In the first several weeks after having my baby boy, I remember wondering, “How am I ever going to be able to cook meals again, let alone have time for it?” My case was unique in that I was on bedrest after severe tearing, so even standing up took great effort and was very painful (read my whole birth story).
I was hungrier than ever as my body worked to produce milk for the first time, and yet making space and time to eat was so hard. Eating became a matter of “whatever, whenever” – whatever I could get my hands on, whenever I could find the time. I didn’t have time to be picky or to let old food rules resurface or dictate my food choices; I simply needed to get enough calories in to keep my milk supply up and stave off my hunger!
For some context: my water broke at 3:40am on a Tuesday, and I gave birth to my baby boy at 11:16am that same day. I was taken to the hospital by 12:30pm, into surgery by 2:30pm, recovering from surgery by 4:30pm, and then reunited with my family at 6:30pm.
By that time, I hadn’t eaten a single thing in 24 hours. Of course, this wasn’t even close to the first thing on my mind, but when it dawned on me how hungry I was, and how many calories I must have burned giving birth, I was tempted.
Tempted to wonder how much weight I’d lost.
Tempted to eat very little and “bounce back” quickly.
That old eating disorder voice just wanted some ground.
But it didn’t take more than a millisecond of holding my precious baby boy for me to snap out of those thoughts. I need to model healthy eating for him. I need to nourish my body so he has enough milk. I need to eat so I have energy to care for him.
My mom came to the hospital that night with a foot-long sub from Subway for me, and you best believe I gobbled it up.
Once we were back home and I was on bedrest, we were blessed to receive all kinds of food from friends and family. Delicious pastas and soups, salads and chicken, all kinds of different meals and, my personal favourite, SNACKS. Nuts, popcorn, baked goods. Whenever I felt a pang of hunger, I just chose from whatever was in the kitchen, thinking about what it was and how much of it I ate less than ever before.
Now, at 8 months postpartum, Theo is eating solids himself. He loves cauliflower, zucchini, and asparagus (healthy boy!). I absolutely think more about planning his meals than I do planning my own, and for me, the freedom in that is next-level.
I love cooking for him and planning meals for him. It is totally my joy to create nourishing and tasty food for him. And thinking about the way I want my son to grow up around food has caused me to contemplate my own relationship to it and what he will learn from me.
Will he learn calorie counting, stress about what to eat, and disdain about meal times? Or will he learn to listen to his God-given hunger and fullness cues, how to choose healthful meals and snacks, and to come to the table with gratitude and joy? I pray, oh I pray he will learn the latter.
So I’m starting now. He may only be 8 months old, but he still picks up on my attitude toward food, meal times, and cooking for my family. He’s now very aware of me eating, what I’m eating, and how I’m prepping my food. I could spend his play times obsessively reading cookbooks or diet plans, thinking about how much I’ll allow myself to eat. And 10 years ago, that’s probably what I would have done. OR I can see and utilize food as the God-given fuel it is to then go forth and raise my son in the knowledge, love, and service of the Lord Jesus.
Again, I choose the latter this day.
I want to watch my babies walk in freedom from the chains of disordered eating. I will choose to surrender our family meal times for His purposes. I want mealtimes to be remembered by laughter, engaging conversation, and delicious food.
What is your relationship to food postpartum? Are you grumbling about it because you’re trying to lose the baby weight and restricting yourself? Or maybe your self-loathe is taking the form of overeating? Are you obsessing over every morsel your baby eats in attempt to control something? Or maybe you’ve neglected to research important health and nutrition information that you know is important to keep in mind when preparing food for your child.
Wherever you’re at, I pray that today would be a day of bringing it all under the Lordship of King Jesus, who implores us through Paul to do it all for His glory, whatever you do.