Let's be honest, the postpartum stage isn't an easy one, and healthy eating can be a real struggle. Time and sleep are in short supply. Fatigue is high. And none of this is helped much by the extra feedings, diapers, laundry or dishes. Making sure you're eating well may feel like a self-indulgent luxury, or just plain "too much work."
But the recovery of your body, mood, energy, metabolism + hormones requires that you get some quality nutrition (especially given how short you are on sleep and rest). If you don't want to be (as) burnt out postpartum, you need to be feeding you right, too.
In the postpartum stage, good nutrition is incredibly important to successfully restoring balance to your body, mood, energy, weight, metabolism + hormones. Eating the quality + quantity of food that will heal your body is essential for postpartum mammas. This is a time of high stress (especially if you're breastfeeding) and your body is still physically recovering. This is not the time to diet or slide into poor dietary decisions -- poor food choices will stall your progress toward restoring your body, mood, energy, metabolism + hormones.
If you are breastfeeding, you have an even greater need to nutrify both your growing baby yourself right so that you can produce rich milk to nourish your baby. Remember that -- just like in pregnancy -- baby gets first dibs at your body's available energy + nutrients... and you get the leftovers. What you eat directly affects the nutrients, quality + availability of your breastmilk -- which is the single, sustaining food your baby gets for as long as you continue nursing.
Eating healthfully postpartum isn't a "someday" luxury -- it's a daily necessity. Your health (and the baby's) depend on it. And it can be done -- with surprisingly little to no prep -- if you keep the right foods on hand.
So here are my 10 favorite foods to stockpile for quick, healthy, grab-n-go meals and snacks that will fortify both you and baby with the energy + nutrients you both desperately need to make it through the postpartum phase healthy + well!
Nutrient-Rich, Grab-n-Go Foods for PostPartum Moms
Stock up on these healthy, healing foods in the weeks prior to and following birth:
Snack-able Fresh Veggies + Fruit
In general, you can't go wrong with ample veggies and fruit (...unless you're eating fruit but no veggies, or relying primarily on fruits/veggies alone without proper intake of healthy fats + proteins).
Digestion allows the nutrients you eat from any food -- including fruits + veggies -- to be broken down into vital compounds the body can absorb and apply directly into the cells, tissues + organs of your (and a breastfed baby's) body.
Plus, the extra water in fruits + veggies keeps you hydrated, the vitamin C keeps you healthy, and the fiber keeps you full (and regular!).
Healthiest Option: There are some concerns around the harmful side effects caused by the pesticides, chemical residue, and GMOs found in some fruits + veggies, especially as it relates to fetal and infant development. You may want to check out the Dirty Dozen + Clean 15 List to figure out what's worth buying organic (and what isn't).
Canned salmon + tuna are quality, staple proteins you should keep on hand -- heck even in your purse or diaper bag. These days, you can literally tear or pop off many of the container lids (bags or pull-tab). Crab + oysters are also great options. And sardines... if you can stomach them. ;)
These protein-rich options are very important in satiating hunger and aiding in your body's recovery. The amino acids in protein are necessary for optimal function of your immune system, energy levels, metabolism, hormone synthesis, brain chemistry, moods and weight loss.
Healthiest Option: Stick to wild-caught seafood, not farmed. Make sure products are packed only in water + salt. Packed in olive oil is less desired, but acceptable.
Full-Fat Dairy (or Coconut) Products
Organic, full-fat dairy products are a great option for moms whose bodies aren't dairy-sensitive, allergic or intolerant. Same goes for coconut.
During the postpartum healing phase, your body needs ample, healthy, whole fats to ensure production of the prostaglandins that facilitate cell, tissue + organ repair. Eating full-fat dairy or coconut products will rebalance your female hormones, energy + even help your mood (by stabilizing brain chemistry to stave off some postpartum depression!). In addition, full-fat organic raw dairy contains probiotics and enzymes that keep your gut + digestion in top shape.
If you're breastfeeding, your need for ample, healthy, whole fats is even higher -- and these foods help produce the rich colostrum + hind milk that your baby needs to grow happy + healthy.
Here are some of the best "grab-able" full-fat dairy + coconut options:
- Greek Yogurt - Get full-fat Greek yogurt that's free of added sugar, sweeteners + flavors. You can always add a handful of berries and a dash of cinnamon! (There's a few coconut yogurts out there, but unfortunately, most have too many sweeteners + additives to be healthy options.)
Milk - Organic whole milk and/or full-fat canned coconut milk. Makes great smoothies (or mixes well with a tbsp of raw cocoa powder!).
- Cheese - Try organic string cheese, pre-cut cheese cubes or curds, or cheese blocks if you can manage slicing.
Healthiest Option: Get organic, full-fat, plain dairy when possible. Raw is ideal. If you're dairy free, lean on plain, full-fat coconut milk.
HardBoiled Eggs (Pre-Cooked + Pre-Peeled)
Eggs are such easy staple foods because of their size, price, availability + versatility. They roll up healthy proteins, fat, vitamins + minerals into a simple, delicious food. Most people find eggs to be a highly satiating + satisfying (if not comforting) food.
So eat eggs at breakfast. Or eat them as an afternoon snack. Or eat them at 2am feedings. Or on a boat or with a fox or in a house... ;) You don't have to be Sam-I-Am to get the idea.
You can buy hardboiled eggs pre-cooked + pre-peeled (or ask your hubby to cook + peel a big batch) so you can have them on hand and ready to eat without notice or prep.
Healthiest Option: organic, free-range. not packed in chemicals/preservatives.
A handful of these vitamin + mineral-rich jewels can go a long way. The salt + fats in olives support healthy adrenal function, which can keep energy more stable + crashes (a little more) at bay. The salt can also help stave off dehydration + slow the loss of water-soluable vitamins (esp for you nursing moms).
Healthiest Option: only ingredients: olives + sea salt.
Nuts, Seeds + Nut/Seed Butters
These convenient, portable healthy fat sources work wonders as nutrient + energy-dense snacks -- just a handful or smear can help nourish, energize + tie you over between meals (or feedings!).
Healthiest Option: plain nuts, seeds or nut/seed butters without additives (except sea salt). Soaked + sprouted raw nuts ideal.
We don't want you going carb-crazy in the postpartum phrase. The repair of your body (and the quality of your breastmilk) are best supported by your consumption of healthy fats + proteins.
On the flip-side, there's no reason to be ketogenic or carb-starved either. Most women can't go wrong with sweet potatoes -- which are high in vitamins, nutrients + the kinds of healthy, fiber-rich carbs your body needs to function through this exhausting postpartum stage of physical stress and sleep depletion.
Sweet potatoes are arguably a more nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic option than other potatoes and are a great way to get carbs that aren't processed + stripped of nutrients (or mixed with other harmful, health-destroying ingredients like sugar, chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors or sweeteners, etc). Please, please, please consider sweet potatoes in lieu of candy, breakfast cereals, granola/snack bars, breads, crackers, packaged carbs, pastas, box meals/snacks, chips, etc. You can even make them taste treat-worthy!
Over-bake a bunch of sweet potatoes (whole + in their jackets) until soft + oozing a bit of brownish "juice." Eat one warm, and keep the rest in the fridge for great snack or meal additions. When cold, sweet potatoes get a uniquely rich, caramel-y sweet flavor. To mix it up (hot or cold), try spreading with coconut oil, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few raw pecans or walnuts!
Healthiest Option: plain, whole sweet potatoes, ideally organic (then you can eat the fiber-rich skin, too!).
HUMMUS OR GUACAMOLE
During the postpartum healing phase, your body needs ample, healthy fats to ensure production of the prostaglandins that facilitate cell, tissue + organ repair. You also need ample, healthy fats to rebalance your female hormones + moods (help stabilize brain chemistry to stave off postpartum depression!).
And if you're breastfeeding, your need for ample, quality fats is even higher, as it they help make the rich colostrum + hind milk your baby needs most.
Hummus and guac are tasty, energy and nutrient-dense sauces easy to mix with or "plop-on" canned seafood, meats, and salads, and also make great dips for fresh veggies.
Healthiest Option: all-natural, free of additives, preservatives + added sugar / sweeteners
When you can't do anything else -- you can take a supplemental spoonful of coconut oil for a quick hit of energy + nutrients.
Coconut oil is not like other fats - it's an MCT fat, a unique form of fat that is quickly digested and used immediately by the body for energy.
And for all you mammas worrying about shedding the baby weight, one of the "safest" fats for supporting healthy weight loss.
Plus, it's great to rub on both your skin + baby's! (And it works wonders on mastitis).
Healthiest Option: unrefined, virgin coconut oil in raw form.
Hot Dogs + Brats
Here's to quick protein + fat to keep your metabolism + energy high, your body on the mend, and your baby well-fed.
Instead of reaching for a hand or bowl-ful(s) of carbs... bake (or ask the hubby to grill!) a package of all-natural hot dogs or brats, which are high in protein and easy to grab and eat at snack or meal times. Dip in mustard or smother in sauerkraut for a tasty + healthful digestive aid.
Healthiest Option: all natural, minimum ingredients. no fillers or additives. Chicken hot dogs from Trader Joes are a great option.
BONUS! The #1 BEST FOOD FOR POSTPARTUM
Liver (from grass-fed beef, free-range chicken or pastured pork)
Healthiest Option: grass-fed beef liver, free-range chicken or pastured pork livers.
I know, I knowww, it's not the easiest or most preferred food.
But arguably, liver from grass-fed beef and pastured chicken or pork is the #1 most nourishing, restorative, nutrient-dense food you can eat after giving birth.
And while the cost is cheap, liver is incredibly rich in iron, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins. You and baby both need these -- especially after the exponential loss of nutrients in labor and again in nursing.
If you're not too into making/eating liver (popular ways are meatloaf, pate, and with bacon!) try taking desiccated liver supplements.