As a dietitian and mom of two little ones (big-sister Lailah who is 2 and-a-half, and smiley thumb-sucking Yael, 5 months) I am often asked if I practice what I preach. My answer, a definite “yes!”
In my years of nutritional counseling I have yet to put my client’s on a “diet.” Instead I guide them toward sustainable lifestyle and dietary changes based on their needs. Of course, every person has different nutritional requirements depending on where they are in their life stage, especially when it comes to lactation.
For the moms who are exclusively breastfeeding, I want you to remember one thing that may seem obvious but often overlooked - you are your baby’s only source of nutrition and hydration for the first 6 months of life. Every ounce of delicious baby goodness your baby gains is coming directly from you (pretty amazing, I know!), so let's make it count!
There are many nutrition and lactation resources out there on what to eat or how much, in fact, I’ve contributed several of them, but there are few on implementation, such as when and how often. Like I said, I practice what I preach! As a mom who is exclusively nursing, here is a template I have created for you to follow:
Upon waking drink a tall cup of water. Remember, drinking more fluids will not directly result in increased milk output. However, drinking enough will prevent you from dehydrating!
Make it a routine to fill a cup of water the night before to keep on your nightstand as your “wake up” glass.
Eat a balanced meal (whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, serving of fruit or vegetable) within half hour of waking up. Try a small bowl of oatmeal made with low-fat or skim-milk, topped with a teaspoon of chia seeds, a handful of crushed walnuts, and a medium sized sliced banana.
Mid Morning Snack
Within 2 hours of breakfast consume a snack that contains ~200 calories, protein and fiber such as an omega-3 hard-boiled egg, with a cup of cherry tomatoes, and several whole grain crackers. Rehydrate with non-caloric, unsweetened fluids.
Where are the vegetables? Choose a well-balanced meal such as a large salad made on a bed of baby spinach, topped with chopped celery, sweet bell peppers, ½ cup of cooked quinoa and a can of drained sardines. Choose a light non-cream based dressing such as olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste.
This is a good time to refill your water bottle.
Not sure if you are drinking enough? Take the urine color challenge: pale- to-light yellow means that you are well-hydrated. Keep in mind - bright highlighter yellow-green urine just means you are eliminating extra vitamins from your prenatal (no-biggie!).
Mid Afternoon Snack
Provided you had lunch around 12pm -1pm, consuming a snack around 3-3:30pm will hold you till dinner-time and prevent you from over eating. Don’t forget, choose a snack with protein, fiber and around 200 calories. Try a cup of plain low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt, with 1 cup of fresh berries and stir in a teaspoon of ground flax seed.
Aim for your last meal of the day around 6/6:30pm. Again, think balance - protein/grain/vegetable. Try sautéed chicken breast with garlic, sliced mushrooms and zucchini atop whole-wheat spaghetti, bathed in a light marinara sauce.
After Dinner Snack
Think of the same guidelines as before - try a cup of edamame in the pod (protein) and a small apple with the skin (fiber).
See a trend? Have balanced meals, eat smaller portions, eat frequently, and hydrate!
(To register for the Pregnant Island Health and Wellness Event click here)