It isn’t any wonder why mamas munch on plenty of snacks in postpartum and early motherhood. With the insatiable appetite and need for quick and easy foods, snacks have become a necessity to make it through the day.
But as most of us can attest, easy snacks don’t always add up to the most healthy choices. One thing I hear on a weekly basis from my clients and group members is that they often find themselves surviving on junk food and spending a great deal of time feeling guilty about it in the process.
It’s time to end the snack food guilt and start using snacks as a means to THRIVE in early motherhood. And I’m going to show you how to do just that.
What You Need to Know First
When it comes to nutrition and digestion, the postpartum body is vastly unique. You can read more in detail on the physiological changes that take place in your gut and how it impacts your digestion and needs for certain foods here. Rather than go into detail about it in this post, I’ll summarize some important facts:
- Your body lacks digestive enzymes (which break down your food to usable nutrients). Because of this, your body needs warm foods that are easy to digest and won’t cause gas, bloating, or constipation (symptoms that are commonly referred to as normal because they are so common in postpartum). These symptoms are signs of inflammation and malabsorption of the food and nutrients you need.
- Due to pregnancy and birth, there’s a significant likelihood, even in well developed countries, that your body is starting postpartum nutrient deficient.
- Fats and protein needs increase significantly in postpartum. Despite common beliefs that fats make you fat (they don’t), it’s important to consume more for breast milk and for tissue and body repair.
- Intense hunger in postpartum can be satisfied with better quality food and the nutrients your body is begging you for. Meaning your body signals it’s hungry because it needs nutrients to continue to function. Rather than focusing on calorie intake, focus on healthy meals that are easy for your tummy to absorb.
Essentially, your body needs plenty of nutrition! And it needs to be absorbed efficiently without your body exerting more energy (that it doesn’t have) to digesting and you feeling like crud in the end.
And let’s face it. When you eat well, your body feels good. And more than ever, as you learn and navigate motherhood, your baby, and healing your body, you NEED to feel good.
Eating well means less fatigue, less exhaustion, fewer mood swings, shorter healing time, and so much more.
A Word on Comfort Food
We all know the comforts of hearty meals that touch the soul. Hot grilled cheese sandwiches, a big slice of cake, twice baked mac and cheese… the list goes on!
Just because you’re postpartum and your body is on overdrive trying to recover, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good ol’ comfort food. The key is that comfort foods are used sparingly.
And that’s the hard part, right? Because we seek a lot of comfort in the transition to motherhood. Mothers need mothering too and tend to be forgotten as the focus is solely on care of the baby. So it’s no wonder we all reach for the foods that feel good emotionally in the moment.
Unfortunately, the feel-good moment quickly turns to guilt and shame. Which makes the desire for comfort even more wanted. This makes the next binge that much easier. And the spiral of comfort and junk food is a hard one to beat.
So if you find yourself in this downward mix, the best thing you can do is be conscious of it. When you notice yourself reaching for comfort food because you need support, call it out. Name it. And then see if you can come up with another way to meet your needs.
The Best Kept Snack Secrets
One of the best and most effective way in getting nutrient dense foods and snacks in you is to PLAN.
Planning out your meals for the week, including snacks, not only takes the pressure off you when it comes to figuring out what to eat, it also creates a place for you to fall back on when things get a bit challenging and you need a fast pick-me-up to feel better.
Even better is the prepping a few things before the week begins. One of my favorite ways to do this is to simply double up when creating a meal. When I bake sweet potatoes for the family, I’ll throw in a few extra for easy warm up when I’m busy through the week. Bacon gets a double batch. So do eggs for an easy and quick burrito.
Look at areas in your meals where you can make a few improvements. Easy and quick changes that go hand-in-hand with your current meal regimen makes for habits that stick.
Where’s the Dairy and Gluten?
All the of the snacks in the early postpartum section DO NOT contain dairy and gluten. These foods tend to be inflammatory and there is a rise in the number of women and their newborns who are experiencing adverse health issues because of them.
For these reasons, I highly recommend that both dairy and gluten be avoided in the first 6-8 weeks postpartum and slowly added back in, paying close attention to both physical and emotional changes.
If you don’t have any issues with food allergies, sensitivities, mood disorders, or tummy troubles, feel free to add them back into your diet as you feel best (because mama always knows best).
If you have any of the symptoms above, consider holding off on dairy and gluten until they resolve. You may notice a significant benefit to doing this and a faster recovery time as well. If anything, experiment! See how your body feels. This is the best and most fruitful means of healthy living.
Snack Ideas for Early Postpartum
- mixed nuts roasted in oil or fat
- pan fried avocado with bacon
- scrambled eggs
- egg muffins
- hard boiled eggs
- deviled eggs
- sweet potato with olive oil, chives, and spices
- Coconut energy balls (see recipe in my Mother Love Redefined Guide here)
- warm papaya
- warm fresh berries
- lactation cookies
- coconut and fig with roasted granola
- bean and rice burrito
- fried rice
- oatmeal with berries and chia seeds
- avocado toast
- warm applesauce
- roasted chickpeas
Snack Ideas for Late Postpartum (Or when you feel good physically and emotionally)
- salsa, hummus, or guacamole with fresh veggies or pita chips
- baked zucchini chips
- kale chips (without stems)
- Greek whole fat yogurt
- fresh veggies: sugar snap peas, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers
- fresh fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, mangoes, grapes
- crackers and nut butter
- nuts and dried fruit, including dates
- oatmeal cookies
- homemade meatballs
- nitrate free prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, beef jerky