Ask the Expert: What will help me feel better about my body after giving birth?
Q: I'M STRUGGLING with my body confidence after giving birth. Are there any quick and easy changes I can make to my diet and physical activity levels to make me feel better inside and out?
A: Laura Coster, a dietitian for XLS Nutrition (xlsmedical.co.uk), says: "The first thing to note is that feeling unsure about your post-pregnancy body is completely normal. You've gone through incredible changes to produce something truly amazing, and this is certainly not the time to be considering fad diets.
"These three key tips should help you to feel stronger and more confident during this equally exciting and exhausting time.
"Eating protein has a positive effect on the hormones responsible for regulating appetite. The brain relies on hormonal signals to determine when and how much to eat and a higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones.
"Ensuring you eat enough foods rich in iron, zinc, iodine and selenium each day can also help to keep your metabolism healthy. These minerals are required to support the proper function of the thyroid gland, which has a key role in regulating metabolism. Good sources include meat, seafood, legumes, nuts (especially Brazil nuts) and seeds.
"Finally, exercising before breakfast may mean you're using your glycogen stores (glucose/carbohydrate storage) and then can start burning some of your body fat. Furthermore, the energy boost and impact on your metabolism has been shown to last up to 24 hours in some people – something that definitely won't go amiss at this time."