How to Manage Hunger and Sugar Cravings while Breastfeeding
Am I the only one that’s crazy-insanely hungry while breastfeeding?!? For the past 4-weeks of nursing my second son, Aden, my appetite has been on par with my marathon training days - I need to eat and then eat again. It’s serious.
If you’re in my hangry-monster boat while nursing, you know how hard it is to manage.
There’s A LOT of pressure to lose that baby-weight - it would be amazing to fit into your jeans (who has time to shop for a new wardrobe?!?) For me, it goes beyond skinny jeans - its about wanting to feel like myself. After 9 months of donating my body to baby, I’m eager to feel like me again.
And, there’s no getting around the fact that eating well is the first step to feeling good. If you don’t eat well, you don’t have the energy or motivation for self-care.
Between sleep deprivation and the hungry-hungry hippo attached to your boob, its hard to good meals on your plate, and much easier to snack all day (and night). Plus, when you’re exhausted and hungry, it’s biology to crave fast energy - aka sugar - aka cookies, chips, crackers, cereal… not the ideal choices for your health goals…
So what’s a girl to do?
Here’s what the your Alavita registered dietitians recommend:
top three tips for taming hunger & Sugar Cravings - without going hungry!
Eat more protein.
Mama, did you know that your protein needs are higher while breastfeeding than they were during pregnancy? You’re still growing another human! What’s more, most of the women we work with are not eating enough protein.
Why is this a big deal?
Because protein is your best friend for keeping hunger and sugar cravings at bay. Protein-rich foods keep you satisfied longer so you eat less without going hungry. WIN!!
You can learn more about what to eat to boost your metabolism in our online Postpartum Program.
We recommend eating 20-30g of protein at each meal and 10-20g at each snack. Don’t get bogged down by the numbers. Just be sure to get a normal portion size of protein every time you eat, i.e. 1 cup of plain yogurt, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, a palm-sized piece of meat or fish, 2-3 eggs, or a couple tablespoons of nut butter.
PRO TIP: With a newborn in tow, we get it that meal prep is not realistic. Here are some tricks of the trade to have protein on-hand:
2. Fuel frequently.
By frequently, we mean at least 3-4 hours.
While breastfeeding, your nutrition needs are sky-high, higher than during pregnancy. This is partially why you’re so hungry - your body is begging for nutrition to help you recover, as well as to keep up your nutritious milk supply.
Use baby’s 3-hour feeding schedule as a reminder to feed (and hydrate) yourself as well.
Skipping meals only slows down your metabolism, while depriving yourself of needed nutrients. When your nutrients are depleted, your body begs for more and you get even hungrier. The net result - greater appetite but slower metabolism.
Going too long without eating has other undesirable consequences, like stressing your thyroid and making you feel like a food-obsessed crazy-person. Keep your physical health and mental stability in check by prioritizing nourishing eats at regular intervals throughout the day.
3. Fill up on Fiber.
Here’s why you should care about fiber: Just like protein, fiber keeps fills you up, so you can eat less without feeling hungry.
In addition to appetite-control, fiber slows down your digestion to prevent dramatic ups and downs in your blood sugar levels. This means your mood, energy and metabolism stay steady. Consistent blood-sugar levels from a high-fiber diet are your best defense against out-of-control sugar cravings.
What does it mean to eat fiber?
We don’t mean stocking up on Metamucil. We do recommend eating a lot of whole-grains, nuts/seeds, fruits & veggies. And we mean A LOT…
Aim for eating 8+ servings of fruits & veggies every day. Yes, you can do it ;)
EAT PROTEIN + FIBER EVERY 3-4 HOURS.
Breastfeeding can make you ridiculously hungry. That’s good - it means your metabolism is in full gear! Rather than fighting the hunger, embrace it by fueling up with nourishing, satisfying food.
Giving your body the nourishment it needs will help you feel energized and confident.
Check out our favorite breastfeeding meals and snacks this downloadable Postpartum Program.
You were made for this!