should be higher, just try to remember not that high, I often used this as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.
If you aren’t breastfeeding I can imagine the hunger pangs will still get you too so this advice is still aimed at you.
Like everybody I hate exercise. I hate the gym I find it boring and repetitive. Therefore I made sure I had a contingency plan for getting back into exercise after having a baby. Me and my best friend spot each other. So we make sure we do exercise, doing exercise with somebody makes you feel more inclined to go as you don’t want to let them down. My plan was as follows:
- Chose a very close friend, preferably one that isn’t afraid to shout at you occasionally (in a nice way)
- Have a pact with said friend that they will question you if you don’t turn up to do exercise with them.
- Discuss what you both want to do and come to a decision/compromise.
- Make sure you do more than one thing a week with each other. We do three different exercises a week.
- Make sure you do different exercise each time, i.e, we go to boot camp on Mondays, swimming on Wednesdays and go to the gym together on Thursdays.
- Organise this so that it happens. I get child care or go when my husband is home from work. It gives you some me time too. I either ask my family or friends to babysit if my husband is at work late.
- It is ok to miss a few sessions as life gets in the way but make sure you get back on it. My friend always encourages me if I miss a session and I do for her if she misses a session.
- Do things you enjoy or can have a laugh doing, perhaps try a few new things or things you hadn’t thought of (for example pole dancing, which we are thinking if starting instead of the gym)
- Make it fun! if its boring its going to be a chore to go.
The best advice I can give (as a nurse too) is to eat a balanced diet. No fad. I am terrible at following my own advice, in the respect that, my balanced diet does occasionally contain too many journeys to the chippy. I do pride myself however on getting back on the bandwagon after a bad eating day. Ways I try to keep on track are:
- Have a rotational weekly menu; me and my husband sat down and went through a month of recipes (a ball ache but well worth it). We mix it up by putting all the meal ideas into a hat and every week we pick seven out; we then use them as our menu. We do swap if we find there is too much of one thing; we try to have fish at least once or more a week.
- We always make sure there are things like jacket potatoes, eggs for omelettes and sandwich/salad stuff in for lunch. We found having fancy lunches were too expensive and difficult to prepare if we were at work.
- Same with breakfast, we always make sure there is a variety of breakfast stuff in, i.e. porridge, Weetabix, toast and on Sundays we have a full English (full English can be done healthy: grill bacon, choose a low fat sausage, grilled tomato and mushroom, fry egg in fry light.)
- use fry light occasionally as it is a much healthier alternative to lots of oil (though I do cook with extra virgin olive oil too, this is because I do believe in moderation, there are health benefits)
This is how I have slowly got back to my pre pregnancy health. I am still a way off but I feel like I have more energy and I can see a difference in my general well being. I would also suggest (for those who are interested) looking into mindfulness. Mediation is a very good way of keeping your stress levels down, which in turn will help you stay healthy, a healthy mind is most important!
Love Kate X