You already know that you need more energy when you’re breastfeeding, but put down that Tim Tam – the quality of those extra snacks is important too.
When you’re breastfeeding you need anywhere between an extra 800 – 2200 extra kilojoules (200 – 500 calories). It all depends on how much breastmilk your body is making. This doesn’t mean you should eat treats whenever you want though. While you might not be gaining weight by living off takeaway and biscuits, but you could be missing out on essential protein and nutrients, for both you and bub.
Get in tune with your hunger cues to see just how much extra food you need. Instead of counting calories, let your appetite guide you. When you feel like something to eat, pause and tune in – are you hungry or tired, emotional, procrastinating?… If you’re hungry, go for it, it’s time to get some energy, nutrients and probably some fluids too.
If you’re regularly eating healthy meals, and drinking plenty of water (tea counts too) – then your breast milk quality and quantity is going to be fine. Eating well can also help improve fatigue and immunity too – looking after yourself is so important at this demanding time.
So here’s my top 5 snacks for breastfeeding mums. They’re quick and easy, filling and of course, nutritious for bub and you.
Yoghurt + Berries + Linseeds (flax)
Good quality yoghurt is a great source of probiotics, calcium and protein. Choose a plain, natural or Greek style with 3-6% fat and make sure it has live cultures added (they’re the probiotics) You’re better off adding your own fruit (and honey if you must) than buying a flavoured sweetened one.
Berries are good sources of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Frozen are just as good as fresh, sometimes better. Frozen fruit and vegetables are left to grow until ripe so they’re full of flavour and nutrition, and then are snap frozen to keep the nutrients in. Frozen berries are handy to have in the freezer for when the fruit bowl isn’t looking it’s best.
There isn’t much scientific evidence to back up the use of linseeds to increase your milk supply, but they’re a great source of folate, potassium, fibre, vitamin E, protein and good fats. Choose a ground linseeds so your body can digest them properly, or an LSA mix which is ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds.
There are lots of mixes available at the supermarket or you can make your own with your favourite nuts, seeds and little bit of dried fruit. Store the mix in single serve portions (about 2 tablespoons) so you can grab and go – without over doing it.
Here’s my favourite mix:
- Dry roasted (skin on) almonds
- Dried apricots, diced
- Sunflower seeds
- A few dark choc chips (optional!)
Nuts and seeds are great sources of good fats, protein, vitamin E, folate and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
Most pikelets and baked goods are full of added sugar and processed white flour – not what I’d call a nutritious snack. So I’ve pimped a healthy version full of fibre, good fats, protein and antioxidants.
These pikelets are the perfect finger food snacks to share with your new foodie.
These freeze really well, so bag them in twos and keep them in the freezer to pull out when you need them. They’ll defrost in an hour or two on the bench, or warmed up in the microwave or sandwich press.
Hommus and Vegies
Hommus is a healthy and yummy dip made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic and oil. Find one that lists olive oil (instead of vegetable oil) in the ingredients, or make it yourself. It’s high in fibre, protein and antioxidants. Ditch the crackers and get an extra serve of vegetables in your day instead. You can make this even easier by cutting up some veggie sticks on shopping day and keeping them in the fridge, in a clear container on a high shelf where you can see them and they won’t get forgotten.
Muesli bars do contain added sugars, but they’re a great grab and go snack for busy mum’s when a trail mix is just too fiddly. Oats are great wholegrains that are full of fibre and some people report that eating oats (usually as porridge or muesli for a bigger serve) has helped with their supple. Again there’s no evidence to support this but it’s worth a try if you’re concerned about your supply, and oats are good for you anyway.
Look for muesli or nut bars with a 4.5 health star rating as these will have the most fibre, for the least sugar. The Goodness Superfoods and Uncle Toby’s Farmers Pick seem to be some of the better choices.
Home-made versions are obviously better than bought, so if you’re in the mood for some backing try these muesli bars from Live Lighter.
And here’s a bonus…
If you’re craving a sweet treat and unhealthy, get yourself a glass of warm milo. Yes, it has added sugars and it’s processed – but it’s also fortified with lots of vitamins and minerals. Milk itself is a nutritional power house and is a great source of protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iodine, folate and vitamin A. So the two combined is actually a great treat with good nutritional return on the sugar content.
Sarah Moore is a mum, and university qualified Registered Nutritionist. She has 10 years’ experience working with families to improve their health and wellbeing. Sarah has a simplistic and practical approach to family nutrition and wants you to know that activated unicorn berries are not the answer to your health and wellness. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more BS free nutrition tips and tricks.