A new baby can be overwhelming for the whole family. The last thing on your mind is cooking for yourself or eating a healthy diet. However this is the time you really need to eat right. Whether you're breastfeeding and need the extra calories, want to increase your stamina against the sleep deprivation or are starting to think about losing the "baby weight" - a healthy diet can really help with your energy level and overall outlook. Here are a few tips for how to eat healthfully during this exciting time.
1. Say "yes, please!". Friends, family members and neighbors will ask if you need anything. Allow them to help by bringing you a meal or picking up some groceries. They really do want to help and allowing someone to cook for you is a labor of love and kindness. Friends who do not cook may want to bring you a prepared meal from a grocery store or your favorite restaurant.
Many moms groups have members standing by to make a meal whenever they hear a new baby is coming home from the hospital. Take advantage ? you'll be able to return the favor when it's your turn to be "on call".
2. If you do want to cook ? make large quantities. Use your freezer to stock left-overs and make your own convenience foods for a day when you don't feel like cooking. Good options include: lasagna, chili, vegetable soups, stews, roasts.
3. Call a personal chef to come in and make meals for you. There are many services in the area who will prepare menu items based on your likes and dietary restrictions. This is an especially good option if you have a slow recovery or have a partner who is traveling.
4. Order groceries online. If you don't feel like going out ? you can still get your groceries. Many local grocery and convenience stores offer delivery of whole foods as well as other staples and toiletries. Check the national chains for delivery in your area, such as Safeway.com.
5. Buy healthy, fresh, foods. If your refrigerator is stocked with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, meats and your pantry has beans, grains, pasta and condiments you're more likely to be able to throw something together to make a meal or snack, rather than order take-out or "fast" foods.
An apple with peanut butter, yogurt with granola, a fresh fruit smoothie or veggies with cottage cheese make great adult power snacks without much preparation.
6. Divide and conquer. Chores such as grocery shopping or cooking that you used to do can be delegated to your partner. Be gracious and appreciative. If his idea of making dinner is a cheese sandwich ? eat it and enjoy.
6. Make a healthy diet part of your family's lifestyle. If you get into the habit of eating healthy foods now, you'll be able to set a good example for your new child when he's ready to eat. It's never too early to teach and learn good eating habits.
Lisa Barnes is the owner of Petit Appetit an educational service devoted to parents who want to provide fresh, healthy foods for their families. She is the author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook (Penguin, March 2005). For information and to sign up for a free email newsletter visit http://www.petitappetit.com