Post-Natal Diet

After nine months of stretchy waistbands and tent-like tops, you are eager to shed your pregnancy weight. It may take awhile to shift the numbers on the scale. Remember, your body is forever changed for having housed your little one. Give yourself nine months to a year to lose the baby weight. With careful attention to a healthy diet, you can realistically expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per month, according to the La Leche League International.

Regular exercise is essential for post-natal health. Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastfeeding exclusively burns, on average, 500 calories per day. Credit: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you should not make a conscious effort to diet within the first two months postpartum. Dieting may compromise your milk supply, according to the La Leche League International. Even beyond the critical first weeks of nursing, you'll need to take in more calories than a mother who is feeding her infant formula. Breastfeeding exclusively burns, on average, 500 calories per day.

Eating on a Schedule

Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy ingredients that can be prepared quickly. Credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

When you are a new mom, it can be hard to find time to go to the bathroom, let alone make a meal. Still, it's important to eat every few hours -- especially if you are breastfeeding -- to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy ingredients that can be prepared quickly. For instance, you might top bagged salad with canned tuna, garbanzo beans and an oil-based dressing for a protein-packed lunch. Spoon marinara sauce over whole-grain pasta for a dinner rich in heart-healthy fiber. Nuts, seeds, granola bars, fruit and vegetables are all healthy snacks you can enjoy -- one handed, if necessary.

Aim for Balance

Your meals should include all of the food groups, including whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein and healthy oils. Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

A healthy post-natal diet isn't much different from your pregnancy or even pre-pregnancy diet. Your meals should include all of the food groups, including whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein and healthy oils. Limit your consumption of foods high in fat, sodium and sugar to the occasional treat. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Your body needs energy to recover from labor and delivery and to keep you going through the strenuous task of caring for a newborn.

Be Wary of Quick Fixes

Ignore the siren song of fad diets and stick with basic, healthy nutrition. While crash dieting may give you quick results, severely restricting your food intake will drop your energy levels -- already precarious due to middle-of-the-night feedings -- and may negatively affect your mood. If you haven't lost weight or are gaining weight in the postpartum period, talk to your physician. A hormone imbalance may be undermining your efforts.

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