Eating Right: Great Mood Boosters for New Moms

Feeling down the first few months after giving birth to your first baby is normal; not only will your body still be recovering from a strenuous delivery, you’ll also be experiencing hormonal imbalances and learning to deal with a completely new and far more demanding life! But this is exactly why you need to pay attention to what you eat: eating the right kinds of foods and having regular meals can boost your energy levels as well as your mood. Here’s what you need to do:

Don’t neglect your omega-3 oils.

Research has found that people who eat fish and certain nuts and seeds that contain omega-3 on a regular basis tend to be less depressed than those who don’t. Foods like salmon, flaxseed oil and walnuts are great for new moms, since they can enhance brain function and help them deal with minor depression. Experts in general recommend that new moms consume 1 gram of omega-3 oils each day. Consider resorting to supplements if you can’t get enough omega-3 oils from your diet.

Consume enough protein.

Your brain needs proteins such as those found in dairy products, lean meats, fish, and soy to produce serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain. Experts recommend that nursing mothers get 71 grams of protein a day, and non-nursing mothers get 46 grams a day.

Keep yourself well hydrated.

You’d be surprised at how much of an impact dehydration can have on your mood; fatigue and anxiety are symptoms of moderate dehydration, and if you’re already feeling tired and depressed to begin with, being dehydrated will just add to your woes. Make sure to drink often during the day and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to head for the water cooler; your body will already be suffering from mild dehydration by the time you feel thirsty.

Take your prenatal vitamins.

While nothing can replace a healthy and nutrient-rich diet, taking prenatal vitamins during the first few months after birth will help you supplement your diet and meet your nutritional needs. Prenatal vitamins contain more iron than regular vitamins, which is particularly useful for new moms since most mothers suffer from depleted iron stores, which can leave them feeling fatigued and depressed. You will also benefit from the antioxidants found in prenatal vitamins, which contribute to enhancing overall brain function.

Opt for dark chocolate when craving sweets.

Dark chocolate with cocoa levels of 70% or higher can increase serotonin levels in the brain and lift your mood, making you feel better. Some studies have even found that eating chocolate triggers the release of endorphins in the body, which act as mood boosting chemicals.

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.

Caffeine can leave you feeling frazzled if you’re suffering from anxiety, and is not a good way to counter tiredness due to sleepless nights. Not only can caffeine leave you feeling irritable, restless and agitated, it can also contribute to quickening dehydration if you’re not drinking enough fluids each day. Breastfeeding women in particular should not have more than 2-3 cups of coffee a day to avoid negatively affecting their babies. The same goes for alcohol, which acts as a depressant that can leave you feeling more depressed, and will interfere with your ability to nurse.

Watch your appetite.

It’s not a good sign if you find that you no longer have a strong appetite and have to force yourself to eat regular meals, as that could be a symptom of postpartum depression. Poor eating habits have also been found to contribute to mood problems, as the body needs balanced and regular meals in order to keep blood sugar levels up. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing a loss of appetite.