I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about how to eat healthy when pregnant or breastfeeding — a.k.a. when you’re STARVING all the time and could eat anything in sight. After reading this article in the latest issue of Time, I am convinced this question needs special attention, as it seems that everything a mom eats/does while pregnant or breastfeeding largely affects her child’s life.
When you’re pregnant, you need about 300 extra calories per day to nourish your growing fetus. When you’re breastfeeding, you burn 500-800 extra calories per day producing milk, so it’s important to replenish these calories. Here are the keys to making sure the extra calories you eat as a new mom or mom-to-be are doing your body (and baby) good:
- Snack every few hours. Regular meals are not enough to keep you feeling satisfied, and if you get too hungry between meals, you’ll overeat at the next meal, or overindulge on junk food. So plan to eat healthy snacks frequently.
- Snacks (and meals) should combine lean protein, high-fiber carbs, and some fat. This combination will help keep you satisfied for longer. See list below for snack ideas.
- Don’t keep junk food in the house. Only keep food around that you would want yourself to eat often. Treats are fine, but save them for an out-of-the-house indulgence, so they feel like a splurge and not part of the everyday routine.
- Bulk up your meals with vegetables. Add tons of vegetables to everything: pastas, rice, tacos, sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, soups, etc. Vegetables add volume and fiber (not to mention needed nutrients), which will keep you feeling full for longer.
- Ask yourself if you’re really hungry before eating. When you’re at home all the time with a newborn, you’re around the kitchen more often than normal, and you may get into the habit of snacking just because. So when you head for the fridge, ask yourself if you’re really snacking out of hunger, or if you’re just bored. Make a list of non-eating activities you could do for the times when you’re just bored, and keep that posted to the fridge.
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup berries and 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
- 2 Hard boiled eggs + 1 cup carrot sticks dipped in veggie dip
- Oat bran cereal (or oatmeal): 1/2 cup dry, cooked with 1 cup milk and sprinkled with raisins
- PB & banana sandwich on 100% whole grain bread (use natural peanut butter, the kind you stir)
- Salmon salad on whole grain crackers: think tuna salad, only with canned salmon instead of tuna. Mix with lemon juice, olive oil, and any of the following: diced celery or cucumber, cherry tomatoes, capers, fresh dill, fresh parsley, plain yogurt.
- 1 cup Edamame in pods + 3 cups Light popcorn
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese on 1 piece whole wheat toast with sliced tomato & fresh basil leaves
- Breakfast burrito: 1 whole wheat tortilla filled with 1 scrambled egg, 1/4 cup salsa, and 1/4 cup refried beans
- 1/2 an avocado, sprinkled with salt and stuffed with 1/4 cup salsa and 1/4 cup black beans
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds + 1 large pear
- 16-oz low-fat decaf latte (if you’re hungry while out and about)
- 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk, blended with 1/2 a banana, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, and 1/2 cup ice cubes
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup pineapple chunks and 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises (or other squares of dark choc) + 4 prunes + 10 almonds
- Need other snack ideas? Here are tons more!