Breastfeeding & Weight Loss: The Missed Connection Part 3 Obesogens

Continuing from: Breastfeeding & Weight Loss: The Missed Connection Part 2 Plant-Based Protein

Comparatively speaking, it is harder for this generation to lose weight. If that's true, what's a nursing mom to do? Let's take a closer look at what this particular study found.

“Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,” Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. “However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.”(4)
The popular theory espoused by the fitness and weight loss industry in short is calories in, calories out. What exactly are calories anyhow? A calorie is a unit used to measure the energy value of food. Calories are categorized in two ways; large (enough heat to raise the temperature of  1 kilogram of water (equal to 1 thousand small calories), and small (enough energy to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water).

This theory is so pervasive that, calorie a unit of measurement, is seen as the equivalent of nutrition and health. Calories and nutrition are expressly different and not all calories are equal. Some food experts are saying that counting calories are a gross oversimplification of a complex process and ignore the biochemistry of food.
“Different foods are metabolized differently, absorbed differently, converted into fat or energy differently and raise or lower your risk for disease differently,” he says. Focusing on calories ignores all of this complexity." - Dr. Robert Lustig, Dir. of Weight Assessment of Teen & Child Health (5)
Going back to the study, what "specific changes" are contributing to the rise of today's obesity, which teeters at a mind-boggling rate of 70%? Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University suggests three possibilities.
  • People are exposed to more chemicals that are weight-gain-inducing such as pesticides, flame retardants, and substances in food packaging. These types of chemicals may alter hormone processes.
  • Antidepressant use. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed drug and they've been linked to weight gain.
  • Altered gut environment. The microbiome of Americans has changed since the 80's. Possible culprits include the increased consumption of animal products which contain hormones and antibiotics. (6)
The common thread in these points outlined by Professor Kuk - is chemicals. And just like everyone else, the nursing mom is exposed to them. The clear difference between then and today is our food. What our great-grandparents or even our parents ate has changed drastically. I'm referring to agriculture - not just processed and packaged foods. Modern foods contain chemicals. Pesticides, preservatives, additives and the like. There's a term for hormone-altering chemicals: Obesogens. 

Some of these obesogens are:
  • BPA (bisphenol A) - Used to make plastics. Found in the lining of canned foods.
  • Pesticides - Used on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Antibiotics/Soy-fed Animals
  • Conventional, Genetically Modified Soy
  • Phthalates - Plastic softeners that mimic estrogen. Found in plastic packaging.
  • Artificial hormones such as trenbolone acetate. TBA is an anabolic steroid given to cattle to "beef" them up. (No pun intended)
Although this piece is catered specifically to nursing mothers who are interested in losing weight, I've hardly mentioned them here. Here's the missed connection: weight loss pertains to a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Breastfeeding moms are often ostracized just because they're lactating. We are held to stricter standards when it comes to food however, the basic fact is clean, healthy foods do not discriminate...people do.
On the other hand, eating the right kinds of foods can temper your body’s insulin response and cause fat cells to settle down. “The cells open up and release their energy, which floods back into the body,” Ludwig says. “Hunger decreases, metabolism speeds up and weight gain isn’t a struggle because you’re working with rather than against your body.” In other words, dieters have been preoccupied with quantity when we should have been focused on quality.(5)
Keep your diet as well as your lifestyle as clean as possible. Here is how I define clean:

  • Reduce exposure to chemicals in food, environment, and products as much as possible.
  • Avoid genetically modified food and products.
  • Avoid food-like products. Eat real food. (Artificial colors, flavors, natural flavors)

Go Organic
The organic food systems avoid the use of chemicals, namely pesticides. There is a benefit to going organic as much as you possibly can.

Go Grassfed
Grass-fed cows are raised without artificial hormones and antibiotics.

Avoid Plastics, Canned Foods
If you must purchase prepared foods, buy food in glass jars or non-plastic, non-leaching containers.

Avoid Processed Foods
This can be a difficult one. Any food that is packaged or pre-prepared can be considered processed. Any foods that need to be preserved for long-shelf life or foods that are "enriched" fall in this category. For me, I've adopted a home-made diet. 80% of my food is made from scratch . It can be time-consuming but it is very, very rewarding. Stay tuned to this site for more details and information about the home-made diet.

Eat Whole Foods
The opposite of processed foods are foods that are left intact. In other words, agricultural foods that have been left as is. Nothing added, taken away, or genetically modified.

Use Non-Toxic Personal Care Products
Our skin is a living organ. Whatever you put on it is absorbed through the skin and enters directly into the bloodstream. Watch this short video.

Money-Saving Food Tips
I'm a mother managing a family of ten. Trust me when I say I understand how expensive grass-fed beef can be. My financial solution to this was going meat and dairy free. In my opinion, its way better to be a vegetarian than to consume hormone-laden meat and dairy. Not only does this allow more of my budget for wholesome foods, but I've noticed even fewer colds and persistent urinary issues have disappeared. As I've mentioned in the second article of this series I've utilized Miessence Complete Protein powder. I add a tablespoon in my hemp milk recipe to boost the protein profile of hemp milk. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on grass-fed meat to feed a family of ten, I purchase a single bag of protein powder - $73.85 retail (I receive a 20% discount. Contact me to ask how.) a month to use in my hemp milk. Our hemp milk is used for drinking, in cereals and an overall replacement for daily milk. Additionally, meat consumption should be minimal at best. A healthy diet should be primarily plant-based with clean meats as a secondary choice of protein.

Another money-saving tip is to buy in bulk. Because I prep food from scratch I purchase my olive oils, pink salt, and unrefined cane sugar in bulk.

Going home-made has saved us so much money too! When you prep your own food, not only do you cut out the huge markups in food prices, but you have complete control over the quality of ingredients. For example, a jar of organic sunflower seed butter can go for $8.00, depending on the brand and the ingredients typically are sunflower seeds, a type of oil and salt. If you purchase a bag of organic, roasted sunflower seeds between $2 - $4 and process them in a food processor, not only will you save and extend your resources, but you can control what kind of salt and oil you want...if you want it. I truly believe additives in food can be weight-inducing.

As a nursing mom, I was pleasantly surprised at my weight loss when I cleaned up my diet further. It was a blessed and hopeful discovery after years of nursing! Being told that I needed to eat x amount of calories or ingest so much nutrition never proved to be helpful advice when nursing my first seven children. My eighth child was the catalyst of enlightenment. I believe breastfeeding moms CAN lose weight while breastfeeding and do it safely, healthfully fully benefitting her nursling(s). It requires a close look at your own personal environment in terms of food, product usage, and the willingness to inform yourself. Essentially, it requires a lifestyle change.

10 Day Vitality Challenge

Every month I invite anyone looking to add wholesome, raw and organic superfoods to their diet for ten days. You're invited to our next challenge. Simply order your kit and contact me to be added to the support group.  Learn more.

Recommended Reads:
Breastfeeding & Weight Loss: The Missed Connection
Breastfeeding & Weight Loss: The Missed Connection Part 2 Plant-based Protein

What You Thought You Knew About The Cosmetic Industry


Hannah is a mom of eight children - ranging from 22 years of age to a year. She has nursed every one of her children for a year or more and is currently nursing her eighth child, now a year-old. This series is based on her vast experience and research as a lactating mom. She is not a lactation consultant or nutritionist. The information presented here is presented in an informational and testimonial format and shouldn't be used to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases. Please contact your local lactation consultant for any breastfeeding problems.

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