5 meals that keep me sane while breastfeeding
Before I start, a quick note to my dear male readers: There could be a slight chance, this post doesn’t appeal to you, even when it has to do with one of your favorite things: Boobs. We are talking breastfeeding today. If this topic doesn’t repell you, great. You are welcome to read on. But please don’t be sad, that this is more a female-ish topic today. Peace!
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am a Mum and my baby just turned one year last month (enter emotional sigh here). And yep, I am still breastfeeding. I have to say, I never thought that I would become a breastfeeding cheerleader, but I totally am. I think, Mother Nature is just amazing in how she has everything well designed for us.
Not only is nursing super convenient and costs you nothing, it supports baby in building a healthy gut and immune system and protects it against a long list of illnesses and allergies. Studies have shown that impressively and there is no formula that can keep up with mother’s milk.
And there are plenty of benefits for the mother as well. Nursing releases the hormone oxytocin that helps shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size. And it even gets you back into your favorite jeans in no time, thanks to the extra burning calories. Long-Term benefits include lower risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. So I would say, we have a win/win all the way here. *
What is uber important is that a nursing Mum looks very well after herself from a nutritional point of view. Through breastfeeding a woman burns up to 500 more calories and it is important to fill this with not empty calories but high quality food.
Mummy has to watch especially her iron, calcium and Omega 3 intake, and if she is vegan, B12. Baby needs to grow healthy bones and brain and a lot more. Of course you can always supplement to meet your nutritional needs, and you should also talk to your doctor about this topic. Anyway, I think it is important to get really good food into your body. And that can be tough for the first few weeks and months with a new baby at home. There are short nights, followed by days that you feel overwhelmed and you almost forget to eat breakfast or nearly miss lunch. So I think it is so so important to have foods and meals that are quick, easy and packed with vitamins and minerals and fixed, ideally, in under 5-10 minutes.
Here are my top 5 meals that give me energy and keep me sane and grounded when everything around me seems like a desperate housewives chaos.
1. Berries with Caramel Dip
I wrote about my love for dates before and I cannot write this post without mentioning their amazing benefits for nursing Mums. They give you energy and they are an excellent source of iron. I love them in this salted caramel dip from My New Roots that also contains tahini, which is a great calcium source. Paired with berries, the superstars of antioxidants, this snack is just a nutritional lifesaver.
2. Chia pudding
If you haven’t got chia seeds in your house already, I dare you to run to the health food store and buy a pack pronto. These little seeds are a nutritional powerhouse and contain good amounts of calcium, manganese and phosphorus and they are especially popular for their Omega 3 content. And getting enough Omega 3’s as a nursing mother is essential, otherwise baby will “eat your brain” and you will get a full blown maternal amnesia, worse than good old pregnancy brain. Another awesome thing about little chia is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. It is important to soak chia seeds before using them, because they absorb a lot of fluid. When soaked, they get a gel like consistency and are easily absorbed and digested. I really like to soak my chias in almond or rice milk, wait about half an hour and voilà, I have a chia pudding that I can add to my muesli, to smoothies or just eat it as it is with some berries or other fancy fruit.
Okay, I will keep this short, because I already praised this fruit in this post. Just cut it open and enjoy. The simplest and quickest meal ever.
4. Nut butter with carob powder
Shocking news – I love the taste of chocolate. Unfortunately conventional chocolate is often loaded with sugar, which robs the body of nutrients, a thing you don’t want at all. I don’t say I never get weak when it comes to conventional treats (ice-cream junkie!), but while breastfeeding I crave more unhealthy stuff than normally and so I searched for the healthy alternatives. What always satisfies me is a super quick, easy and healthy, chocolaty cream made of 2 tablespoons of nut butter, I prefer almond, and 1 tablespoon carob powder. Carob looks and tastes very similar to cacao powder, but it doesn’t contain the stimulant theobromine, which is why I prefer it over cacao. Besides, carob tastes sweeter, has less fat and provides twice (!) the amount of calcium found in cacao. I also like to mix the two up, when I want cacao’s benefits as well, the high content of magnesium and iron.
5. Rainbow Salad
Eat the rainbow, literally! Different colors have different nutrients and health benefits and the more you incorporate into your meals the better. The easiest way is to make a salad and throw in some greens, with something red, orange, yellow, white, etc. Get creative. I like to add nuts or seeds (especially hemp seeds) as a good protein source. Topped with a creamy dressing (my favorite is olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar or maple syrup, dijon mustard and a pinch of salt). Toss it up and enjoy!
So, I am curious. Are you planning to breastfeed when you have kids? Are you a breastfeeding Mum? Did you nurse your children or not and why? And what were your favorite meals back then? Please leave a comment.
* Just for the record I want to say, that I know that there are mothers who choose not to breastfeed and I totally respect that. Nursing only works when you and the baby both feel happy and comfortable. And I also know there are a lot of mothers that would like to breastfeed but are not able to for different reasons. Don’t beat yourself up because of it. Life not always turns out as planned. I for myself wanted a wonderful, natural birth experience and it turned out to be the opposite. My baby was born unexpected extremely premature on our holiday in Spain. It was hard and sometimes I am still sad that I couldn’t give my baby the perfect start I wished. But it has happened. The moment is gone and all I can do is focus on the present moment and do what I think is now best for my child. I can just encourage every mother who wants to breastfeed and has trouble with it: get yourself some help. I also turned to La Leche League, when I had difficulties. They are all over the world and have a great website. Other than that you can ask your midwife, a lactation consultant or Mummy friends. I did this more then once and I am glad I did.