Eat the Rainbow Every Day!
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants (think berries, beetroot, purple cabbage, red capsicum, pumpkin, leafy greens, oranges, kiwi fruit and many more). Antioxidants from food sources are more beneficial than from supplements. Abundant antioxidants in the diet support the immune system, crucial for healing and repair, reduce inflammation and support our mental health reducing the risk of postnatal anxiety and depression.
Include Protein at Every Meal.
Firstly ensure to have a protein rich breakfast. Protein balances blood glucose levels to sustain energy and mood throughout the day. Protein rich breakfast options include eggs or beans on wholegrain toast, a veggie frittata, a smoothie with protein powder, overnight oats with full fat natural yogurt + nuts/seeds + fruit.
Consuming sufficient protein supports hormone production to improve our sleep and mental / emotional health. Adequate protein is required for optimal immune function, tissue healing and repair.
Breastfeeding Mama's should aim to have 2.5 - 3 litres of fluids per day. Water, herbal teas, non-caffeinated drinks, brothy soups and juicy fruit/veggies help us stay hydrated. Both caffeinated and alcoholic drinks not only contribute to dehydration, they can also drive feelings of anxiety. While I am looking forward to the odd glass of wine - I will aim to limit my consumption where possible. Proper hydration supports lactation, promotes circulation for improved healing and encourages detoxification pathways.
Eat Fibre Rich Foods.
Include whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain bread, rolled oats, buckwheat, barley, etc.), legumes (lentils, beans, peas), fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds every day. Fibre consumption supports gut health and therefore countless aspects of our health and wellbeing, it promotes detoxification pathways including regulating bowel motions to limit stress on the already compromised post-birth pelvic floor. Hydration paired with fibre intake is key to perfect poos! You didn't think you would get through a nutrition post without mention of a poo did you? :)
Eat Nutrient Dense Foods.
Every time we eat it is an opportunity to fuel the body to help it optimally perform all its important processes. Nutrition does not just support energy levels it directly affects our hormones, our immunity and our mental health. What do I mean by "nutrient dense food"? Take toast for example: white sliced bread provides simple carbohydrates (sugar!). Wholegrain sourdough provides complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, minerals such as magnesium and iron, also B vitamins. Just small changes like swapping your morning toast can significantly contribute to your intake of nutrients.
Eat What Makes Me Happy.
Allow cravings. I know if I keep putting off what I actually feel like eating I will likely end up eating it later anyway, and then feel guilty that I've eaten everything! Adequate fibre, protein and water throughout the day can help to reduce sugar cravings but if you feel like a Whole Bowl Cookie - go for it! Postpartum is a time for self care, self love and nourishment. It is not a time for restriction or making things harder on your self than they already are. If food is your love language like it is mine, allow yourself to include "treats" amongst regular programming.
Hopefully you have found this information useful for either yourself or to pass on to a loved one. I look forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you.