Achieving and maintaining overall wellness – physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and occupational – is a daily goal of mine. I’ve worked really hard over the past few years to become very in tune with my body, find what works for me, and know when it is time for a change. As such, I am starting a new series called Wellness Wednesdays to share some of my experiences with you – hopefully you can learn something new and journey along with me!
As any new mom knows, finding time to prepare real meals can be a challenge – your schedule often revolves around your baby’s and I found myself reaching for convenience foods and sugary snacks way too often. I was letting myself get too hungry and then reaching for a granola bar/PB&J/chips for a quick energy hit after nursing Max. I’m by no means totally against those foods (I like to eat intuitively), but I wasn’t eating enough nutrient dense foods that would properly fuel mine and Max’s bodies. So after my recent girls’ trip to Napa, I felt the need to do a “reset” in terms of the foods I was eating and come to terms with situations in which I was turning to food instead of giving my body what it was really asking for – sleep, rest, fun, etc.
Enter the Whole 30…
What is the Whole 30?
The Whole 30 is an elimination diet meant to get you back in tune with your body. It is a 30 day program meant to get you back on track – it is NOT a weight-loss diet and it is not meant to be followed 365 days a year. What you do:
Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food.
Now that I’m about a week in, I wanted to share my biggest tips for starting the Whole 30 if you are a new mom that is breastfeeding and/or exercising and has high energy requirements. You are going to have a higher caloric output if you are nursing, on your feet all day, and working out than someone who sits at a desk all day working.
5 Tips for Starting The Whole 30 as a Breastfeeding and/or Exercising Mom:
1. Don’t try to start RIGHT after your baby is born!
- You just had a baby for goodness sake! Give yourself time to recover and heal.
- Spend every moment you can with that little bundle of love before s/he doesn’t look like a newborn anymore – the time goes WAY too fast!
- I would suggest starting after your baby is sleeping long enough during the night that you feel close to a normal human being. Your willpower will diminish quickly if you are sleep-deprived.
2. Know your food and energy requirements before starting.
- I’m currently 18 weeks (just over 4 months) postpartum, so I have a good idea of how much sleep I typically get, how active I am everyday, how much Max breastfeeds every day, and how much energy I usually have to exercise.
- I now know how much food I should be eating on a regular basis to fuel my body – this is important because while on the Whole 30 I can tell if my cravings are truly hunger or my body’s cues for something else.
- The Whole 30 is NOT a diet to restrict calories (you and your baby need them!) – so make sure you are eating enough for your lifestyle.
3. Know your dominant personality tendency.
- By knowing your tendency – if you are an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel – you can better prepare yourself for the Whole 30. I’m an Upholder so it is “easier” for me to stick with a goal I set for myself.
- Upholders just decide to do it, make a plan for themselves, and do it. Questioners should do their research and make sure they feel it is the right program for themselves. Obligers should join an accountability group (in person or on Facebook) so they are meeting someone else’s expectations. Rebels will do it if someone tells them not to or suggests they can’t do it.
- Work WITH your personality type so the program isn’t as hard to follow!
4. Prep SIMPLE food, and don’t make a meal chart for the month.
- The simpler the better, folks. It is really hard to make meals from recipes with a little baby around. You will likely be trying to cook, eat, and clean up all within nap time (and that leaves little time to do anything else on your to-do list).
- I would strongly suggest against planning your meals and snacks for a whole month, even a whole week. Planning with a baby is hard in general, and you don’t want to feel “off track” or like you’ve failed if you don’t stick to your meal plan. Have a general idea of what foods you’ll eat, but don’t be too strict.
- Bulk cook your proteins at the beginning of the week – ground beef, chicken, hard boiled eggs, etc. You can use these in omeletes, on salads, or in buddha bowls that you can throw together in 5 minutes with limited cleanup.
- Cook 1 BIG meal at the beginning of the week to use for lunches and dinners. Double it if you think it’s not big enough, or double it and freeze half for later. I made a big batch of Fed+Fit’s Paleo Pumpkin Chili and it has lasted me all week. It’s not always fun to eat the same thing over and over again, but it has saved my time, energy, and sanity while giving me something healthy, soothing, and grounding to eat.
- Stock up on the allowed carbs. You NEED them to keep your energy levels up – remember, you don’t want a dip in your milk supply! You will not be considered a “failure” for eating any of these foods! I eat one of these carbs with every meal and also as snacks throughout the day (especially after nursing). My necessities so far have been:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Coconut water & coconut milk
5. Take Whole 30 snacks with you wherever you go.
- Keep a supply of Whole 30 snacks in your purse/diaper bag so you won’t be caught in a bind. You never know when you’re going to need to nurse your baby and then be ravenous afterward, so better to be prepared! My favorites so far:
I 100% think it is possible to successfully complete the Whole 30 while breastfeeding and working out! Just listen to your body and make sure you are fueling yourself properly.
What are your biggest hesitations or questions about trying the Whole 30 as a new mom? What type of information would help you be successful?
I’ll update you on my Whole 30 again next week – happy hump day!