How To Control Food Cravings While Breastfeeding

By Subodh / June 10, 2015

Are you a breastfeeding mother? Do you find you crave for fried food and sugar? Well, you aren’t alone. Crave for food while breastfeeding is a common occurrence. Remember, you need more nutrients and energy (around 500 kcal) to produce adequate milk for your baby. So, it is but natural that your body will want all the nutrients it can get. However, before we get into controlling your food cravings and piling on additional pounds, let’s first understand the reasons for the cravings.

Inadequate Sleep

sleepless nights

As a new mother, you will be walking up every few hours to breastfeed your newborn. This causes sleep deprivation. Did you know sleep deprivation affects your frontal lobe and the areas of the brain that control rewards, desires and motivation? It is the latter that causes cravings to rear their ugly heads due to sleep deprivation and you yearn for fatty and sugar-laden foods. The reward center of your brain gets satiated when you do give in to these cravings.

Tiredness

tiredness

Lack of sleep and caring your newborn leaves you tired and without energy. And, when you are tired, you will have food cravings. It is your body’s way of telling you to fuel it up, so that you can get back your energy levels.

High Stress Levels

stress

Being a mother is a wonderful feeling. However, when caring for a newborn, you experience prolonged stress. This causes your cortisol levels to rise, leading to cravings. By consuming fatty and sugary foods, you can combat stress levels, albeit temporarily. But the feeling is so good that you tend to give each time your stress increases.

[ Read: How To Reduce Stress with Foods ]

Control Your Food Cravings While Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, you may not be able to do away with the cravings completely. The good news is you can manage them by making certain changes to your diet.

  1. Small Portions: When the desire strikes you to eat sugary foods, opt for foods that are naturally rich in sugar. Satiate your cravings by consuming dates, dried apricots and raisins that are replete with natural sugars as well as important vitamins and minerals.
  2. Healthier Cooking Options: If you crave for fatty, fried foods, you have two options. One is to opt for healthier frying medium; and the other is using healthier cooking options. So, instead of chomping on fries, you could bake them. Be creative in your cooking methods and you will be able to satisfy your cravings and still eat healthy.
  3. Think Low-Fat: There is no question that your body needs more calcium when you are breastfeeding. Stock up your fridge with low-fat yogurt and milk to meet your calcium needs. These also can be used to satisfy your craving for sugar. Just mix naturally sweet fruits with yogurt and feast on it rather than eating candies and fruit cake that are filled with unwanted calories.
  4. Wholegrain is the Way Forward: When your cravings for carbohydrates can’t be controlled, wholegrain comes to the rescue. Whole grain pasta, bread and biscuits clubbed with sugar-free jellies and preserves, vegetables and low-fat cheese are perfect. Forget refined flour and make wholegrain a way of life.
  5. Tart and Sweet: Sugar cravings can get out of hand when you are breastfeeding. Curb these cravings by keeping your fridge stocked with tart and sweet fruits, like apples, berries, bananas and peaches. Not only will it take care of your sugar cravings, it also is a healthier choice.

Food cravings while breastfeeding are the main reasons women find it difficult to shed weight. Instead, they find they are piling on more pounds. Remember, resisting your cravings can make you grumpy, moody and more stressed out. Instead, give in to your cravings, but in a healthy manner. Control the portions you eat and maintain a sensible balance between your cravings and healthy, nutritious foods.