Q & A: Losing Pregnancy Weight on a Nutrient Rich Diet


I got the following question from a reader in regard to weight loss, that I thought was an important topic to consider. I know that Jessica would also appreciate your thoughts on this topic as well!( I have included pictures of some of the nutrient rich food that we eat that also helps maintain a trim figure)

I had a question. I have been doing the nourishing traditions eating for over two years now. I had 4 pregnancies in three years and have been at 240lbs for over 5 years now. I am 5’9 and at my smallest, I was a size 14 and 180lbs. I have not been able to lose the weight. One thing is I have three preschoolers, so it’s hard to make diet and exercise a priority. Another is I know I don’t eat perfect, but I eat a lot better than most. Do know how I can lose weight while still eating NT?

Things I currently do now are:
make whole wheat sourdough bread
soak grains and legumes
use lots of butter and virgin coconut oil, with occasional use of vegetable oil/olive oil if in a pinch.
I make kefir and kombucha, buttermilk and did make yogurt till my culture died.
We eat whole grains and mostly natural sweeteners. I do drink 1 cup organic coffee with creamer and iced tea. I have allowed more sugar to creep in our diet, but plan to cut it down majorly this week.

Thank you for the question, Jessica. It sounds like you have your hands full, so I am keeping that in mind with any advice I give. 🙂 I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me, and other resources. I am, by no means, an expert in this area, so consider this advice as from one mom to another. And I should add that many people do find it helpful to go to a skilled naturopath . But ones that aren’t on the opposite side of the health food debate are hard to find, and some can cause as much harm as good. So I only recommend that route if you are able to find one that is truly skilled, experienced, and on the same page as you in regard to what’s healthy food and what’s not.

Consider What Wonderful Things Your Body has Done

Having said that, as I have thought about what you shared, I have realized that your body has done a lot with all of the close pregnancies and caring for your little ones. I haven’t had as many children as you, but our first, Faith Felicity (who passed away at two months) and Elena were very close pregnancies. I got pregnant with Elena three months after Faith was born.

I know from experience that when you get pregnant so close after giving birth, you haven’t even had time for your body to get “back to normal”. This gives you unique things to consider. For example, it could be possible that you are having a hard time with weight because it is your body’s way of handling all of the “stress” of pregnancies. I have friends who naturally carry more weight when they are nursing and it seems that their bodies do that to insure they can “keep up”. I don’t know if you are nursing or not, but just the close pregnancies alone could be a possible reason your body is holding on to weight. If this is the case, don’t let it discourage you. You can still lose weight, you just may need to give yourself a little grace if it doesn’t happen as fast you would like.

Consider Your Nutritional Needs

The other thought I had was that any “dieting” you try must be done very carefully. Your body has been doing some wonderful yet hard things by growing and nurturing babies. It’s no easy task and it takes a huge effort. Pregnancies, especially close ones, can deplete you of essential nutrients. For example, I made sure I ate a lot of iron rich food with my second pregnancy, because I knew that a mother with close pregnancies could more easily become anemic. So there may be certain food items you may especially want to eat to replenish you body’s supply. By the way, it’s great that you already do so many nourishing food practices! I think you are on the right track.

Another thing to consider, if you are breastfeeding, is not making extreme changes to your diet all at once, because it could cause you to detox and those toxins will go through your breast milk to your baby.

Concentrate On Nutrient Rich Food

My advice to you would be to concentrate on getting the most nutrition you can (especially concentrating on food that contains nutrients that may have been used up while pregnant), without wasting calories on nutritionally inferior food. You can check out the Weston Price Foundation and read scores of articles on some of the most healthy food to eat. Here is a link, from there with some very simple, but very important things to include in your diet as a pregnant/nursing mom. I should add that many people have found that eating a balanced “Nourishing Traditions Style” diet has been very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. So don’t worry about having to choose between eating nutrient high food, and losing weight.

But if you really want to get serious help in this area, I would read Eat Fat, Lose Fat, by Sally Fallon, and Mary Enig. This book will help you find balance in getting a high amount of nutrient rich food, and lose weight at the same time. I was able to get a copy at the library (I have actually gotten it there several times, and plan on buying it).

But here are a few more tips to consider.

Avoid sugar forming food as much as possible

This is the biggest down fall for most of us. Like you mentioned, sugar (or other sweeteners) is easy to sneak into our diets. While it doesn’t add a whole lot of nutrients it does add a lot of calories. Beyond just sweet things, avoiding excessivecarbs is also very important. We do need carbs and I am not advocating an entire meat and veggies diet. But moderation is key. Along these same lines, try to eat in a way that keeps your blood sugar even. I do this just because it helps me feel better! But keeping a level blood sugar helps us stay full longer (and eat less). It’s also a very healthy practice and has other benefits as well. I find eating adequate amounts of healthy fat helps my blood sugar stay even. Eat Fat, Lose Fat, can give further encouragement in this area.

Watch out for Nuts and Olive Oil

These are nutrient rich foods, but they are very fattening. Seek moderation and add other healthy fats in (like you already do). As you already know, coconut oil is one of the best fats for weight loss.

Eat a lot of Vegetables

And I mean a lot! Filling up on healthy vegetables paired with healthy fats and protein, is a very satisfying way to get a lot of nutrition and and still lose weight. The more veggies the better. Just try to improve in this area, and fill up on a lot of veggies served with healthy fats, and weight loss should follow!

Involve your Kids in Your Exercise program

You have responsibilities with your kids that make exercise hard to fit in. Others have made it possible to have a husband or friend watch their little ones while they work out at the gym. I personally, so far, have found it easier to do if I involve Elena. My solution has been taking long walks, pushing her in a stroller. She loves it, I get my heart rate up, and it’s a cheap and easy way to get exercise and fresh air. This may be more tricky with so many little ones, though there are options with the many strollers out there. Exercise videos would be another option. My only caution is exercise until it gives you better energy through the day, but don’t tire yourself out with it. You need all the energy you can get to keep up with your kiddos!

Avoid Stress

Stress will make your body hold on to weight, so relax! Try to have a 20 minute break every day where you are able to relax and do something you enjoy. That may be quite difficult with all your little ones, but it really does help reduce stress.

While there are certainly other tips we could talk about, I think that those are some of the most important ones (at least for me). All of us are a little different- we have different needs and sensitivities. You may have to experiment a little to find what works best for you, so don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t give the results you want.

What I personally love about the Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Lose Fat books is that they focus on regaining health, as well as losing weight. So as you concentrate on cooking nutrient rich food, you are also serving your family by giving them what they need to be healthy, while improving your own weight.

Does anyone else want to share with Jessica what has been helpful to you? I know that she would appreciate your feedback!

Disclaimer: This is just one mom’s advice to another. Always carefully consider any advice, and consult your health provider. Thanks!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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Comments

  1. Anneatheart says

    THank you very much! I have been hearing the words ‘nutrient dense foods’ in my brain over and over the last few days, so what you’ve said confirms that. I was interested in the Eat Fat Lose Fat book, but wondered if it was just the same as Nourishing Traditions. I guess the things I missed with NT is that eating fat is good, but too much for my needs will either add weight or keep me at the same. I haven’t gained, but I haven’t lost much in two years. I am not nursing (my youngest is 2) and don’t have any health problems, finally. Iw as very unhealthy- yes, my oldest girls are 11 months apart. I had no idea my body would get so depleted. My body was in bad shape after the second one arrived. I am finally back to where I should be healthwise, now it’s time to get rid of excess weight. I will be thinking about what you said and see if I can get the book you mentioned. Thanks so much for taking time to think about my question and answer it.

    God bless,
    Jessica

  2. Lisa says

    I am more than willing to eat a lot of those vegetables! Are they artichokes? Do you have a recipe? They look so good.

  3. Kimi Harris says

    Jessica,
    I am glad to be of any service. 🙂

    Lisa,
    They are artichokes, and I only have a sort of recipe for them. They were made many months ago, but the basic idea is to boil them in hot water until just tender, toss with a oil/vinegar dressing, and then grill until completely cooked. They were awfully good!

  4. KatrinaD says

    Here is a recipe for your frugal recipe carnival. This recipe comes from “More-With-Less Cookbook” by Doris Janzen Longacre
    I’ve been making this recipe for about 30 yrs. I’ve made it for company and my daughter makes it for her company on occasion. It’s quick and delicious. (Don’t leave out any of the spices.)

    Pakistani Kima
    (an easy hamburger curry)

    Saute in skillet:
    3 T. butter
    1 c. chopped onion
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Add:
    1 lb. ground beef
    Brown well. Stir in:
    1 T. curry powder
    1 1/2 t. salt
    dash pepper
    dash of each: cinnamon, ginger,
    and tumeric
    2 c. cooked tomatoes
    2 potatoes, diced
    2 c. frozen peas or green beans
    Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Serve with rice.

  5. Kimi Harris says

    Katrinad,
    Thanks for the recipe! I will be sure to put in the comment section on Friday. It sounds delicious! It’s actually very similar to a curried ground beef dish that I make sometimes (I also use frozen peas in mine), but I like the extra spices she adds to this recipe. Yum! Thank you!

  6. Michele says

    This is wonderful advice, Kimi! 🙂 I really enjoy Sally Fallon’s books too.

    Also, I’m so sorry for your loss of your daughter, Faith (beautiful name, by the way!). I have written about our losses on my blog, and it has been sad to hear about what others have gone through in various degrees as well.

    I’m looking forward to your Nourishing Foods Carnival! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Blessings,
    Michele
    http://www.frugalgranola.blogspot.com

  7. Anonymous says

    Kimi, once again great stuff!! Not only did you give great meal ideas but explaining about nursing & having babies close and the repercussions on our bodies. Most women forget that part. We were made to have babies and gaining weight is part of it. It took me nearly 4 years to get back into good shape (I was older than the average) but I just kept at it. And Jessica, from your picture you are a beautiful girl just give yourself some time! Kimi, Congrats on the good news for your hubby. We will be praying for the Lord’s many blessing to continue.
    Lord Bless You!
    SuzeQ

  8. Rose says

    Very nice article. I have about 5 more weeks (give or take a few) pregnant with my second. I wanted to add a few suggestions. (Please correct me if anything violates Nourishing Traditions since I’m just becoming familiar with the concept and how it matches / doesn’t match my current eating style.)

    – I try and keep a lot of fresh fruit and vegetable snacks on hand for myself and my 3 year old for impromptu snacking. So I have fresh carrots already washed and scrubbed in the fridge. I have a bowl at toddler level with cleaned fruit and small tomatoes. I’ll do things like steam beets and keep them in a container in the fridge ready to eat. (RIght now for some reason I keep craving beets and olive oil.)

    – Listen carefully to your body for healthy cravings. I noticed when I breastfed my second I got cravings just like in pregnancy. I’m wondering if they actually happen all the time and I’m just more in tune then. I think our body will pull us towards what it needs if we surround ourselves with healthy alternatives so it doesn’t get confused by the very yummy bag of m&m’s on the pantry. Also if you watch your blood sugar and snack before it dips you may eat less. That’s part of what my husband is doing. Little snacks on nuts, cheese, etc to keep away the strong desire to eat.

    – Watch your mood… are you eating because you are hungry or stressed or bored?

    – I second including your kids in exercise. Take them for walks. Play toss the ball in the yard and make sure you do a lot of running. Also, include them in your cooking. Instead of doing a craft one day cook something healthy together. You get time to make healthier foods and they learn important skills. Also, my 3 year old eats a ton of raw vegis while helping me cook so it’s good for her too. Kids are never too young to start in the kitchen.

  9. Kristin says

    Hi–I also was/am eating the Nourishing Traditions way and was having a hard time loosing my baby weight. I went back through the book and realized that I wasn’t eating very many raw veggies and fruits (and only raw milk cheese). I greatly increased my raw intake a decreased my meat/animal protein. Sally recommends at least 50% raw in your diet and notes that traditional people averaged around 20% protein (if I remember the exact figure…). Anyways, that was very different from my high fat/high proetien (soaked and fermeted) diet. I ended up with an almost ulcer. I went almost completely raw and lost all my weight, no more burning stomach and no more colds. I use much more coconut oil and don’t heat it, instead of so much butter. (I love a scoop of raw coconut oil on a date dipped in cocoa powder for a treat.) Tons of salads, and a “green smoothie” (blended with fruits and greens every morning). I love raw cheese, and nuts. I cut down my meat to a small serving of organic, high quality meat a couple times a week and eggs 3-4 times per week. I feel great! I am also nursing and my baby loves all the raw stuff too. Good Luck!

  10. Kimi Harris says

    Hi Kristen,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s always helpful to hear from others. My thoughts on raw diets is this. They can be very, very helpful for cleansing. Many people often feel really good after going on a all raw food fast. But I don’t think it’s good for long term health. They often lack needed calories and nutrients, especially for child bearing women. Personal opinion here, but those are my thoughts. 🙂

    But it is true that we don’t put enough raw food in our diets. There should be a balance for sure (a balance we really have a hard time maintaining sometimes!). But I hadn’t remembered Sally Fallon talking about 50 percent of our food being raw before. Was she talking about it collectively, as in raw, cultured veggies, dairy and meat, or just raw vegetables?

  11. julianne says

    i have been eating NF my whole pregancey. Cod liver oil grass feed meat and of course raw milk. I was surprized when my docter said i was measuring small at 38 weeks. i do not get it! what could i be doing wrong

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