Tips for Improving Your Relationship with Food Postpartum
If your relationship with food is something you feel needs to improve, know that you’re in the right spot. It’s never too late to start building a more positive relationship with both food and your body. If you have just given birth, this is an excellent time to begin. Improving your relationship with food postpartum can help pave the way for your child to have a healthy relationship with food. Below are some important tips that can help you start building a better relationship with food and your body.
The relationship you have with food is introduced to you from a very young age. Like many things in life, the environment around you influences it as you grow up. Your relationship with food is likely influenced by society’s “expectations” surrounding food and body, and the pressures of diet culture. Relationships with food and your body can be very difficult for women who have just given birth. On top of the adjustments of bringing a newborn home, there is societal pressure to get your “pre-pregnancy body back”.
1. What Does a Healthy Relationship with Food Mean to You?
To begin, try to think about what a healthy relationship with food means to you. Does it mean not feeling guilty after eating, not restricting your favourite foods or no more dieting?
A healthy relationship with food involves seeing all food as food. Removing common labels such as “healthy versus unhealthy, “junk food”, “good foods and bad foods, and “treats” from your vocabulary helps to make all food neutral. It also means eating in a way that nourishes you both emotionally and physically. Although, understanding that every meal you eat may not be the most nourishing and that’s perfectly okay. Having a healthy relationship with food is eating without feeling shame or guilt and choosing foods that you enjoy (1).
2. Listen to Your Body
Your body can’t vocalize to you what it wants, but there are cues it will give you to help. Listening to your inner hunger cues is important in being able to eat in a satisfying way without experiencing guilt.
By not feeding yourself with enough energy and carbohydrates you may find that you spiral into overeating, grabbing anything in reach. However, by listening to your hunger cues and eating enough, until you begin to notice you are becoming full, can help you become more in tune with your body’s needs. This reduces the chances of spiralling back into the overeating patterns (2).
3. Understand Your Needs
After pregnancy, it is still recommended to have increased energy intake. This increased need is important for many reasons, making food restriction postpartum problematic.
Firstly, your body stores important nutrients as a safety guard. These stores however, are depleted when you have a baby because they are given to the baby. Therefore, more calories after birth helps nourish your body and replenishes these lost stores. Additionally, labour is very hard on the body, and the extra food can help heal the body both mentally and physically. Lastly, sufficient calories and carbohydrates are important for a lactating mother. If not enough is consumed, the body will tap into the mothers stores and use them to maintain lactation (3).
4. Re-evaluate Your Social Media Following
Social media is so powerful! While it is an excellent place for sharing, a lot of the information out there doesn’t apply to everyone.
If you begin to compare yourself to someone else’s appearance, what they’re eating, how they’re moving, or even how much they seem to get done in a day, simply unfollow them. If it’s a person you know personally and don’t want them to know you have unfollowed them, adjust your settings and silence them until you feel your relationship with food and body is in a better place. Diet culture can often impact you in ways you are often unaware of. Often this is done through social media. By unfollowing, you will be surprised at the unrealistic pressure you’ve felt from social media. This might include the guilt you’ve carried for not making the perfect meal day after day or not looking a certain way after having a baby.
For More helpful tips on improving your relationship with food, check out our blog post: Building a Healthy Relationship With Food.
Final Notes from The Nest
Remember, it was a demanding nine months to build the body equipped for birthing a child. It’s going to take time to heal your body and food can be an important part of this healing process. Building a healthy relationship with food postpartum can be very challenging and can take a lot of work. If you think you might benefit from support with improving your relationship with food postpartum, working with a Registered Dietitian is a great way to start. Following these tips for improving your relationship with food postpartum will help create healthy habits that can positively impact the whole family.
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- Langer A. Want a Better Relationship with Food and Your Body? Do These Things. [Internet]. Abby Langer Nutrition. 2021 [cited 20 December 2021]. Available from: https://abbylangernutrition.com/want-a-better-relationship-with-food-and-your-body-do-these-things/
- Tribole E, Resch E. The Intuitive eating workbook. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin’s; 1995.
- Kominiarek M, Rajan P. Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. Medical Clinics of North America. 2016;100(6):1199-1215.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004.