Breastfeeding requires an enormous amount of energy—even more than pregnancy. While experts recommend adding just an average of 300 calories per day to your normal diet during pregnancy, recommended caloric intake during breastfeeding is 500 calories per day above what you would typically eat. You might think it will not be a problem to get those extra calories, but the truth is that it is tricky to nourish yourself when you are focused so completely on keeping your baby fed. What follows are suggested snacks for breastfeeding moms that are easy to eat, nourishing, and tasty:
Bean burritos: you (or your partner or another support person) can whip up a burrito quickly—or make them even before your baby is born and freeze them to be reheated later. Use a tortilla or wrap, beans (refried and black beans are my favorite), salsa, sour cream, sautéed peppers and onions, and some shredded cheese. You can substitute roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes for the beans or go wild and do potatoes and beans together. If you role the tortilla tightly enough, you can eat it one-handed while you nurse your baby. The beans are great for getting protein and fiber, and you can season it however you’d like.
Peanut butter sandwich: this classic is not fancy, but it could hit the spot, while providing healthy fats and plenty of protein. If you are bored by the idea of regular peanut butter or peanut butter and jelly, try substituting thinly sliced apples or bananas for the jelly or cream cheese for the peanut butter. If your family has allergies to tree nuts, sun butter, which is made from the meats of sunflower seeds, is a great alternative.
Hummus: this dip is another great source of protein and fiber. You can dip anything you want in it—crackers or veggies such as cucumbers, peppers, and carrots—or spread it on a pita or a tortilla. And while hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans, variations abound: black-eyed peas—heavily seasoned with garlic, salt, and lemon juice—or black beans make a great additions to or substitutions for chickpeas.
Eggs: scrambled, fried, and—easiest to eat—hardboiled are all delicious, quick to prepare, and full of protein. A twist on hardboiled, deviled eggs can make a nice change and may even feel a bit fancy. To make deviled eggs: hard boil your eggs, then cool, peel, and cut them in half. Remove the yolks to a separate bowl, and then add mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, and any seasonings you wish—Worcestershire sauce and smoked paprika are delicious options. Mash up the yolks with your condiments and seasonings and then spoon them back into the whites. They are easy to prepare in minutes, but can last for a few days in the fridge so that they are quick to grab before or after a feeding session.
Cheese: cheese has both calcium and protein and can help satisfy sudden hunger. String cheese is widely available and if individually wrapped, easy to stick in your purse or diaper bag for an on the go snack. Another cheesy option is pimento cheese, a spread made of shredded cheese and pimento peppers, commonly found in the southern United States, and delicious on celery, crackers, or in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Yogurt or kefir: yogurt is abundant in calcium, protein, and healthy microbes that may help your digestive system run smoothly. Many types are probably available in the dairy section of your local grocery store, and Greek yogurt tends to have the highest protein content as compared to other options. Kefir, yogurt’s more liquid cousin, is drinkable—making it even easier to consume while feeding a baby—and also full of protein and calcium. Kefir contains a greater number of microbes than yogurt does, which may mean it’s even better for your intestinal tract. You can always buy plain varieties of yogurt or kefir and add your own fresh or frozen fruit—raspberries are particularly yummy—for an extra flavor and vitamin boost.
A word about hydration: as you are doing your best to nourish yourself and your infant, try to also remember to drink to thirst. Grab your reusable water bottle every time you help yourself to a snack and settle in to feed your baby. If your water and food are handy, it will be easier to keep yourself comfortable, and thus relax into breastfeeding.