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A Menu for Moms

After months of eating well for your baby, it's tempting to start popping chips  -- and corks  -- after pregnancy. But think twice before abandoning your healthy habits, says Babytalk contributing editor Heidi Murkoff, author with Sharon Mazel of the newly released Eating Well When You're Expecting, part of the What to Expect series. "Of course you're busy feeding your baby," she says, "but you have to take care of your own nutritional needs too." Here's how to make the most of your meals:

Nurse safely. If you're breastfeeding, you're still sharing food with your baby, though not as directly as you did during pregnancy. That means that certain items (alcohol, coffee, high-mercury fish) should continue to be limited. You'll also need to consume an extra 500 calories a day.

Make your calories count. A healthy diet should include lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich complex carbs (whole-grain bread and cereal, beans, and peas)  -- foods that pack a nutritional punch.

Don't skip meals. Missing meals can sap your energy just when you need it most, says Murkoff. One good strategy: Eat the way you did in pregnancy  -- five or six mini-meals a day, instead of three square ones.

Choose smart snacks. It's normal to crave a candy bar when you're low on pep. But you'll get a more lasting energy boost from a cheese stick and a handful of trail mix.

Let nutrition be a family affair. When you eat well, you're setting a positive example for your little one. "A child who grows up in a home where broccoli isn't a four-letter word and fruit is the snack of choice," says Murkoff, "is more likely to develop healthy eating habits."

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