If you’re like me, you can eat half the kitchen every day when pregnant. Seriously. The cravings are irresistible, and you feel almost obligated to “eat for two”. And you’re allowed to; you’re growing a Brand New Human Being, after all.
Everything tastes more intense, more delicious, and you just want it more. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t have a sweet tooth at all, but when pregnant – standard rules of combat don’t apply, I was ready to divorce my husband when he ate the last blueberry muffin without asking for my permission.
And then you have a baby, and you’re in love, overwhelmed, overtired. You only have 10 seconds every day to look in the mirror just to make sure your hair is not covered in baby puke. And even after getting used to this new lifestyle you keep wearing pregnancy clothes, because everything else seems juuuust a little (or a lot) too tight.
SO, now what?
Most of the time, a year or so after having a baby, your weight should be more or less back to normal (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Sometimes though, we either want to snap back quicker, or the weight just doesn’t want to shift. Either way, if you feel you’re just not happy with your new curves, there are things you can do. I will share what worked for me.
Pictures speak louder than words, so here I am.
Sorry, it’s not a more flattering photo, I never planned to show it to the world. I know it’s not an achievement of the century, I only lost about 10kg (22lb). I don’t remember exact numbers, but I started at 70kg (154lb), and my usual weight is around 60kg (132lb). I normally look like that second photo.
How did I do it?
I chose a Low-Carb High-Fat (LCHF) diet for many reasons. I’ve been researching nutrition for a long time, and there was an increasing amount of evidence to support this way of eating. I also couldn’t go on any “calorie deficit” diets (counting calories, fasting) because they might have affected my milk supply. And exercise was out of the question with a toddler and a baby on my arms. I also loved how simple and delicious this diet looked. Here are the basics:
• Vegetables that grow above the ground
• Full-fat dairy (not milk though)
• Nuts and seeds (no, peanuts are NOT nuts)
• Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries (small amount)
• Dark chocolate (at least 85% or higher, small amounts)
• Drink tea, coffee, herbal infusions
• Choose foods with highest fat content, add olive oil, butter, mayo generously
• When buying foods always check the label – carbohydrate content should be less than 5%
• All sugars and syrups (including most fruit and honey)
• All juice
• All grain (anything that has wheat, rice, oats, rye, so no bread, cereal, pasta, pizza)
• Starchy and underground vegetables (potatoes, corn, beetroot, carrots, sweet potatoes)
• Beans and other legumes (peanuts included)
• Beer, sweet wines
• Low-fat products
• Sweetened yoghurt
Did it take work in the beginning? Yes.
I was always looking for new meal ideas, checking what foods I can or cannot eat, and cooking cooking cooking. Eventually the recipes became a second nature, I found my favourites, everything became quicker and easier. Luckily, the internet is exploding with ideas, recipes and advice for low carbohydrate diet at the moment, so the resources are endless.
My favourites are the recipes that require as little preparation as possible (you can only imagine how many different ways I can cook eggs!). If I can spend 20 minutes in the kitchen instead of 40 – it’s a win in my book. And sometimes the meal comes together effortlessly just by throwing whatever I can find in the fridge on my plate. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
IMPORTANT: if you decide to give it a go, be prepared for about a week of your body adjusting to the new way of eating. I felt low energy, some headaches, a little mind fog that lasted a couple of days. If you have issues with blood sugar or have been on a very high carbohydrate and sugar diet for a long time, your symptoms might be more intense. And it’s a good thing; it means your body is doing what it needs to do to switch to fat burning mode. For my husband Chris this translated into a week of NO energy (literally – “can’t get off this couch if my life depended on it” no energy), aches and pains, headache, even runny nose (no wonder they call it “keto flu”). The good thing is – it doesn’t last long and afterwards you start to feel better than before.
The benefits of low-carb diet for me were:
• No appetite, I could skip meals regularly and not even notice it
• Increased energy and focus
• Cravings for sugar and wanting to snack – gone
• I love the taste of high-fat foods; there is something VERY satisfying about it
• Pregnancy weight was gone
In short – I loved it! After I lost the weight, we went back to eating a standard diet for a while (due to moving houses), but the weight didn’t come back. I know some people go the extra mile with low-carb – they measure ketones in their urine, to make sure they’re in ketosis (body using fat as fuel). Others calculate the proportions of macronutrients in their food (how much fat, protein and carbohydrate they eat in each meal). Some even stick to a certain amount of calories. And in some cases maybe that’s what’s necessary to make it work. For me though, it was much more intuitive – following the guidelines, enjoying the food and losing weight without even realising.
I can also recommend a few books by Sten Sture Skaldeman :
“Lose Weight by Eating (Scandinavian diet)” was fantastic – simple, personal, funny, makes a lot of sense and has some good recipes (without pictures, unfortunately).
“The Low Carb High Fat Cookbook” is like food art. The pictures are big and gorgeous, the recipes simple enough, but delicious. Just looking at that book makes your mouth water, perfect inspiration to go to the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and start cooking!
My primary “go to” website for low-carb advice, ideas and recipes is https://www.dietdoctor.com/. You will always find reliable and up-to-date information there about everything in connection to low-carb high-fat lifestyle.
And don’t forget to check my 12 Best Low-Carb Recipes blog post (you’ll even find bread and pizza there!).
Good luck and Good health!