When you breastfeed, your body burns about an extra 500 calories per day. For some, that means a quicker than normal baby weight loss. For almost everyone, it means that breastfeeding makes you hungry. Very hungry. But what should you eat? The quick answer is whatever is most available/convenient to stuff into your mouth in between or during nursing sessions!
If you want to make sure that what you're eating while breastfeeding will keep you feeling full and energized for longer, it helps to spend some time and thought planning and preparing meals and snacks that are ideal for breastfeeding.
You could spend hours reading up on nutrition -- hours that you don't have when you're a new parent. The very basic information is this:
If you want to eat...
For good nutrition...
Eat vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (avocado, nuts, fish, whole egg), protein (meat, soy, dairy, egg), and calcium-rich foods (dairy, spinach, broccoli)
For long-lasting energy...
Eat complex carbs (whole grains, beans, vegetables)
To feel full longer...
Eat protein and healthy fats
When planning a meal, it's important to include a variety of nutritional sources at each meal, like a lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carb. For example, chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, topped with diced avocado, paired with long grain rice and steamed broccoli. Top it off with a tall glass of water for hydration and voila: the perfect breastfeeding meal. If you're eating vegetarian, switch out the chicken for tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas or another protein-rich vegetarian food.
30 Nutritious Breastfeeding Friendly Snacks
Just as important as meals -- perhaps more important -- are easy-to-eat, ready-made (or quickly made) snacks that a breastfeeding parent can eat quickly or easily with one hand. Pack in the most nutrients and energy with the following breastfeeding snack ideas.
- Hard boiled egg
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, mixed nuts)
- Raw veggies alone or with dip
- Greek yogurt
- Sliced/cut fruit or berries
- Multigrain granola bar
- Sliced deli meat
- Cut cheese/cheese sticks
- Smoked salmon
- Glass of milk
- Chia pudding
- Protein bar
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter, cheese, hummus, or avocado
- Apple slices with nut butter
- Celery with nut butter or hummus
- Trail mix with mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
- Granola with yogurt
- Whole grain toast with nut butter, hummus, cream cheese, cottage cheese, smoked salmon
- Pita bread (toasted or regular) with hummus, avocado, salsa
- Oven baked veggie chips
- Tomato juice
- Shelled edamame
- Applesauce topped with cinnamon
- Air popped popcorn drizzled with oil or shredded cheese
- Whole wheat muffins with fruit or veggies