Lose weight breastfeeding? Yeah right!

If you’re a new mum you’ve probably met at least one skinny woman who has claimed to have lost all their pregnancy weight by breastfeeding. Truth is, most of those women were probably pretty healthy before they had their babies. They claim to eat anything they wanted while breastfeeding, but what they wanted was an extra piece of chocolate not the whole damn slab! 

But breastfeeding burns calories, you say! Yep, that’s what I told myself while shovelling pizza and sweets into my mouth. I’d have to be breastfeeding all the babies in Wellington to burn that many calories! Looking back, I realise that I used having a newborn as an excuse to binge eat. I was stressed, sleep-deprived, and giving myself a free pass to indulge my bad habits (food addicts can always find an excuse to eat, eh?). So I ended up coming out of that 3 month fever dream of new motherhood being just as heavy as the day I gave birth! Man, seeing that number on the scale was a real shitty feeling.

So if you’ve got a problem with food, don’t make the same mistakes as me and delude yourself into thinking breastfeeding will solve all your problems. Instead, find quick, healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (dried fruits, raw bars, etc.). Encourage your family or friends to bring you good meals instead of takeaways and baked goods. Find healthy ways to cope with stress even if it’s as simple as taking 3 deep breaths (sometimes that’s all you’ll have time for). And don’t listen to your skinny mum friends who say they can eat anything they want while breastfeeding! 

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Making a lifestyle change

So here’s the skinny (pun intended I suppose): a year ago I was newly pregnant, just shy of obesity and living a “fat-tarian” lifestyle of bad vegetarian foods. A year later I’m 10 kilos heavier still and living on a diet of caffeine and sugar to get through the exhaustion of having a young baby. Looming over me is the knowledge that I know how to be healthy, but it is my last priority. I think most mums tend to make themselves the last priority. But I can’t keep on the road I’m on. I want a healthy life and a healthy family and if I don’t want my daughter to follow in my footsteps then I need to make this a priority now, before it’s her habits that need breaking too.

As I sit here feeding my four-month-old, I’m thinking about all of the diets I’ve been on, the countless pounds I’ve gained and lost and gained again, the life I want for my family… I’m reluctant to call my whole-food plant-based journey a “diet”. To me diets are quick fixes, they stop and start and always eventually end. I want to live healthy forever. Starting this food makeover is exciting and encouraging but I worry for the future. I worry about when I’m too tired to cook, when we go out to eat, and when the communal plate of sweets is passed to me at a mothers gathering. Will my conviction be there then? Because we all know starting is the easy part, it’s the sticking to it when the novelty wears off that’s the hard part.

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