The idea of food as medicine is not a new one and you’ve probably been advised to eat a healthy diet after your child’s birth to speed up healing. What you might not know is that the foods you eat can help to boost your mood too! With so many mums experiencing ‘baby blues’ it helps to know that what you eat can have an effect.
The first thing you need to make sure you’re including in your diet is enough Omega 3 fats. Found in oily fish, seed and nut oils, this oil has been shown to be linked with lower depression rates. If you can’t eat fish or nuts, there are also Omega 3 enriched eggs on the market and you can also try a supplement.
Protein is another nutrient that’s been found to be essential for women suffering from, or at risk for postnatal or postpartum depression
. Breastfeeding mums need a lot more though – 71 grams to the usual 46 grams for non breastfeeding mums. You can get protein in eggs, meat, chicken, fish, legumes, dairy products and soy products like tofu or soy milk.
Dehydration is one of the underlying causes for many a new mum’s blues. Make sure that you’re getting enough water and other clear fluids to avoid dehydration and avoid known diuretics like alcohol and coffee.
Too many sugary foods are not a good idea but dark (70% cocoa) chocolate has a serotonin boosting effect that lifts your mood. So if you have to indulge in something sweet, make it a block or two of dark chocolate.
Any dietician will tell you that eating healthily with lots of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and high fibre carbs is important. However, while you want to eat as healthy a diet as possible, breastfeeding and the stresses of being a mum can take their toll. Speak to your doctor about which multi vitamin supplements are recommended for mums and make it a part of your daily routine.
Finally, watch your appetite. A sharp decrease in your appetite, combined with weepiness, can be an indicator that your baby blues is something more serious. If you find that eating is a chore, rather than something you enjoy, speak to your doctor. You may be experiencing PPD and you may need treatment.