I received an email a month or so ago from a new mummy client of mine who comes to Mummies and Buggies with this question:
I think one thing that I would like is more advice on what to eat whilst breastfeeding. Us mums are craving carbs and sugar, and eating loads of rubbish like that is obviously not good for us, but I also find it can make me feel a bit down in the dumps/not sleep well etc.
A feature on what are the best foods to eat whilst breastfeeding to keep our energy levels going & stop snacking as much would be very welcome I’m sure.
So, I’m here today to give my top tips on beating the sugar cravings, and give you ideas on what sorts of foods you should be eating as a new mum who’s breastfeeding, or a pregnant mum who’s busy growing a human or two inside themselves.
‘Snacking’ isn’t really what I’m going with here, by the way. We’re not cows, ok? Three meals a day should be more than enough.
Sure, the guidelines in late pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding state that you need around an extra 200 calories per day to sustain the demands on your body.
I’ve never been one to count calories – what your body needs is solid nutrients – that is the difference in the message I’m sending here.
Here’s an example:
- One chicken breast = 197 calories, 0.00g carbs, 7.79g fat, 29.80g protein
- One aero bar = 221 calories, 25.2g of carbs, 12.30g fat and 2.10g protein
Food for thought there, eh (pardon the pun!)?
If you want to stop the sugar cravings for good, you’ve got to switch up your meals – and realistically, it’s only one extra chicken breast a day you need in your system…
What you may find is, if you’re not eating enough protein, that’s why you’re feeling sluggish:
A really good tip to start off is to bulk-buy chicken breasts.
As soon as you get home, heat up the oven, season and pop the chicken breasts in for 30 minutes or so, set the timer and remove.
Once cooled, slice them up and place in take away/plastic containers in the fridge.
They’re so easy to snack on at 2am in the morning, and full of protein which is the exact stuff you want in your system to help you feel ‘fuller for longer’.
They’re also really convenient for taking out and adding to a stir fry, curry and/or casserole as they’re already cooked beforehand – saving you time you simply don’t have.
INVEST IN A SLOW COOKER
Your best friend in the winter months is a slow cooker.
Marry him, honestly.
A slow cooker, or any slow cooked meal takes precious time off your hands, as all you have to do is cut up some veg and meat, bung it in with a can of tomatoes (or whatever), a bit of seasoning and you’re done.
You can also cook an entire roast chicken, a gammon joint and beef brisket in your trusty slow cooker too – I’ve done all of these recently myself.
Eggs are one of the best, if not THE best sources of protein because they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids.
So, with that nugget of information, what’s stopping you boiling up a dozen or so eggs and leaving them in the fridge?
Want your eggs a little fancier?
Check out my clean eating egg muffin recipe for these little babies you can easily cook, cool and pop in the fridge for later.
A great dish to make that you can prepare, cook and take slices out, as and when you need them.
Add your favourite green veg sliced thinly like asparagus, beans or zucchini and you’re on to a winner.
I personally can’t eat a traditional frittata – they’re just too heavy on the cheese and cream, so seek out a recipe that is heavy on the eggs and green veg, and light on the cream/cheese.
Seriously, who was it that said we have to eat cereal for breakfast?
(Actually, I know the answer to that one: Dr Kellogs the creator of cornflakes, which if you’ve been keeping up with my newsletters of late, you’ll know we’ve all been lied to now for decades about the benefits of consuming so-called, sugar-laden cereal for breakfast, but that’s another story for another time)
Just because everyone around you is scoffing down bowls of sugar at the breakfast table, doesn’t mean you have to too?
I’m not a morning person and quite often, my first meal of the day is past 11am because of my class timetable (I get home three nights a week past 10pm, you see).
I eat whatever’s in the house at this time to ‘break my fast’ (well, I usually do a workout first, then eat, but that’s another story for another day too).
Who said you can’t eat last night’s stir fry, homemade curry or casserole upon waking?
I say, if it’s packed full of protein and green veg, you know exactly what’s in it because you made it yourself from scratch, and it’s pumped with much-needed nutrients for you and your baby, shovel it in.
Ok, so not necessarily a food, but seriously, when was the last time you drank a full pint of water?
If your Health Visitor hasn’t suggested drinking a pint of water every time you feed your baby, let me pop that suggestion into your head right now.
Our bodies are made up of 60% water, and keeping your fluids up, so to speak, helps flush out toxins/waste, helps deliver oxygen to the body, regulates body temperature is needed by the brain to manufacture hormones to help you lactate.
If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so make sure you have bottles of water in the car, in your buggy, in your handbag – water needs to be everywhere.
If you’re pregnant and getting a lot of morning sickness as you’re reading this, you’ll want to up your fluid intake now.
Severe morning sickness = severe dehydration.
And, there you have it!
My top tips for betting the sugar cravings to help you provide the nutrients your body needs to build, birth and breastfeed your baby.
I cover the topic of nutrition and so much more in my pregnancy Pilates and pregnancy fitness classes and Mummies and Buggies postnatal fitness sessions, so book your space to increase your knowledge…
…and improve your children’s chances of having a healthy upbringing too, because remember – if you feed yourself good food, you’re setting a great example for your children too.
Can’t make a class?
Don’t worry – book a 1-2-1 pregnancy personal training where I’ll run through this and more, or if you’re a new mum, book a private postnatal session with me instead where I’ll set you an individualised program to get you on the road to recovery.