When you’re a mother, putting your kid first can sometimes mean neglecting your own interests. Nowhere is this more obvious than in your diet and nutrition. It can be hard to deal with the stresses of parenthood alongside other challenges like work, home responsibilities, studies, etc. and still put time and effort into your own health.
However, you have to eat something and making sure that you’re well-fed and nourished is an easy way to improve energy and health. Investing time in your own nutrition will pay dividends in your wellbeing, long-term health, and the energy you have left over for spending time with your child and on other projects.
1. New Mothers Need Nutrients
The most important place to start is making sure that your existing diet covers all your needs. This is the basis for everyone, but many people don’t have a well-rounded diet.
Start by getting the right number of calories for your goal (weight loss/muscle gain/healthy maintenance), plenty of protein, and a variety of fruit, veg and other plant foods. These are the simple fundamentals of a health-promoting diet.
The most important part, for wellbeing and feelings of energy, is to make sure that you’re eating foods that are packed with nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are the way that your body maintains itself and crucial functions.
This is going to mean lots of high-quality produce, from pulses to fatty fish to leafy green vegetables. These are traditionally “healthy” foods and they will fuel your health and performance in life, sport, and exercise.
You can also follow a macro diet plan which can give you the foundations you need to ensure that your eating is sustainable.
2. Cod Liver Oil
We will never stop talking about the amazing benefits associated with fish oils – and cod liver oil specifically.
This is especially important during new mothers. Fish oil is associated with better mental health and mood regulation, an important way to protect yourself from postnatal depression and a wealth of other concerns that peak after childbirth.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. This is a simple investment in the way that you feel and how well-equipped you are to deal with the stresses of parenthood. You will also experience a drop in blood pressure and other risk-factors associated with stress.
3. Soy Foods and Supplements
While soy is mostly unreliable for men, it has some great benefits for women – especially those who have had children or are dealing with pre-/peri-/post-menopausal life, or reproductive stress.
During these turbulent times, the risk of hormonal imbalance is huge. Estrogen in the body is unreliable and it can lead to risks of mental and physical health problems from depression to breast cancer.
Soy and other high-quality plant produce can provide the necessary phytoestrogens to improve health and maintain these processes. They can be converted into Estrogen in the body to provide protective effects.
4. Iron Your Diet Out
Iron is crucial – if you’re a new mother then you’re going to need iron supplementation. Menstruation is a challenge for most women, but the demands of postnatal nutrition are even greater.
Iron is crucial for these purposes and it is tied into blood health, anaemia risk, and even immune function. If you’re looking to stay healthy and perform well in exercise and other areas of life, you need to make sure you’re getting iron. You can do this with grass-fed beef or venison, or supplement iron by itself.
This is crucial to being female in general, but mothers tend to have a greater need for these compounds – and new mothers especially.
5. Diabetes: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond
The risk of diabetes rises massively during pregnancy. This is a concern for many women, as it can have long-lasting effects if not dealt with properly.
Diabetes is also an increased risk as we age, so by the time you’re a mother you’ve dealt with increased diabetes risk along two dimensions! The concern for carbohydrate metabolism, and health risk are all worth thinking about.
Women are less-effective at metabolising carbohydrates than men, so one of the best choices is to simply reduce carbs in your diet. Relying on a low-carb, high-fat diet can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and the knock-on effect of diabetes risk.
Focus on eating fewer carbs, from healthier sources (such as beans, wholegrains and slow-digesting tubers). This should be paired with an increase in healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish. These changes can make a serious difference, whether you’re pre-diabetic, have dealt with gestational diabetes, or you’re just trying to live healthier.