I know firsthand how easy it is to ride the diet roller coaster for far too long! I’m here to help you learn to trust your body and ultimately live a life you love. Today, I’m doing so by sharing an interview with lactation consultant, registered dietician, and author Jaren Soloff. Her book, The Postnatal Cookbook, offers simple and nutritious recipes that really encompass a post-partum, gentle nutrition approach. This interview has so much valuable information for expecting moms, new moms, and honestly….pretty much any mom or caretaker out there!
Just a reminder you can still be part of the upcoming emotional eating coaching call! It’s on March 14, and it’s a chance for you to talk to me live, ask your questions, and figure out what’s going on with your own eating habits. We’ll talk through practical tips you can start using immediately to create changes that will make you feel even better in your body! There are only 6 spots, so claim yours now if you know you want to join us.
Specializing in Eating Disorders & Women’s Health
Jaren’s passion is working with women! She sees many women who have dealt with chronic dieting throughout their lives, as well those who have eating disorders. She even more specifically works with women during their pre-natal and post-natal times.
Having come from her own history of dieting and disordered eating, she had always known she wanted to work with women in the nutrition field. Later, her own pregnancy and experience as a mother led Jaren into her mom-related niche. After becoming a mother, she found she was seeing so many intersections between motherhood, eating patterns, and body perception. It all came together into the work she’s doing now.
It’s so important to know that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with body or food issues while postpartum! So many women struggle with this, and being able to talk through it and work with someone who understands what you’re going through can be a powerful healing experience.
A Vulnerable Time
Hormones, healing, and emotional needs all come together post-natal to create a perfect storm. Jaren notes that, during that season of life, she didn’t even fully realize all that was happening.
Looking back, she has so much more clarity about why she was struggling the way she was. She’s able to share that perspective with other new mom’s who are having trouble as well.
Body image, especially, creates a lot of vulnerability during the post-natal period. That can lead to new spirals of food restrictions and “rules” about food. It can also lead to the need for women to reevaluate their relationships with their bodies. I know from my own experience that even though I’ve done intuitive eating for years, during and after pregnancy created all sorts of new feelings and emotions about my self. Loving and accepting my body has been a process both times, and I know that’s a reality for many women!
I’m so glad that intuitive eating is such a forgiving, gentle form of nutrition. It’s an invitation to see and experience and listen to your body, and that is so important after birth.
Post-Partum Gentle Nutrition
Repletion is a huge pattern Jaren noticed in the research. Pregnancy and birth take a large toll on nutrient stores. For that reason, post-partum is a key time to replenish and heal physical and mental health.
Jaren notes that post-partum energy intake is much higher than many women realize. The volume of food that a women intakes after birth often increases quite a bit. Why? Because so many nutrients need to be restored!
Post-partum is sometimes called “the 4th trimester”, and just like the first three, there are things you can do to honor and meet your needs during this final stretch! Personally, I was really hungry post-partum! Being able to eat full portions that replenish my body is amazing. It’s also felt a little weird. I’m sure this is especially true if you have a strong dieting mindset or are struggling with the desire to get “back” to their pre-baby body.
Take Dieting Off the Table
Jaren notes that the best thing a post-partum mom can do is to take dieting off the table. It’s been proven to be ineffective, and it’s also harmful. Jaren has had many clients who have experienced mood swings and issues because of cutting calories to quickly while also breast feeding.
She’s also seen the negative impact of women who rush too quickly back to regular patterns and routines, including old ways of eating.
Post-partum gentle nutrition calls for women to give themselves space to heal, and time to nurture themselves and their bodies. One way they can support their bodies is to avoid “black and white” constructs or rule-based plans. Be mindful about what might support your body, of course, but don’t try to force yourself to follow certain rules.
For example, as your tissues heal, you might find that increasing proteins is really helpful for you body. However, this doesn’t mean you have to create a rigid protein intake schedule, or start measuring your portions! Instead, it can be an invitation to look for protein rich foods to incorporate into your diet, and to pay attention to how your body feels.
You may find that you need to eat more in the mornings to feel satisfied, or that it’s not working to eat certain kinds of food at the moment. That’s normal! Listen to your body, and honor her needs!
I’m a new mom right now, and I’m exhausted. It’s been a long while since I slept an entire night (between a 3 month old infant and all the middle-of-the-night bathroom trips I made before giving birth to him!). During the day, I’m often craving sugar and carbs.
Jaren says this is so common. Your body is trying to give you quick energy, which comes from sugar and carbs. She suggests getting curious about your meal patterns prior to the cravings, and checking in to see if you’re getting enough food at meals or other snacks.
She also recommends pairing carbs + proteins + fat in order to make sure that your body is getting sustained energy throughout the day. If you’re really craving a carb or sugar mid-afternoon, she suggests adding some protein to whatever that snack is, or looking for other ways to balance it out so it sustains you beyond just a quick energy burst.
The Postnatal Cookbook
Jaren’s new book, The Postnatal Cookbook, has 75 easy recipes. (She notes she was careful to keep them simple: easy ingredients, cook to prepare. They are for new moms, after all!) She also included tips for new moms that they may find helpful.
The book is filled with excellent information about things you could try, but they are given gently. Nothing is being forced upon you, and Jaren encourages moms to know that they are doing their best. She believes you don’t need to be bogged down with more “advice” about what you should be doing differently! Instead, she sees the book as an opportunity to follow the middle path, and to do what works for you.
Every mom is becoming who she is as a mother. It’s individualized, and according to your own needs. Just like intuitive eating, there are not rules – it’s a personal process, and you are free to explore!
Children as a Mirror
Jaren notes that breastfeeding moms are often reminded that babies can be fed on demand. They can be trusted to eat enough, and to seek more when they are ready for it. They’ll grow into bodies that are right for them.
Throughout their growth and development, we can help preserve that natural intuitive eating ability! We can model for them what it looks like to listen to your body, and to honor your own needs. By practicing post-partum gentle nutrition, we can show our kids that it’s possible to eat well and care for our bodies with food!
As Jaren was talking, I was reminded of something that happened this weekend. I had given my son a big piece of cake for his birthday. He ate a few bites, then he was done and moved on. Because he knows he can cake other times, he didn’t feel a need to stuff himself with that big piece in a brief moment because it was “allowed” on his birthday. He’s not restricted, so he doesn’t feel a need to binge.
That’s such a powerful gift, and I love to think my son is being raised to listen to his body at an early age. Intuitive eating is a powerful part of my own life, but it’s also a gift I’ve been able to give my son. So beautiful!