So you’ve had the baby, got through the first few months of new baby craziness and now it’s time to salvage something of your former glory. But the belly fat won’t shift, none of your clothes fit, you’re stuck in clippy bras and easy access tops, you’re suffering from super human sleep deprivation, and you just want to eat cakes and biscuits.
Sound familiar? Whilst the occasional high profile celeb is flaunting her pre pregnancy svelteness, the majority of womankind is in the same, post natal, flabtastic space as you.
It’s a subject that comes up so often in my post natal classes. So by way of a follow up to my previous blog about pregnancy and fat https://alittlefitter.com/2012/07/13/why-do-we-get-fat-when-we-get-pregnant/ and by way of offering the best advice possible to those women in need, here are the three most frequently asked questions and my advice.
WHY DO I WANT TO EAT CHOCOLATE/BISCUITS/CAKE?
Your body is very clever. Pregnancy/breast feeding causes the body to want to store extra, easily accessible fat. Your body becomes more sensitive to sugar and will store fat from excess sugar around your tummy (this is more easily accessible energy for your body than say fat on the hips). Because you are more sensitive to sugars you’ll also crave it more. The more you eat, the more you want.
You are also sleep deprived. When you sleep, your body balances out the ‘I’m hungry’ hormone ghrelin and the ‘I’m full’ hormone leptin. When sleep is scarce you crave sweet, fatty things because your ghrelin hormone is on overdrive.
And finally, when you are hungry, you very often crave quick, high calorie foods. If you’re conscious of your weight and have been trying to cut back you’ve probably ended up bingeing on the high calorie stuff (because of the above hormone changes). Instead of reaching for a biscuit, try to have a sandwich, a boiled egg or a small meal instead. It will regulate your appetite and satisfy your cravings.
I’M BREASTFEEDING. SO WHY AM I NOT LOSING WEIGHT?
As well as sleep deprivation and hormonal changes that encourage your body to store fat, the whole breastfeeding makes you lose weight is, in my opinion and anecdotal experience, something of a red herring. Breast feeding creates calorie deficit but that doesn’t necessarily make you lose fat. Mainly because it makes you blooming starving!
I do however notice that post breast feeding, most women will lose seven to ten pounds of fat that your body has been holding on to. More research needs to be done into how and why but in my experience, making the right choices about exercise and food whilst your breast feeding will pay dividends when you stop.
SO WHAT CAN I DO TO LOSE FAT?
- Do not cut calories, you’ll only wind up binge eating. Instead, plan and prepare healthier choices for your meals and snack.
- When you crave sweet or high calorie snack, reach for a small meal instead. Boiled eggs, humous, a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts are all great, energy boosting snacks that won’t send your insulin levels through the roof.
- Minimize the chocolate/cake fix. Sweet natural foods like coconut are a great sugar alternative and a cup of peppermint tea can often take away the craving.
- Make sure you’re eating plenty of dark green vegetables, like broccoli.
- Eat plenty of fibrous veggies like sweet potatoes, which will help keep you full and satisfy a sweet tooth.
- Have protein with every meal and every snack if you can. This will satisfy your appetite and provide thick, protein rich milk if you are breastfeeding.
- Have lots of happy fats. Avocados, walnuts, oily fish and olive oil are great for satisfying that hunger hormone ghrelin and great for baby’s developing brain and immune system too.
- Accept that a temporarily larger you is a necessary blip in the wonder that is your beautiful new baby.