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Breastfeeding has a magical way of injecting some sort of sugar monster into our bodies. It is a beast that doesn’t sleep unless its had some sort of sweet treat every couple of hours. Well, at least that’s the beast inside of me. I have heard many other mamas mention their sweet-tooth intensity while breastfeeding. Its a common side effect we all deal with or give in too. But do we know exactly why this is happening?
In order to combat the sweet desires that consume our minds and control our taste buds, we must understand why they are happening. Now, if you Google this problem, most articles are going to tell you a number of vague, over-generalized answers like its just because you’re tired. It is true that being tired causes you to crave all sorts of food-crack, and is an absolute reason for the sugar-fairy to show up, but there is more to the story of what’s going on.
First, you may be low in magnesium, which is fairly common when breastfeeding because you need more magnesium than if you weren’t. Check this out:
It’s recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women get 20% more magnesium per day than the average person. Since the body can’t create magnesium, it has to come from outside, so breastfed babies have to get it all from breastmilk.
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. (source).
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. The Underground Health Reporter states,
Chocolate cravings, in particular, are curbed by magnesium supplementation. Magnesium is also contained in commercially available ionic/water soluble mineral formulations.
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. Better yet, check to see if they have both magnesium and chromium, which is very important as well. This prenatal vitamin is full of minerals and enzymes to help you digest the food you are eating. Definitely worth a look!
Next, 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, liver, red meat and dairy if you can digest it. Sometimes, you are doing the best you can to eat a lot of different foods, but you just can’t get enough vitamins. That’s where a supplement comes in to help! I talk about some great protein powders for breast feeding moms in this post,Delicious Protein Powders Perfect For Breastfeeding Moms, and a few of them are a great source for Vitamin C, B and minerals. I recommend protein powders because they have a load of extra vitamins and minerals, in addition to the protein you need when you are trying to adjust to a new baby, breastfeed, eat healthy and lose weight. Its a lot! You might also want to check out these posts, talking about some great foods you can eat to help you lose the baby weight while breastfeeding.
Lastly, you are probably craving sugar because you need more fiber. Sometimes we don’t eat enough fiber, so we don’t feel full, even though we ate a large plate of food. Your body needs water and fiber to digest your food. If you skip out on much liquid and fiber, it confuses your body, and thus you are left feeling unsatisfied after a meal, and looking for sweets. Try to ensure you are eating high-fiber foods at meals. Eat some fruit before your meal, add beans or vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower that have a lot of fiber to complete your meal. When you feel full, you are less likely to crave sugar, because your stuffed.
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