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  • Breastfeeding Diet: Nutritionist Answers 5 Frequently Asked Questions

    As it is with many health-related aspects, great results start from following a sustainable diet.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
Breastfeeding Diet: Nutritionist Answers 5 Frequently Asked Questions
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  • Breastfeeding is one of the best practices done to promote a child's health and one of the most effective ways to optimize his growth and development. And if they're breastfeeding, moms take extra precautions to ensure that the care and nourishment their kids receive are top-notch.

    Jo Sebastian, the in-house nutritionist and dietician of fitness and health app REBEL, answers five of the often-asked questions about diet and proper nutrition while breastfeeding.

    What do I eat while breastfeeding? What are the essentials that must be part of my diet?

    A balanced diet with a variety of food for both mom and baby is key to breastfeeding. Most mothers begin dieting immediately after giving birth to get their pre-baby bodies back. But new mothers must remember it is vital to include all the food groups into their meals and get enough calories to sustain breastfeeding.

    We'd recommend new mothers get their calories from a balance of the three macronutrients:

    • Carbohydrates are high in fiber, such as whole grains, rolled oats, and sweet potatoes.
    • Healthy Fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados
    • Proteins such as fish, chicken, beef, legumes, and lentils

    Then outside of the essential macronutrients, it's always beneficial to get enough of the following:

    • Vitamin B9 or folates are found in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes
    • Iron that can be found in nuts and seeds, chicken, beef, pork, leafy greens, and eggs
    • Vitamin C can aid better iron absorption
    • Calcium found in milk products and leafy greens, and vitamin A-rich food like red-orange fruits and veggies

    Which foods should I avoid?

    There are usually no specific foods to limit or avoid while breastfeeding because mothers are encouraged to have a healthy and diverse diet. This ensures that their bodies are provided with all the nutrients that they need to breastfeed. But, of course, like anyone living a healthy lifestyle, caffeine and alcohol must be limited, if not avoided.

    Do I need to consume extra calories while breastfeeding?

    Yes. Breastfeeding mothers need at least 500kcal more than their typical consumption when they start breastfeeding. In addition, energy deficiencies can lead to low breast milk production, so consuming a little more calories than usual ensures that the body has enough energy to produce breast milk.

    Can I diet to lose weight while breastfeeding?

    Breastfeeding can help achieve a mothers' weight goals, as it can use fat cells stored in the body during pregnancy and calories from food to fuel milk production. Suppose the pregnancy and delivery are without complications like gestational diabetes, among others. In that case, a mother can start working on her weight loss goals six to eight weeks after giving birth.

    However, before doing this, it is crucial to first establish milk production and not be too restrictive in your diet and energy needs during this time.

    What are other tips or insights you would like to share with breastfeeding mothers?

    First, exclusive breastfeeding, which means no food or water, should be given to babies up to six months. Second, it is important to focus on consuming balanced meals and getting all the necessary nutrients in.

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    Next would be to practice proper 'latching on' and to remember that breastfeeding is also a time to allow you to bond with your baby. Lastly, no matter the challenges you're facing, this isn't a race, and you're doing great!

    Check out REBEL's Eat section for ways to spice up your meals with healthy and local recipes. The app also offers pre-and post-natal yoga video tutorials for mothers who want to incorporate low-impact exercises into their daily routines.

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