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8 Tips for Losing Weight After Pregnancy

Load Up on 'Super Foods', Find Time to Exercise, Consider Breastfeeding to Help Shed Excess Pounds
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Don't diet.

It may sound strange, but going on an official "diet" could derail your post-pregnancy weight loss goals. Feeling deprived of your favorite foods while you're already stressed out by your new role as mom could actually cause you to gain weight, Johnson says.

"If you go back to eating healthy and eating for your hunger, most women find that the weight comes off pretty naturally," she says.

Instead of dieting, she recommends eating a well-balanced variety of foods. Keep different snacks in the house to keep you from feeling hungry and give you energy throughout the day. Apple slices, carrot sticks, and wheat crackers are all good for noshing.

No matter how much you want to lose weight, try not to dip below 1,800 calories a day, particularly if you are breastfeeding. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid site can help you design a personalized eating plan based on your age, activity level, and weight loss goals. The site even has a special section for breastfeeding moms.

Load up on "super foods."

When you're a new mother, your body needs maximum nutrition, especially if you're nursing. Choose foods that are heavy in the nutrients you need and light in calories and fat.

Fish is one of these "super foods" because it's packed with DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that helps your newborn develop a healthy brain and nervous system. The best sources of DHA are cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna (stick to canned light tuna because albacore tends to be high in mercury).

Milk and yogurt are also super foods because they're high in the calcium you need to keep your bones strong. And don't forget the protein. Lean meat, chicken, and beans are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. They're good for you, and they'll keep you feeling full for longer.

Breastfeed.

Whether breastfeeding can actually help you lose weight is still up in the air -- some studies find that breastfeeding exclusively can help you return to your pre-baby weight faster, while others find no difference in weight loss between women who breastfeed and those who bottle feed.

What is for sure is that breastfeeding is good for your baby, boosting immunity and providing a number of other important health benefits. And nursing exclusively lets you add about an extra 300 calories a day to your diet (you can add slightly more calories if you have a really big eater or twins). Just make sure that if you do breastfeed, you don't use it as an excuse to eat whatever you want.

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