I grew up in a French family, which in my culture, means that I would literally eat any food!
When I arrived in the US, I discovered that most people here fear food and I really didn’t understand why.
Fast forward, I ended up marrying a vegetarian man and subsequently I became one.
Living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has amazing environmental benefits, offers a way to help “clean” the gut, and provides a powerful means to connecting to your spirituality.
But honestly, I chose this lifestyle mostly for convenience, as who wants to cook 2 meals everyday?.
I was vegan for a year before getting pregnant, vegetarian during the pregnancy and tried to go vegan again after my son was born.
For a year after giving birth, I dragged myself around due to lack of sleep, and finally started eating red meat again.
I felt that I was back to life. I ended up breastfeeding my son for almost 3 years!
I won’t tell you that you should eat what I eat.
I’ve seen women feeling amazing on a plant-based diet long-term and others who strive on a paleo style diet. Clearly, there is no one diet that fits all and solves every problem!
What NOT to Eat
Functional medicine Doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, advises us to find the foods that interact best with our genes. So the way to find our best personalized diet is through genetic testing.
Alternatively, another, more accessible option to find out which foods your body thrives best on is to do an elimination diet.
An elimination diet will help you identify foods that cause inflammation in your body. It is a process that requires dedication and some time (a minimum of a month is recommended).
Doing an elimination diet means that you will only be eating foods that are highly unlikely to cause a reaction in your body, and then slowly reintroducing the eliminated foods to your diet to monitor any reaction.
The most common reactive foods are soy, corn, wheat, dairy, eggs and peanuts. If you are impatient like me, you can also choose to take a shortcut and get a food sensitivity test instead!
Moms who are breastfeeding are often advised to eliminate dairy. Indeed, dairy is one of the most common problem foods for breastfed babies. If your child is especially fussy after nursing, has eczema or other skin issues, or has sleep issues, eliminating dairy is definitely a good place to start.
I never had any issues with dairy, even while breastfeeding. But with that said, I don’t eat just any kind of dairy.
I’m very picky (for myself and my son) about the milk, cheese and yogurt quality that I choose for us. If not milk from grass fed cow, it should at least be organic. Choosing quality ingredients makes a huge difference!
Everyone’s health will benefit from cutting out processed foods, minimizing bread, meat and dairy.
What to Eat
For every dietary advice out there, you can find research that proves exactly the opposite. Talk about confusing and frustrating! It took me some time to find the answers I was looking for, as I tried every single diet out there.
So what is the ONE diet that all moms can follow to lose the baby weight AND make you feel better immediately?
The mediterranean diet.
Many studies show that people who follow a mediterranean-style diet typically look younger, have larger brains and have better metabolisms than people who follow a western diet.
A mediterranean diet also promotes a diverse population of helpful bacteria in the gut.
Research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is very important to secrete serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter!) in the brain, which regulates mood.
You’ve probably heard before the health recommendation to “eat the rainbow.” That is, consuming a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables like peppers, blueberries, sweet potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
Such foods are high in phytonutrients that may help to reduce harmful inflammation throughout the body.
A Mediterranean diet is not a fully plant-based diet but meat is not the central part of the plate either.
Plant-only diets may carry some risks, especially for new moms and childbearing aged women. Some of the key nutrients for the brain, like long chain omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin B12, are simply not found in meat-free diets.
Here is my best nutrition advice: keep eating healthy anti-inflammatory foods. Choose more whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and fatty fish (mackerel is the best!).
Think colorful produce, healthy iron-rich protein (grass-fed beef, buffalo, lamb, bison, liver, and bone broths), healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and pasture-raised butter) and certain whole grains (rice, millet, quinoa, oats…).
Although I am not a vegan anymore, I advocate that plant-based foods and recipes should make up about 75% of your diet.
My 21-day weight loss program for new moms follows these mediterranean diet guidelines and teaches women to reconnect with healthy foods to clean up their diet. This program can get you started on building long-term healthy eating habits… and ultimately help you lose the baby weight for good!
Go on a quest.
Identify the foods that give you joy and make you feel good, and eliminate those that don’t. Losing weight is about slowing down and becoming more mindful, noticing your body, noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods.
I believe losing weight for good is not just about food. It’s not just what we eat but our relationship to our food that contributes to physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Give your body the right nutrition described above, and with the right mindset, you’ll be losing the baby weight in no time, in the healthiest way.
As a holistic health coach, I help moms to find the best nutrition protocol that works for their bodies (and most importantly one that they’ll follow through with!). If you’re in need of some support when it comes to creating and working towards your health goals, let’s chat!