Healthy diet for lactating women.

By Arooshi Garg

Women are often confused when it comes to their diet when breastfeeding, especially new moms. It is very confusing to decide what to eat, what to avoid, and what would be best for my growing baby.

Ideally speaking, a diet for a breastfeeding mother is no different from a normal healthy and balanced diet. Proper nutrition is crucial for both babies and nursing mothers. Listen to the body and eat what feels good. There is no single diet that is considered ideal. One should aim to eat a healthy, balanced and colorful diet that includes all food groups in ideal portions.

Let’s understand the basics of nutrition while breastfeeding.

It is very important to meet the body’s protein requirement to maintain a good supply of milk and healthy bones for both mother and baby. To meet this, aim to include at least 3 servings of high-quality protein in the form of milk, yogurt/curd/paneer, cheese, soy milk, eggs, fish, and lean meats. Vegetarian moms can include toasted seeds and nuts or can even add lactation crackers or panjiri`ladoos.

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Pulses like green moong, masoor are said to improve milk supply. They can be made into cooked dals with mixed vegetables for a one pot meal.

It is important to maintain energy levels to take care of your growing baby. Avoid processed grains and opt for more whole grains, millet, cracked wheat porridge, vegetable khichdi, oatmeal and ragi. All of these are high in fiber and calcium.

Iron is necessary to meet the additional demands of breast milk. Iron-rich foods include legumes and legumes, green leafy vegetables, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. A healthy trail mix can be made at home with locally available seeds and roasted nuts with seeds, dried fruit and dates or brown sugar, both of which are extremely rich in iron and considered to increase milk supply. Breastfeedingladoos can also be made with dates, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and other nuts.

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Include seasonal and locally available fruits to add variety and more vitamins to the diet. Try to keep preparations less spicy and less oily. Use lighter vegetables like squash, green leafy vegetables, butternut squash, carrots, etc. Avoid vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, radish if baby or mother has poor digestion or bloating problems. Include at least 2 servings of fruits like pomegranate, papaya, apple and pear should be included in your diet. For ease of consumption, you can also consider blending appropriate fruits, vegetables, and nuts to make healthy and refreshing smoothies.

It is very important to maintain fluid levels in the body. Dehydrated mothers have a difficult and poor milk supply. Low fluid intake can lead to constipation, dark-colored urine, and urinary tract infections as well. Consume at least 3 liters of water, diluted buttermilk, high-fiber fresh juices, soups, milk, coconut water, zeera/ajwain water to keep your gut healthy.

Some traditional Indian foods and herbs are known to increase milk production. Herbs like methi, zeera, dill, dried ginger or saunth are recommended to improve milk production. Herbs and spices like ajwain, fennel seeds and garlic help in better digestion and prevent colic pain in babies.

In general, mothers should focus on including all food groups in their daily diet. Well spaced meals including 3 main meals and 2 snacks are a must. Eager for empty calories, excessive tea/coffee and packaged foods. Spicy and oily foods should be avoided to avoid discomfort to mother and baby.

Try to incorporate some moderate exercises like brisk walking, yoga, stretching every day.

(The author is a lifestyle expert, GOQii, and a certified infant and toddler feeding and lactation consultant. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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