The Dietitian's Dish is a new column offering healthy eating tips from GRH's team of registered dietitians. In this edition, Jason DaMaren explores how new moms can eat well after a new family member arrives.
Mother’s Day is here and you’re not only celebrating that mother figure in your life, but perhaps you’re also being celebrated for the first time too.
There is no end to the wonder, joy and… well… exhaustion at this point in your life. No, really. You’ve never known anything like this.
Ironically, while caring for this bundle of joy, you’re now more than ever prone to put yourself in second place – but don’t do it!
This is not a ‘me or you’ situation, this is about ‘us’. ‘Us’ not only includes baby and mom, but partner, family, friends, neighbours, etc. Healthy eating habits are typically the first thing to go during stressful times, so let’s look at a few tips for ‘us’ to get around any barriers you may feel exist.
There is less time and less energy to cook
If you’re still expecting, facilitate batch cooking and freeze meal portions before baby arrives. If you’ve already had the baby, deploy your support group to come up with a few home-cooked gift meals, portioned and freezer ready.
This will reduce your dependence on processed foods. Those products tend to be high in salt and full of additives that are intended to preserve food, but don't necessarily provide the nutrients you need.
Avoid the treat-trap
There is certainly nothing wrong with a celebratory treat now and again, however as ‘go-to’ snacks these tempting (and temporary) moments of happiness will increase your insulin secretion and send your energy levels crashing, leaving you feeling hungry again.
Stop the cycle. Keep washed and sliced fruit and veggies on hand to give you a higher fibre choice that will sustain you longer reducing the temptation to reach for that quick fix, putting you into a spin.
Protein is also important both during pregnancy and postpartum, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.
Combine those fresh fruits and vegetables with a rotation of yogurt, nuts/seeds and hard boiled eggs to add quick and easy sources of protein.
Don’t skip meals
Do your best to stop for breakfast, lunch and supper. Although healthy snacks make a great bridge (particularly when you’re feeling ‘hangry’), they are not nutritionally complete.
Try to fit at least a sample of three of the four food groups at mealtime to promote both enough energy intake and also vitamin/mineral adequacy.
This is a group effort
Nothing brings people together like a newborn. Use your eager support group to allow you to take care of yourself by staying on top of a sustainable routine of simple, fresh grab and go snacks and ready to heat home-cooked meals to supplement what used to be a ‘normal’ routine.
A growing family doesn’t get any less busy. Having a plan for quick, simple, fresh home-cooked meals will not only support your energy levels, it will model good habits, promoting a healthy curiosity for those developing minds about the kitchen.
Lastly, don’t forget to treat yourself on Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day!
Jason DaMaren is a registered dietitian at Grand River Hospital. He supports patients in the medicine program who are dealing with chronic illness. Jason’s passionate about helping patients overcome nutrition barriers through their medical journey.