The Hungry New Mom's Diet Plan
Lose weight by eating these healthy, yummy meal ideas (no starving allowed!)
Oh, lasagna. Is there a mother alive who hasn't eaten it during her baby's first few weeks of life? And sometimes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? The early days at home with a newborn are a blurry whirlwind, and those comfort-food casseroles brought by family and friends may be the only solid meals you get. But eventually there comes a time when you know you're ready to eat something that's not baked in cheese, and you start to think about finally getting out of your maternity clothes.
Even though your prepregnancy body may seem like a distant memory, the notion that women "never lose the baby weight" just isn't true: According to nutrition researcher Christine Olson, Ph.D., of Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, the average amount of extra weight that women retain within a year of giving birth is a measly three pounds. Of course, if you gained more than the standard 25 to 35 pounds, you may find the going a bit tougher, Olson's research shows.
The challenge is, you're a new mom -- you don't have time for complicated calorie counting or restrictive wheatgrass-and-soy menus. If you've been following our plan the past two issues, you deserve a big shout-out for reaching some mega mommy milestones: You're exercising and feeling good about yourself. (If you haven't, get it all online at babytalk.com/lynmb.) Now it's time to tackle the kitchen! Here are the rules:
1. You need to eat. There's no need to go crazy counting calories -- just stick to appropriate serving sizes and you'll be on your way. If you really want a benchmark, aim for 1,800 to 2,000 calories daily if you don't exercise, and up to 2,400 if you do, says Elisa Zied, R.D., New York City author of Feed Your Family Right. If you're breastfeeding exclusively, you can add another 500 calories to your daily intake.
2. Focus on your hunger cues. Pay attention to how you feel: On a scale of one to ten, if one is "haven't-eaten-in-days starving" and ten is "stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey," aim to be around a four when you start a meal and a six when you finish.
3. Watch the clock. Eat something about every three or four hours to keep your blood-sugar and energy levels steady throughout the day.
4. Go slow. Plan to lose only one or two pounds a week, especially if you're breastfeeding. Losing weight too quickly can impact your milk supply.