It’s amazing to think about how our bodies actually make food for our babies! Not only do we nourish our children when they are in our wombs, but we keep doing so once they arrive! Having a healthy diet and knowing what to eat while breastfeeding, will help to support a good milk supply. Here are 12 of my favorite meal ideas for nursing moms for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
As we are breastfeeding and providing for our babies, it’s so important that we make sure we are providing for ourselves through eating a healthy and filling diet! Not only will this help our baby continue to grow stronger, but it will also help keep us healthy and our energy up as we adjust to motherhood.
Reasons Why Nursing Moms Crave Certain Foods
Eating a healthy diet when you are nursing is a lot harder than you may think! I personally went into a little rut of just eating junk food for a bit, and I learned that there’s actually a biological reason for doing so! When you have a newborn and you’re breastfeeding, there are two main reasons why our bodies are going to naturally crave fats and sweets: lack of sleep and not eating enough!
Researchers have found that it is very normal for new mothers to crave sweets more than usual because when their natural sleep patterns keep being interrupted, it triggers signals in your brain while also lowering our decision making abilities. Thus, it’s easier to mindlessly grab the candy bar than usual!
It’s also easier to eat unhealthy in the early stages of nursing and newborn life because we’re not used to needing more calories. I know I felt this way right after I had my daughter! I kept noticing how starving I was, and I was confused because I didn’t even feel this way while I was pregnant.Then I learned that a woman who is breastfeeding will burn an extra 500-600 calories a day! Isn’t that crazy?!
And, when you have a bigger appetite, your body is naturally going to crave foods that are higher in calories and fats to make up that difference!
Today, I’m going to be sharing all I’ve learned about what to eat while breastfeeding to keep your supply up, your appetite satisfied, and your baby fully nourished! I’m also going to be sharing some meal ideas to hopefully provide a little inspiration!
What to Eat While Breastfeeding
Before we jump into what to eat while breastfeeding, I just want to emphasize that everyone is different! Everyone has different preferences, tastes, and even some dietary restrictions, but no matter what you prefer, it’s important to eat a rainbow of foods.
Be sure to keep your plate varied with a mixture of the items below, and change it up every now and then!
When I don’t eat protein, I notice that I feel like I’m starving. It has helped me to stay full longer, and I try to incorporate some healthy proteins in every meal. Of course, since I am not a vegetarian, meat is a great option for me to get in some protein. However, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan friendly protein options as well including nut butters, seeds, beans, and more!
2. High Iron Foods
Lots of women struggle with iron deficiencies throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Interestingly enough, breastfed babies do as well! So, it’s important to incorporate high iron foods! They will also help with your energy! Things like spinach, liver, and red meat are great options!
3. High Fat Foods
High fat foods are not only really great for you, they are also great for your baby! Long gone is the myth that foods high in fat are actually fattening–that’s just not the case! As a matter of fact, high fat foods are great for keeping you full for longer and promoting brain and heart health. Avocado, whole eggs, nuts and seeds, and even adding olive oil into your cooking are examples of healthy, high fat foods.
I know it may not be everyone’s first choice to munch on, but I think it goes without saying that veggies should definitely be included in the list of what to eat while breastfeeding!
There are two simple ways you can start incorporating more veggies in your diet if they aren’t your go-to choice! First, you can sneak them into healthy smoothies. It will mask the taste without masking the benefits! Secondly, you can meal prep! By making a big batch of veggies at the beginning of the week, it can be easier for you to simply pop a serving in the microwave at meal time!
5. Grains + Starches
I really found that healthy grains and starches were another way to keep me feeling full and away from the candy jar! My go-to grains and starches lately have been oatmeal and sweet potatoes! Find some good grains and starches that you can have around to make your meals complete, and you’ll be fully more satisfied throughout the day
Like I said above, it’s all about eating the rainbow! Play around with different foods in each of the categories. See what works for you and for your baby!
What I’ve Found:
Speaking of finding what works for you and your baby, I’ve recently learned that some babies handle foods that you eat differently. For example, some babies are sensitive to milk and dairy, even through your milk.
In my situation, I was noticing that my little one was randomly getting gassy. After this happened a couple of times, I finally realized that baby girl couldn’t handle broccoli well and it was upsetting her tummy. Another thing I learned that she can’t have is bold spices.
Because of this, I recommend taking note of what you are eating on a regular basis and keep an eye out for trends of when your baby is acting extra fussy, gassy, etc. Especially in the beginning, this can save you a lot of time if you ever need to retrace your eating habits!
Meal Ideas for Nursing Moms
Now that we’ve covered our bases, talking about what to eat and what to look out for, let’s dive into some meal ideas!
The key to eating right when you are nursing is keeping it simple! You need some meals that are nutritious and easy to whip up when you are on the go!
It’s your first meal of the day! You want to start out with something nutritious and filling! Especially if you’ve had a long night, eating something big first can really curb those cravings later on in the day!
Throw in some nuts and fruit, and you’ve got a really filling and nutritionally balanced meal! Plus, if you’re short on time, you can easily microwave it and it’s ready in less than 3 minutes!
– Egg Burritos
Whether you want to make these ahead and freeze them or you have time to make them fresh, burritos are a great way to get a bunch of nutrients and feel full afterwards. Grab a whole grain tortilla, throw in some cheese and veggies in, and you are set!
Here is one of my FAVORITE Breakfast Burrito Recipes.
– Sweet Potato Hash + Sausage
I can NOT get enough sweet potatoes! They are just so filling and delicious! When I was first introduced to this recipe, I was leery about having them for breakfast. But, Y’all this is my favorite breakfast!
I add Sausage and either scrambled or over medium eggs for a bit of protein.
Here is my FAVORITE Sweet Potato Hash Recipe.
I, personally, get a lot of protein from meat, so I try to eat a lunch that has a good amount of protein, sprinkling in the other foods mentioned above. Here are some of my favorites:
– Chicken Salad Avocado Boats
Healthy fats, some carbs, and lots of proteins?! What could be better?
I like to pre-make some chicken salad and then when lunch-time rolls around all I need to do is cut an avocado. I like to add pecans and cranberries to my chicken salad.
Here is my FAVORITE Chicken Salad Avocado Boat Recipe.
– Chicken Pecan Salad
If you’re wanting more greens with your lunch, you can always go with a yummy salad!
– Pork Fried Rice
Rice is another really good and filling grain that could keep you full until dinner! I’m a sucker for Chinese food, but I hate how much sodium it has. That’s why I love to make it at home.
Here is my favorite Pork Fried Rice Recipe/
With dinner, I usually go a more traditional route with a meat and a healthy side or two. My current go-tos are…
– Chicken + Rice Soup
For the winter months, soup is where it is at! It’s warm, it’s delicious, and it is SO easy to meal prep! Make a big pot and have it for lunch or dinner the rest of the week! Have a whole grain roll or a grilled cheese if you’re feeling extra hungry and you will be set!
Here is my GO-TO Chicken + Rice Soup Recipe.
– Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Ground beef is not only affordable, but it is also a great source of protein and high in iron! Of course, I am going to couple it with some sweet potatoes and call it a day.
Here is a YUMMY Taco Stuffed Sweet Potato Recipe.
– Steak + Green Beans.
I feel like the rest of your family, especially the husband, will appreciate this one! But, you can sear a steak on the stove or grill it if the weather is nice. I like to mix it with green beans, but you can easily do some mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or another vegetable to go with!
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Even if you plan out your meals and meal prep for each one, snacks can be a slippery slope to an unhealthy diet! Chances are, even if you eat perfectly for your meals and get full, you’re going to need a snack or two if you’re breastfeeding! Your body is working so hard, and you’re going to need some healthy and filling snacks to get you to your next meal. Here’s what I go for…
– Perfect Bar
If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying a Perfect Bar, I highly suggest you go and get one right away! They are a super food-filled snack masquerading as a candy bar! Seriously, they are so delicious, filling, and healthy for you!
They are also a big portion, so once you eat one, you are left feeling like your sweet tooth has been satisfied!
– Trail Mix
Another way to satisfy your sweet tooth while having a hearty snack is by eating some trail mix! There are all kinds of different mixes out there! Make sure you get one with a good amount of nuts (cashews, almonds, and/or peanuts) with a little bit of sweet, and you’ll be set!
– Banana with Peanut butter
As you can see, I like for snack time to be something that will satisfy my sweet craving while still providing nutrients for my little girl! Another go-to for me is peanut butter and banana! It’s seriously so filling! You could always do an apple instead or get a different kind of nut butter to mix things up!
6 Tips for Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding
1. Prep it
It takes work on the front end, but it is so worth it! Prepare your meals ahead of time! Cook big batches of veggies, wash those grapes you just brought home, and get some healthy snacks and meals ready to go!
When you are taking care of a newborn, it is hard to stop everything and cook yourself a fully nutritious meal 3 times a day. That’s just not possible. Prevent yourself from grabbing a candy bar for lunch and prep it ahead of time! Your body and your baby will be thanking you!
2. Buy pre-made things
Now, I don’t mean run to the junk food aisle and load up on Pringles and Twix! But, I do mean that you should look for items that are healthy and pre-made that you can grab when you’re hungry. For example, the Perfect Bars I mentioned earlier or Kind Bars are great alternatives that will still give you some needed nutrients!
Thankfully, we live in a time where healthy foods are becoming more popular, so it is easier to find pre-made foods and snacks that are also wise choices to eat!
3. If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it
This is my ultimate motto for eating. I don’t restrict myself from anything, but I try my best to eat whole foods!
While you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to be tempted even more than normal to eat junk food. Try your best to keep the rule of thumb that if God didn’t make it, don’t eat it! Reach for whole foods, snack on an apple and peanut butter, and avoid overly processed items that really won’t do much for your health, energy, or your milk supply.
4. Cheat Meals
It is okay to have a cheat meal…Actually, it is encouraged for you to have a cheat meal every now and then! Yes, you are providing nutrients for your baby. Yes, you are recovering from birth. But, you also deserve to splurge and enjoy yourself every now and then! Do it for your sanity, and do it for your mental health!
5. Remember to Eat
If you aren’t in the throws of newborn motherhood, this tip may be hard to understand. But, it can be really easy to get caught up in all the cuddles, snuggles, diaper changes, and feedings and completely forget to take care of yourself! Even if you have to set an alarm, prioritize nourishing your body so that both you and your baby will reap the rewards!
6. Drink Water
Water is always important, but it is especially important when you are breastfeeding! The more hydrated you are, the better your supply will be! Not only this, but the more hydrated you are, the less foggy and out of it you will feel! Grab yourself one of those giant jugs, fill it up for the day, and just carry it with you wherever you go!
It can feel overwhelming to figure out what to eat while breastfeeding, so I hope that this guide offers you a little inspiration to try out some things and figure out what works best for you!