8th August 2016

There’s plenty of talk about what to eat during pregnancy but what about those crucial months after baby is born? You’re absolutely shattered, running low on lots of nutrients plus you might be breastfeeding which could mean you need even more of a boost.

But what exactly do you need (besides gin/coffee and matchsticks)? Here’s some tips on what to eat to help aid recovery and keep up your energy up when you’ve never needed it more…

What you need: Protein

Everyone is banging on about protein lately. There was a time when we all thought only body builders needed to bother so much, but actually there are many good reasons to boost your protein intake. Pops of protein throughout the day will help you to keep feeling full and energised and keep your blood sugars stable – this will stop you from snacking on less healthy choices and the suffering a blood sugar crash just when you don’t need it. It’s even said it can help boost your mood.

How to get it: Go for eggs at breakfast – simple boiled or scrambled eggs (whack them in the microwave for speed) – plus boil an extra one for a snack later. Try turkey salads or sandwiches and snack on cold chicken breast if you need an on the go hit. Or have fish – it can be much quicker to cook than you think – remember the microwave is your friend, plus a tin of tuna dumped on salad with a few anchovies which are also a good protein source, is an easy enough meal when you’re busy. Also, don’t overlook dairy – yogurt with a sprinkle of nuts and seeds is a good breakfast or snack. Lentils are a good protein option, as is peanut butter (slice some apple and whack on some PB).

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What you need: Liquid

Sounds simple enough but we’re all guilty of not drinking enough from time to time – but new mums might be the worst culprits. Dehydration does nothing for your mood, tiredness and general well being. Sometimes feeling extra hungry can be a sign that your body needs more liquid but instead you reach for a snack you don’t need. Being dehydrated can have many negative effects, but the main one is probably fatigue and you really don’t need any help in that department right now.

How to get it: Get into the habit of making a large glass of water your very first drink of the day. Try to stand and drink it rather than putting it down and being distracted. If you can, make sure you have a glass of water by your side every time baby feeds, regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not (often, only breastfeeding mums are given this advice which is annoying, to say the least, because all mums need water!). As an incentive to drink more buy yourself a really good water bottle for when you’re out and about and make it part of the (mountainous) stuff you gather together when leaving the house. Make up a lovely, fruity jug of water and keep it in the fridge – pop in anything you like, lemon, oranges, strawberries…

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What you need: Iron

How much iron you need can depend on a few factors but it’s certainly worth making sure your diet is giving you enough. If you’re lacking in it you’ll feel super tired, run down, snappy and fed up….Yes we know that sounds familiar – but maybe an iron boost will help, in that case!

How to get it: Lean read meat is a good source so treat yourself to a steak now and then with piles of leafy greens such as kale or spinach. Throw in some sweet potato chips, or maybe parsnips chips (oh just have some chips, but go easy). Chicken and fish are also decent sources of iron – go for chicken breast. Dried figs and apricots give a good iron hit, so these are worth snacking on now and then – just not too many. Leafy greens and kidney beans are great too and again, it’s pretty easy to throw these on a plate. Tofu has plenty of iron too. Check here for lots more info and some recipes.

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What you need: Calcium

Calcium is often overlooked, but it’s crucial to your health, particularly post pregnancy and definitely if you’re breastfeeding. If you’re intake is insufficient, then baby will be getting the small amount you have and you will be getting almost nothing. That’s not good news for bones and joints that need to recover – plus calcium is important for helping muscles to contract, aiding nerves to send messages and ensuring our blood can clot.

How to get it:

Low fat and non fat dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese are high in calcium. Snack on cheese with fruit such as apple or pear slices instead of bread or crackers. Make overnight oats with half and half low fat milk and low fat yoghurt. Kale, broccoli, spinach and soybeans (choose organic soybeans otherwise they have other nasty stuff you don’t need) are all good sources of calcium too and it’s so easy to add any of these as a side to a meal, if you can get into the habit. Pop your broccoli on the hob in the morning alongside your eggs and have it ready to go for later.

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What you need: Folic acid

Most mums-to-be know about the importance of folic acid during pregnancy but it’s also an important diet aspect in general and it’s good to try to keep your levels up after baby arrives too. It helps keep your blood and heart healthy. It helps with cell regeneration (think of your poor tired skin!) and a number of studies suggest it can help ward off depression.

How to get it: Good old leafy greens, of course! Plus asparagus and avocado. Have avocado with those breakfast eggs. Beetroot it a good source too (cheese and beetroot salad is a winner!). Carrots are your folate packed friends too, plus seeds and nuts so there are some great snack options there that will help boost your levels. Be nice to Brussel spouts too as they give you plenty of folate….as well as that other well know side effect (we don’t know if that is true…but just blame the baby).

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*We’re holding an amazing event! Move well, eat well is all about teaching new mums how to those two things after having a baby. Jelly Belly PT founder Kellie Moore will be giving a post-natal exercise masterclass and then Sam woodhouse aka Divine and Delicious will be guiding us through some easy, nutritious meals to cook at home when you’re busy with baby – which you’ll get to sit down and eat afterwards. There’ll be a goody bag and babysitters at the event if you need to bring your little one along. More info and tickets here.

Move well, eat well flyer

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