24 June 2015, by Tan Li Lin
And with that eyebrow-raising title, we kick off this (research-driven) blog entry with amazing news. The summer brought to our household a newborn gnat! She joins the other two in bringing
chaos and destruction Joy, smiles and peaceful nights.
But that’s not the reason I’m writing on this topic. Two months ago, I found myself agreeing to join a local tech company as a curriculum developer. The amazing team has developed and rolled out an App that helps women lose weight and stay fit. My first project was to write – a breastfeeding module for new Moms.
I had no clue what I got myself into. I was way in over my head. It was a good thing the founder was truly encouraging and believed my female instincts would get it all figured out. Then he threw me 3 books to read. I devoured them in 2 weeks.
Initially, I was REALLY conscious of being seen reading those books on the MRT. I felt awkward even at home where everyone knew I wasn’t expecting anytime. But two chapters into the first book, I started to appreciate the topic a lot more. In fact, I learnt so much about nutrition and food choices – and found that nutrition for new moms build on top of the basic understanding of how our body works. Hack, everyone could do with more education on nutrition because it goes beyond just ‘knowing the food pyramid’ from primary school days.
I’ve extracted the key insights from the books and am sharing them here. You can thank me after you’ve received your first “What! You’re a Mom of 2/3/5/7?! I couldn’t even tell!” By the way, these are applicable to anyone – whether you’re nursing or not – somewhat proven by my own experience of having lost 10 kg (and keeping it that way).
1. Consume 3 – 4 servings of Low-fat Dairy
Calcium is found to often be inadequate in the diet of new mothers. Your need for Calcium goes up drastically after giving birth. Because the level of nutrition is kept constant in your breast milk at YOUR expense (i.e. your little-VIP gets first priority on all nutrient intake) it is important your intake is enough to support you and your bub. Calcium is needed by your baby to build and keep bones strong, and to help muscles and nerves work properly. It has been speculated that a lack of calcium at this stage could result in Osteoporosis for the Mother down the road.
The best part is: DID YOU KNOW THAT with 3 servings of Calcium a day, you lose more weight than if you only took 1??! So load up on low-fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, tofu, soy milk, almonds, figs and canned fish (sardines, salmon, tuna).
2. Consume 2 – 3 servings of Lean Protein
Protein will be drawn from your muscle tissue for your baby if you do not consume enough protein, sapping your strength and increasing your chances of falling sick. On top of that, Protein is much needed in building muscles – yours and your baby’s. With stronger muscles, you actually burn calories long after you’ve stopped any exercise/activity, even while you are sedentary. This = less fat stored! Yipppee! This is one of the keys to weight loss!
There’s a saying that “Muscles are built in the kitchen”. Why? Because you can work out like a lunatic, and eat like one, and you’ll never achieve the results you want. Start off with eating right; this helps you make the most of your physical activity (like running after several kids). Most conventional diets feature sufficient protein, but just to make sure: Fish, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, organs, peanut butter, tofu, nuts, eggs, beans, seafood.
3. Drinks LOTS OF Water
I saw a meme recently that I found quite funny:
“Sometimes I drink water to surprise my Liver.”
Ha ha ha. Am I the only one who finds that funny? Maybe because I’m guilty of it and working hard to change my habit of not drinking enough water. Water helps remove your body’s wastes. Your cells (those hard-working things!) rely on water to keep functional. Do we need to go into why that’s important?
A nursing mother produces about 23 ounces (0.7 liters) of milk for baby everyday, therefore you must replace those and also have enough for yourself.
4. Cutting Out Sugar
Alright, here’s where everyone’s guilty whether you actually know it or not. We eat WAY too much sugar in our diets without knowing it. On top of all that sweet, sugary, addictive stuff we choose to put in our mouths (cakes, donuts, biscuits, sweets, ice-cream, ice-kachang etc.), are hidden sugar sources. It’s scary how much sugar goes into cooking sauces, dipping sauces and bottled juices. The average daily intake for a woman per day is 25 grams (= 6 teaspons). Yesterday, I ordered ‘Teh-O ice with less sugar’ and watched in horror as the lady threw in 3 teaspoons of sugar (but true enough the drink was way less sweet than otherwise). That’s half of my daily intake. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t because this isn’t a health blog and I’m not a Nutritionist. I do know that this was the BIGGEST difference in my weight loss and fitness journey. There are tons of research out there that you can read.
Essentially, sugar does not provide any nutrients, but it converts into calories/fat and gets stored in our body waiting to get burnt off. I’m not saying stop completely, I’m just sharing that if you wish to lose weight, consider this. And if you find yourself often lethargic, it could be due to the fall after the spike from a sugar rush. What does this mean for Mothers? Keeping fit and getting energy from nutrition-rich foods allows you to keep up with your young ones as they bounce off the walls – the WHOLE day.
5. Eating MORE
A hah! Betcha didn’t expect this!
If you love eating, you can rejoice. If you find eating a chore… well, consider that women don’t eat enough to provide themselves all the nutrients they need. We either don’t consume enough food (skip meals, try to lose weight, pick at our food) or we eat food that isn’t nutritious enough (e.g. char kway teow, fried bee hoon, wanton mee with 4 slices of pork and a mountain of noodles).
It is important not to become too hungry you make bad choices, like uncontrollable snacking, eating heavy suppers, choose sweet food or caffeine for that much-needed rush.
Have controlled, consistent meals throughout the day – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. This helps you maintain your mood and energy during this period of sleepless nights.
To sum it up nicely, I’ll paraphrase from one of the books:
Your only job now is to provide your body with nutritious, good food. Sit down and eat good food and you will automatically nourish yourself and your little one (or ones).
p/s – I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m lifting from the books and online research I’ve done over the last month. If you’re interested in any of the above tips, I encourage you to read up more hor!
Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies (for now). Follow her blog on www.maybebaby.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.