safe weight-loss for breastfeeding mama’s

Ignore the obvious exhaustion. This is me, exactly two months after giving birth to the twins.

After I had my twins, I lost all of my baby weight within a couple of months. Granted, my body had a slightly different shape than pre-babies, but still. The scale read the same as before, and I had done nothing other than breastfeed. I was amazed, and assumed that after I had my third baby things would work the same way. Breastfeed, the weight melts away, and I feel great.

Not so much.

It turned out with my third baby, Sienna, that rather than lose weight while I was breastfeeding, I turned into a bear in the winter time. It seemed that I was the only mother whose body suddenly went into hibernation mode and held on to it’s softness like a long lost friend. I tried eating healthy and exercising, to no avail. The pounds wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t gaining weight (which I told myself was the bright side of it all), but it seemed like there was nothing I could do to slim down.

Again, the exhaustion. Sienna is a few months old here.

After Sienna, I didn’t have another baby for four years, in which time I worked out (fairly) regularly and tried to eat a healthy, whole-food diet. I never did return to my pre-baby weight, but more out of laziness than anything. When I found out I was pregnant with our fourth, Adele, I started eating healthier than ever, drinking lots of water, and making sure I felt great throughout my pregnancy. And I did.

9 months pregnant with Adele.

However, after Adele’s birth, it was the same routine all over again. I lost an initial 15 pounds or so immediately after her birth, but after that, nothing. After about three months of this, I decided I needed to try something different. I knew I didn’t want to diet or do anything that may put our breastfeeding relationship in danger, so I thought I’d try a new angle that I hadn’t tried before.

No sugar. And no sugar meant no refined carbs, either.

And you know what? It worked. In about four months I lost 25 pounds, and I was eating an amazingly healthy diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, even dairy. I didn’t feel restricted or deprived in any way, yet I was losing extra weight that needed to be lost, and my baby was still receiving a ton of nutrients. It was a win-win, in my opinion.

A few months after Adele's birth. I was still very puffy and carrying a lot of extra weight. (Excuse the poor picture quality).

So I know that most people will stop reading at this point, because very few people want (or believe they are able) to stop eating sugar. I had known for years the negative impacts of refined sugar on your body, but I was never brave enough to take the leap Β and cut it out for good. So when I did, I had put a lot of thought into it, making sure I was committed to a lifestyle change. I also wanted my motives to be living a more healthy life, not simply losing weight.


Whether you read just how bad sugar is for your body, or the process by which sugar is grown and refined, you will quickly and easily find reasons for not eating sugar. Raw sugar, organic sugar, brown sugar — all of it is detrimental to your health in more ways than one.

Nearly everyone who consumes any form of sugar will have withdrawal symptoms when they decide to cut it out of their diet. But if you push through those symptoms, which should only last for a few days, you will feel so. much. better. I had a headache and felt literally sick, like I had the flu, for about three days. Once I made it through the initial few days, though, I felt like a different person. It did take me about a month for the sugar cravings to leave, but once they did it was so much easier to say no to sugar filled treats. Fruit has never tasted better. And when I do want to bake something now, I just use xylitol or erythritol, and enjoy a small amount of something sweet without the harmful effects and consequences of white sugar.

A couple of months ago. I still have about 15 pounds I'd like to lose, but this is 25 pounds lighter than 6 months ago.

I should add that I also avoid all refined carbs when possible, so we eat whole grain pasta and bread, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pancakes and waffles, and so on. And I don’t miss our old way of eating one little bit.

I know that this isn’t for everyone, but I do wish I could fully express how much better people would feel without sugar and refined carbs in their life. Not to mention that this could be key in shedding a few (or more!) extra pounds of fat you have hanging on, even for a breastfeeding mama.

If you decide to give cutting out sugar a go, please let me know!

*I want to add that I am not a medical professional, and am not attempting to offer medical advice. I am simply sharing my personal experience to be an encouragement for others who may be struggling with their health and/or weight. Always talk to your doctor before making any major diet changes.Β 

No Comments

  1. Rachel Ortega -  January 4, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    You look amazing!! Thanks for the great advice! Even though I’m not breastfeeding anymore I’m sure this is just a good rule to live by in general.

  2. Nikki -  January 4, 2012 - 8:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’m gonna do some research about what foods to avoid and how to follow in your shoes!

  3. Laurie -  January 12, 2012 - 9:09 pm

    Talk about good timing. I am just about to embark on a ‘no sugar’ lifestyle change. Again, I’ve done it before (and felt amazing) but kept falling off the wagon. I am going to try really hard to focus on how good I’ll feel after the initial first days off of my drug of choice!

  4. Jackie -  November 9, 2012 - 10:56 am

    I’m doing it! Because OMG, I exclusively breastfed and didn’t lose ANYTHING. I didn’t gain. But it was frustrating. Thank you for this. I’m sure I’ll probably have to bookmark this & come back and read whenever I feel like I’m going to crack and satisfy my sugar cravings. Ah, I feel very motivated. Wish me luck!

  5. Molly -  November 9, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    I am working on no sugar right now- this is actually day one so it’s funny that I found this today! Just over a month ago I was almost completely off sugar for 3 weeks then decided I could eat a little on vacation…and haven’t stopped since! It is so hard to give up, especially with sugar-filled holiday season around the corner but I know I’ll feel better. I have 15 of my 65 lb (!) pregnancy weight left to lose but its about so much more than that. I’m lucky to not be an addict of other sorts but ooo sugar gets to me! Are you still off sugar or did you reintroduce it? I always wonder if I’ll ever be able to be moderate with it.

    • Kelli -  November 9, 2012 - 3:13 pm

      I actually started eating sugar again a few months after writing this post. It was a little at a time, but soon enough I was eating it ALL THE TIME. So two weeks ago I finally stopped, AGAIN. πŸ˜‰ I haven’t had any at all in two weeks and I feel so much better already. So I think there are probably some people who can eat sugar in moderation after a time of kicking the habit, but I’m not one of them. However, for me, the key is having sweet things that are good substitutes for sugar. I try to eat fruit when I want something sweet, or sweeten a dessert with honey or maple syrup or something, and that helps. πŸ™‚ Good luck! It’s hard!

  6. Belinda -  November 9, 2012 - 7:57 pm

    Did you cut out fruit during the initial, hardcore stage?

    • Kelli -  November 9, 2012 - 8:33 pm

      Yes, I did actually. I ate berries, mainly raspberries and blueberries, since they are really low in natural sugars. But other than that, I tried to stay away from fruit as well. After I lost the weight I wanted, I was fine to eat fruit.

  7. Guenevere Davis -  November 14, 2012 - 8:26 am

    My twins are 7 months old now.. I have gained more weight in the last 7 months than I did my whole pregnancy =( The whole time I was pregnant I had morning sickness morning to night. I will give this a try! I am nursing and also supplementing with formula also. Will the girls go through sugar withdrawals with me???

    • Kelli -  November 14, 2012 - 11:12 am

      I don’t think so. I didn’t notice any difference in my daughter’s behaviors when I went off of sugar. I have done it for a second time now, and she seemed fine this time around as well. πŸ™‚

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  9. Crystal -  August 30, 2013 - 10:21 pm

    I have gone 1 1/2 days. I literally feel like I am dying tonight. Massive migraine, nauseous and I just feel off.

    I generally eat healthy at home, but have a large soda about every other day and go out to eat 1-2 times a week. I KNOW these things are holding me back from weight loss. I’ve lost 33 of the 55 lbs I gained in pregnancy. My weight loss has become very slow at this point (7 months postpartum).

    Any suggestions on how to deal with the side effects?

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