Make it a priority, nutritionist Albert says
Taking care of a newborn is without a doubt one of the most physically and mentally arduous periods in a woman’s life. Sleep-deprived new moms tend to their babies’ needs at all hours of the day.
Now add the challenge of losing baby weight and staying healthy, during a time when it’s tough enough for a woman to find a spare moment to nourish herself. But it’s never more important to do so, says Theresa Albert, host of Food Network’s Just One Bite. The nutritionist and author of Cook Once A Week And Eat Well Every Day learned that lesson the hard way after she had her daughter nearly 13 years ago, a time when the career woman and new mom was scrambling for scraps of chicken that fell out of her baby’s mouth, just to have something to eat.
After learning the proverbial tricks of the trade from other moms, Albert started a life and a living out of good nutrition.
“You need to choose to make it (eating right) a priority. I know that when I had my daughter almost 13 years ago, my health became secondary,” says Albert. “It was devastating, and it was joining up with a group of other mothers that saved my life. It was fascinating, because I walked into a room full of women who taught me everything. And that’s how women learn and used to learn. I cooked for more new moms than anybody else when I started.”
Eating properly starts as soon as possible, Albert says, and “every mouthful counts.” She recommends vegetables, beans, nuts and the good-fat foods that women tend to remove while trying to lose weight, such as extra virgin olive oil and avocados. Go heavy on the fibre by consuming 25-35 g of it every day. She touts All-Bran Guardian as a pretty good source and advises keeping your eyes peeled for cereals containing protein.
Fish is a great brain food for baby, and it will improve the quality of breast milk. And there’s no better way to get down the pounds, says Albert, than nursing a newborn.
“Breastfeeding can burn 500-900 calories a day. It is the best diet plan you can imagine, because that’s what the baby needs to grow,” she says. “So you need to be producing that energy for the baby to take it. It’s ideal.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends either. Dad can be a great help doing the day-to-day chores while Mom takes care of the baby, such as cooking a week’s worth of freezable meals. It’s not too much to ask of the men-folk, who Albert claims are by and large slowly taking kitchens over anyway.
“I see more men being the primary cook in the household with kids,” she says. “It’s interesting to me, because men don’t perceive cooking as a chore, and I think the pendulum has swung.”
Beyond that, there’s nothing like the power of positive thinking.
“A lot of women think they’ll never get back to where they were, that this is their new reality,” Albert says. “Doesn’t have to be.”
Theresa Albert’s tips