Best High-Energy Foods for New Moms

Experts give us the skinny on the best foods to eat to keep you energized when welcoming baby.

New moms are some of the busiest people on the planet, and the most in need of energy. We asked three dietitians for their top high energy food recommendations.

Toronto-based registered dietitian and co-chair of the Dietitians of Canada Consulting Dietitians Network Andrea Falcone’s number one nutrition tip for new moms is to pair protein with a complex carbohydrate, so you get a longer release of energy (in layman’s terms, carbs digest quickly, and proteins and healthy fats digest slowly). Her five yummy protein-carb combinations include:

  • Sprouted grain toast with peanut butter
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Yogurt and almonds or granola
  • Avocado and toast
  • Avocado and egg

Rosanne Robinson, who’s been a registered dietitian for seven years, and who runs Blueprint Nutrition in Waterloo and New Hamburg, Ont., offers her top five high-energy foods for new mothers to base snacks and meals around.

  1. Canned sockeye salmon, with the bones: This is a simple and easy to prepare source of protein and omega-3s, Robinson says.
  2. Eggs: Eggs are a quick and inexpensive source of protein that contain vitamins and minerals important for postpartum health, Robinson explains, such as folate, iron, zinc, choline, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
  3. Muesli: “You can’t go wrong with muesli!” Robinson says. “It provides the perfect combination of high-fibre healthy carbs from the oats and dried fruit, and protein and fat from the nuts and seeds.”
  4. Yogurt: Yogurt is another great source of healthy fat, protein, and carbs all in one ready-to-eat package, Robinson says. Yogurt also helps replenish the good bacteria in your body, which can be depleted particularly in new moms who received IV antibiotics during labour (commonly prescribed to women who test positive for group B strep bacteria before giving birth). Robinson suggests choosing a plain yogurt or kefir to minimize added sugar. If you want to make it sweeter, stir in your own berries or a small teaspoon of a natural sweetener like maple syrup.
  5. Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fat that can help give new moms the extra energy needed for breastfeeding (or just for getting through the night!). Avocado is also full of fibre, folate, and vitamins K, B6, and E.

Lauren Baker, retail dietitian, who offers complimentary nutrition counselling services to individuals and families, adds her own top five high-energy foods for new moms:

  1. Plain 2% Greek yogurt: One ¾-cup serving has about 150 calories, Baker says, and 16-18 grams of protein.
  2. Hemp Hearts: “Hemp hearts are a simple nutrition boost,” Baker says. Three tablespoons give you your daily dose of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as a hit of protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins. You can add hemp hearts to cereal, oatmeal, salads, trail mix, and baked goods.
  3. Avocado: Baker agrees avocado is a vitamin-packed source of fibre, and suggests adding it to smoothies, salads, or sandwiches.
  4. Pumpkin Seeds or Pumpkin Seed Butter: You can add the seeds to salads, trail mix, or baked goods, and the butter can be used to make granola bars, Baker says. They are a great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and protein.
  5. Green Lentils: “Lentils are a great protein option to add to soups, salads, smoothies, homemade granola bars, and snack bites!” Baker says.

Baker also recommends keeping frozen vegetables in your freezer as a fast and healthy staple.

“Nutritionally the same as fresh, frozen can often be a more cost-effective option, and allows you to always have vegetables on hand!”

You can also take some of the guesswork out of choosing what to eat, Falcone says, by taking an inventory of the healthy snacks and meals – from sweet to savoury, large to small – you have in your fridge and pantry, so when you’re hungry it’s easier to choose something that’s good for you.

“Make a go-to list and put it on your fridge,” suggests Falcone.

She also reminds moms to hydrate, and suggests keeping a glass or bottle of water in any spot where you’ll be nursing or feeding your baby.

“It’s a great little reminder that as you nurse the baby, you nurse yourself,” she says, recognizing how hard it can be for moms to think of themselves when they’re busy with a new baby.

Robinson says if possible, try to feed yourself before you feed your baby or have some ready-to-eat foods available that you can eat with one hand while you are feeding the baby.

“If you forget to eat – sounds crazy, but is very easy to do – then set your alarm on your smartphone to come on every three to four hours or ask a friend to text you to remind you!”

All our experts, Baker, Falcone, and Robinson, recommend meal prep and batch cooking to save time. Hard-boiling a half-dozen or dozen eggs, for example, is a great way to have prepared protein-rich snacks on hand. They will last in the fridge with the shell on for five or six days, Falcone says.

We hope these tips help you new moms out there! Just remember, as Falcone says, “You are as important as the baby is. You can only take better care of the child if you take care of yourself.”