Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Losing Weight After Pregnancy: Tips, Recipes

Losing Weight After Pregnancy: Tips, Recipes

Now that your bundle of joy has arrived and you’ve settled in to becoming a new Mom (or perhaps a Mom again) how do you get rid of the bundles you don’t want -- the ones around your middle, hips, thighs, arms and anywhere else you have "baby weight?"

How do you get back your pre-pregnancy look? Or, if you wanted your pre-pregnancy body to look better than it did, how do you begin?

Well, first and foremost, I hope you are willing and able to breastfeed your baby. It is so important for the health of your baby and it actually helps you to slim down and recover, burning approximately 500 calories per day.

Breastfeeding naturally helps to contract your uterus, so your uterus can get back to shape too. Let me be clear however, you need more nutrient-dense calories while breastfeeding for the health of your baby.

Breastfeeding is not to be used as another way to diet; 500 extra calories per day is a couple of healthy snacks, not another meal!

The key to slimming down after pregnancy is nutrient-dense foods and exercise. There is no need to wait until your 6-week post partum check-up to begin moving.

If you had a vaginal birth, you can start walking generally within two weeks. If you had a cesarean section, the time frame is usually when your stitches are removed. Ask your doctor, of course.

Begin by walking with your baby if possible. You can gradually begin to jog a bit if you like, but a fast-paced walk is great exercise. Weight training is also a great idea as are push-ups; great for the arms!

You can get advice from your local gym, personal trainer, or if you are like me when I first gave birth 28 years ago, I did whatever was free! Push-ups are great for your arms. Walking is good for you and your baby.

I also understand how tired you are with the lack of sleep and all the effort it takes to care for a family and perhaps even hold down a job, but exercise actually gives you energy. Just stick with it and you’ll become addicted.

My own daughter recently gave birth and now she can hardly wait to get out that baby jogger and tie on those tennis shoes! My little granddaughter loves it and so does Mom. Olivia gained 45 pounds and in one month has already lost 30 pounds by, well, having a 9-pound baby, eating well and beginning an exercise routine.

I had assisted her with a healthy meal plan during the pregnancy. It was simple, tasty and healthy... and the same plan is still being used. Don’t skip meals and eat healthy snacks. Nothing fancy needed, just honest, good food. Homemade is the key.

Here are some recipes that you will love and will help you slim down.

The Best Kale Salad Ever
One of Patty’s and families favorite salads.
Have the kids wash their hands and do the mixing.
Serves 6

2 bunches kale, washed, dried and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium apple, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 whole, ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce or Bragg's Amino Acids
1/2 cup cashews, raw, chopped

Wash, de-stem and chop kale; place in large bowl. Add lemon juice and avocado, and with your hands mix together until the avocado is smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 190 Calories; 15g Fat (66.6% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 127mg Sodium

Wonder vegetable: Leafy green vegetables are wonder foods. We would all be so much healthier if we ate dark green leafy greens every day. Kale is high in Vitamins K, A and C as well as an excellent source of manganese and dietary fiber. Kale is thought to be protective against certain types of cancer such as lung, colon, bladder, breast and ovarian.

Serving suggestions: In the summer I slice some beautiful tomatoes and serves this salad on top. I also stuff pita bread with this salad. Delicious!

Halibut or Salmon Sauté
This wonderful served on basmati brown rice with a spinach salad. Simple and delicious.

Serves 3

1 pound halibut or salmon
Sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1 teaspoon grated lemon, or lime peel

Remove skin and bones from halibut; cut into 1-inch cubes. Season halibut with salt and pepper. Sauté in 1 tablespoons oil until barely cooked; about 5 minutes, remove halibut or salmon from skillet.

Sauté vegetables in remaining oil until al dente. Return halibut to skillet. Add salt and ginger. Combine chicken broth, cornstarch and lemon peel; add to fish mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and halibut flakes when tested with a fork.

Per Serving: 295 Calories; 13g Fat (39.0% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 48mg Cholesterol; 300mg Sodium.

Nutrition: Halibut is a good source of tryptophan (remember how that Thanksgiving turkey makes you sleepy; that’s the tryptophan.) as well as selenium, protein, vitamin B3 and heart healthy Omega 3’s.

Salmon or Chicken en Papillote
En Papillote means "in paper"… as in parchment paper. You may use any kind of fish or tofu or a pounded chicken breast (bake for 25-30 minutes.) This may be made earlier in the day and kept in the refrigerator; great for parties. Be sure to take the skin off the salmon.
Serves 1

6 ounces salmon fillet, skin removed, washed and dried

1 tablespoon white wine
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper, to taste

1 cup spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 stalks asparagus, sliced in half
2 slices red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Mix the white wine, toasted sesame oil, grated ginger, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper to about 18" long. Weight down the edges and place the washed and dried spinach leaves on one side of the paper.

Place the skinned salmon fillet atop the leaves. On top of the salmon place the asparagus and red pepper. Drizzle with the sauce.

Bring up the parchment paper and crimp edges to close tightly. Place on baking sheet and place in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.

You may open at the table if you like. It's very pretty. Be careful of the steam.

Per Serving: 289 Calories; 7g Fat (20.7% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 88mg Cholesterol; 379mg Sodium.

Serving Ideas: Change the vegetables with the season or simply use this same format with just vegetables!

Examples of Healthy Snacks

Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut or almond butter

An orange and a few raw almonds or walnuts

1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1 slice of whole-grain toast, cut into 4 strips for dunking

Popcorn, seasoned with herbs, garlic, nutritional yeast and a bit of olive oil. Remember to avoid using microwaves.

Plain yogurt with berries

A small tossed salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, or whatever is in season, tossed with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and flax or olive oil.

Hummus or bean dip and veggies or baked whole-wheat pita bread or whole grain crackers.

A small smoothie made with fresh fruit (toss in some spinach leaves!) and whey powder.

Baked Mochi with unsweetened apple butter

Sushi made with brown rice and slices vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, green onion, red pepper, avocado.)

Here’s to the health of your baby and you!


Patty James has her Master's Degree in Nutrition, is a certified Natural Chef and is the Founder of the first Certified Organic Cooking School in the country. She has developed The Patty James Health Guide, a tool for understanding nutrition and portion sizes.

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