Striking the right nutritional balance when you are breastfeeding is really important for both you and your baby. Although your milk supply may not be affected by what you eat, your body will always put your baby first. Therefore, it will take the nutrients it needs for your baby’s milk from its own stores. This, in turn, can affect your energy levels, general health and wellbeing if you are not getting the nutrients you need from your diet. This does not mean that you should stop eating certain foods (we all love cake!), it simply means that you should try to incorporate healthy choices wherever possible. These breastfeeding superfoods will help your energy levels and prevent you from having blood sugar lows, which can make parenting that much harder. If you are finding it hard to cook meals, breastfeeding superfoods are nutritional powerhouses that offer quick alternatives.
Avocados provide essential ‘healthy’ fats that will not only give you a necessary energy boost throughout the day but will also help balance your cholesterol levels. Alongside this, they are rich in protein, vitamin E and folate, which helps in the healthy development of your baby’s central nervous system. You need 4-5 mg of vitamin E and 260 mcg of Folate daily when breastfeeding. Avocado is, of course, absolutely delicious on toast, or throw it into a salad to give it an extra textural and nutritious dimension. Or, give my Avocado Taco recipe a try! It is absolutely delicious and an exciting way to inject this healthy fat into your diet.
Homemade stock is an excellent source of collagen, co-enzyme Q10, cholesterol, all minerals and essential amino acids. It can be made up during pregnancy and frozen for use in a range of recipes, including soups. It is perfect in a cup, especially when you only have one hand free!
Brazil nuts are a great snacking food for nursing mothers. They are full of selenium, vitamin E, and magnesium.
Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, which will not only keep you fuller for longer but will also help regulate your blood sugar levels. In addition to this, it is an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, protein and fibre. White rice does not offer the same health benefits, so it is important to stick to brown when you are nursing.
They might not be everyone’s’ cup of tea, but chia seeds are an excellent source of essential fats, protein, calcium and iron – all of which are essential for breastfeeding mothers. An easy way to incorporate them into your diet is on your cereal, with fruit and yoghurt, or even in smoothies!
Low in calories, naturally fat and cholesterol free, and more potassium than four bananas – what’s not to love about coconut water?! It also contains calcium, phosphorous, and lauric acid.
This is not the only reason we love coconut water, however. Indeed, it is brimming with electrolytes and is thought to be better at replacing lost fluids than sports drinks or water. Staying hydrated is really important when breastfeeding.
Not only are eggs a quick and easy snack for sleep-deprived parents, but they are also packed full of nutrients, including choline, vitamin A, B12, D, K, selenium, iodine and protein. Plus, boiled eggs are great hot or cold, which is something new parents will learn to cherish!
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables, including spinach and broccoli, are not only nutrient-dense, but they are packed full of iron and folate, which helps your body build healthy red blood cells. They also contain calcium, magnesium, and are an excellent source of vitamin C – all excellent for breastfeeding mothers.
The following herbs have been traditionally used to regulate milk supply, and can be used in cooking:
- Blessed Thistle
- Caraway seeds
Natural Live Yoghurt
Yoghurt offers high levels of calcium, protein magnesium and B vitamins. Additionally, live yoghurt includes beneficial flora, which can help you and your baby maintain a healthy gut.
Organic Dried Apricots
Apricots can increase prolactin – the hormone used to make your body produce milk. They are a great snack and contain many essential nutrients including beta-carotene, iron, vitamins A and C, as well as plenty of potassium and fibre.
Salmon, or other Oily Fish
Oily fish is brimming with protein and DHA (part of the Omega 3 fatty acid), which are needed for the healthy development of your baby’s nervous system. Oily fish is also packed with vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones, learning, memory and mood. It is advisable to eat two portions of oily fish per week.
Pumpernickel bread offers you a low GI carbohydrate (slow release energy), fibre, B vitamins and selenium. It is available in most supermarkets. Pumpernickel bread can be enjoyed toasted with peanut butter and banana, or avocado and marmite for a healthy snack.
Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, which helps your body absorb calcium, and therefore, is essential during breastfeeding. It is also an excellent source of fibre and protein, which is excellent if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
ARE YOU VEGAN?
The Department of Health recommends that all vegan mothers should supplement with vitamin D and vitamin B12 when breastfeeding.