Should You Have Smoothies in the Postpartum Period?
Should you have smoothies in the postpartum period? The answer may surprise you.
You may be thinking: Wait, what? Why can’t I have a smoothie?! I thought I was supposed to be having smoothies in the postpartum period!
It’s true, smoothies are often recommended as a go-to meal in the postpartum period, for good reason. When you have a tiny human attached to your body and your every waking moment is about tending to their needs (not to mention the fact that you may be exhausted), smoothies are appealing because 1) they’re simple to make, and 2) you can eat them one-handed. They do make a lot of sense!
So smoothie lovers, you can breathe a sigh of relief - I’m not hating on smoothies. I think they can be a good option for busy and tired new parents.
Why am I concerned about smoothies, then?! Read on.
Smoothies are cooling to the body
Generally speaking, smoothies have a cooling effect on the body...we load them up with cold or cooling ingredients: ice, raw greens, tropical fruit, frozen fruit, to name a few.
Cooling foods are the opposite of what is traditionally recommended for the postpartum person, though. Many cultures around the world focus on recapturing heat and boosting circulation, in practices sometimes referred to as “mother roasting”. The main objective is simple: keep the person warm. There are some good reasons for this, and I promise to make it the subject of a whole other post!
In the meantime, for anyone interested in following the practice of keeping warm in the postpartum days and weeks - or if you just want to make smoothies that are as nourishing as possible after giving birth - here are my top tips.
How to make your postpartum smoothie a warming one
Adding frozen fruit, ice cubes, or other cold temperature ingredients to smoothies is an obvious no-no when it comes to keeping warm. Keep some fruit out at room temperature for smoothie making purposes, and skip the ice altogether.
Fruit is actually optional (!), but if you do want fruit, stick to berries, pears, or apples, which grow in our northern climate and are relatively more warming. Tropical fruits - banana, pineapple, mango - are cooling to the body since they grow in warm places, and are much higher in sugar anyway.
Raw veggies have a cooling effect - just think of the expression “cool as a cucumber”! They may also be a bit harsh for the sensitive postpartum digestive system, which is a different topic. For these reasons, adding tons of raw greens is probably not the best idea. Try doing a quick steam of your greens before throwing them in...even just for a minute or less, until they’re wilted/soft. If you have something like cooked sweet potato on hand, you might try throwing that in your smoothie!
Add some warming spices to your smoothie if possible. Cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, or turmeric are all good choices.
On a different note, it’s really important not to forget FAT and PROTEIN in your smoothie. A common pitfall in smoothie making is loading up on fruit. If you want to get a more balanced meal out of your smoothie, you cannot forget to include a source of protein (see one of my favourites here) and some good healthy fat (try coconut oil, coconut milk, nut butter, avocado).
So, back to the original question of this post:
Should you have smoothies in your postpartum period?
Well, ask yourself: do you WANT to have smoothies in your postpartum period?
If the answer is NO, great! Smoothies are by no means essential. You can definitely choose not to have them in your postpartum period at all, if you’re simply not into them.
If the answer is YES, also great! If you want to have smoothies and it feels good to have them, then yes, of course! Have smoothies. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. There’s nothing inherently wrong with smoothies, there are simply some pitfalls to be aware of, and ways to make them more appropriate for the postpartum period.
During a time when nutrition is paramount and time is so scarce, by all means, we should embrace the convenience of a smoothie...and we may as well do what we can to make it healing, warming, and nourishing! A postpartum person deserves the absolute best in nutrition.
You might feel overwhelmed just reading this: Is she really suggesting to cook my greens before throwing them in the blender? How am I going to remember to keep my berries out at room temperature? And I don’t want to put turmeric in my smoothie!
It’s all good. Just do what you can. This is not about perfection. I’m sure you’ve read a ton of blog posts about new parenthood, breastfeeding, nutrition, baby care, sleep, etc. I recommend you treat this post the way you would any other - take what feels right, and leave the rest.
The last thing I’ll say about this is that I highly recommend having someone else - a partner or other helper - prepare all your food for you for at least the first few weeks after giving birth. Share this post with them!
Are you a smoothie person? If you’ve already given birth, did you incorporate smoothies in your postpartum period? Share your smoothie tips in the comments below!