Editor’s Note: Pregnancy is a time when we eat wholesome and nutritious food. And hence it is but natural that we put on weight during those 40 weeks. However, it is vital that we lose all the excess kilos after delivery. While dieting is not an option, and more so if we are breast feeding the child, there are many ways to lose the extra flab after childbirth. Our member shivachoubey shares some tips with us. If you have any tips then do write to us here.
As an overweight person one of my concern during pregnancy was to get back my pre pregnancy weight. At 84 kilos, 70 kilo sounded like sweet heaven to my years but it also looked like a distant dream. I felt so bloated and huge that getting back in my jeans seemed impossible.
There is a very beautiful thought in Buddhism “In the world of prayers nothing is impossible, nothing is unachievable, so pray. BUT prayer alone does not do anything, with your prayer take some action(how ever small) towards your goal”. SO I did pray for my weight loss and I took (no matter how small) steps towards my weight loss.
1. Reading weight loss articles – We all do that but the question is how many of us follow the advise. There were two suggestions that touched a chord with me. One said that its possible for a woman to lose up to 75% of pregnancy weight within 3 months of delivery just by eating healthy(you can read it here) and the second said “remember the feast is over the day your child is born.” These two thoughts were pasted in my mind and they did help me to carve my own path to weight loss.
2. Starting With the obvious – During pregnancy I did eat high calorie food that I carved for, so the first step was saying no to obvious high calorie foods. I used to love eating vada pav and chole bhature and my weekends were reserved for craving indulgence, so step 1 was to stop indulging in such kind of foods.
For two months I avoided eating out. I was not allowed to exercise for 2 months so to get in the weight loss I had to concentrate on my diet. Whenever I want to get in the weight loss with less exercise this is what I do and it always works for me. Once I get in the weight loss I do allow myself to eat out once a week.
3. Post pregnancy traditional food – My friends, my family and everyone around me wanted me to eat ghee and panjeeri(made from lots of ghee, sugar and dry fruits). This was like coming face to face with my nightmare. There I was all prepared to lose weight and there they were all prepared to tempt me with the most delicious fattening foods in the world.
I called up my aunt(who is a gynecologist), she told me that it is not necessary to have lots of ghee. She suggested 3 natural lactation agents1)Broken Wheat(daliya), 2) Milk and 3) Papaya. She also suggested that instead of having dry fruits in ladoos or panjeeri, I can have a handful of almonds.
I always knew that lot of ghee is not required after birth and it was a relief getting it confirmed from a doctor. I never gave up ghee, I have always eaten it in small/moderate quantity BUT I was against the idea of consuming it in large amounts.
Quick Panjeeri Recipe From my MIL – I point blank refused to eat sugar and ghee, so my MIL came up with a very innovative Panjeeri recipe. She roasted all the dry fruits in microwave (instead of frying them in ghee). She used equal amounts of wheat barn and semolina (roasted them in small amount of ghee). Added all the traditional spices, very less sugar and grounded dry fruits. She made Panjeeri in 1/4th amount of ghee and sugar.
Quick Tip from my aunt – Ghee is required to bind the ladoos so instead of binding them keep the mixture loose. Sugar is added to make the ladoos taste good, so decrease the amount of sugar.
I did have my Panjeeri for first 40 days but only 2 table spoon as a small mini meal.
4. Post Pregnancy Cravings– I thought cravings were only for pregnancy but I was hit by major cravings post pregnancy.
One visualization trick I learnt long back was to imagine eating yourself healthy food. For example, when you go out and you start thinking “I am going to have pizza for dinner today”, 90% of chances are you will have a major urge to eat the pizza and you will have it.
Instead it was suggested to start thinking of having something healthy (idli instead of pizza) and the urge to eat will be shifted to idli instead of pizza. I had tried it during my weight loss period and it did worked for me. The best part about thinking tips is that you do not have to pay a dime to try them.
This time around I tried this trick again. I thought about eating lot of healthy stuff, planned my healthy meals and I did found myself having healthy cravings. I had a huge craving for avocado, bottle gourd(lauki) and eggs along with these good cravings I did develop vampire sweet tooth. As a rule if the craving is healthy I honor it and if it is unhealthy I dealt with it in the smartest way possible.
I am still trying to deal with my sweet tooth. A piece of jaggery after my meals seems to do the trick for me.
5. Post Pregnancy Diet for first 2 months- As I stubbornly said No to any high calorie food my MIL came up with really good nutritive recipes (which I will share shortly) of daliya khichadi and vegetable roties.
My sample(not exact) diet for first 2 months was
Breakfast – 5 soaked almonds, 1 veg/egg/avacado sandwich (made of two big size multi grain breads) with tea.
After 2 hours – 1 banana. 2 bananas a day are a must for me. One I have in morning and one in evening. I have never changed this habit of mine.
Lunch and dinner – 1 bowl vegetable daliya with lots of dhal, 1 green vegetable, bottle gourd raita and salad(made from boiled sprouts, grated carrot, cucumber and salad leaves)
I had severe craving for bottle gourd and for two months I ate bottle gourd raita with every single meal.
Evening – 1-2 Vegetable roti with tea.
I cannot drink milk to save my life, so it did not figure in my diet.
6. Dealing with Hunger pangs -Breastfeeding is always accompanied by hunger pangs, so its best to be prepared. I always opt for fruits, boiled sprout salad, jhal mudi (bengali style bhel) or dry fruits(within my daily limit). When the hunger strikes hard its very easy to lose control. Denying food during breast feeding was not an option for me so I simply opted for healthy food options.
7. Getting back to exercising- After 2 months I started with my elliptical but my stamina was zero. I could only manage to do the elliptical at resistance load 1 for 10 minutes. I felt exhausted after 10 minutes of my exercise. I did not push myself. My first week target was to do light exercise for 10 – 15 minutes. Only after 3 months I had enough stamina to do my cardio exercise for 30 – 45 minutes.
8. How did the weight come down – I weighed myself the day I came back from the hospital and I was 78 kilos at that time. I still felt pregnant with a huge belly. As I was very strict about my eating choices the weight started melting, also with time body gets rid of the excess water. I came down to 75 kilos in next 25 days. I cannot think of anything special that I did except for eating home made less oil food for 2 months straight. I was 72 kilos at the end of 2 months.
72 kilos stayed with me for sometime and it was very difficult to break that plateau. Once I completed 3 months I increased the time and intensity of my cardio exercise which got my weight down to 69 kilos by the end of 4 months.
9. Yes breastfeeding does leads to weight loss – Before my pregnancy I always used to read about how calorie consuming breastfeeding is. I agree to this point now. I did not do anything special for my weight loss. I only opted for healthy food combined with some exercise (only after 2 months), so breastfeeding did played a major role in my weight loss.
A woman does burn calories while breastfeeding, the only problem is that burning calories leads to hunger and if you are not careful with your calorie intake you can end up gaining weight instead of losing it.
10. What will happen to the baby if you don’t eat fats – Your baby will be healthy and fine. I fail to see any nutritive value in ghee laden parathas and sweets. Don’t let aunties and relatives tell you about the health of your child. Your pediatrician knows best so consult him.
Where I stay my baby is due for a complete medical checkup every 2 months, where they monitor his height and weight and he is in the healthy range.
11. Where do I stand now with my weight,exercise and diet – Now my weight is between 68-69 kilos. Right now my aim is to try to lose 500gms/1kilo a month(I am in no hurry).
I can no longer eat lot of food instead I keep eating small amounts every two hours.
Break Fast – Same as before. Sandwiches on most days.
2 -3 hours after BF – 1 banana
Lunch – 1 big roti with sabji, raita and salad. I would love to include lot of things here but I get time to cook only this.
Evening at 5 pm – 2 rusk with tea.
7pm – Handful of dry fruits with apple/banana.
Dinner- 1 big roti with lentil/beans or any protein, raita and salad..
If I am hungry in between meals then I opt for fruits most of the time. I eat rice only on weekends. I try to make daliya(broken wheat) whenever possible.
My diet and hunger levels changed past one month. Though I eat only 1 roti/chapathi, my roties are made with different grains,seeds and grated vegetables which makes 1 roti quiet heavy.
As for my exercise I try to manage 5 days a week but sometimes its not possible. I alternate my workout between elliptical and treadmill(on alternate days). I have also started jogging on a very slow speed on the treadmill.
As always with my weight loss once I achieve my set goal I give myself some easy space till I set myself a next target. I was very strict about eating outside, now I do have outside food once a week(can no longer avoid it)
Few Suggestions and Recipes from my side
1. Listen to your hunger – If you are really hungry then you will eat a simple meal of roti and sabji, if you find yourself wanting to eat only fried food then its not hunger.
2. Nutritive meals – Make your meals as nutritive as possible with small or moderate amounts of fat.
3. Quick Meals – Keep easy quick meals in your fridge. I always have sprouts which I steam in microwave. It just takes 5 minutes. I can then prepare sprouts sabji, add them to my bhel or just have them with lemon and cucumber. They are healthy and take care of hunger very well.
4. Easy Tiffins – I used to carry paneer-peas stuffed grilled parathas whenever I was out shopping. As a new mom my body did demand food and if I did not carry a tiffin with me I always ended up eating lot of junk food. Stuffed parathas are easy to prepare and are mess free.
5. Vegetable daliya khichadi – This always works for weight loss and is very healthy too.
A) 2 tablespoon daliya/broken wheat + 2 tablepoon split green mung dhal.
B) 1 tsp ajwain/carom seeds.
C)1 tsp til seeds
D) Grated ginger
E) Finely chopped carrot and french beans (or any vegetable of your choice).
D) Salt to taste
Procedure – Pressure cook all ingredients with water to make khichadi. Consistency should not be very thick or runny.
I used to eat 1 big bowl of this khichadi with my sabji, dhal, raita and salad. Khichadi was just a replacement of roti. It really fills the stomach.
6. Vegetable roties
A) 1 cup wheat flour
B) 1/2 tsp ajwain/carom seeds.
C)1 tsp til seeds.
D) 1- 2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander.
E) 2 tsp grated ginger (you can add more if you like)
F) 1 grated carrot (or 1 cup grated cabbage)
G) Salt (optional)
Make a soft dough using milk if possible and make roties.
These roties are extremely flavorful. You can have them with your meals or enjoy them with your tea in evening.
7) Multi seeds roti – I have now started adding flax seeds, onion seeds and til seeds in my plain roti flour. They are nutritive and add flavor to a simple humble roti.
8)Multi grain roti – These roties are not very soft, they are chewy and I like them this way. You can mix and match bajra, jawar, sattu, soya, ragi flour. I also add oats to make roti flour.
9) Salad works – I was not a salad person before but now they are a must have in my meals. I cannot have salad before meals, I like to eat it between my meals along with my roti and sabji.
10) Lovely Thalis – A bought myself a big thali with separate sections. The idea is to fill it up to have a complete meal and its easier to wash too.
The first two thali have stuffed raw papaya roties and the third one has a multi seed roti.
11) Planning- We all know that if we fail to plan then we plan to fail. Its very important to have a road map. You know what are your boundaries, your constraints and your priorities, so plan within your limits to achieve your goal. Just running head first towards weight loss will not achieve anything, so plan your diet and exercise according to your taste and convenience.
I have jotted down everything that I can think of right now that worked towards my post pregnancy weight loss. Please remember, that I am not an expert and my diet is based on what I am comfortable with. The diets mentioned in the post are sample diets i.e the things that I remember eating, I tend to eat every 2 hours (it can be a cucumber or a carrot or a fruit), I eat alot but I stick to healthier options.
Remember, the weight loss journey as always will be very frustrating and extremely disappointing but it will make you do things that you would have never done, it will teach you not accept things you do not like, it will force you not to bow down before things that you do not want. It will make you look beyond yourself to see what you are made of and to achieve what you always wanted to be.