Every new mom wants answers to these questions: What is the best nutrition plan for nursing moms? What diet will help me keep a quality milk supply and start losing the baby weight at the same time?
First and foremost, if you are nursing, losing weight should be the last thing in your mind. Maintaining a healthy diet should be the most important priority.
Please forget fad diets… I won’t get tired of repeating this. Don’t listen to all the noise out there about what you should or shouldn’t eat. Should you go vegan, vegetarian, paleo, Keto, etc… My answer is none of the above.
I wish every mom would have this tiny book: “Food Rules” from Michael Pollan. I believe his message about what we should eat is so simple yet so true.
Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
I love this message. It goes against every fad diet you see out there. This message is the best daily nutrition guideline we can follow. Because eating is something you need to do everyday, what you put at the end of your fork needs to be an everyday conscious choice.
If you follow a diet for 30 days, eliminating entire food groups, of course, you will lose weight. Is it sustainable? Absolutely not. This is why we keep losing and gaining weight and sometimes gaining even more than before starting the diet!
Permanent weight loss is a different story. It requires changing your relationship to food. It requires a lifestyle change. And this needs to be addressed on emotional and mental levels. It’s not the lack of nutrition knowledge that doesn’t allow us to follow Pollan’s message. Most of us know what we should eat, yet we don’t. So what motivates you to choose specific foods more than others?
The nursing mom perspective
Nursing moms can get stuck with the idea that they need more calories to produce more milk, and it’s true. But this idea will, more often than not, make them overeat instead of simply listen to their internal cues of hunger and satiety.
Moms who are tired will also inevitably go for unhealthy choices because they lack the motivation for the long-term reward and will go instead for instant gratification foods that will make them feel better in the moment, to compensate for their poor mood, due to lack of sleep. I’m sure many moms can relate to this!
I don’t advocate veganism when you are a new mom. Let me share my experience. Before I got pregnant with my son, I had been following a vegan diet for about 6 months and I felt amazing. During my pregnancy, I added dairy and meat to my diet. I wasn’t restricting myself at all. I tried to go back to a vegan diet right after my son was born, because I wanted to feel as great as before the pregnancy and this is what happened… I never felt worse in my whole life!
Living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle offers many benefits for some people. But when it comes to postpartum nutrition, eating meat isn’t something you can just abstain from, even if you supplement with pills. Vegetarians and vegans are at an increased risk for postpartum depression. Click here to read all the studies on the subject.
Certain nutrients, such as B12, are vital in the development of red blood cells and nerve regeneration. However, taking a B12 supplement doesn’t just solve the problem. Vegans are not just missing B12 but other components only offered in meat, like creatine for energy, carnosine for muscle function, heme-iron for easy digestion, to name a few! Protein from animals is also a lot easier to digest and requires less energy for the body to digest than other plant protein sources.
The necessity of the nutrients derived from meat are notable for their effects on breastmilk and supply, mood regulation, and overall reducing the healing time for moms. So please eat meat, and even better, eat organ meats!
With that said, don’t make the mistake of eating meat everyday! You really don’t need that much. Focus on eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The more plants you eat, the less room you will have for other foods.
Now, every woman is different and needs a customized nutrition plan, but if I can help you change one thing to help you lose the baby weight naturally, it would be to follow Michael Pollan’s very important message: Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
Don’t listen to all the noise out there and use your common sense. Eating should be simple and intuitive. Trust yourself.