Fueling Through Breastfeeding: Five Power Snacks To Keep You Energized
Nutrition Month is here and I love, love, love this year’s theme: Unlock The Potential Of Food. Food has limitless potential and carries so many different meanings to each and every person! This particular blog is all about the Potential of food to fuel our bodies…specifically in breastfeeding Mommas like myself!
Breastfeeding is becoming much less taboo these days. You wouldn’t think that something as natural as breastfeeding would ever have gone out of fashion (the milk does come in naturally of course in most women!) but it has for so many different reasons. Luckily breastfeeding initiatives and rates are on the rise. Now, most of us know why breastfeeding is so great for our babies…improved immune function, decreased rates of obesity, asthma and some chronic diseases…but that is another article for another day…this blog is all about YOU Mommas! Why is breastfeeding beneficial to us?! I say US because I am a new Momma myself and choosing breastfeeding was an easy choice…initially! I knew the spiel about why breastfeeding was so good for baby and as a Dietitian I felt it was even more important to practice what I preached. Breastfeeding is also beneficial for you! Exclusive breastfeeding can decrease blood pressure, protect against certain cancers later in life and also aide in weight loss post baby…but let me stop right there, I am an advocate for breastfeeding but I do know that there are so many reasons why breastfeeding might not be a good choice for all women and we need to remember this and respect those decisions. Starting your baby off with a healthy relationship with food is the most important thing and that includes a stress free environment. Feeding your baby and watching him or her grow into a healthy person of their own is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. So do what’s best for you both!
Did you notice that I said breastfeeding was the easy choice INITIALLY? Breastfeeding is totally the natural choice, when it comes to your milk coming in! But for a lot of women that is where the natural part stops. Breastfeeding takes work. It is a new skill for you and baby. Throw in exhaustion, pain, and stress and it becomes a little bit more complicated. Breastfeeding is also about a relationship. For me, I was positive but breastfeeding was painful initially. My baby had a shallow latch and day two saw me with a tear in my nipple that lasted 4 weeks and required a much stronger cream than the usual one they prescribe. Picture feeding a baby 8 times a day with a huge tear. Once the tear had healed I developed Mastitis! I think the only thing that saved me was that I was stubborn as all hell and I was breastfeeding no matter what. Now here I am with a healthy 3 and a half month old and we both enjoy the experience so much….with the exception of this one other thing. I have developed the ability to eat my husband under the table!!! Do you know what it’s like to go from eating 2 spoonfuls at 9 months pregnant and wanting to throw up from fullness to being able to eat an entire chicken yourself?! I heard so many people say, 3 months into breastfeeding they weigh more than they did at 9 months pregnant! So why is that?
I always assumed that if you breastfed, the weight fell right off you. Well that is not the case in all women. There are so many factors this seems to depend on including pre pregnancy weight, weight gain during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding/duration of breastfeeding, how active you are and caloric intake. So taking all of this in to consideration, what can we do to get back on track post baby? Especially with healing time, exhaustion, new baby crying and enormous appetites? Healthy food choices is always the answer!
Here are my FIVE favorite snacks. What do they have in common? They’re easy to make and high in protein and fibre which can keep you full longer so you’re not so hungry you actually consider drinking your own breast milk during a feeding…just kidding! When you crave carbs you eat simple carbs but these are digested very quickly leaving you even hungrier than when you started. Eating foods high in protein and fibre with some carbs will give you that fix you’re craving but also leave you more satisfied…it will also help with weight loss! Most importantly it will keep you energized…because if you’re anything like me…sleep time is non existent and spare time is a close second!
ONE ½ cup 2% Greek yogurt with 2 Tbsp of chia seeds, throw in some frozen or fresh berries for a sweet fix plus fruit has more fibre and tons of vitamins and minerals. A tantalizing snack that will satisfy your taste buds and your hungry stomach!
TWO ¼ cup of almonds or pumpkin seeds plus a serving of fruit…could be an apple, banana, orange, you name it! I choose almonds because they have more calcium than other nuts and I choose pumpkin seeds because they’re the highest in iron. Both are nutrients in high demand pre and post pregnancy. Iron might not be a high priority, especially if you’re not having a period but it depends on loss during delivery and most women have habitually low iron!
THREE 1 cup of carrots with ¼ cup of hummus. Carrots are super refreshing and high in Vitamin A and fibre. Hummus is filling and contains protein and fibre as well. Get baby carrots to make the whole process even quicker! Any vegetable will suffice here…I just personally love carrots because they’re easy and tasty!
FOUR Homemade granola bars here. They are super high in fibre and protein and lower in sugar than most store bought options. Bonus, they take minutes to throw together and involve no baking what so ever. This is my own recipes and from time to time I’ll have a contest to see how quickly I can throw them together. I’ve had it down to 6 minutes!
FIVE Peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter) toast + banana. Choose a high fibre bread that has at least 3 g of fibre per slice and says on the label that it’s made from whole grain flour rather than just whole wheat. It can say both whole grain AND whole wheat but it needs to say at least whole grain. Choose a natural peanut butter which is lower in fat, sugar and salt. It might be less sweet but that what the banana is for!
Like I said, these are my personal faves and for good reason. Protein and fibre are slower to digest and therefore keep you full longer. This means you feel more satisfied and eat less often. Keep in mind that you require more calories while breastfeeding but try to make these calories nutritious ones more often. Empty calories add up and you might not be burning as much as you think! This doesn’t mean that you can’t have the weekly chocolate bar…remember, it’s the things you do MOST often that effect your health!