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Breastfeeding Diet Plan
While you’re breastfeeding, the cornerstones of a healthy diet are the same as always: eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, consume moderate amounts of lean protein and low-fat dairy, make sure you incorporate whole grains into your diet, and eat only small quantities of sugar and fat.
There are some important changes you’ll need to make, however, while you’re nursing. First, you’ll be glad to know that milk production burns an extra 500 calories a day – so make sure you’re eating extra to compensate. This doesn’t mean you get to eat junk, though: add the extra calories with healthy foods like low-fat dairy products, because you’ll need one more serving of calcium-rich food a day than you did when you were pregnant. (Then you needed 4 servings: now you should be eating 5.)
Make sure you’re drinking lots of fluids, since breastfeeding can make many moms thirsty. When you sit down to nurse, have a big glass of water within easy reach. Aim for eight cups of water or juice a day. You can have the occasional glass of wine, but make sure you stick to one or two glasses a week at most, and try to drink it after nursing rather than before, so that as little of the alcohol gets into your milk as possible. If you’re worried that you’ve had too much to drink, “pump and dump”; pump your milk, then discard it. Coffee is another fluid that should be kept at a minimum, as should any drink containing caffeine: too much of it can make your baby jittery. Stick to one or two cups a day.
Certain foods may make your baby fussy: the cause will vary from person to person. Try eliminating foods one by one, for two or three days each, to see what the culprit might be: possible foods to blame include nuts, cow’s milk, citrus, wheat, eggs and fish. Your breast milk could take on the flavor of what you’re eating, and baby sometimes may not like that flavor: some moms say their babies become fussy when they eat broccoli, chocolate, cabbage or garlic. If your baby is allergic to something you’ve eaten, he or she may break out in a rash, have trouble breathing, or pass green or mucousy bowel movements. If you see any of these symptoms, visit your pediatrician.
If you must diet, go about it slowly and carefully: if you cut too many calories, your milk supply will drop. Don’t eat less than 1500-1800 calories a day, and try not to begin your diet until the second month of your baby’s life, when your milk supply is more established. Breastfeeding itself can often help new moms lose weight. Don’t embark upon fad diets or liquid diets. It’s best to decrease how much fat you’re eating (but don’t cut it out completely), and keep eating plenty of protein.
Get plenty of DHA in your diet. This essential fatty acid is found in fish and seafood, and helps your baby’s brain and eyes develop during the first year of life. Steer clear of fish with high levels of mercury – such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel - but make sure you’re including 12 ounces of fish and seafood in your diet every week. Low-mercury fish and seafood include tilapia, salmon, catfish, crab, shrimp and scallops. Limit your intake of albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week, as it’s higher in mercury than other types of tuna.
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