If you’re breastfeeding, there’s a good chance that you’re (a) STARVING all.the.time, and (b) don’t have enough time to eat enough. Of course, that’s because (a) nursing a baby can burn 500 calories a day, and (b) with all that time you’re spending feeding, burping, changing and bathing your baby, who has time to sit down for a meal?
But it is important that you eat enough; you need your strength, and without enough food in your system, your milk supply could take a big hit. Here are some healthy and quick munchies for nursing moms:
1. Pimp your yogurt. A cute little cup of yogurt might be tasty, but for more staying power, it’s all about the add-ins. Start with the protein-dense Greek stuff and mix in granola, shredded coconut, dried fruit, flax seeds—whatever you fancy.
4. Ch-ch-ch-chia! Full of omega-3s, protein and fiber, chia seeds easily blend into yogurts, soups, smoothies, cereals and sauces—and one tablespoon will keep you feeling full for hours. You can also buy bars made with chia, such as Greens Plus Chocolate Chia Energy Bars, for portable chia power.
5. Chocolate fever. Mmmm, chocolate. If there’s ever a time to indulge, it might be when you’re burning as many calories as you would after running a half-dozen miles! And calories aside, chocolate doesn’t have to be “junk food.” We love Vitacost Super Cacao: it’s flavored, 66% dark chocolate infused with added nutrients. Or shake up some chocolate whey powder with milk for a protein-packed milkshake.
6. Oatmeal appeal. Many breastfeeding moms say eating oatmeal seems to help with their milk supply—but even if you don’t have that lucky result, the whole-grain fiber still will chase the hunger pangs away. Prepare a big pot of steel-cut oats in your slow cooker and snack on it all week, nosh on Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Tasty Little Cookies when your sweet tooth strikes, or raise the bar with a Clif Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Energy Bar.
7. How about hummus? Hummus is a wonderful blend of fiber-licious garbanzo beans, good-fat-filled olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt and other spices. Mash up these ingredients or blend them and enjoy homemade hummus all week long, or buy Fantastic Foods Original Hummus (just add water and oil) for a delicious shortcut.
8. Veggie vittles. I’m not talking about “rabbit food” like raw crudité; I know, I know, you’re starving! But mama, you need your vegetables all the same. Brad’s Raw Foods Leafy Foods combines raw, nutrient-dense kale with sunflower seeds, cashews, chickpea miso and other filling ingredients that will satisfy your taste buds and your tummy. Salty, crunchy and downright addictive, another snack-tastic choice is Calbee Baked Snapea Crisps, which are made from green peas baked in corn oil.
9. Smoothie moves. Combine fresh or frozen fruit, protein-packed almond milk and some yummy vanilla protein powder in a blender and you’ll have a satiating, drinkable meal you can enjoy while you’re driving, working or even feeding your baby. (Talk about multi-tasking!)
10. If all else fails: coconut oil. I’ve been there, done that, so I know that even with all of these great snack ideas, you might not have time to feed yourself right. This might sound crazy, but I recommend keeping some organic, extra-virgin coconut oil handy. Add a tablespoon to whatever you’re eating (even cereal! And soup!) and you’ve got pure, nutritious added calories in a deliciously sweet, subtle form. If you don’t like it…well, it’s great for massaging infants, working out cradle cap and pampering your own post-partum skin and hair, too!
Jorie Mark is Vitacost.com’s Director of Marketing Communications and mom to three kids, ages 2 to 10.