New mamas are often overwhelmed and too tired to eat properly. Plant-based mothers face even more challenges because like it or not, there are some key energizing nutrients found in meat and fish that are harder to come by in veggie diets. Plenty of research shows that a well-planned plant-based diet is perfectly healthy for pregnancy and breastfeeding, plus can be healthier overall, helping to prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. As for being too tired to eat.
Well, you’re not doing your baby any favors if you deprive yourself of nutrients. Proper nutrients build healthy breast milk and a healthy mama. These are two of the best gifts you can give your baby. Also, research shows that babies gain flavor preferences from breast milk, so healthy foods now means your tot may eat better for life. There are plenty of nutritious power foods for plant-based breastfeeding mamas that are insanely fast and easy to manage. So let’s find the best plant-based breastfeeding foods.
The composition of the black grape is very similar to breast milk, so grapes can be used for baby feeding. Besides water and sugar, it contains potassium, vitamins A, C, B1 and B6, manganese, flavonoids and etc. Anthocyanins in the grapes may increase the secretion of insulin in the body. Additionally, they prevent type 2 diabetes and diabetic cataract. They also help for reducing the high blood pressure. Also, this blue fruit is rich in flavonoids (quercetin and resveratrol) which can reduce the blood coagulation and LDL cholesterol. Grape seeds contain proteins which the human body can digest, so the seeds from the grape should be swallowed.
Blueberries pack in many awesome nutrients, including an antioxidant punch to keep you healthy. For breastfeeding mamas, blueberries provide perks like carbohydrate for energy plus a lot of vitamin A and K, potassium and even some calcium. You can quickly top off cereal or yogurt with blueberries or add them to a smoothie. In the summer, blueberries get even better, because you can eat them straight from the freezer and they’re like icy little bits of candy. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, note that most berries are packed with antioxidants and fiber. Look for darker berries first for the most nutrients.
Avocados offer 60% more potassium than bananas, lots of folic acid, vitamin C, lutein and “healthy” fat, plus have the highest fiber content of any produce product. Breastfeeding mamas will like that avocados offer B-vitamins that help increase energy. Eat slices raw or in wraps or sandwiches.
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice has a lot of carbs, so many new mamas shy away from it in order to lose that baby weight. However, cutting too many carbs is bad as it’ll make you even sleepier and if you lose weight too fast, it can mess with your breast milk quality. Brown rice also has healthy perks like vitamin B, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium, and even some choline which has been shown to help fetal brain development, prevent memory loss and prevent liver damage.
Most nuts provide lots of fiber, vitamin E, healthy fats and magnesium. Plus nuts are insanely easy to munch on. Current research shows that nuts may help lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease, and improve blood vessel function. Nuts are also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Go for unsalted mixed nuts for a variety of nut benefits and to see a rundown of nut nutrition read, best and worst nuts by nutrition and price.
6. Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are packed with calcium, fiber, vitamin C and folic acid. An added benefit for vegetarian and vegan mamas is high amounts of iron. You can eat your greens raw, as shown above in this zucchini, tofu and spinach salad or cook them up if you feel motivated.
Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are some of the most versatile and nutritious foods for new vegetarian and vegan mamas because they are a good source of protein. Legumes are low in fat, have zero cholesterol, and are packed with folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. Legumes also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber.
Oats have a lot of protein, fiber, complex carbs and best of all iron. A good deal, because low iron can reduce milk supply. Many athlets eat oats to improve energy and performace – which can work for you too. Also, research shows that people who eat a lot of oats vs. not so much, have less weight gain over time and are less likely to be overweight to begin with.
You may have heard that flax, flaxseed and flaxseed oil are power foods, and for good reason. Flax in many forms is packed with so much healthy stuff like fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans. The Mayo Clinic also notes that a diet rich in omega-3s may help ease depression too. The Institute of Medicine recommends between 1.1 and 1.6 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids, and lucky for you just one little tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s easy to eat flaxseed. Simply sprinkle a teaspoon or more into smoothies, soup, chili, cereal, oatmeal, sauces, and yogurt. The taste is great and you’ll barely notice it in most foods.
10. Good Old Water
Water’s not a food no, but it’s the best drink for a breastfeeding mama. Plenty of water means better milk production, better milk let-down and it can help you feel full so you don’t snack on empty calories. Most experts recommend at least 8 glasses of water per day while breastfeeding, plus more if you’re sick and/or hot thus dehydrate easier. Research shows that water is actually an energy booster too. When you get dehydrated, you’re more likely to feel fatigue because your body needs fluids to carry out all the hard work it’s doing, such as digesting food and carrying nutrients around. If you’re not a fan of boring old water add some citrus slices to your water or even fresh berries.