Chocolate, Breastfeeding & Getting Back Into Shape

Article by Lynn Hickinbottom
chocolate-breastfeeding-shape

A wonderful article by our Nutrition Ambassador, Lynn Hickinbottom. Check out her page for more posts.

 

Chocolate is surely one of the happiest foods on the planet.

 

It releases endorphins and increases serotonin levels in the brain, giving you that instant ‘feel good’ factor. It also contains phenylalanine that has a short, aphrodisiac effect. There’s a lot that explains why so many people crave the stuff.

 

But is it ok to eat it when you’re breastfeeding and trying to get back in shape?

 

Choose dark chocolate (70% – 85% cocoa) if you’re eating it for nutritional benefit. Any other chocolate is really just confectionery because of the higher sugar and lower cocoa content.

Dark chocolate is a powerhouse of nutrients that contain antioxidants and minerals like manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.  These nutrients nourish your heart, lungs, brain and bones. If you’re breastfeeding the minerals and antioxidants will also support your growing baby.

 

However, there are some other things to consider too.

 

What about the caffeine?

Dark chocolate contains caffeine and a 100g bar has about 80mg of caffeine.[1] To put this into context, one cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 95-140mg of caffeine.[2]

The rule of thumb is if you’re eating 5 squares of dark chocolate (as opposed to a 100g bar!) and your baby seems happy with no reflux, restlessness, digestive issues or rashes then they are probably happy with the chocolate too. If your baby is struggling with what you eat then symptoms are often quick to manifest, like reflux, rashes and irritability.

Choose organic dark chocolate because cacao beans are sprayed with large amounts of pesticide.

 

Chocolate and weight loss

There’s a lot in the press about chocolate diets and weight loss, but it’s about eating sensible portions and choosing the right kind. The benefits only come from dark chocolate with over 75% cocoa.  You should be consuming it as part of a nutritious diet with plenty of other foods high in fibre, antioxidants, protein and healthy carbs and fats.

Eating a 100g bar of dark chocolate instead of a healthy, balanced meal is definitely not the way to go, in spite of the antioxidants and minerals.[3]

  • That said, studies do show that eating dark chocolate as part of your diet helps with insulin resistance. This means that it helps your body carry glucose from your food more efficiently into your cells, and this really helps with weight loss.[4]
  • It also is a great Prebiotic for your friendly bacteria in your gut to feed on, which encourages weight loss.
  • To top it all off it helps you stay happy by regulating mood.[5] So factor in some chocolate to compliment your diet and post-baby work out!

 

Stay happy whilst breastfeeding by eating small amounts of organic, dark chocolate to lift your spirits and nourish you and your baby. And the bonus is it will help you shift your baby weight too.

 

References

1 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2

2 https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4277

3 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2

4 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/3/611.short

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3566565/

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