About a month ago I decided to keep a food journal for at least one week.  I was having problems with headaches, shakiness, and fatigue.  I suspected that the culprits were low calorie in-take and sugar crashes.  My goal was to ingest a minimum of 2000 calories a day and decrease my sugar consumption.

2500 is the recommended calorie intake for nursing mothers.  My first day I consumed about 2440 calories.  The first thing I found about keeping the food journal was that it reminded me to take the time to do things like eat breakfast and an afternoon snack.  That’s about 400 calories a day I would have skipped in the hustle and bustle of taking care of the house and kids.

The real shocker to me was that I consumed 131 grams of sugar on a day in which I was consciously trying to cut back.  I looked up the recommended daily allowance and was even more dismayed to find that it is only 40 grams of sugar.  The biggest offenders that first day were a combo of 2 corn dogs with ketchup (16g), one can of decaffeinated Coke (39 g), a Snickers bar (16 g), and a fruit cup of peaches (16 g).   Now I usually only have a soda maybe once a week, but I started thinking about periods in my life when I would drink probably three to four a day in addition to all of the other sugars I was consuming.

In my search for low-sugar snacks (I eschew artificial sweeteners), I discovered things like crackers with peanut butter, crackers with cheddar cheese and pepperoni, and tortilla chips with salsa to be better alternatives.  I’m thinking that a salad with home-made dressing should fit the bill as well.  They are definitely healthier than the junk I was eating before.

I have to be realistic, though.  There is no chance of paring down to 40 grams of sugar a day.  Just the three servings of skim milk recommended by my midwife takes up 36 grams of the daily allowance.  At first, I thought I would try to limit myself to 80 grams of sugar a day, but that really led to a less varied diet and I found myself completely avoiding fruit.

Keeping the journal for  a week was really enlightening, and I highly recommend it.  I decided that my best plan of action would be to do things like cut down from three tea spoons of sugar in my morning coffee to two, 3/4 cup sugar in the pot of sweet tea instead of one whole cup, etc.  I am trying to limit myself to one high-sugar junk food a day (pack of cake rolls, candy bar, ice cream) and try to have it as late in the day as possible.  And I’m not going to worry about how much fruit I eat at this point, it’s usually only one serving a day anyway.

One other point of interest is that in order to figure out the number of calories and grams of sugar I really had to pay attention to portions.  I learned that one small scoop (about 1/2 cup) of vanilla ice cream with 1 Tbsp of chocolate syrup equals 50 grams of sugar.  Normally I would prepare two scoops with syrup for me and each of the kids.  If I didn’t need to eat 100 grams of sugar in one sitting, I began to realize that they certainly don’t either.  So, it’s also made me more aware of how much sugar they’ve been consuming, and I’ve been trying to make adjustments accordingly.

Since I’ve made these slight adjustments, I have been feeling quite a bit better overall.   I still get headaches from time to time, but I think they are mostly due to exhaustion rather than diet.  I’ve not had any shakes recently, and I’ve had more energy.  And I’m hoping that when I stop nursing in a few months I can start adding some weight back on (not to mention get more sleep) to feel even better.

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One Comment on “Sugar-Bustin’”

  1. Dawn Says:

    So, how are things going? I agree with your assessment that the fatigue and shakiness is not getting enough food. I have the same thing happen.

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