Once You've Settled Into A Routine With Your New Baby It's Time To Start Thinking About A Healthy Mealtime Routine For You.

Those unusual cravings you had during your pregnancy may have satisfied you during your pregnancy, but now that you’ve gotten into a healthy routine with your new baby it’s time to start thinking about a healthy mealtime routine for you as well. But chances are with late night feedings and a daytime routine that eats away at your free time, finding the time to prepare and make nutritious meals for yourself can seem daunting. So, how do you find the time, and what should you be eating to satisfy both your taste buds and your waistline? A few of our experts weigh in.
by Tracy B. McGinnis

cell phone during pregnancyChoose healthy options

Nutrition expert, and author of Body after Baby: The Simple 30-Day Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight, Jackie Keller says you can start getting back into shape after baby right away by being mindful of what you're eating.

"Eat consistently (every 3 hours) so that your blood sugar levels remain normal and your energy constant," suggests Keller. The in-between meals can be a simple as a piece of fruit and a string cheese or small yogurt."

Keller says you should also get enough servings of fruits and vegetables to keep the dietary fiber and moisture content of your overall diet adequate. "Fruits and vegetables are generally very low in calories, and make easy and convenient meals/snacks."

Eliminating refined and processed foods from your diet, including sugary beverages and baked goods, as well as skipping full-fat dairy and fatty meats are also a few steps that Keller says will help save you a lot of calories.

Prepare healthy choices

Molly Morgan, a registered dietician and owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions, a nutrition consulting company in Upstate New York, is a new mom herself. Her baby is now 14-months old, and Morgan says by the time he was two months old she was back at her pre-pregnancy weight.

Morgan says sneaking in exercise when you can, involving your little one in your routine, and signing up for an exercise class where there's day care available, are all ways to jump start your new mom work-out routine.

When it comes to eating well and losing weight after baby arrives, Morgan says keeping a well stocked freezer helps to make quick meals. She suggests chicken breast, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, and lots of frozen fruits and vegetables.

"Have a grab n' go breakfast," says Morgan. "If you didn't get time to eat, you can on your way to start your day." Morgan's favorites include Kashi cereal and fruit bars, Clif bar Mojo, or a piece of fruit.

If you're finding it hard to make the time to cook Morgan suggests cooking while the baby is napping. "This makes dinner-time less stressful, because when it's time to eat, all you have to do is heat everything up." She adds eating while you feed your little one, and eating as a family as well. "Children need to see their parents eating and demonstrating good eating habits."

Having a little one at home, may keep you indoors more often, but when you have to get out Morgan suggest keeping snacks on hand. "100% fruit roll-ups, whole grain crackers, and milk drink boxes like Organic Valley Milk where there's no refrigeration needed are great alternatives."

Morgan says that most people eat 25% more calories when they eat out – so she suggests eating and home, saving yourself money and calories!

Eat enough for energy

Amy Hendel R-PA, a family nutritionist and the author of Fat Families, Thin Families (BenBella,June 2008), says when it comes to your eating priorities and getting into shape after baby, "You need to be eating a nutritious diet that allows for weight loss but one that also supports your energy levels and breast feeding if you plan to do that."

"Moms should target three to five servings of fruit and four servings of veggies daily," says Hendel. "One fruit serving can be juice and 100% Florida Orange Juice is a great way to get fluids with essential vitamins and minerals."

Hendel also suggests a serving of two to three ounces of protein at each meal plus a whole grain/high fiber carbohydrate and a healthy fat serving. "Two servings of dairy daily is also a target goal, but it should be fat free."

Hendel offers these examples as healthy meals for new moms:

Breakfast: A serving of cereal at breakfast with non fat milk, with an added teaspoon of crushed nuts, add berries to meet a fruit requirement.

"Or you could have whole grain English Muffin plus a tablespoon of peanut butter and banana slices plus a glass of non fat milk; or 3 egg whites plus a slice of whole grain toast, 1 tap of soy niu butter and a cup of 100% orange juice."

Lunch: "A large salad, 2-3 ounces of grilled fish or chicken, olive/oil & vinegar dressing (1-2 tsp) or high protein pasta plus veggies plus a bit of olive oil and a fat free pudding OR 1/2 a melon (small) filled with fat free cottage cheese and a teaspoon of nuts and cinnamon and 5 baked crackers."

Dinner: "Can be a small dinner salad (or steamed veggies), 2-3 ounces of fish, grilled chicken, soy meat or beans/lentils plus 1/2 sweet potato."

Snacks: Fruit, string cheese, fat free small yogurt, glass of fat free milk or fat free pudding.

"The protein/carb/healthy fat at each meal helps to stabilize blood sugar and to really keep you satiated," explains Hendel. "The dairy or 100% orange juice helps with nutrient needs. A small snack keeps you going between meals. Beverage of choice throughout the day is obviously water. The only other caveat is that post pregnancy I recommend 2 servings of dairy daily."

Hendel says that while you're focusing on healthy eating habits for yourself after baby, it's also a good time to think about setting up a nutritious environment for your entire family.

"Parents who begin to work on setting up the pantry, frig, menu planning and even shopping and prep when the baby is a newborn, will be way ahead of the game as the child grows." She adds, "While you are shedding the pounds after birth, you can use the opportunity to shift some less desirable eating and exercise patterns and habits – so you create a healthy home life and the beginnings of a healthy family for life."

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