A Mindful Eating Approach for the Postpartum Mom

All the months of preparing, anticipation and excitement- And baby is here. Your world is forever changed.
You are caring for everyone else, you are healing.
You might be starting to think about how your body was before and how you will bounce back to that old body, that old self.
It will take time… Sometimes there is unbelievable pressure to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and body from society, but mostly from ourselves- right?
So, you are wanting to maintain your health and get back to your pre-pregnancy self while balancing the current needs of your body- while healing, breastfeeding, taking care of an infant at all hours of the night, caring for other children and family members, perhaps even getting back to work- whew!
It’s a lot… here are some tips on a mindful approach to eating and how to get back to fitness.
1. Make it easy
You might be a culinary whiz but during this time, you need things to be easy. So, it may not be the kind of perfect meal you are used to presenting, but if it is real food, it’s a win! So, add those pre-cut veggies, frozen wild-caught fish/shrimp/chicken, ready-made salsa, hummus and guacamole, and frozen or vacuum packed chick peas/beans to your Kroger click-list or Instacart! You can throw it all together quickly without all the hassle. Batch cooking may be the easiest way.
2. Get help
Yes, you are capable. Yes, you can do it all. But, can you? Even if you get someone to come in a few times a week to hold the baby while you take a shower, or have someone prep food for your family- recognize, it takes a village, but it’s on you to accept the help. Meal delivery services like Freshly, can be a great option for a ready-to-eat healthy meal.
3. Don’t focus on restricting food
Instead, focus on what you want to put into your body to nourish it, heal, and provide nutrients to your baby if you are breast feeding. Focus on food quality- make sure to include protein, foods high in fiber like vegetables/fruit and whole grains, and focus on filling, healthy fats like nuts, avocados and olive oil. Focus on eating real foods- minimize processed foods like cookies, cake, and chips/crackers, and if you want to occasionally indulge in that chocolate cake- do so! However, be aware of portions when doing so and try to eat your meal first as you are less likely to go overboard.

4. Try to eat without distractions
It is a busy time, but even for 5-10 mins, sit down at your plate and just eat. Focus on the meal, take time to chew and enjoy the taste and texture of your food. You will be less likely to eat as much, and you will be more in-tune with when you feel full.
5. Stay hydrated!
This is not only important to milk supply if you are breast feeding, but also often thirst is mistaken as hunger- so focus on getting lots of water. Add lemon or infuse fruit into your water if it helps you drink more. Try to avoid the empty calories in sugar-laden drinks.
6. Recognize emotional eating
Most of us have turned to food in times of stress. That is why certain foods are called “comfort foods”! Recognize when it is happening. Acknowledge that you are doing it and put aside your guilt and self-blame- you are human! Try to find other ways to cope- like breathing, a hot shower (I know this is a hard one with an infant!), take a walk with the baby in the stroller, or a quick 10 min yoga routine at home.
7. Stay active!
Being active not only helps “burn calories” but also helps with mood and agility. Even if it is a challenge to get formal exercise, try to stand and walk as much as possible. Why not do some squats while baby sits and watches? Exercise for the benefit to your body, not just to lose weight. And remember, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
8. Recognize the miracle of your body
Remember what an amazing thing your body just did and give it time and grace to heal. Your body is not flawed- it is miraculous. Focus on what it does for you and make it a priority to give it the nourishment, rest and activity that it needs to serve you.

Richa Mittal, MD received her Medical Degree from the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at McGaw Memorial Hospital of Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. She is board certified in obesity medicine by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Check out her website at www.radianthealthdallas.com and follow her on IG at @radianthealthdallas.

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