What is a Balanced Diet for Nursing Moms?

In our continuing series, helping you to make savvy choices as a breast-pumping mom, we turn today to the diet.

Keep in mind, a woman who does not follow a strictly “nutritious” diet can still breastfeed successfully. Eating well, in other words eating a balanced diet, has more to do with maintaining your personal health and energy so you can meet the rigorous demands of motherhood with smiling strength.

It might seem simple. Doctors might say, use common sense. Nutritionists might say, make wise choices. But come one. When you’re tired and stressed and leaking breast milk—it’s not always easy to remember what actually constitutes a balanced diet.

Here is a quick reminder.

An ideally balanced diet is natural, fresh, and has variety.

Try to include something from each group, daily:

• Fresh vegetables and fruits (preferably those in season) of all types, raw,
steamed, or baked.
• Different grains (wheat, rice, corn, barley, millet) preferably whole, in various forms, in the form of whole or broken kernels, as well as semolina and flour (and products made from them including bread and pasta).
• Protein foods from animal sources (dairy products, eggs, meat and fish) and/or plant sources (lentils, beans, soybeans).
• Small quantities of fats, preferably uncooked, cold-pressed vegetable oils.

A balanced diet can be achieved by eating a variety of foods from each of these food groups as well as by consuming individual foods in different forms—such as eating different varieties of fruits and vegetables or cooking foods in different ways. Some vitamins and proteins are better absorbed if other vitamins and minerals are present at the same time.

In terms of preparation, cooking your foods in different ways can affect which prevalent nutrient you digest and how you digest them. Try to grill one night, bake another, steam the next, and order in on the fourth. (Because you also digest well when you’re happy and relaxed.)

Lastly, hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

Balance also has to do with you frame of mind and keeping the harsh self-critique at a minimum. So the simple take-away with the above information in mind is: do the best you can, always remembering that finding balance is something personal and ongoing—even in your diet.