Do you have a sweet tooth? Mums frequently do after having a baby and often feel the need to have sugar at lunch or mid afternoon as a pick-me-up. Many Mums feel good immediately they have eaten sugar, but then dazed and a little shaky a short time afterwards.
Galanin is involved in the regulation of food intake and levels of Galanin rise when oestrogen levels are high. This could explain why you crave high fat and high sugar foods at different times during the menstrual cycle. A good strategy is to eat smaller and more regular meals. These help keep blood sugar levels stable and keep the sweet cravings at bay.
Eating a diet of complex carbohydrates and protein could also be of benefit. The carbohydrates keep serotonin levels normal. Serotonin is a key chemical in the brain that regulates your sleep, mood, food intake and perceptions of pain. Therefore, eating the right carbohydrates can help to keep sugar cravings away.
Protein on the other hand, helps you stay fuller for longer and so helps prevent snacking between meals.
Moderate exercise is also a great way to reduce sugar cravings. When you have a snack that contains sugar, it releases “feel good” endorphins into the brain. Exercise does the same thing, but in a much healthier and more beneficial way.
Whereas sugar cravings may well be physiological, salt cravings are more likely to be a learned response or habit.
Do you put salt on your food before you even taste it? Mums who like salty foods, often feel the need to eat fries, crisps and nuts. But after eating foods that contain a lot of salt, you are often left feeling bloated. Too much salt can even leave you with puffy eyes and swollen hands and fingers to the extent that your rings may even feel tight.
The more salt you eat, the more you tend to want. You do need sodium to survive, but require less than 500 mg per day. Too much sodium can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, fluid retention and other medical conditions including heart failure and kidney disease.
If you’ve realised that you use a lot of salt, the best thing to do is to cut back gradually rather than cut it out immediately. This way, cravings are not likely to be triggered. Make sure that you read the labels on food products when shopping. You will be amazed at how much hidden salt there is in the foods that you buy regularly.
Here are some healthy substitutes for sugary and salty foods to help you get the balance right:
Healthy substitutes for sugary snacks:-
– A handful of sugar snap peas
– Oat cakes or wholemeal bread with honey
– Low-fat fruit yogurt
– A handful of grapes
Healthy substitutes for salty snacks:-
– Six to eight walnuts
– A small handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds
– One slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter
– Two oatcakes with a thin slice of Edam cheese on top
– A small amount of cottage cheese with tomato and celery
– Two large stalks of celery, with peanut butter thinly spread
– Chopped peppers with cottage cheese and chives
– A mug of low-salt soup
– A slice of wholemeal toast with a small portion of reduced salt baked beans
Don’t let cravings for sugar or salt cause you to hold on to the baby belly. You can lose the weight healthily and naturally without crash dieting, counting calories or feeling hungry. There are no secrets, just stuff you don’t yet know! See below to find and act on the stuff you don’t yet know.