Did you know breastfeeding affects food cravings? We tell you what to eat, and how much | health | Hindustan Times
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Did you know breastfeeding affects food cravings? We tell you what to eat, and how much

We tell you why women crave food while breastfeeding and also what kind of healthy meals you should have at that time.

health Updated: Aug 07, 2017 12:18 IST
Dr Chitra Nagraj
It is a common observation as per a 2012 study from the Journal of Holistic Nursing, that many breastfeeding moms reported food cravings after pregnancy and throughout their breastfeeding journey.
It is a common observation as per a 2012 study from the Journal of Holistic Nursing, that many breastfeeding moms reported food cravings after pregnancy and throughout their breastfeeding journey.

If you’re a woman, you’ll eventually have food cravings depending on age and hormonal changes. These cravings usually occur once a month post puberty. However if pregnant, you may start craving foods you never liked and just like during periods or pregnancy, breastfeeding can cause cravings too.

It is a common observation as per a 2012 study from the Journal of Holistic Nursing, that many breastfeeding moms reported food cravings after pregnancy and throughout their breastfeeding journey. Apart from food, mothers also face thirst cravings. This is because when the baby suckles, nerve impulses send a message to the brain which stimulates thirst as well as a release of oxytocin. The baby’s suckling has a direct relation with hormonal changes leading to hunger and satiety.

1. Common foods that mothers usually crave for

As a mom of a little one, night time sleep is often disrupted, which affects not only the amount of time one gets to sleep but also the quality. Sleep deprivation impairs the ability to make decisions and increases the desire to eat, drink, talk and other things. These alterations in the brain’s activity increase the desire for unhealthy foods. Sweets and fatty foods are the mostly craved items by mothers in general during breastfeeding which is related to changes in brain activity due to the baby’s need for milk.

Certain foods may cause a chemical reaction in the body that increases one’s desire for them. When mothers eat foods high in sugar or fats, the body produces opiods, which makes them want those foods even more. Food items such as chocolate contain substances that trigger mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain, bringing on feelings of euphoria.

2. Adding flavour to your milk

Often new mothers are advised about changing their diet plans because they have begun breastfeeding. Most of them are under the impression that nursing is a nutrition reality check. They feel that the child is sucking fat cells from the mother’s body, which is a myth. They are told to check on their ravenous appetite and eat the right kinds of foods to properly nourish the baby.

The fact is that mothers should just eat well and enjoy their food. Including a variety of foods from all the food groups can help meet nutritional needs and foster a sense of satisfaction, helping to satiate cravings too. The more the variety, the more the taste to your milk and this in a way helps in developing the baby’s taste palate. The bottom-line is that these cravings influence the eating habits of the baby before he or she starts eating.

3. Fill the diet with healthy food

The key is to eat regularly to tame hunger and keep energy levels high to help fight off the cravings. The more you’ll eat, the more you’ll feel prepared for breastfeeding. A diet full of protein and fibre along with a glass of water at equal intervals will help mothers meet those dietary and fluid needs.

Cravings usually don’t last long, and if you wait them out, they may pass. If a craving won’t go away, try a healthier alternative because the food you eat affects not only your health but your baby’s as well. Till then, happy cravings!

Courtesy: Dr Chitra Nagraj, Member of Medela LC Club , MD (Community Medicine) PGDMCH (Post-Graduate Diploma in Maternal and Child Health)

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