5 Superfoods to Eat while Nursing

Parent holding and nursing a baby

While there is no “special diet” that all nursing people should follow, there is no shortage of conflicting and confusing recommendations online. Nursing does increase your body’s needs for a variety of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. To make this topic less complicated, we’ve put together a list of five delicious superfoods that are ideal for those nursing.

 

Fatty Fish 

Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and halibut are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for your baby’s brain and eye development. Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for bone health of nursing mothers and their babies. Eat 3-4 ounces (size of a deck of cards) of fatty fish two times per week. Avoid swordfish, mackerel, shark, and tilefish, as these contain high levels of mercury and other environmental pollutants. To learn more about how to make healthy fish choices, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program at https://www.seafoodwatch.org/.  

 

Unsweetened Yogurt 

Yogurt is a dairy product fermented by friendly live bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics keep your immune system strong and help build your baby’s immune system. They are also important for your digestive health and promote a healthy microbe population in a baby’s gut. Besides being a great source of probiotics, yogurt provides calcium for strong healthy bones. If you don’t eat dairy foods, a variety of non-dairy yogurt alternatives are available. Purchase a yogurt with added calcium to ensure that you are getting the most nutrition from non-dairy yogurts. Choose plain or unsweetened yogurt, add fresh fruit or berries, and top with nuts and seeds for a quick breakfast or snack. 

 

Dark Leafy Greens 

Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, are high in fiber, vitamins (folate, vitamin A, C and K), and minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium and non-heme iron). Fiber helps you feel full longer, keeps blood sugar levels steady during the day, and keeps digestion healthy. An adequate intake of fiber for someone nursing is 29 grams a day and consuming just 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day can help you reach this nutrition goal. To add some extra vegetables to your diet and boost your fiber intake, blend a handful of leafy greens into your morning smoothie, add it to your wraps or sandwiches for lunch, or enjoy as a side salad for dinner.  

 

Whole Grains  

Whole grains consist of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran contains lots of fiber; the germ is rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fat; the starchy endosperm provides sustained energy used to support lactation and other bodily functions. Eating whole grains means that you’re getting a balanced mix of nutrients from the combination of all three parts. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, buckwheat, barley, oats, quinoa, millet, whole wheat, and teff.  

 

Nuts and Seeds 

Nuts and seeds are nutrient powerhouses. They are packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Eating nuts and seeds is a great way to increase those nutrients in your diet. Aim for nuts and seeds with no added salt or sugar. Grab a handful of nuts when you need a healthy on-the-go snack. Sprinkle your salad, yogurt, or hot cereal with seeds (such as sunflower, flax, chia, hemp hearts seeds) to make them even more nutritious and delicious.  

 

While nursing, your diet needs to be nutritionally balanced to ensure that you and your baby are getting the right nutrients in adequate amounts. If you need additional support in navigating your diet while nursing, make an appointment at BCNH with one of our nutrition experts. Ph: (206) 834-4114. Website: http://bastyrcenter.org/ 

 

About the Author

Mariia Byelykh earned her master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a current dietetic intern at Bastyr. Her core philosophy is to live a vibrant live fueled with whole foods. She is passionate about inspiring people to reach their full potential in life and health. Her current specific career interests include working with infants, children, and parents in a hospital setting to implement dietary changes and nutrition education.  

 

References: 

  1. Meek J. The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding. New York, NY: Bantam Books;2017. 

  1. La Leche League International. Feed Yourself, Feed Your Baby: Good Nutrition and Healthy Cooking for New Moms and Growing Families. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2012. 

  1. Gartner LM, Morton J, Lawrence RA, et al., American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2005;115(2):496–506. 

  1. Kalnins D, Stone D, Touw J. Better Breastfeeding. A Mother’s Guide to Feeding and Nutrition. Toronto, ON: The Hospital for Sick Children; 2007. 

  1. Behan E. The Complete Nutrition Book for Nursing Mothers. New York, NY: Ballantine Books; 2007. 

 

 

 

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