How do I lose the baby weight? That’s the question I get asked most often when I first see a parent after their baby is born. More recently at a Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, a new mother asked this exact thing. She wondered how she would ever lose the pregnancy weight if she wasn’t expected to eat less while breastfeeding. The question created such a discussion at the group that our nutrition student, Sarah Cappuccitti, thought it would be a great topic to share.
Here’s Sarah’s take on why it’s never a good idea to “diet” after having a baby.
Weight gain is expected during pregnancy to create a healthy home for your baby to grow and develop. It’s also expected that you will eventually lose that weight after the baby is born. But how long should it take to lose the weight? And how do you do it safely?
I know many of you are eager to get your pre-pregnancy body back fast and look online for dieting tips to help. It may seem like there is a new fad diet each time you search the internet, which makes it hard to know what to believe.
Fad (or popular) diets promise quick weight loss but don’t deliver healthy results and here’s why:
- They are too limiting which may mean you’re not getting the nutrients you need, especially if you’re breastfeeding
- They put a lot of stress on your body
- They can make you feel irritable, tired, weak, and constipated
- They are difficult to follow long-term
- They make eating a chore not a joy
- Most people gain the weight back … and more, which creates a dieting cycle
- There’s not much research to support what they promise
If you’re considering weight loss while breastfeeding it’s very important to give your body time to heal after birth and time to establish breastfeeding. In fact, Health Canada recommends that you continue to eat the same amount you did in your last months of pregnancy while breastfeeding. Remember, you gained the weight gradually while pregnant so you shouldn’t expect weight loss to be instant after birth. Aim to lose weight slowly and be patient with yourself. A balanced diet and being active is a great choice, whether you’re looking to lose or to maintain a healthy weight!
I know that life is busy after the baby arrives but healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard.
Try the Eat Well Plate to guide and balance your meals:
- Aim for ½ of your plate as vegetables – they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibre but very few calories.
- Plan for ¼ of the plate to be whole grains or starch -they give you the energy you need to keep you going.
- Make ¼ of the plate lower fat meats or alternatives –they’re packed with protein which helps to keep you full.
- And finally include a big glass of water to keep you hydrated.