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Avoiding "Hanger" While Breastfeeding

Rachel O'Reilly

Hanger (noun) / Hangry (adjective): an overwhelming sensation of hunger that leads to anger and frustration.

You may have been there before, even prior to getting pregnant; you wait too long to eat, then suddenly it feels like the world will end if you don’t get food into your body immediately! 

This can be a common experience while breastfeeding, especially if the diet is made up of refined carbohydrates and low-fat foods. To supply your body with the extra 300 - 500 or so calories needed to produce breast milk and maintain enough energy to care for yourself and babe, focus on whole, energy dense foods.  

During lactation, mothers should continue to eat special nutrient and energy dense foods, which is very similar to eating before conception and during pregnancy.

Healthy Fats for Energy

Energy dense foods can easily be attained in the form of high quality fats. While the suggestion to eat fats may sound alarm bells in your head, especially with a desire to lose pregnancy weight, consider that not all fats affect the body in the same way. Fats are actually the body’s preferred energy source, and when you eat the ones your body was designed to use, fats offer healthy skin, hair, body temperature, immune function, and also aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Additionally, fats are super satisfying. Not only do they make food taste great (which is why bacon in anything tastes great), but fats are also crucial in suppressing hunger via hormonal pathways between the gut and brain. A meal with sufficient amounts of healthy fats will provide more energy and satisfaction, especially in comparison to a high carbohydrate meal or sugary snack, which will leave you hungry in a hour or two.

Healthy fats should come from pastured animal meats, coconut oil/meat/butter, oily fish like salmon or sardines, avocado, macadamia nuts, whole milk (if tolerated) and fermented dairy products, eggs and their yolks, butter and ghee -- just to name a few.

Example Day of Energy-Giving Fats:

  • Breakfast: Pastured eggs prepared how you like them, with no-nitrate, grass-fed bacon and fresh seasonal fruit

  • Snack: Smoothie made with full fat coconut milk and frozen berries

  • Lunch: Homemade soup made with bone broth, served with a side of sourdough bread topped with grass-fed butter or avocado 

  • Snack: Sweet potato/egg/avocado stacks (pictured above, with cubed red bell pepper)

  • Dinner: Meat/organ meat with side salad and roasted sweet potato topped with coconut oil and cinnamon