We all know how important a mood-boosting diet is during pregnancy for both a mom and her developing baby. However, a mom’s diet after the baby is born is rarely discussed. After childbirth the mother is recovering physically from labor, a new mom also requires extra energy to take care of both herself and her baby, especially if she is breastfeeding. Diet plays an important role on mood and energy levels during this time. Below are five tips on foods to help women stay healthy and energized.
Avoid skipping meals
When busy taking care of a new baby it can be easy to forget to take care of your own needs such as eating. However, it is really important to avoid skipping meals. Try to plan ahead and stock your pantry and fridge with healthy snacks such as nuts, yogurt and frozen fruit.
Don’t skimp on the protein
Eating small amounts of protein throughout the day helps keep blood sugar levels even and moods stable. Women that are breastfeeding require almost twice as much (approximately 71 grams per day) as non-breastfeeding women (approximately 46 grams per day). To get more protein in your diet, try having eggs for breakfast, grilled chicken over salad or a turkey sandwich, and yogurt or cheese and crackers for a snack.
Drink enough water
Dehydration may cause fatigue and even anxiety. Make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water per day. Be proactive and don’t wait until you feel thirsty since you may already be dehydrated at this point. This is especially important in the early days of breastfeeding because nursing dehydrates you. If breastfeeding, make sure to drink a glass of water at every feeding.
Think sugar gives you energy? Think again. Too much sugar may give you a sugar rush initially, but soon after it will leave you feeling more tired and sluggish than before. Try to avoid foods that contain added sugar. Treat your sweet tooth to natural sugars from fruit. Or try having a small piece of dark chocolate, which may increase serotonin levels in your brain and improve mood.
Don’t forget about the healthy fats: omega-3’s
Omega-3’s are healthy polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish (such as salmon), soybeans and some nuts and seeds. Omega-3s promote heart health. They also make up part of the brain that helps regulate mood and have a reputation for lifting mood and boosting memory, too.
Adapted by Rebecca Ditkoff, Registered Dietitian, SBH Health System