When you’re breastfeeding, you’re providing a complete diet for your baby for the first six months of their life. But let’s not forget about your own diet. The baby will take what it needs and to have enough nourishment left for yourself it’s important that you eat a healthy and balanced diet. So, what are the best foods for breastfeeding?
Is there even such a thing as a “breastfeeding diet”? Actually, a healthy breastfeeding diet is a lot like a healthy diet anytime and unless you’re allergic, there are no particular foods to avoid while breastfeeding. The food you eat actually flavours your breastmilk and your baby may enjoy some variation!
Best foods for breastfeeding
An easy way to make sure you’re eating the best foods for breastfeeding and getting enough nutrients is to use the plate model. According to the plate model, half of your plate should be filled with raw or cooked vegetables and about one quarter should be filled with potatoes, rice, pasta, bulgur or similar grains, preferably whole. The remaining quarter is for protein. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs or vegetarian options like lentils, beans and nuts are good sources of protein for breastfeeding moms. You can also complement your plate with dairy products like milk and yoghurt. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids while you’re breastfeeding – a good idea is to drink a glass of water every time you breastfeed and to supplement your diet with a drink specifically formulated for breastfeeding mothers.
Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
There’s no list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding but if you notice that your baby gets fussy or gassy after you eat a certain food you may want to steer clear of it for a while and then reintroduce it. Also, doctors recommend that breastfeeding mothers limit their intake of oily fish to two 140-gram servings per week, since it often contains low level of pollutants that can build up in your body over time. Mackerel, sardines, trout and salmon are examples of oily fish. You should also limit your intake of shark, swordfish and marlin to a couple servings per year, since they tend to be high in mercury.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
The safest option when it comes to alcohol and breastfeeding is to avoid mixing the two. Having said that, it’s unlikely that your baby will be harmed by an occasional beer or glass of wine. It takes 2-3 hours for your body to get rid of the alcohol from one beer or glass of wine, so wait a few hours to breastfeed if you have one.
Losing weight while breastfeeding
Did you know that women who breastfeed exclusively for at least three months lose more weight than those who don’t? That’s because you’re using a lot of calories just to feed your baby. If you’re not losing weight while breastfeeding, or losing it too slowly, try cutting back on sugary foods and foods high in saturated fat, for example soda, desserts, fried foods and fatty meat. If you can get back to your pre-baby weight in a year, you’re doing great!