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Healthy holiday diet fixes for new moms

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, BestHealthMag.ca and the National Post.

Have a slim and sane holiday

The holiday buffets, the eggnog, the parties! The holidays can feel like a diet minefield just waiting to blow up the number on your scale by five, even 10 pounds. Added to the pressure of tasty bites and sweets is kid duty: Now you have the responsibility of making sure your new baby gets fed, bathed and looks adorable for the in-laws. Here are some coping strategies to keep you slim and sane.

Mother with baby boy eating cookie on Christmas

Keep calm and hydrated

Visual food cues, as in that plate of gorgeous pastries passed around at the office, can send signals of hunger to your brain. But if we drink plenty of water, we feel more full and satisfied -- we can say no to the temptations. Hot liquids can be comforting, so now is the time to bring out that chamomile and green tea, preferably loose-leaf for potency. Both are soothing and hydrating, and green tea is reputed to boost metabolism. You can’t go wrong!

Hands off the leftovers

It's tempting, but don’t finish off the kids’ plates. It’s an easy habit to get into and you may have grown up with the “don’t waste anything” mentality, but the clean-plate club has its drawbacks. Those extra calories you’re devouring by eating the leftovers plus your own adult meal, can sabotage your weight goals.

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Eat more veggies

Don’t underestimate the power of fresh veggies for nutrients and good health. When you’re prepping some pureed squash, carrots or rutabagas for your baby, for example, make extra for yourself. For example, if you’re doing a lot of chopping, chop more and roast them on a cookie sheet in the oven. With some good sea salt, herbs and drizzled olive oil, these vegetables make a great dinner with a quick fish fillet under the broiler. Or have them for lunch and add some feta cheese -- tasty, healthy and easier than you think. Another easy fix is the smoothie -- it’s a kid-pleaser and can be a nutrient powerhouse. Try this energy-boosting smoothie: Combine celery, baby spinach, strawberries or blueberries, almond milk, and honey in a blender and puree.

Me-time is crucial

You may feel like you've got to serve and please everyone, but make time for yourself during the holidays -- for your sanity and to keep your energy level high. Parents, and most often moms, often put themselves second to their kids’ needs and wants. It makes sense at the time, but it can leave you exhausted and grabbing whatever you can from the fridge or cupboard to keep fueled. So even though you may not have had time for a proper dinner, digging into that container of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at 9 p.m. is not a good choice. The trick is to plan meals, shop wisely and schedule some me-time to relax, fit in exercise and get the rest you need.

Use small plates and avoid second helpings

At parties or gatherings, we really do load up our plates -- and if the plates are bigger, we take more. Using smaller plates can curb our portions so we’re not mindlessly noshing all those extra calories. If you're tempted to ask for seconds or keep the wine flowing to please hosts or family members, a simple compliment can avoid this pitfall: “Thank you, no, but that was delicious.”

Be prepared

Be sure to pack that diaper bag. Whether you’re out on a power shop at the mall or visiting friends and family, always bring your baby’s favorites, along with some energy bars for yourself to avoid the snack urge or the food court signs. Along with the diapers and toys, have baby's drinks and snacks at the ready. When you’re prepared, you’ll be calm, cool and relatively collected.

More health and diet tips for the holidays

Naughty nutrition: Healthy holiday foods that make you feel sexy
Is perfectionism ruining your holiday happiness?
Holiday diet tips to keep you trim

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