Eating Healthy During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Eating Healthy to Nourish and Heal Your Body

Being healthy has always been an important aspect of my life. I’ve never really been unhealthy because I didn’t really LOVE eating junk food or fast food all that much. As everyone says, portion control is everything! However, things changed during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, unfortunately, my morning sickness was so bad that I lost 11 lbs in the first trimester. After that, I just made sure to eat regularly, every 2 hours, and eat good. I gained about 30 lbs altogether (including the 11 lbs I had lost) during the course of my pregnancy. Once I delivered the baby, I may have lost about 10 lbs. I breastfed for about 8 months and trust me, when you are breastfeeding, you find yourself starving all the time.

Being from the South Asian part of the world, our culture really embraces taking care of the mother during postpartum and what better way to show it than through delicious meals, right? Thanks to my mother-in-law and my mom. I devoured rice, lentils, chicken, vegetables every day, morning and night, for about 5 months. I was hungry all the time and found myself carb loading. Don’t get me wrong, I love my carbs but I started getting them love handles and belly rolls which I have never had in my life! I panicked but then really started watching what I ate thereafter and started regular workouts to my schedule. It took me more than 6 months to get back into shape, meaning that I feel myself now and feel healthier. In the hindsight, I probably would have planned my meals to eat better. Meal planning isn’t quite the thing you want to do during pregnancy or postpartum, but hopefully the plan below will give you an idea on how to stay satiated and get your calories in!

NOTE: please don’t deprive yourself of any food at any point in your life. You don’t want to be binge eating those things during pregnancy to satisfy you ‘cravings’ :). Everything in moderation is ok. Also remember you are not really eating for 2, you’re just adding about 300-400 extra calories.

What to eat during pregnancy: Meal Plan

Breakfast (options) 7-8 AM

  • Milk (whole, almond) with protein powder or a dollop of ice cream
  • Homemade smoothie (without added sugar , try dates instead)
  • Oatmeal
  • Toast with Avocado or peanut butter or almond butter
  • Yogurt with homemade granola or oats

Snack 1 (options) 9-10 AM

  • I would recommend not doing spicy or oily snacks such as pakora, samosa or other packaged savory snacks. Save yourself from the heartburn!
  • Boiled Eggs – 2
  • Banana
  • A handful of raw nuts (walnut, pecans, almonds, dates)

Lunch (options) 11-12 PM

  • Peanut butter & Jelly
  • Chicken/Tofu Sandwich, wrap/kathi roll
  • Chicken salad (if you don’t feel comfortable eating raw food, substitute with cooked vegetables)
  • Fish (salmon) with vegetables or rice or salad
  • Rice/Whole Wheat Roti/Quinoa with chicken curry, chick pea curry or any other vegetables
  • Pasta with chicken, tofu or vegetables
  • Pan fried shrimp tacos or pastas
  • Quinoa Salad

Snack 2 (options) 1-2 PM

  • Cheese (pasteurized)
  • Greek Yogurt (whole milk) – refrain from any low fat low cal diet
  • Daal/Lentils/Soup
  • Avocado

Snack 3 (options) 3-4 PM

  • A handful of raw nuts (if not previously snacked on)
  • Fruits (apple, banana, grapefruit, blueberries, whatever you are feeling). Avoid papaya and pineapple as these are considered to be labor inducing fruits
  • Raw vegetables like cucumber, carrots, celery with hummus or other dip
  • Homemade poha

Dinner: 7 PM

  • Chicken and vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, green leafy vegetables)
  • Roti with Saag Paneer , Rajma, Edamame
  • Salmon with Rice/Quinoa or Sweet Potato
  • Hearty soup (daal/lentils or asparagus or butternut squash) with rice or roti

What to avoid during pregnancy?

Notes:

  1. Avoid citrus fruits in the morning as they tend to give you heartburn
  2. Avoid very spicy and oily food. Again, anything you can do to reduce heartburn.
  3. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. The recommended water intake is 12 glasses. However, if you are not a water drinker, don’t start chugging glasses to get the intake. Make your way slowly. I would carry a water bottle with me at all times.
  4. Avoid store bought juices since they are high in sugar and other additives.
  5. Limit coffee intake to 1 if you must and take it easy with those desserts/mithais 🙂

Our South Asian diet includes a lot of carbs which turns into sugar during digestion. South Asian women are considered to be at a high risk for developing gestational diabetes so you want to balance your diet from the get go. Be mindful of your choices and make a conscious decision of what you are putting in your body.  

What to eat after deliver: postpartum

Postpartum Meal Plan

In general, you need 500 extra calories a day if you are a breastfeeding mom. This typically adds up to 2000-2500 calories per day for those who are trying to maintain their weight. You can pretty much follow the same meal plan as listed above although may be difficult the first few weeks so have friends and family help (if possible). Below are some of the items you may want to add to your diet for postpartum:

  1. Lactation Supplement: a lot of women start taking fenugreek pills to increase their milk production. You may have family members who have homemade recipes with fenugreek seeds, that works great as well.
  2. Bone broth: if you are not a vegetarian, bone broth is a fabulous addition to your diet during pregnancy and postpartum. It is rich in collagen and gelatin which contribute to strong bones, tendons and connective tissue in mom and developing baby. Decreases fatigue and weakness which is especially helpful during the first few weeks postpartum. Lastly, it contains amino acids glycine and proline which are needed for soft tissue and wound healing which may help speed recovery if you have C-section like I did. You can make your own or buy it at Whole Foods or one of the other super markets.
  3. Lentil Soup: Moog or Mung Daal is by far one of the healthiest and heartiest soups. It is packed with nutrients, high in antioxidants and rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber which are all essential throughout your pregnancy and postpartum.     
  4. Green Leafy Vegetables: rich in fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C and iron, make sure you have at least 2 servings of green leafy vegetables. It can be spinach, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, etc. FYI, you will need to test and try out a variety of food during this period as you will get gassy (like bad smelly ones) and that’s OK!
  5. Meat/Protein: protein is a must during pregnancy and postpartum. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy doctors recommend anywhere between 75-100 grams of protein a day. It sounds like a lot and yes, it is if you are not used to protein being part of your every meal, that’s how you are going to need to up the intake. It does not necessarily need to be all meat or fish but those definitely will give you the most:
    1. Chicken, Fish, Lamb, Goat Meat
    2. Cottage Cheese
    3. Whole Milk
    4. Nuts or nut butter
    5. Tofu
    6. Legumes (split peas, black beans, red/white kidney beans)
    7. Eggs

Ladies, as always these recommendations are just my opinion based on personal experiences. This post is not meant to offend anyone or any culture. You know your body the best and should listen to what it wants. If you have any kind of allergy, please substitute those items with an alternative. Also check with your doctor recommend food, diet, supplement and exercise and do what works for you. I hope this helps to at least plan things out. Please let me know your thoughts on this and previous posts in the comments section below.

Next post will be on fitness journey, stay tuned!

Xo, Naya

Traveling to Maui with Baby

Beach, Sand, Waves, Family: all the view in the world I could ask for right here 🙂

My husband and I have been an avid travelers for years now. We love traveling, beaches, historical sites, adventures, you name it. I take great pride in being able to plan trips (single handed most of the times) and honestly planning trips give me that energy and rush that I crave. I am in my element when I get to organize events, checking off action items and lists, and making sure everything goes smoothly prior to the trip so that the travel day is relaxing.

However, since being pregnant (bad morning sickness) and after our little one was born, we put a little break on our travels. After all, traveling with a baby requires a lot of planning, a lot more than finding a great destination.

We recently traveled to Maui with our 9 month old daughter. When I first started planning for the trip, I researched quite a bit on Google :). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a site that gave me comprehensive details that satisfied my needs, they didn’t have the specifics that I was looking for. I was basically looking for a prescription on here what you need when traveling with a baby to Hawaii. Since our travel, a lot of my friends with little kids have reached out to me asking to share tips on traveling to Hawaii i.e. planning, packing, activities, etc. I thought doing a post would really help a lot of other parents who really want to travel but are scared by the thought of planning. This post is meant to be simple and to the point so if you have any additional questions please comment below and I would be more than happy to respond. Enjoy your travels!

What are some tips for traveling with a baby

  1. Book your flights so that it aligns with your LO’s nap time. Depending on where you’re flying from, it takes anywhere from 6-20 hours. If your flight is longer than 6 hours then it doesn’t really matter when you fly. However, if it is 6-9 hours it’s best to get a flight where your baby can right after take-off.
  2. Similar to the above point, it’s best if you can feed (bottle or breastmilk) during flight take-off and landing. The ear pressure change, because of the rapid change in altitude, can really irritate the babies and they may cry throughout the flight. So, feeding them right during take-off will help. I know, I know, you can’t just make up an ideal scenario that works perfectly for the baby. So then what do you do? Give him/her water to suck on or give them half the milk during their regular time and the other half during take-off or landing.
  3. Kids can entertain themselves on the flight for hours. Don’t keep them constricted. Instead, let them explore, while being cognizant of the people around you. Babies are cute, esp, when they are yours BUT other passengers may not quite feel that way. Be respectful of others’ space but also don’t be that ultra-cautious parent that doesn’t want to be one of those parents on the flight. You don’t need to take a lot of toys, may be a book or two, some snacks, let them play on the floor (when it’s safe), let them say hi to people. This will definitely relieve you of the unnecessary stress.
  4. Last but not the least, try to get them to take their regular naps. Whether that means you rock them to sleep or carry them on a carrier. By now, we all probably know this, babies are the happiest when they are well rested.
  5. If this is your first visit to Hawaii, just set your expectations right, you will definitely not get to do everything and anything as you would’ve imagined. If you baby has a schedule you have to work around that and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You just have to plan smart 🙂 and you can see that on the next post. You’ll still get to enjoy the place and it will be very family focused for sure.
  6. Travel light! Instead of going through the hassle of taking the car seat and stroller (worrying if it will make it in one piece), just rent. It’s such a peace of mind. It’s not expensive to rent at all. We got ours from Maui Vacation Equipment. They send you instructions on where to pick up, which is right by the airport and also close to Target in case you need to buy anything immediately.
  7. Most importantly, stay at a place that is convenient and accessible. Whether you choose to do Airbnb or stay at one of the resorts, find an area that is not too far from attractions on your list, the beaches and the city center should you need anything immediately. Remember Hawaii is an island and anything and everything is very expensive compared to the mainland. If your LO is already eating solids then I would recommend getting a place with a kitchenette. You also don’t need to take a lot of food from here as you can get them at Target.
  8. I’ve heard and read that some people find baby sitting through the hotels so that parents can have a night out. I personally didn’t do this but if you are comfortable with such an arrangement I think it’s absolutely worth it! We traveled with my mom so one of the nights we asked my mom to put the baby to sleep while we went on our date night and it was just what we needed, our cozy just US time. We get so busy with daily lives and baby activities that it’s so so important to find that time for ourselves.

What to pack for Maui/Hawaii: Baby

There used to be a time when I used to have my own luggage with everything and anything I could possibly need for a trip. Same thing with my husband. However, this time the story was a little different. My husband and I packed 1 suitcase with our must haves that we took as a carry on and then we had 1 luggage with all the baby stuff that we checked in. Because this was a slightly longer trip for us, we wanted to be doubly sure we packed everything we thought we would need for our daughter. Although a lot was packed, not everything was required. Below is a list of what we think is useful:

  1. Diaper (day and night) & wipes
  2. Aquaphor
  3. Snacks for the flight
  4. Pack some lentils and rice if you plan to cook there. You can also buy it in stores, but could be a bit of drive from where you’re staying.
  5. Swim suits
  6. Infant Sunscreen (a must!)
  7. Flap hat (if you baby keeps on a hat ever)
  8. Ergo Baby (baby carrier)
  9. Baby float (our LO absolutely loved this)
  10. If you plan to hike or walk a lot I would recommend Osprey Baby Carrier. You can also check this in as a car seat which btw is free of charge
  11. Pack light onesies and also dresses and or shorts for the baby. It can get a little chilly, in the evenings, depending on the month you’re traveling.
  12. Lastly, pack their lovey. Our daughter is obsessed with her blanket and she soothes herself with her little blankie. This will be handy especially during the flight and bed time.

And even if you forget anything it’s absolutely alright! You’ll realize how resourceful you can be during such time. Don’t sweat it 🙂

Where to Eat in Maui, Hawaii

Planning activities while carrying and infant can be challenging. As my husband and I have been to Maui before, we were ok with not doing some of the ‘must dos’ in Maui. We, instead, chose to keep it relaxing with a few activities. Below are my top 5 activities we did this trip:

  1. Maui Pineapple Plantation Tour: We really enjoyed this tour. Our daughter was asleep on the Ergobaby during this tour and we were in a slow moving tram. The area is fun with pond and pineapples and great scenery .
  2. Lahaina Banyan Tree and the surrounding Lahaina area: this can be a bit touristy but, I mean, we were tourists. We also stopped by our favorite Ululani Shave Ice which was just about 10 min or so walk.
  3. Our first few nights were at the Courtyard by Marriott in Wailea. While this area is lovely, all it has is resorts and restaurants. We felt like it wasn’t very accessible. The hotel also did not have a private beach which made it a bit difficult for us to enjoy. However, we did get a date night at the Ka’ana Kitchen where we did the bitters and bites. This was such a great experience, although a bit expensive, I think we definitely deserved to splurge :D. We were lucky that my mom was there to babysit for the night.
  4. We also made sure to check off some of the restaurants that were on my list and were delicious. Star Noodle: probably the best garlic noodles I’ve ever had. Coconuts Fish Cafe: we really liked their fish tacos and my mom enjoyed the kids portion mahi mahi ;). Monkeypod Kitchen had the best and the strongest Mai Tais of all the ones we had so far. Last but not the least, our fav, Foodland from where we got our bottomless supply of Poke. You MUST make a stop at Foodland to grab the variety of poke served the right way!
  5. Finally, hanging out at the hotel pool and the beach. Our second of the trip, we stayed at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka’anapali which was so much better in terms of everything! There were quite a few families there but not too crowded. We spend days at the pool sipping Mai Tai and hanging at the beach with our baby girl playing in sand. On the morning that we were checking out, we wanted to get some pictures at the beach. It started raining a bit and all of a sudden I see double rainbows!! Rainbows make me SO HAPPY and there were TWO!! We got a few pictures and that was just the perfect ribbon on our trip 🙂

I hope this helps you get started with the trip planning. Please do share any other helpful suggestions, tips or hacks you use when traveling with an infant.

Happy & safe travels!

XO, Naya