Why do postpartum mamas get cravings?There are many changes happening postpartum -physical, mental and emotional .These changes can be a driving factor behind cravings. One of the major forces behind these cravings are hormonal changes.
Hormonal changes and cravings postpartum:
After birth, there are a flood of chemicals and hormones that surge through a new mama's body. Specifically, estrogen drops very low and prolactin rises. This is the lactation chemical that helps you produce your breast milk. Oxytocin comes into play, and other pheramones with a new baby. Additionally, days and weeks after birth, hormones and chemicals are still changing! Our bodies can react to these changes by signalling appetite or cravings. Many women experience monthly cravings with their cycle, and this issue is just replicated postpartum. The rise and drop in hormones can cause changes in appetite and cravings that will take some time to adjust.
Exhaustion and fatigue increase the need for carbohydrates:One of the major reasons postpartum moms struggle with cravings is severe fatigue. When our brains are functioning on little sleep for many days, it needs more energy to function. The brain prefers to function on carbohydrates, and it knows that sugar is the fastest way to get energy to the brain. There's really no way around the lack of sleep. Sleep and newborns just don't go together, so there isn't a way to magically get more sleep. But, there are healthy carbohydrate sources tired moms can eat to help get their brain the glucose it needs to function.
Stress and depression can increase cravings:New mamas are under an immense amount of stress once baby arrives, and many times stress can cause mindless munching and cravings. Stress also raises cortisol levels, which can increase cravings for sugar and carbs. The surge in hormones after birth, followed by a drop in hormones can cause increased depression in postpartum moms too. Depression and stress often lead to food cravings as a coping mechanism. Of course there are many various factors for individual moms that cause food cravings. Sometimes bad habits from pregnancy just continue over to postpartum.
Why am I addicted to sugar postpartum?
Sugar cravings postpartum, in particular are a result of more specific nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, and energy needs for breastfeeding. Glucose the the first choice of fuel for our bodies, so often times the sugar cravings are really just your body's signal for more nutrients and energy. There is a choice once these needs are signaled. Choosing chocolate over an apple are two very different sources of glucose. Getting into the habit of eating chocolate just tells your brain that's what is available, so that's what to crave.
Nutrient deficiencies can also cause your metabolism to slow down and your hormone levels to get out of whack. There are some ways to increase your metabolism with specific vitamins and nutrients, that will also help reduce sugar cravings. Read more about that here.
Increased nutrient needs often result in more sugar cravings:There is an increased need postpartum and breastfeeding. We have a free ebook going over all the specific nutrients postpartum moms need more of. There is a higher demand on your body when healing after birth and breastfeeding, which means your body requires more nutrients. When there is a lack of nutrients from the diet, the body will signal for more food, which is often confused as sugar cravings. Milk Dust is specifically formulated to target these nutrient deficiencies, as well as supply postpartum mamas specific nutrients proven to reduce sugar cravings. These include cinnamon bark, chromium, magnesium and cinnamon bark. Adding in the extra nutrients can really help with feeling satisfied and reducing sugar cravings. There was an observational study recently conducted on the dietary habits of women during pregnancy and postpartum. In that study, they mention the importance of diet both prenatal and postnatal:
Following pregnancy, optimal dietary intake during postpartum continues to be important to support the additional nutrient requirements for breastfeeding (5), as well as to reduce postpartum weight retention. Postpregnancy weight retention between pregnancies has been associated with short- and long-term maternal and child health risks, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes in women with previous gestational diabetes (6, 7), stillbirth, and large-for-gestational-age infants in subsequent pregnancies (8). Maternal diet quality during pregnancy and lactation is inversely associated with infant relative weight and fat mass in early life (9), hence the importance for mothers to maintain healthy dietary behaviors both during and after pregnancy. (source)
Fatigue and stress are common triggers for sugar cravings:Postpartum moms are stressed and tired. There is no arguing that the stress and fatigue is gonna stay a while. Coffee is one way to combat the fatigue, but adding in foods and minerals to boost energy can be super helpful. Milk Dust has folate and vitamin b12 to help with energy, without using caffeine. Sometimes low iron levels can add to the exhaustion, which is where folate and vitamin V12 can really help.
Increased energy needs for breastfeeding result in sugar cravings:
Our bodies prefer glucose as the energy source. A tired brain needs more glucose to get through the day, so there will be more cravings throughout the day for sugar. Many mamas choose quick and easy snacks that are full of sugar, and immediately feel better. But, these snacks are low in nutrients, which brings us back to the nutrient deficiencies that will continue the cravings. Milk Dust Bars are an amazing, fast source of carbohydrates, nutrients, protein and lactation herbs to really help combat these cravings.
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What food cravings postpartum really mean?Simply, postpartum cravings just mean our bodies need something. That could be sleep, energy or nutrients. Cravings often mean that our bides are going through changes, adjusting to different hormone levels, and working hard to recover from a traumatic event (birth). Cravings are the body's way of saying it needs more of something, but the brain is often conditioned to want sugar (a fast and easy source of glucose), so that's what it will interpret the cravings for. Sometimes postpartum mamas are under-eating too, based of being incredibly busy. Sometimes the food and sugar cravings come from literally needing more food.
Simple steps to manage and reduce those postpartum food and sugar cravingsThere are some super simple steps you can take to reduce the sugar and food cravings.
- Eat fruit rather than processed snacks and foods. Fruit is a fast and healthy source of glucose for your brain
- Eat protein to increase satiety (feeling full), which can really reduce cravings. Milk Dust protein shakes are amazing for this because you can add fruit with your shakes, and they taste amazing! You get a treat and protein at the same time!
- Drink more water to fill your stomach and reduce headaches
- Focus on nutrient-dense foods that are easy like oatmeal, sweet potatoes and bananas. These have sugar and glucose, while also offering a lot of nutrients.
- Fill up on veggies for more fiber. Fiber can really fill up your stomach, so more food doesn't sound good. Use veggies as a tool to feel super full, which will help your body stop cravings.
- Keep processed foods (bread, chips, crackers, tortillas) to a minimum. These increase your blood sugar, and don't leave you feeling full at all.