Pregnant And Hungry? Read This
Women usually have hunger pangs depending on age and hormonal changes. Post-puberty changes in women also induce food cravings during their periods. This is also seen during pregnancy, with some women craving foods that they once disliked. Many new mothers experience such hunger pangs during breastfeeding, just like during their periods or pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is considered as the biggest boon for the newborns. But it also makes a mother hungrier, since it burns a lot more calories. New mothers are generally sleep-deprived, and experience irresistible hunger pangs at odd times. And to satisfy these cravings, they usually tend to consume more carbohydrates. But though that is an easy way to suppress hunger, but such practice can lead to overweight and other illnesses.
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Lactating mothers also feel extremely thirsty, because the baby’s suckling of milk has a direct relation with hormonal changes which stimulates thirst, hunger and satiety. The most common food items craved by breastfeeding mothers are sweets and fatty foods. This is because of opioids produced by the body. Chocolates, for instance, contain substances that trigger mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain, bringing on feelings of euphoria.
Several studies have proved that a mother-to-be or a new mother requires more nutrients that empty calories. At least 300-350 extra calories more than the BMR is required to cater to the baby’s need. This means a mother need not eat for two during lactation, as advised by many family elders. Instead, they just eat well and enjoy their food by including a variety of foods from all the food groups. This helps meet nutritional needs and fosters a sense of satisfaction, and satiates the hunger pangs too. Variety in the diet adds more taste to the milk produced and helps the baby to develop a taste palate. Dietary intake of protein and fibre along with a glass of water at appropriate interval will help mothers to fulfil the vital needs of both food and fluid.
If the craving still don’t subside, mothers should opt for healthier alternatives since it not only affects the mother’s health but the baby as well. Instead of opting for biscuits , go for chips or other processed items, handy seasonal fruits, vegetables , nuts or anything home-made. Do not fall into the myth of consuming more sugar to increase milk supply. Sugar cravings can be instead satisfied by choosing sweet fruits such as banana, chikoo, litchi or dates. Increase the intake of water/fluids, which will not only flush out toxins but also help increase milk supply. .
Here are quick and healthy snacks ideal for breastfeeding mothers.
1. Yogurt- Packed with Calcium and probiotics, it’s a yummy treat for your tummy. For extra protein, go for hung or Greek curd.
2. Hard-Boiled Egg- An awesome snack option, but be sure that your baby doesn’t have food sensitivity to eggs.
3. Apple Slices and Peanut Butter–This snack only takes few minutes to prepare and will tide you over until dinner.
4. Nuts – A handful of nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachio, groundnuts etc can provide quick energy boost and satisfy those intense pangs.
5. Salad – Mix up veggies such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and anything else you like. Keep a stock of it in your fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, sprinkle a little dressing of your choice
6. Avocado Slices – It is a super healthy snack loaded with healthy fats and other nutrients to benefit both you and your baby.
7. Fruits and Oatmeal–Oatmeal along with a piece of fruit or diced fruits serves as a source of iron, zinc, manganese and calcium. It is also a good source of fibre.
8. Herbal Teas – There are many herbal teas available that support breastfeeding and milk production, Such as Chamomile, nettle leaf, red raspberry leaf etc.
Addressing your hunger at a regular interval is the key to keep up your energy level high and fight off the cravings. While they shouldn’t over-indulge, breastfeeding mothers should never starve themselves either. Eating frequent and small meals (atleast 6 meals at day) rich in fibre and natural unsaturated fats help achieve a sound health and help check those sudden cravings.
(The author is a lifestyle coach and diet counsellor. She tweets @Bipasha1sugati)