Regardless of whether you’ve just given birth or if you’ve been a mother for more than 10 years, there are a few basic nutrition principles every mum needs to know. Your body changes after going through pregnancy, birth and motherhood. And it has a lot to do with your hormones.
Tip 1: Eat For Your Hormones
This is the no. 1 secret when it comes to nutrition and wellness in women. Women’s bodies are very different to men’s, physically and physiologically (hormonally). And women’s bodies and hormones are different pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy. Mothers have different nutritional needs, and new mums especially have significant nutritional demands.
Our hormones needs essential nutrients which are derived from the foods we eat and the supplements we take. Mums in particular need to eat more collagen-rich foods, and these can be found in bone broths, jellies and slow-cooked stews. Digestion is also reliant on the state of your hormones, so slow-cooking your meals is gentler on the gut.
Tip 2: Keep Taking Your Daily Multivitamin
Most women are good at taking their pregnancy multivitamin, however it is really important that mums continue to take a multivitamin after birth and beyond. Motherhood can be stressful, especially with all the balls we have to juggle. And for breastfeeding mums, the added demands of lactation means she needs to stay on top of her nutrients.
A regular multivitamin can be enough, but an added Omega-3 supplement has many extra benefits. For mums who are deficient in certain nutrients, commonly Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc and Magnesium, these also need to be taken into account. Our hormones are heavily impacted by the nutrients we take in; not only that but Vitamin D is in fact a hormone!
Tip 3: Eat Clean Protein (and LOTS of it!)
After I gave birth, I was losing muscle like no tomorrow. Turns out it’s because of the hormone changes and the demands of breastfeeding. My *awesome* functional medicine GP (doctor) told me something that I’ll never forget: “Heba, you need to eat like an athlete”, and he advised me to eat 6+ portions of protein every day.
Here are 10 super simple ways you can get loads of protein into your daily diet:
- Have a serving of clean animal protein at each meal: chicken, beef, lamb, seafood, etc
- Keep a bag of pumpkin seeds or trail mix near where you sit to feed your child
- Scramble, poach or boil 2 eggs for brekkie
- Have a protein shake in the middle of the day
- Keep a protein bar on your bedside table
- Whip up a smoothie
- Snack on hommus
- Keep a bag of mixed nuts near your computer
- Add seeds, beans or legumes to your salad
- Roll up some protein balls for dessert
Tip 4: Do NOT Cut Out Carbs
Unfortunately carbs have gotten a bad rap over the last few years, but carbs are actually a very important part of a mum’s diet. There are “bad” carbs and these included processed carbs and refined sugars.
And then there are good or awesome carbs. These are your lovely colourful vegetables and fruits. And mums must eat these awesome carbs at every meal. These include:
- Leafy green vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, cos lettuce
- Cruciferous vegetables e.g. broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
And there are more good carbs which can be eaten regularly like:
- Root vegetables e.g. pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot
- Grains: e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats
- Fruit: e.g. berries, oranges, kiwi fruit
Tip 5: Eat More Fat (It Won’t Make You Fat)
Fats are essential for hormone health, digestive health and especially for brain health. If you’re avoiding fats because you think that’s going to help you lose the excess weight around the middle, you’re doing yourself a disservice (hello mum brain).
Fatty acids like Omega 3, aka healthy fats, are critical for pregnancy and postpartum, enhancing immunity, reducing inflammation, reducing mental health issues, losing weight (through hormone effects) and optimal brain health. 60% of your brain is made of DHA – an omega 3 fatty acid!
Here are 10 sources of healthy fats:
- Oils like coconut oil, olive oil or MCT oil
- Nuts e.g. pecans, cashews, almonds, pistachios
- Seeds e.g. flaxseeds/linseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
Get your hormones, bodies and brains back to optimal health. Want to learn women’s health specific nutrition advice for issues like pelvic organ prolapse or diastasis recti, and get access to dozens of healthy hormone-balancing recipes?
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