Mums often ask me, what types of foods they should be eating whilst they are breastfeeding. There are some general guidelines that all Mums that are breastfeeding can follow, these have been summarised into 10 helpful tips!!
- Eat a varied and balanced diet. Think back to the ‘healthy food pyramid’ at school! Lots of wholegrain breads and cereals, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables; moderate amounts of lean red meat, chicken and fish and reduced fat dairy.
- Include more protein-rich foods in your diet. Ensure you include protein-rich foods, this includes red-meat, chicken, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds and reduced fat dairy.
- Eat foods containing calcium. The obvious foods that are high in calcium are all reduced fat dairy products. Some alternatives include calcium enriched soy based yoghurts and milk, and tinned fish with bones (salmon and sardines). If none of these foods are part of your normal diet then you should consider taking a calcium supplement. A lack of calcium while pregnant and breastfeeding can be detrimental to the mother’s health.
- Take a ‘breastfeeding’ supplement or an iodine supplement. A pregnancy/breastfeeding supplement is a great way to know that you are getting adequate amounts of all vitamins and minerals for your baby. Health authorities have recently recommended that all breastfeeding women take an iodine supplement (150micrograms) each day. This is usually part of most breastfeeding supplements.
- Snack smartly throughout the day. Try to have healthy snacks on hand all the time. It is easy to reach for unhealthy snacks foods; however these often don’t satisfy hunger. Try snacking on fruit, reduced-fat yoghurt, reduced-fat flavoured milk, wholegrain crackers with low fat cheese, raisin toast, dried fruit and nits or a boiled egg.
- Make sure you drink lots of water. Breastfeeding mums need to drink plenty of water to ensure they produce adequate milk and remain hydrated. If you are exercising as well, this is even more important. You will need to drink approximately 3-4L of water per day. Check the colour of your urine it should be pale in colour.
- Avoid empty calories!! It can be so easy and tempting to just have one more…. However these foods provide lots of energy, but minimal nutritional value. Try not to deprive yourself completely, but only treat yourself every now and then with a very small treat!!
- Avoid all ‘fad’ diets. This are not safe for breastfeeding Mums. Fad diets are not suggested anytime, least of all when you are breastfeeding. These diets are often not balanced in what they provide nutritional. While you are breastfeeding you really need to include a very balanced diet.
- If you choose to drink alcohol while you are breastfeeding, limit and time your intake. This is a very personal choice, and I’m not about to tell you one way or the other. But my message is to be smart, if you do choose to drink. Ideally breastfeed before you have a drink, and remember that a standard drink will take approximately 2 hours to clear from your body.
- Prioritise good nutrition. Make it a priority each day to plan good nutrition. It is so easy to skip meals and then find yourself snacking on ‘empty calories’!! Don’t worry, we’ve all done it! Try to make time for yourself, and prepare balanced, varied, healthy nutritional foods (I know easier said than done, but all I ask is that you try!!)
Written by Sally – ShapeUp Mums trainer and resident dietitian.