If you are craving sweet foods more than normal in the post-natal period you are not alone. It is very common to crave more sugar after the birth of your baby/babies and there are many reasons why. But in order to combat the sweet desires that consume our minds and control our tastebuds we must first understand WHY they are happening.
There is the obvious reasons such as breast-feeding which has a magical way of injecting some sort of sugar monster into our bodies, and sleep-deprivation and exhaustion that nearly every Mamma will encounter! It is true that being tired and feeding your baby every nutrient you have causes you to crave all kind of sweet foods, and is an absolute reason for the sugar-fairy to show up, but there is more to the story about what is going on in your body.
Eager to ditch sugar from your diet but not sure how to go about it? Take a look at my top 10 tips below to help you balance your post-natal sugar levels and to help you take control of your health, body and mind again.
(1.) Drink more Water.
Drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water per day (sometimes another half a litre or so when it’s warm!). This will help to flush your body out so to minimise water retention, reduce bloating and go flush out toxins which helps with weight loss too. You will also feel better and also feel more full which will mean you are less tempted to binge on sugary treats.
Add fresh lemon, or serve hot with grated ginger. Spice and herbal teas count, too, and you can drink up to two mugs of green tea daily. I also carry around and keep filling up my stainless steel water bottle so I know how much I’ve had. Up to 60% (or more in some parts) of the human adult body is water so it is super important that you remember to do this.
(2.) Eat plenty of Protein.
Eat protein rich foods at EVERY meal but especially at Breakfast. A small portion of protein from any of the following foods such as – nuts, seeds, pulses, beans (hummus), eggs, natural or Greek style yoghurt, cottage cheese, fish, tofu and lean meats – will help keep you energised, alert and keep your sugar levels stable for the rest of your day ahead with your little ones! This will ensure you feel fuller for longer therefore preventing any unhealthy or sugar cravings later on in the day or nibbling at the children’s food. If you make one healthy change this week try this and after a week you will notice the difference in your energy levels, your cravings and how your clothes feel.
My favourite way to add protein to my breakfast would be to add some vegan protein powder such as this protein powder in my morning smoothie, oats or chia pudding, and then for the rest of the day it is easier to choose something from the selection above.
(3.) Eat Breakfast.
Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings. By starting the day right you will balance your sugar levels and reduce your chances of those cravings for sugar later in the day! I don’t always fancy a huge breakfast and I always like to eat something different in the morning, but whatever it is I always make sure there is a balance of protein, fats and healthy carbohydrates. There are plenty of protein sources suggested above for you to try.
(4.) Eat more Nuts!
Don’t be scared to include some good fats in your diet as some fats such as the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good for your heart health and the fats take your body longer to digest which means that they can help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings too. Nuts, seeds and oily fish such as mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines are beneficial. They can help energy production, keep you fuller for longer, improve your skin tone and speed up your metabolism as well as strengthen your immune system. The good fats included in almonds are used by the body for all of the above functions so they aren’t stored as fat. One of my favourite TV programmes from years ago was Cherry Healy’s ‘Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods!’ where she kept her diet the same and ate three portions of almonds a day on top of that. So that’s 500 calories extra per day and 14,500 over the whole month she did it for. Cherry gained only 1lb over the course of the month and that is because almonds are high in protein and fibre which keeps you fuller for longer. Almonds are one of my superfoods that I always have in my cupboard, but when looking at portion sizes for nuts only have 25-30grams off day for a varied diet.
Peanut butter is also a good fat and a super food. In my opinion. Our entire family loves it (although the twins haven’t tried it yet) and I think I have a minor addiction to it! I often have some sugar free peanut butter on celery sticks or rice cakes as a snack to keep me satisfied.
(5.) You may be low in Magnesium.
Which is fairly common after pregnancy and particularly when breastfeeding because you need more magnesium than if you weren’t. Your body can’t create magnesium so therefore it needs to come from food or supplement sources and as your body needs a whopping 20% more magnesium per day than the average person during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Eileen Behan, R.D., in her book on nutrition and breastfeeding, says that breastfeeding mothers consuming fewer than 2200 calories a day are probably not getting enough magnesium, no matter what they’re eating.
In a nutshell, its difficult to get enough magnesium in our diets today, and the lack of magnesium can cause us to crave sugar more than usual. You can increase your magnesium consumption by adding more magnesium-rich foods like spinach, seaweed, nuts and even some mineral waters. But, there is only so much spinach and nuts you can eat every day realistically, so adding a supplement is often easier to do. Chocolate cravings can often be curbed by magnesium supplementation!
The supplements that might be the easiest are the prenatal vitamins you were taking. Take a look and see if your prenatal vitamins have magnesium. This is the prenatal supplement I took whilst I was pregnant with my daughter and my twin boys and I highly recommend it. It is only a small amount of magnesium so I also supplemented throughout my pregnancy with an extra 200mg in the evening.
(6.) Stress: You may be craving sugar because the stress of having a baby, caring for other children, working, running a business, breastfeeding, pumping, not sleeping…all of this depletes your vitamin C and B levels.
Lack of vitamins can also cause sugar cravings. What is interesting is the foods with Vitamin C are often sweet. Oranges, berries, apples, red peppers and guava are just some. There are also vegetables with Vitamin C as well. Your B vitamins are going to be in fish, red meat and dairy if you can digest it.
(7.) Choose Whole Foods.
The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. This will result in your energy levels remaining at a steady level and will stop sugar cravings and fluctuating energy levels. Time your nutrients for an improved fat-burning effect and fill up on whole foods such as oats, rye bread, home-made muesli and granola for breakfast, butternut squash, beans and pulses and sweet potato and it will give you the energy you need throughout the day. By eating this way in the evening you will feel fuller for longer and have a flatter stomach the next morning or with less bloating
Also the more natural your diet is with more whole foods you will naturally eat more fibre which also helps to keep you fuller for longer and helps you to feel more satisfied after a meal. Add beans or vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower that have a lot of fibre to complete your meal. When you feel full of healthy and nutritious food, you are less likely to crave sugar!
(8.) Eat Regularly.
I always eat three meals and one or two small snacks a day, my meals aren’t always huge but I find that if I eat smaller meals more regularly it gives me sustained energy throughout the day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar level drops. That’s definitely the case for me, if I feel hungry, I’m more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.
(9.) Add spices to meals and snacks.
Spices such as Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamon will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
(10.) Learn to read food labels properly.
The most important thing to look at when reading a food label is where sugar is on the list. Forget looking at the number of calories first but make sure there is no processed sugar in the ingredients (you will be surprised how many things it is in!) or at least if it does contain sugar then make sure it is lower down on the list. I always talk to my clients about this and this is the first thing I always look at on a food packet myself. The longer the list of ingredients, I find, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. Sugar is everywhere so be mindful when you are doing your weekly shop.
It is never easy to make big changes to your diet so it is super important to set yourself some small and manageable goals to start with. I always recommend to my clients that they change three small things at the start so it is achievable for them, so start by picking three of the above and before you change anything else make sure these are a well established part of your new daily routine. Of course you will occasionally give in to a treat but don’t berate yourself for that, enjoy it and move on and realise the bigger picture that on the whole you are starting to crawl out of the sugar cravings.
It doesn’t happen overnight but after a few months, from my experience it tends to be three months, you will notice that the cravings are gone apart from the odd treats. The True Vitality 4 Mums Nutrition Plan is an all-natural meal plan based on the above principles so will give you plenty of ideas to help you on your way!
If you would like to ask any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org I would be very happy to help you.
Don’t worry if you didn’t exercise throughout your pregnancy and have a fit pregnancy, you can still lose the baby weight, strengthen your core and pelvic floor and get your body back with the correct nutrition and post-natal exercise. For more information about the True Vitality 4 Mums post-natal 12 Week Transformation Programme, please email email@example.com xx
If you are looking for a Personal Trainer in Richmond, Personal Trainer in Twickenham, Personal Trainer in Kingston, Personal Trainer in Ascot, Personal Trainer in Windsor and Personal Trainer in Surrey contact firstname.lastname@example.org