10 tips for a healthy breastfeeding diet

Posted on July 13th, 2017

Registered dietician and Head of Discovery Vitality’s nutrition strategy Candice Smith gives advice on what moms should include in their diet while breastfeeding to produce the best-quality breast milk.

10 tips for a healthy breastfeeding diet

Many new moms want to know what they can eat, or should avoid eating, while breastfeeding. Others are trying to shake off their pregnancy weight at the same time, which can leave them confused about their diet.

ALSO SEE: Is it safe to follow the banting diet while breastfeeding

Candice suggest the following guidelines for a healthy, balanced breastfeeding diet:

Listen to your hunger pangs

It is normal for breastfeeding moms to feel hungrier than usual as their calorie needs are slightly higher. Instead of counting calories, follow your body’s hunger as a guide. Many breastfeeding women need regular snacks throughout the day to maintain their energy levels, and as long as you’re opting for the healthy choices, you’re on the right track.

Variety is important

Eating a variety of healthy foods during breastfeeding changes the taste of breast milk and exposes your baby to new and interesting flavours, while making sure that you and your baby are getting enough essential nutrients.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is especially important during breastfeeding. Water is best, and sugary drinks and caffeine should be avoided. Drink throughout the day, and watch the colour of your urine – if it becomes dark, it’s a sign that you need to drink more.

First-class fats

Fat is an extremely important part of your own diet and an important constituent of breast milk, but not all fats are created equal. Be sure to get enough mono- and polyunsaturated fats from foods like olive oil, canola oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. Limit your intake of saturated animal fat and trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oils.

Smart selection of seafood

Seafood is a great source of protein and healthy fat, but you need to watch the mercury content as you did during pregnancy. Salmon, prawns and tuna are examples of seafood that are low in mercury. Avoid mackerel, swordfish and other seafood with higher mercury content.

Allergy awareness

Certain substances and foods may cause your baby to become irritated or develop an allergic reaction. If you suspect this might be the case, keep a food diary so you know which foods to avoid.

ALSO SEE: How to spot a food allergy

Avoid alcohol

Even one drink can affect your let-down reflex and if you’d like to have a drink, make sure you time it right. Alcohol from one drink takes around two to three hours to metabolise, so it’s best to feed your baby beforehand or express milk and store it for later.

Click here for 4 yummy mocktail recipes you can enjoy when breastfeeding

Limit caffeine

Caffeine can be present in breast milk and can affect your baby’s sleep, so it’s best to limit your caffeine intake to about two cups per day, or avoid it altogether.

Vitamins are important

Breastfeeding requires an ample supply of all micronutrients. Calcium and vitamin D are particularly important. Take supplements as directed by your healthcare provider, and be sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need.

Xanet Scheepers

About Xanet Scheepers

Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.