5 Tips For a Healthy Diet While Breastfeeding
By Carly Dunn, Registered Dietitian
- Eat a variety of foods. During breastfeeding, it is important to eat a variety of foods from all food groups. Calories from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins should come from fruits, vegetables, meat/meat alternates, breads/grains, and dairy products.
- Fruits – Fruit contains essential vitamins like vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants. Pair fruit with a protein-containing food, such as cottage cheese or string cheese, for a complete snack.
- Vegetables – Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Have ready-to-eat vegetables accessible in the refrigerator (baby carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes) for a quick and healthy snack.
- Meat/Meat Alternates – Choose low fat options such as turkey, lean ground beef, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, tofu and nut butters. Opt for healthy cooking methods like baking, broiling, or barbecuing.
- Bread/Grains – Choose whole grain products when available. Make sure that half of your bread/grains come from whole grains. Whole grain options include oatmeal, breads, muffins, pitas and English muffins.
- Dairy Products – Dairy products are a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Breastfeeding moms should consume 1300 mg of calcium per day. The best sources of calcium are milk, yogurt, hard cheese, calcium fortified orange juice and calcium fortified tofu.
- Opt for healthy fats. Choose mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive or canola oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), avocadoes, olives, nuts and seeds.
- Increase fluid intake. While breastfeeding, one should consume 8 – 8 ounce glass of water per day. Exercise and hot or humid climates will increase fluid needs. Limit highly caffeinated food and drinks. Choose 100% fruit juice and avoid any beverages with added sugar.
- Serve up fish. Some fish contains DHA and EPA (Omega 3s) that play an important role in brain and eye development. Your baby receives Omega 3s via breast milk. Fish is low in saturated fat and high in protein. Recommended fish consumption is about 6-9 ounces per week.
- Take a multivitamin. Many moms choose to continue taking their prenatal during breastfeeding. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about this.
For more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics or Mayo Clinic websites.