Breastfeeding is a magical experience. In fact, breastmilk often appears to be a magical cure for just about everything. If you are a part of thes Mothering Forum boards, you have probably seen moms tell other moms to “put your breastmilk on it” to help with some sort of ailment. Baby is sick? Nurse them more. Pink eye? Put breastmilk on it. Diaper rash? Rub some breastmilk on it. Husband not helping as much as you need? Squirt breastmilk on him (Ok, that last one is a joke! Sort of).


But in reality, breastmilk can do some amazing things. It not only offers all the nourishment your baby needs for the first year of his or her life, but it also can do things like change it’s makeup when your baby is sick to offer more antibodies and immune-boosting support. It is laden with vitamins and minerals that help your baby’s muscles grow and their brain development. And that’s without you doing anything special to it!


Imagine what your breastmilk can do if you nourish your body properly. How your breastmilk can offer even more nourishment with healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Any breastfeeding mom, or mom who is done nursing her babies, can tell you that nursing makes you HUNGRY. Like, all the time. And those easy snacks like cookies and granola bars are simple to grab, especially with one hand. They are emotionally satisfying, too. But they aren’t the best thing to eat, and they aren’t the best thing to help your breastmilk.


That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy that cookie or that cheesecake that your husband brought home to apologize for not helping around the house after you squirt breastmilk on him. You totally should because being a new (or new again!) mom is HARD and EXHAUSTING and sometimes food just brings us a little bit of comfort that we need.

But your day-to-day diet should be filled with nutrient-dense foods that can help develop your baby’s brain and body. And what does that look like for a breastfeeding mom? If you're asking, "What should I eat when I'm breastfeeding?" you've come to the right place!

Let me show you.

Below is a list of some great foods to eat while you are breastfeeding. These foods are high in nutrients for your body, and they offer sustainable nutrition for your little one through your breastmilk. They will also have you feeling full so you don’t crave those sugary treats as much. Below that is an example of what you can eat during the day as a breastfeeding mom. If it looks like a lot, remember that breastfeeding takes a lot out of you- moms are recommended to consume 300 to 500 additional calories per day while nursing.

Below that are a few recipes of yummy yet healthy treats to try eat while nursing. They are easy to make, fast to grab, and satisfying. And the best part is that they are good for you AND your baby.

The best foods to eat while breastfeeding

According to healthline.com, you should be eating foods from every category each and every day. Fill your plates with fruits and veggies, but make sure you add those proteins and carbohydrates, too. You should also shoot for foods that have necessary nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, B12, selenium, and zinc as the need for these nutrients while breastfeeding go up as well. Here is a list of some of the best foods you can eat while nursing that are nutrient-dense, delicious, and healthy:

Fish and seafood: salmon, seaweed, shellfish, sardines

Meat and poultry: chicken, beef, lamb, pork, organ meats (such as liver)

Fruits and vegetables: berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, kale, garlic, broccoli

Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds

Healthy fats: avocados, olive oil, coconut, eggs, full-fat yogurt

Fiber-rich starches: potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, buckwheat

Other foods: tofu, dark chocolate, kimchi, sauerkraut

I would like to point out that under “other foods” that dark chocolate is considered a healthy option for your sweet tooth- yay! The higher percentage of cocoa in dark chocolate, the better. You can often find 60% to 90% dark chocolate in the candy aisle, flavored with all different kinds of flavors like sea salt, spicy, and orange. It’s a sweet treat that is good for you and baby. But dark chocolate does have a high amount of caffeine in it, so be sure to eat it sparingly so your baby can get the rest he or she needs.

The best breastfeeding diet: A Daily Example

It’s easy to put all those delicious and nutritious foods in your grocery cart and bring them home. But how do you make those into a daily meal plan?

My best advice as a seasoned mom (a mom who has been there, done that- three times over) is to meal prep. I know, it sounds hard--meal prep? But you already have a BABY to take care of. And possibly other children. Never mind all the house chores!

But in all honestly, meal prepping once a week can really help you stay on the right track with your nutrition. And you don’t have to meal prep every single thing for every single day. Maybe just meal prep lunches and the main dish for dinner each night if breakfast is something you know you will make each morning. Or maybe prep overnight oats and dinner if lunch is always a smoothie and a salad. Do what works for you- but taking an hour over the weekend (which is a great time for dad to have some daddy bonding time) will make your breastfeeding diet journey so much easier.

Here is a daily example of what you can eat during the day on a breastfeeding diet:

Breakfast-
Protein smoothie (protein powder, 1 cup diced fruit and veggies like mangoes, spinach, pineapple, strawberries, and kale, almond milk, ice) served with 3 egg whites and 1 egg scrambled with cheese and topped with Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

Snack- Greek yogurt with dark chocolate chips and almond slices, Breastfeeding Protein Balls (see recipe below)

Lunch (prepped earlier in the week)- Spinach and arugula salad with grilled chicken, strawberries, blueberries, goat cheese, black beans, and diced sweet potatoes. Carrots and hummus on the side.

Snack- Cucumbers with guacamole. 3 turkey, bacon, cheese wrapped in romaine lettuce leaf (Pro-tip: Cook bacon during your meal prep day in the oven and save it for use during the week!)

Dinner: Grilled salmon with brown rice and quinoa, roasted asparagus, and roasted sweet potatoes

Dessert- Frozen greek yogurt or “nice-cream” with a square of dark chocolate

Breastfeeding Diet Recipes

Looking for some breastfeeding diet recipes that are easy to make? Here are few that I have loved over the years- and some I still make!

Breastfeeding Protein Balls

From: TheBakerMama.com

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons of brewers years

1 cup peanut butter or almond butter

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together with a mixer except for the chocolate chips. When combined, slowly fold in the chocolate chips. Roll into 2 inch balls and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Keep chilled in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.



Breastfeeding Breakfast Smoothie

From: MyPurePlants.com

Ingredients:

2 Kiwi

1 Banana use frozen for a thick smoothie

1 cup Fresh spinach leaves

1 + ½ cup Dairy-free milk or try to make cashew milk at home

3 Tbsp Gluten-free quick oats

1 Tbsp Chia seeds or Flax seeds

1 Tbsp Hemp powder

1 Tbsp Peanut butter -> list of gluten-free brands

Add everything to a blender and mix! Then enjoy.

Why should you follow a breastfeeding diet?

What you put into your body always matters, but it never matters more than when you a feeding your child. Offering nutrient-dense foods to your own body will not only put it in the healthiest state possible, but it will also transfer those nutrients to your baby when they nurse from you. Nothing means more as a mom than being able to offer a diet rich in vitamins and minerals that will help nourish your baby’s mind and body.

And though it may not seem important when you are nursing a tiny, itty-bitty baby, it becomes increasingly important to model healthy eating as your child gets older. Even if they are still nursing, they are watching and observing the kinds of things you are eating. They will begin to want those same types of foods as they begin eating solids on their own, so it is important to show them exactly what proper and healthy nutrition looks like, even from the beginning.

Most importantly--remember that hydration is also key to a healthy breastfeeding diet. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and aim for at least half your body weight in ounces each day!

Image: DeymosHR/Shutterstock