How To Lose Pregnancy Weight While Still Eating Your Favorite Foods

Imagine being told you can lose all of your pregnancy weight while still eating all of your favorite foods; well it's possible and we've spoken to experts to find out exactly how. But before trying the next best diet or hitting the gym, it's important to allow yourself time to heal.

A woman's body requires nine months to complete a pregnancy and so you should give yourself another nine months to become "unpregnant," sports nutritionist and registered dietitian (RD) Nancy Clark told Newsweek.

This idea of "snapping back into shape" puts a lot of pressure on a new mother and her body, Clark said. "The body will do what the body does. I invite all new moms to trust that appropriate eating, appropriate rest and appropriate exercise will lead to an appropriate weight."

Roxana Ehsani, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Newsweek the length of time it takes to lose all your pregnancy weight varies depending on the person.

For some, it may take one to two years post-birth to lose the weight, while for others it could take a few months. Some mothers may find it differs for each baby they have.

"It's important to try to not rush it, as giving birth, recovering from labor, and taking care of a newborn are all very taxing on the body," Ehsani said.

Kristen Noriega, an RDN who offers baby weight loss coaching and advice, said: "You have permission to take it slow, stop caring about your weight, and love yourself a ton in the process," in a post on Instagram @babyweight.nutritionist.

Bearing all that in mind, here we look at ways to lose pregnancy weight without missing out on your favorite dishes.

A mom eating while holding baby.
A busy mother trying to eat food while holding a baby. Losing weight after pregnancy does not require a restrictive diet. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Balance Your Diet With Nutrient Dense Foods

Ehsani said: "You can absolutely still eat your favorite foods and lose weight at the same time." Just fit them into your healthy meal plan for the week.

For example, if you have fries and a hamburger for dinner, you'll want to add some vegetables into another meal, such as "a big salad loaded with lots of veggies," Ehsani said. Or if pancakes are your favorite item, enjoy them with a big bowl of mixed fruit and healthy fat coming from some chopped nuts.

Consult an RDN to help you figure out the perfect individualized meal plan that fits your own needs, food preferences and tastes, said Ehsani.

Noriega advises asking yourself: "What can I add" to my daily meals? Instead of taking things away to lose weight (fat, bread, carbs), add in some nutritious foods to your normal foods. It works," she advised in a post on Instagram.

Be Mindful of Portions

Ehsani said a well-balanced diet is key when it comes to pregnancy weight loss nutrition.

You can use "the plate method" as a guide for how each meal should look in terms of portions. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it with a high quality protein source (such as eggs or salmon) and another quarter with a grain (such as quinoa or brown rice), she said.

For snacks, have a high fiber carbohydrate, such a piece of fruit or vegetables with a source of protein. For example, Greek yogurt and blueberries or hummus and baby carrots can be great snacks.

"Don't forget to stay well-hydrated with plenty of water, especially if you're breastfeeding," Ehsani advised.

Grilled chicken breast salad.
Slices of grilled chicken breast and avocado over a bed of fresh vegetables. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Don't Avoid Your Food Cravings

Avoiding your favorite food altogether will only make you crave it more and probably lead to overeating once you do get your hands on it.

"Mama the longer you deprive yourself of the foods you love, the bigger the craving, the bigger the crash," Noriega said in a post on Instagram.

The RDN explained that consuming "foods that satisfy you are overall more important for weight management, nutritional status and health," in a post on Instagram.

Instagram user @cake_not_salad, who describes herself as a "first time mummy shredding the baby weight without restrictions," said: "There is no need to feel guilty about eating food...you can create a balanced lifestyle that will allow you to have the food you love but also stay on track and reach your goals."

A mother cooking with baby on chest.
A smiling baby strapped to a mother's chest while she cooks. Use some healthier, low-calorie ingredients in your favorite dishes. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Use Some Lower-Calorie Ingredients

You don't have to be a certified nutritionist or a Michelin-starred chef to create healthy meals around your favorite foods.

User @cake_not_salad recommends several recipes that incorporate some healthier, lower-calorie ingredients into her favorite meals, such as her "double-decker spicy cheeseburger" which is made with 5 percent fat beef patties.

"This was insanely simple to make but so so good. It really felt like you just ordered a big greasy takeout from the local burger joint," she said on Instagram.

For a sweet fix, try her "M&M's protein cookies," which are made with chocolate protein, dark chocolate brown sugar, cocoa powder and erythritol (a low-calorie sweetener).

A woman breastfeeding a baby.
A woman breastfeeding a baby. Maintaining a healthy diet is especially important for breastfeeding mothers. iStock/Getty Images Plus

How Difficult Is It To Lose Pregnancy Weight?

Ehsani said losing pregnancy weight can be difficult for many moms due to the stress on the body after the birth, as well as lack of sleep (from looking after their baby 24/7) and lack of time—both of which leaves little room for looking after themselves.

On the plus side, moms expend a lot of energy each day from breastfeeding (about 500 calories per day—equivalent to burning off one meal a day), she said.

What's More Important for Pregnancy Weight Loss: Diet or Exercise?

Ehsani said: "A mixture of both a healthy diet and exercise is important when it comes to losing pregnancy weight."

Daily exercise may not possible for many new moms due to being tied up with their newborns. But striving to be active when they can "most days of the week" will help them lose pregnancy weight, the RDN advised.

Maintaining a healthy diet is especially vital if you're breastfeeding, as whatever nutrients the mother is eating will go to the baby, Ehsani noted.

A tired mother sleeping next to baby.
A tired mother sleeping on a bed next to a newborn baby. Lack of sleep is among the reasons why it can be difficult for new mothers to shed their pregnancy weight. iStock/Getty Images Plus