my hunger diaries: adventures in postpartum eating

June 5, 2012

sure, there were moments during pregnancy when i got pretty hungry — during the first trimester, in particular.  i’d eat a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast [random craving for me], and then i’d want another one just an hour or so later.  i wanted meat, cheese, and lots of salty carbs. mealtimes took on a sense of urgency that they had never had before.

but as i grew, my appetite shrank.  i’m not sure whether it was mostly mechanical in nature [ie, very little stomach space] or a hormonal effect on the desire/drive to eat, but by the middle of the 3rd tri my weight gain had really slowed.  i have to admit that it was probably the first time in my life [well, since childhood!] that i’d ever routinely indulged in haagen dagz and the like with absolutely no guilt or trepidations whatsoever. <– and yeah — that part was sort of fun 🙂  i knew that annabel needed the extra calories, and even with these nightly ‘supplements’, i ended up a couple of lbs. down in the last month of pregnancy.

body image + the bump
the relationship that any woman has with her body during and after pregnancy is complicated — and to be honest, for me, i think this is especially true.  by lessening my exercise and ramping up eating, i purposefully gained 7 lbs or so prior to getting pregnant because i believed it would help me conceive, and from this juncture i truly do think it helped.  i’d love to say that i was comfortable in my own skin at my own personal ‘fertile weight’ and that i enjoyed the process of getting there, but . . . well, that’s just not true.

when my bump became obvious and i finally got that there was SOMEONE inside me — a real person, our daughter!! — i started to appreciate my new [and continually shifting!] shape.  i ate very intuitively throughout pregnancy other than adding some extra treats in to try to prevent weight loss at the end, as i mentioned above.

and after . . .
after she was born, everything changed.  i found that the pregnancy weight basically took just days to come off [perhaps i could have been even more aggressive with the ice cream regimen in those later days].  but thankfully, annabel was healthy and my milk supply seemed reasonable.

fast forward two months, and i’m back into many of my pre-preg clothes [well, the bottoms, anyway].  my proportions have shifted somewhat, but seem to be slowly going back to the old normal.  however, i am finding that at this point it’s actually become hard for me to get enough food in the day.  i’m eating 5-6 times/day, including good-sized meals and snacks [see below], and even so i’m finding that my go-to jeans pre-pregnancy are fitting more loosely than they used to.

the hard part to admit is that this means it would be incredibly easy to lose more weight right now — and sometimes it’s tempting.  but the rational and less vain part of me knows that this is not a good idea for either my milk supply or my future fertility, and i feel a bit guilty and selfish even having those thoughts.  i actually put a calorie/nutrition-tracking app on my iPhone last week to see if it would help me by reinforcing the amounts that i needed, and because i was curious as to how much i was actually taking in.  this experiment failed miserably, because:

a) i ended up taking in more than was recommended, even when i added in 500 extra ‘exercise’ calories for breastfeeding.  [keep in mind that i am only 5’1″].  this made me feel like i was doing something wrong when in fact i was just listening to my body, which surely is more evolved than an iPhone app

b) i found it really annoying to measure things out and couldn’t stand trying to estimate a million different things — especially when eating something i cooked or eating out

so, it’s back to intuitive eating with some extra treats added in for good measure.  i am going to really try to maintain at my current size, even if i don’t always love it.  and if i find myself really having trouble, i will head back to the RD for a couple of visits [i went when i was TTC and it was helpful].

so with all that said, here’s what a day in the life of a breastfeeding and running mom looks like — in food. 
from start to finish:
6a breakfast — either the old standard [waffles with sunflower or peanut butter + fruit] . . .
or oatmeal [helps with supply] with raisins and god-only-knows-how-much peanut butter.
9a snack:  plain yogurt + granola.  i eat this every day, without fail.  the granola is also oat-based — another positive for milk production.  
i buy a local brand [little red wagon, based in chapel hill] and the ingredients are fantastic!
12:30p lunch.  this microwaved wrap is actually atypical — usually i eat leftovers [and on the weekends, we often go out and get something more indulgent/fun].  but i hadn’t cooked in a couple of days, so insta-falafel it was.  these wraps are fairly substantial in size compared to other frozen foods [this one was 430 kcal].  
3:30p snack #2.  laughing cow cheese / crackers / fruit.  
7p dinner.  often we actually eat much later, but last night i couldn’t wait for josh and just went for it on my own.  i made chicken tettrazini from clean eating — basically chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes on top of whole wheat pasta tossed in a yogurt-milk-based sauce.  sadly, it was kind of boring and i probably wouldn’t make it again.  
8:30p dessert.  i ate this ice cream sandwich while rocking annabel back to sleep after the 3rd [or so] attempt to put her down.  
i ran 3.5 miles yesterday [easy pace] and despite all this still woke up SUPER hungry this morning.   jen wrote a similar post recently, and like her i find myself surprised that i need to eat this much, but remain convinced that yeah — i really do.  
[can’t believe a. is still asleep!!  i was going to shred but perhaps in the spirit of this post i’ll just sit back and take a rest day.  and eat something, because i’m already hungry.]

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