Woman cannot live on coffee and pastry alone. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Scientists have confirmed what sleep-deprived parents have known all along; lack of sleep equals a desire to eat all the sugar, fat and carbs we can get our exhausted mitts on.

We can’t help it. It’s the way our brain is wired. You can thank the hormone ghrelin for that. Ghrelin is the cravings controller. It tells our body and brain what it needs to eat to survive.

When we’re held hostage by a tiny dictator who hates sleep, our body starts pumping out gherlin to help us make it through till bedtime. It’s why even the thought of that first sip of coffee or bite of croissant can make us salivate.

Thing is, the foods our body is telling us we want (full fat latte with pancakes and a hash brown thanks), aren’t ideal for helping us to feel or function better. Grabbing a doughnut or hiding in the pantry to shovel Shortbread Cream biscuits into your gob (not that I’ve ever done that *cough*) is the quick fix. It’ll spike your blood glucose levels, giving you a burst of energy, but wear off quickly leaving you feeling cranky, hangry and probably more tired than when you started.

The good news? Once you get your ghrelin under control, you’ll find it easier to make better choices. And better choices mean less chance of a gnarly sugar spike and spiral. This then makes it easier to steer your trolley away from the chocolate bikkies and towards the fresh produce.

5 Foods Every Tired Mum Needs in Her Kitchen

1. Bananas and blueberries

Not just the perfect pairing in a loaf of baked deliciousness. We all know that fruit makes a (naturally) sweet snack but not all fruits are created equal. Bananas are packed full of potassium which helps keep your blood sugar stable and are the ideal ‘grab and go’ snack.

foods for tired mums

Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse meaning they’re great for our skin and our brain, helping to strengthen and help both to regenerate.

2. Eggs

Whether you like em’ scrambled or poached, an egg a day keeps the hangry away. No, they aren’t the most exciting food on the block. They don’t have a superfood label or a celeb claim to fame but the humble googie really should be given some credit.

eggs - food for tired mums

An excellent source of protein, eggs are also high in iron and trace minerals such as zinc, iron and copper, all of which can be tricky to pack into your diet. They’ll help fill you up and keep energy stable which is a win for busy mums. They can also be eaten on the run. Score!

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds or ‘pepitas’ if you want to be fancy, are a legit nutrition powerhouse. Whether you’re a fan of nuts and seeds or not, it’s worth stashing a packet of these in your pantry and forcing them down daily.

food to combat tiredness - pumpkin seeds

Protein rich and packed with zinc, Omega-3 and Omega-6, they’re fantastic for both energy and brain health. Eat them raw or toasted. Pop them in a salad or bake them into a cake. Just get them down to feel less like a mombie.

4. Avocado

(Healthy) fat is where it’s at and avos are packed full of the good stuff. Mono and polyunsaturated fats help the body to feel full and can even help keep sugar cravings under control.

foods for tired mums - avocado

Good quality fats can also help our central nervous system to function better, leading to a boost in our mood and concentration levels. So take a leaf from the hipster diet and whack some smashed avo on your morning toast.

5. Coffee

Yes, we know we threw some shade at coffee in the opening paragraph BUT a cup of the good stuff alongside other, nutritionally dense options can help you get through the day. And we’re not just saying that.

funny coffee mug

Even the smell of a strong brew can temporarily switch off the ‘I’m so sleepy’ message being pumped out by your brain. Experts recommend no more than 500mg of caffeine per day (a large latte has around 150mg per cup).

Need some more advice on how to manage on zero sleep? Check out our new mum survival guide as well as our helpful guide to smashing mum life with no sleep.


Naomi is 3/4 latte drinking, peanut butter obsessed former magazine girl who now does stuff with words for a living while juggling 2.5 kids, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, husband and an unhealthy obsession with slow cooking.

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