A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO WEIGHT-LOSS AFTER PREGNANCY
by Dani Kenney
One of the biggest things that holds us back in life is shame. And after becoming new mothers, shame and guilt can rear their heads quite a bit. Some women naturally have a new confidence with their new mommy bodies, and some do not. But Whatever the case, you are not alone, and there is no right or wrong way to feel.
I am a holistic private chef, and it is my mission to help women feel good about themselves and help them achieve what they want through food– whether it’s increasing fertility to have a baby, or feeling good in one’s own skin. The most important thing to remember when approaching the delicate issue of weight-loss after pregnancy is that your body just created a human being. Actually, that sentence should have an exclamation point, because your body just did something insane and miraculous. So be proud of that body! And know that of course your body is not going to look the same. There are going to be curves in new places, weight in new spots, lines, sags and stretch marks in nooks and crannies you may never have thought possible. Try to let these be your new beauty marks. “Motherhood marks.” Like the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi suggests, there is beauty in the imperfect. Except that here, our bodies as mothers really are perfect no matter what, because our bodies had to shift in order to create and carry a new baby into this world. Our bodies had to grow large enough to house two souls for the better part of a year. So please, please, please try to be gentle with yourself on this journey to finding comfort in your body after pregnancy and child birth, no matter how your baby came into this world. Please don’t compare your unique body to other mothers’ bodies. We all came into this world for reasons our souls may only know, and we chose our bodies for unique reasons. That body is to be cherished and valued and loved, for it is your house while you are here, and it is the vehicle through which you get to create this life you’re living, as well as the lives of your children being born from you. If you are not happy with your body now, that’s okay. Don’t even judge your feelings or try to suppress them. Rather, own those feelings and accept them. But be aware of them. Want to change your body? That’s fine, as long as you are doing it for you. Then make a commitment to yourself to follow a new, natural diet. Like the one I have outlined below. If you need help along the way, I can help you. Another important thing to note is that if you want your body to be “tight” again, you’re going to have to move it. You can’t just sit still and expect that body to be tight after stretching that tummy for birth. Diet is only half this healthy pie, but it is powerful. So let me help you with that side, since it is my area of expertise as a holistic chef. I want to share with you, based on my own journey, as well as my journey cooking for clients over the years, just how you can get your body to a place where you feel good and sexy again after pregnancy. Here are the main “rules.” I put rules in quotes, because I want you to be gentle with yourself and not freak out if you break one, one day. It doesn’t matter. Just get back on the train again when you can.
1. THE FASTEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT IS TO CUT CARBS
This may be common sense to you, or it may not be. But regardless of fad diets, this remains true: when you cut out carbs, you burn fat first. So if you want to lose weight, cutting carbs is the best way. Carbs are sugar. Think sweets, breads and grains. Even minimize fruit. If you are going to be drinking any alcohol, try low sugar, natural options.
2. EAT LESS CRAP
Bye bye, fried foods. Bye processed foods. Adios, potato chips. Most processed foods that come in bags and packages—or fancy cakes that look pretty—are meant to trigger the response in our brains that go after them for survival. It’s why flowers and strawberries have bright colors. But try to remember that next time you want to reach for something processed. Just think of it as art. Seriously, that’s it. A beautiful cupcake? Art. Not to be eaten. Admire it from afar, and remember your end goal.
3. EAT LESS IN GENERAL
I’m not promoting anorexia, by any means, but if you minimize your calorie intake, by eating nutrient-dense foods, you can still fill up without filling out your waistline more. Think big salads and fiber-rich foods.
4. EAT LOTS OF GREEN VEGGIES
Green veggies are low in calories and high in nutrients. They will also help you restore your depleted reserves from building a human and give you more energy and glowing skin.
5. MINIMIZE BLOATING AND INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Essentially any food that causes high allergic reactions or sensitivities in people, also causes inflammation. So if there is any chance you may be sensitive to gluten for example, cutting it out will help your body focus on digestion rather than the alarming auto-immune response of fighting. If you are cutting carbs, however, gluten will be automatic. I suggest cutting out all foods that cause sensitivity here, which brings me to our next one.
6. MINIMIZE DAIRY EXCEPT FOR IN YOUR COFFEE, AND CHEESE HERE + THERE
If you can go without dairy at all, even better. I really, really love my half-in-half in my coffee in the morning. Or full fat cream. And I find that little indulgences here and there make it more possible to stick to your plan and commitment. But the kicker here is that you can’t do the low-fat versions. I encourage you to eat full-fat dairy if you are going to eat dairy, because then you at least are minimizing the processing, and still reaping good nutritive benefits. Besides, remember, we’re not trying to focus on low-fat, we’re focusing on low-carb.
7. EAT CLEAN, LEAN FAT SOURCES
Avocados, coconut oil, ghee, raw olive oil, wild salmon and grass-fed beef are excellent sources of healthy, clean fats. I would also recommend bone broth.
8. EAT CLEAN PROTEIN SOURCES
You need protein but no one needs as much as you think you do. If you eat meat, take it down a notch to maybe 4 oz a meal. Make sure you are eating grass-fed, free-range pastured organic meats if you eat meat, wild caught, low-mercury fish and organic sprouted tofu, tempeh or beans. You should not be eating faux meats on this. Eat green fiber-rich foods to fill you up as the base of your dish. Add a little bit of meat, fish or veggie protein on top.
9. SHARE MEALS
Sharing meals is caring! It is a lovely way to connect with your partner for some alone time after your newborn is asleep. And when you go out to eat, sharing will help keep you from overeating.
10. DRINK WATER
Water keeps you hydrated, energized, and flushing toxins from your system. Toxins are stored in fat cells, so when you burn fat, it is extra-important to keep hydrated, so you keep removing toxins (from polluted air, meat, water, alcohol, medicine, anything) from your body.
11. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Remember. BE GENTLE
With yourself. With your body. With your soul. Listen to what you need. Just like you are trying to be gentle and attentive to your new little one, find that same inner mama for yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t expect to be running marathons after the marathon of pregnancy and child birth. Just glow slowly and enjoy the process. Plus, you’re not going to be sleeping much, so always find moments to pause, rest and sleep when you can. Listen to your needs, and go easy on yourself.
And moving doesn’t have to mean the gym. I hate the gym! Moving can be swimming, doing yoga, hiking, walking around your neighborhood, using your baby to lift up and down, lifting hand weights, bowling, dancing, kayaking… you get me? Do what inspires you, so you stick with it. I can’t exercise unless I’m spiritually or emotionally invested in what I’m doing, so you’re not alone if the word “exercise” makes you cringe. I personally, started getting my body back by eating healthy, clean, lean nutrient-dense food, and taking walks with my baby every single day. I would change it up by walking in nature, around the neighborhood, around parks, around lakes, walk paths along the beach, you name it.
If you are thinking too much about food, and it is a challenge for you to stick to a diet, then you need to shift your focus. Find things, work, hobbies (and your new baby!!) on which to focus your attention. And at the expense of sounding woo woo, the less shame you carry around with you with regard to your body, the easier time you will have shedding the weight. Shame is extra mental burden weight that needs to go– way more than the physical weight. And incidentally, I believe that shame is actually an emotion that can block fertility, and cause miscarriage too.
Please note that if you are experiencing postpartum depression, all of this can be a lot more difficult. If this is the case, do speak to your doctor or holistic practitioner about ways of addressing your depression. There are natural approaches that can help, such as eating a gut-healing diet (there have been connections made between gut health and happiness), but postpartum depression can be very serious, and should never be taken lightly, so consult your doctor if you are experiencing depression.
No matter what, always speak to your doctor before beginning any new diet plan or health regimen. I do not attempt to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease or illness. I am merely a holistic chef here to help you. For more detailed plans outlining what to eat everyday for each meal, please email me. I am happy to work with you and guide you through your unique journey with personalized meal and diet plans. I know that everyone has different kinds of work they do, different energy and work demands, different eating patterns and preferences, so I cannot recommend one set plan for everyone. That is where our detailed work comes into play, and incidentally the stuff that is the most fun for me! If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, I can help with that too. I hope you have found some of this helpful, and many blessings to you on this journey of motherhood! Find your community of mamas and enjoy this beautiful, wild ride!
Dani Kenney is a classically trained chef and holistic nutritionist, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. She has been a private chef to celebrities, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and George Clooney, as well as cooked for monks on meditation retreats and assisted hundreds of private clients in cooking for various health conditions. She recently launched an all-natural skincare line, including all-natural mother and baby products. She is available for private consultations, as well as personalized fertility and post-baby diet plans. Please visit her website for more information or email her for current rates and offerings.