You need extra calories and nutrients when you’re breastfeeding. Here are 15 snacks for breastfeeding moms that are super nutritious and simple.
This is a guest post from my friend and colleague Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect The Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. She also blogs about how to live a nutritious life while staying sane over at Better Is The New Perfect.
By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
As the sole source of nutrition for their babies for at least the first four months of life, breastfeeding moms are truly eating for two! Infants can be unpredictable, and when they’re ready to eat during your mealtime, it’s possible to miss out on the foods that nourish the both of you.
Noshing on nutritious snacks helps you meet calorie needs – about 330 more calories daily than when you’re not pregnant – and satisfy increased requirements for several nutrients including DHA, a healthy fat that supports baby’s brain development and vision, and your heart health, as well as vitamins A, C and K.
Snacks are often synonymous with highly processed foods rich in added sugar, fat, and sodium, and lacking in nutrients. In truth, any food eaten between meals is a snack. The best snacks for breastfeeding are simple to assemble, energizing, and balanced. Here are some suggestions:
1. Make a batch of popcorn. Empty it into a bowl and toss with Parmesan cheese.
2. Combine ½ cup whole grain cereal, ¼ cup dried fruit, and 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds or chopped nuts. This is also delicious as a topping for yogurt.
3. Microwave oatmeal with milk instead of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetener of your choice. Top with fruit or chopped nuts.
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4. Defrost 1 cup frozen edamame in pods in the microwave.
5. Slice up 1-2 ounces cheddar cheese. Pair with a small whole grain roll, and baby carrots.
6. Make yourself half of a sandwich on whole grain bread.
7. Warm up leftovers. Or not. A small slice of cold pizza can do the trick!
8. Combine plain Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon sugar or sweetener of your choice and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Top with frozen Wild Blueberries or other fruit. Allow the mixture to sit for 2-3 minutes, then stir for a frozen yogurt-like consistency.
9. For a creamy chocolate milkshake, place 1 ripe banana, 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar or other sweetener if desired, and 1 ice cube in a food processor or blender. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Or try this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, which is packed with vitamin A.
10. Spread 1 slice whole grain bread with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter, and top with sliced banana, sliced, raisins, or fresh raspberries. (Note: While babies can develop allergies to foods in your breastfeeding diet, there are no expert recommendations that moms should avoid any food, including peanuts, to prevent allergies.)
11. Try these No-Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars. They have 5 ingredients and take 5 minutes to make.
12. Spread 1 piece whole grain toast with ¼ cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese and top with ½ sliced avocado.
13. Arrange 4 ounces canned, drained tuna, 6 to 8 whole grain crackers, and sliced red bell pepper on a plate, and enjoy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 8 to 12 ounces of seafood weekly.
14. Pour a bowl of whole grain cereal and top with milk.
15. Scramble 1 egg and divide equally between a small whole-wheat pita pocket that’s been cut in half. Add salsa, a handful of baby spinach, and ¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheese, if desired.
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, writer, recipe developer, and mother of three who specializes in food and nutrition communications and believes in progress, not perfection. She is the author of Expect The Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. You can find her at Better Is The New Perfect.