Healthy Diet for Breastfeeding Moms

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Your little bundle of joy likely brought along some not-so-joyful bundles as well–around your stomach, hips and thighs. If you are breastfeeding, it may be easier for you to lose weight, because it takes additional energy to make breast milk. However, you’ll have to pay strict attention to the foods that you eat and follow a healthy diet for breastfeeding moms. Remember that everything you eat, your baby will eat as well.

Caloric Needs

Caloric needs vary from woman to woman, based on body composition. Those who weigh more need more calories to maintain their current weight. The average person, however, needs around 1,800 calories per day. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll need an additional 200 to 500 calories per day to provide proper nutrition. You don’t necessarily have to count calories, though. Simply eat something healthily when you feel hungry.

No Diets Allowed

If you strictly limit the amount of food that you eat, the way you would following a traditional diet, your baby will not get proper nutrition. You shouldn’t follow a weight loss diet. However, you do want to eat healthy foods. Some people will naturally eat healthy foods when not on a diet, while others will turn to fried foods and other junk foods. The occasional treat is fine, but if you are worried that you might eat too much junk, you may want to choose a healthy eating plan, such as the Eat Clean Diet or the Weight Watchers’ Core Plan, which both limit the amount of junk food you eat, and don’t limit healthy foods.

Necessary Nutrients

In addition to the calories, you also have to pay attention to getting the right nutrients for your baby. Breastfeeding moms need additional iron (found in red meat, spinach and beans), zinc (found in eggs, seafood and whole grain products) and calcium (found in dairy products and green leafy vegetables). Supplement a healthy diet with prenatal vitamins, which are also good for lactating women.

Eating Often

Every time your baby eats, you may feel as though she’s sucked all the life out of you. This is a great reason to eat small healthy snacks whenever your baby eats. Spreading your calories out over the day allows you to stay full and make sure you’re eating enough.

When Weight Loss Isn’t Happening

It’s normal for your body to hold onto those last 10 lbs. when breastfeeding, and you may find that you won’t lose weight until your baby weans. If you have more weight than that to lose and aren’t seeing any results on the scale, take an honest look at the foods you are eating. If you are overindulging in junk foods, you won’t be losing weight. However, you will also stop losing weight if you are not eating enough calories to support both you and your baby. Try adding a few more healthy calories–such as veggies with dip or a handful of nuts–to see if this kick-starts your weight loss.

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