Are you breastfeeding your little one at the moment?

I know that you understand what you eat provides the nutrition not only for yourself, but for your baby too. But, when you’re over-tired and living in a world of take away, treats and technology it can be hard to eat healthily can’t it?

Let’s agree that you are not going to have a perfect diet at the moment and instead focus on three key things to make your diet as healthy as possible during this stage of life. Try these suggestions:

1. Make water your drink of choice – breast feeding uses loads of fluid. You’ve probably noticed that you’re thirsty more often than usual, right? Most women need to drink an additional ½ – 1 litre of fluid (3-5 cups) more than their usual fluid intake while they are breast feeding. Meeting your fluid requirements will help you to think more clearly, and will reduce your risk of urinary tract infections and constipation.

What are you drinking? Coffee? Soft drinks? Juice? During breast feeding, water is the best choice. Turning on a tap is quick, cheap and kilojoule-free. Try keeping a water bottle in your car and a jug of water on the kitchen bench so that you can gauge how much you’ve had.

2. Cook in bulk – Reduce the temptation to dial for your dinner by cooking in bulk and freezing the leftovers for another night. Your meals should consist of a serve of protein (such as lean red meat, skinless chicken, fish, eggs, legumes or tofu), a serve of grains (such as pasta, rice, bread, cous cous or quinoa) and a few cups of vegetables.

Casseroles, soups, frittatas and risottos are nutritious and easy to freeze. If you are finding that you are more hungry than usual, having a serve of a main meal for lunch as well as in the evening can help fill you up and minimise the temptation to snack on less healthy foods such as biscuits or cakes. Sometimes, the hardest thing can be deciding what to eat. Cooking in bulk reduces the time and effort that you need to invest in decision making when you are tired and hungry.

3. Keep healthy snacks on hand – Most women tend to snack more frequently whilst breastfeeding. Minimise the temptation to purchase nutrient-poor snacks such as chocolate, chips and pastries by keeping plenty of healthy snacks on hand. Fresh, dried or canned fruit, yoghurt, nuts and seeds, toast, wholegrain crackers, vegetable sticks, hard boiled eggs and low fat cheese are all good options.

Ensure that you take your snacks with you when you head out of the house too – otherwise you know that you’ll be tempted. Muesli bars, nuts, seeds and dried fruit keep really well in your bag. I recommend keeping a pack in your car glovebox for the inevitable day when you forget to pack some in your bag as well. Packing your snacks will save you a fortune too!

If you find that you’re struggling to eat well at this time, or you are confused about what you should be eating, I’d encourage you to make an appointment to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Melanie McGrice, dietitian and author of ‘The Pregnancy Weight Plan’ www.melaniemcgrice.com.au

Author

Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with a Masters degree in Dietetics. She is the author of ‘The Pregnancy Weight Plan’ which is available from all major book stores and Big W. Join her free ‘Nutrition and Wellbeing Network’ at www.melaniemcgrice.com.au.

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