Have you noticed that you have been visiting the pantry or fridge for the third time today? Or maybe you took a second serving of dinner without a second thought?
We experience changes in appetite throughout our lives. Some mothers experience a spike in their eating habits after giving birth and starting breastfeeding. Maybe you might be one of those moms.
But why the sudden change? Your appetite didn’t magically increase overnight. There are many ways your breastfeeding habits are affecting the amount of food you have and the number of calories your body burns every day.
Why Does Breastfeeding Make You Hungry
Is breastfeeding a sport? Not really. But you can lose some calories while you’re feeding junior. The numbers vary, but you can estimate it to be around 500 calories.
Mothers use up a lot of their energy while producing breast milk. For women, the ideal daily calorie intake is around 2,000 calories. (Note that this number changes based on your age, lifestyle, and size.) However, you might want to add an extra 500 to support breast milk production.
Besides producing breast milk, mothers might also feel hungrier because of stress. A new baby in the house can mean added pressure and less time to rest. Thus, your body will produce more cortisol, a hormone known for increasing a person’s hungry.
Finally, with all that stress and hormones flowing through your body, you might be craving sugar. Like, a LOT of sugar. But you might want to put that donut down.
Eating sugary and fatty food can cause extreme changes in your blood sugar. And usually, it ends with you wanting more sweets and junk food.
Can Moms Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
It’s normal to experience a bit of weight gain after giving birth. For most moms, those extra pounds go away after their bodies adjust. Likewise, their appetite might return to normal once they start getting regular rest.
However, other moms experience difficulty while trying to lose weight. A combination of genetics, lifestyle, and medical conditions can make weight loss an uphill battle.
Nevertheless, everyone has a shot at managing their weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As mentioned above, 2,000 calories with an extra 500 are numbers mothers should aim for. But for more active moms, you might need more.
But what about going on a calorie deficit? While lowering the amount you eat can help in weight loss, you should at least consume 1,800 calories every day. Not getting enough nutrients can impact your ability to produce breast milk.
How Do I Control My Cravings?
You might be thinking, “How do I stop my cravings when food is so delicious?” First of all, we can’t help but agree that food is delicious. But you can control your craving for unhealthy snacks and meals.
Craving affects around 90% of the population. While men prefer to chow down on savory food, women often go for the high-fat and sugary servings on the table. Whether you’re a man or a woman, your cravings are most likely a product of your emotions and hormones.
While hunger can be satiated with your regular evening meal, cravings can make you want to eat more to satisfy that emotional need.
There are many ways to stop yourself from picking up a bag of chips or snarfing down a whole chocolate bar. Sometimes, you might mistake thirst for hunger. Breastfeeding can make you dehydrated, so why not have a glass of water and see if you’re still craving food.
But what if you really are hungry? A better way to avoid eating salty, sugary, and fatty food is to replace them with healthier alternatives. Fruits, yogurt, crackers and hummus, unsalted nuts, and boiled eggs are great snacks that won’t disrupt your weight. (As long as you make sure to eat them in moderation.)
Finally, you might want to consider getting some sleep. As mentioned above, cortisol is caused by stress and restlessness. Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours can lower your cortisol level and keep your cravings at bay.
What to Eat While Nursing?
What you eat matters, especially if you’re nursing a baby. You and your baby rely on the food that you eat for nutrients. So to support yourself and your child, you need to have a balanced diet.
So what should you eat? Look for food rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat, and fiber. You can usually find them in products like leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, lean meat, beans and legume, tofu, dairy, and whole wheat.
Meanwhile, you should limit your junk food and caffeine consumption while breastfeeding. Fishes rich in mercury, alcohol, fast food, and weight loss supplements are also a no-go.
If you’re having difficulties getting proper nutrients, approach your doctor and ask which vitamins and supplements you can safely take.
How many calories do you lose while breastfeeding?
You can lose an estimated 500 calories while breastfeeding.
What is the best food to eat while nursing?
Look for food rich in nutrients, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and lean protein.
Can I take supplements while breastfeeding to aid in weight loss?
Many fat burners and weight loss supplements are not FDA-approved and can potentially harm your child. Avoid taking these while breastfeeding.
People experience cravings and changes in appetite every day. Mothers are no different. Moms can get hungry because of changes inside their body and their environment.
But cravings can also cause weight gain, especially if you snack on unhealthy food. So while the occasional serving of ice cream or fried chicken is alright, having it all the time can affect you and your child.
But you can control your hunger and craving. Eating a balanced diet and regularly getting sleep can bring you back to your eating routine. Plus, eating healthy food means your baby is enjoying all the nutrients it can give.
Stress is unavoidable when you’re going through a change in life, such as being a parent. But practicing mindfulness and self-care can help you cope with your everyday struggles.