2500 Calories: What This Dietitian Eats & Why Calories Matter [Example Diet]
In my professional work as a dietitian, I am constantly talking to people who are afraid of food and calories. Many are putting themselves on diets that are too low in calories, mostly because of misconceptions and bad information about weight management. When calorie needs aren’t met, the body conserves energy for essential functions – like keeping the heart beating and lungs breathing. This happens because calories, by their definition, are energy.
Not eating enough calories (energy) = the body conserves calories (energy)
It’s a miraculous process, really, but it can be frustrating for people trying to lose weight or for people demanding extra energy out of their body for things such as exercise or breastfeeding.
And new Moms are often attempting to do it all: Breastfeed while trying to lose weight postpartum and live in the busy-ness of newborn life. When I became a Mom last year, I was shocked to find myself going many hours before being able to get food in my mouth. Pre-baby life, I was eating around the clock. This girl loves her food, and skipping meals wasn’t a phrase in my vocabulary.
So when the new baby schedule hit and I was in a constant mix of changing diapers, feeding the baby, and trying to get us both some shut-eye, food often got left in the dust. And it’s this lifestyle that can play a role in affecting milk supply, since food (remember: calories) are needed to make milk. Breastfeeding requires an extra 400-500 calories per day on average (source), so it is really important that mothers who are wanting to breastfeed don’t slash calories too low in an effort to lose weight. *Not that I focus on weight loss, but being realistic, I know it happens.
So, I thought I would share an example day of what 2500 calories looks like for me. I am grateful to have been able to nurse my baby and maintain an adequate milk supply despite this new hectic pace, working full-time, and some issues in the beginning. Even though I love food and I love to eat, I have had to stay mindful of eating enough. Not only has it benefitted my little one, but it has helped me have excess supply that I was able to donate to a new mom who is a breast-cancer survivor. And that is enough to keep me reaching for my extra snacks.
Having trouble viewing? Click here for the PDF: 2500 Calorie Day Example
A few things:
- I don’t log my eating. Mostly because I practice intuitive-based eating instead of focusing on numbers. I would say I am generally near my needs, but logging this day made me realize I was going to be way under on my calories and protein. So, I grabbed the Orgain drink. For the past week I’ve been adding a chocolate milk instead, and it’s made a big difference. I’m more satisfied and less ravenous at the end of the day, my milk supply has increased, and it’s more cost-effective and just as nutritious as the formulated drinks.
- I’m not trying to promote a focus on calories. BUT I know so many people who are under-fueling, so I thought it was important to teach the basics of calorie needs and to try to help you learn why calories are important. Especially because eating too little may be standing in the way of your goals!
It’s important for me to say that everyone has a different calorie need. 2500 just happens to be right for me, for my activity, my size and age, and my goals. If you’re a Mom who is breastfeeding and you need to know how many calories you need, OR if you aren’t either of these and you just want to know, you can find an RD in your area who can help. Simply click here.
Does this challenge the way you think about calories? Does this go against what you thought you knew? Leave me a reply if you have any questions, or if you struggle to understand how this works. And be sure you’re following me on social media (Facebook @ In Pursuit of Fruit, Twitter and Instagram @ rdn_alyssa) since I’ll be sharing more thoughts on this topic!