Snack on four almonds and a third of a cup of nonfat cottage cheese for a nutritious afternoon boost that will have you cruising the house with your nine-month-old!"
"Sprinkle two tablespoons of flaxseed over plain yogurt and mix in a handful of organic strawberries for a yummy, tummy-trimming treat!"
"Blah blah blah. Are you freaking kidding me? Blah."
You're a new mom. You don't have time for that tedious almond-counting crap. And after ten months of loathing chicken, you finally want to eat it -- but only if it's breaded and deep-fried. That said, you also wouldn't mind incinerating a few pounds of baby weight. If you've been following Babytalk's plan since April, you've already been hard at work, stoking your self-image (no small feat when you haven't had a minute to shower in two days) and mastering the art of lunging while singing "It's a Small World." Now the next step, if you feel ready, is to learn the eating habits that will help you lose those pounds without starving. We've rounded up a ton of tips and strategies that promise to make smart eating easy -- and satisfying. You'll be looking and feeling slimmer all over almost as fast as you can ask, "Do you deliver?"
3 sneaky diet saboteurs
Learn how to steer clear of these all-too-common habits and you'll be three steps closer to slim.
Missing a meal is pretty easy to do, especially in the early days; getting the hang of feeding the baby is hard enough, let alone figuring out how to feed the baby and yourself at the same time. But making time to nosh regularly is crucial, particularly now when your body is deep in recovery mode. "Restricting calories at this point is just another stressor on your body," says Samantha Heller, R.D., nutrition coordinator for the YMCA in Fairfield, Connecticut.
What's more, severely limiting your calories can actually keep the pounds on down the road. You'll be exhausted, hungry, stressed, and prone to making unwise food choices (say downing an entire pan of brownies), says Eileen Behan, author of Eat Well, Lose Weight, While Breastfeeding: The Complete Nutrition Book for Nursing Mothers. Plus, research suggests that you may actually slow your metabolism. Your body begins to think food is scarce and decides to slow down its consumption of stored energy -- otherwise known as old-fashioned fat.
how to sidestep it
Stock your kitchen with good-for-you foods you like; our pantry list will help you plan. As for finding time to eat, try nibbling after the baby eats, when he's bound to be content.
Grumpy, Dopey, and Sleepy aren't just some hardworking dwarfs; they're probably fitting descriptions for how you're feeling right about now. No wonder so many of us are looking for a hug ... in the form of a bowl of buttery pasta. And there's a very clear physiological reason for seeking comfort in food: Carbohydrates, when eaten alone, raise the level of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. This happy neurotransmitter increases feelings of relaxation and well-being as well as regulates sleep and mood. So when you dig into that spaghetti, you're actually subconsciously self-medicating with carbs, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy. That's not the worst thing in the world -- unless food becomes your main way to cope.
how to sidestep it
One key to stopping the emotional-eating cycle is simply to ask yourself why you're reaching for that Little Debbie right now. Are you physically hungry? Is your stomach growling? Or are you bored or upset? If it's the latter, remind yourself that food won't solve the problem, then do something else. Have a glass of ice water. Go outside. Pick up your baby -- anything that works for you. If you still really want a sugar hit, go ahead and have a bite or two. Just one ounce of carbs (alone) can trigger that mood-boosting cascade. One other way to beat mindless snacking? Limit access to your go-to foods. You're less likely to fall into a hand-to-mouth coma if you've got to pack up the kid and drive to snag some Cheetos.
no time or energy to plan
Granted, you have likely never been this tired or stressed in your life, nor do you likely have any interest in channeling your inner Martha. So when you suddenly realize it's been nine hours since your last meal and you must eat now, you're going to grab the fastest, easiest, most inhalable food you can find.
how to sidestep it
If you simply remember to combine high-quality carbs (read: whole grain) and a little protein, you'll be on your way to a healthier diet. Sure, an apple is easy, but so is an apple with string cheese. Or a banana and peanut butter. Or some chopped chicken with your rigatoni. "These combinations will take the edge off your hunger and deliver a consistent supply of energy until you get to your next meal," Heller advises. Again, our pantry list will help you make sure your favorite combos are always on hand.