Apr 30 2012
New moms often ask me what they should eat to help them and their babies be healthy. All new mothers ( breast and bottle feeding) run the risk of fatigue and for that reason I recommend eating frequently to control hunger and overeating. Snacks that contain protein, complex carbohydrate, and some fat help keep your blood-sugar levels steady. Eating enough food allows fat cells to make the hormone leptin and leptin signals the hypothalamus to cut our appetite and make us feel full. When the stomach is empty it makes another hormone called ghrelin. Grehlin signals the brain the body needs more food and we become hungry again. If you skip meals or snacks, you may confuse this internal appetite regulating system. You’ll also feel weak, famished and tired. It may sound crazy but hunger is the enemy of anyone who wants to eat well and lose weight. It leads to over eating and poor food choices. Just observe the quality of what you eat when you are “starving”. That is when mothers over-eat because they are too hungry to make good choices.
Snacks that are rich in simple sugars like candy, sweetened fruit juice, or soda are rapidly digested. These foods give a boost to your blood sugar. Often, your body responds by overproducing insulin, the hormone responsible for keeping your blood sugar steady. When too much insulin is produced it can bring your blood sugar low enough to cause a new round of hunger. To prevent this cycle, simply eat regularly and eat foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat cheeses for snacks. Snacking on fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks, or yogurt tend to be filling and self-limiting while “dry” salty foods like chips, pretzels and crackers never quite lead to fullness because they contain very little water. Foods that have high water content tend to promote fullness.
One word of warning about night-time snacking. If you need to eat something at the 2:00 A.M.feeding, because you’re really hungry, then by all means have something to eat. But keep in mind that nighttime snacking can be a tough habit to break once you’re no longer getting up to feed your baby and don’t need the extra food. When my children were babies, I filled a glass with ice cubes before I went to bed. When night feeding time arrived, I drank the glass of ice – cold water instead of eating. If you are a nursing mom, the glass of water at the very least will keep you well hydrated.