This is a post I wanted to make for a looong time...
... about a year ago, I wrote a post about eating a plant-based diet during pregnancy (you can find the post here). You can actually find a lot of information about what to eat during pregnancy on the net, also loads of info about a vegan diet during pregnancy, but for some reason the period of breastfeeding is less popular. Its harder to find information about that actually- as if it is less important! I think it is AT LEAST as important what you are eating during the period of nursing as what you eat during pregancy. So here are some info about this topic.
First of all: it is absolutely easy to get all the vitamins, minerals, all the protein and all the calcium you need, when you are vegan and breastfeeding. It is actually much EASIER than when eating an omnivore diet. Because when you eat meat and dairy this automatically means that you eat less fruits and veggies and since meat and dairy is less nutrient-dense than fruits and veggies you get less nutrients (on an equal amount of calories). That said, let me go into the details :)
Breastfeeding is very exhausting for your body! You need loads of energy (food) and loads of nutrients to make sure YOU get enough of everything. Your baby will take what it needs, it comes first - so make sure there is always enough left over for you!
Eat 300-500 calories more than before pregnancy. Of course you do not have to count calories. Just always eat in abundance and you will get the right amount! Never restrict yourself, always eat until you are fully satisfied. And do not be afraid of gaining weight: as long as you eat healthy foods you can eat as much as you like and you will not get fat. Look at me - I often eat up to 3000 calories a day and I do not think that I am a fatty!?
When you eat healthy (low fat, plant-based) you will loose your pregnancy weight automatically because your little one will suck it all out of your body, dont worry. My current weight is below me before-pregancy weight (-2kg) even though I eat really a loooooot... but my baby also drinks a lot ;)
Now there is this craze about proteins and that you may not get enough on a plant-based diet. One question: have you ever heard of someone with protein-defiency? No? Well, it will be difficult to find someone because only when you go hungry for weeks, you risk to become protein-defienct. Here is a quote to explain further:
“When your caloric needs are met [by eating whole foods], your protein
needs are met automatically. Focus on eating healthy natural foods;
forget about trying to get enough protein. Your protein needs increase
in direct proportion to increased caloric demands and your increased
appetite. Guess what? You automatically get enough. The same is true
during pregnancy. When you meet your caloric needs with an assortment of
natural plant foods, you will receive the right amount of protein- not
too much and not too little.” -Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live
The same goes for calcium by the way - more and more studies prove that too much calcium (loads of dairy products) actually harms the body and we get right the perfect amount when we eat a diet based on fruit and veggies.
Iron? Not to worry about, as long as you eat ENOUGH! The key to getting enough nutrients really is TO EAT ENOUGH! Now you may say that I am crazy and that you learned your whole life that you should eat less!? Well, just think about it - the more good food you eat the more nutrients you get, the less you eat the less you get. When you decide that you want to eat only 1300 or so calories per day than better make sure that those are superfoods only so that you get your nutrients. In case you do not only want to eat superfoods, just make sure you eat enough during the day, loads of veggies and fruits and you will get everything you need. During pregnancy, during the nursing period and beyond :)
This said, I have a few recommendations for you, representing the way I eat during nursing period (and beyond):
1. Eat vegetables in abundance!
Your veggies are life! Make sure to eat loads of green veggies such as salads, kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, etc. etc. they are extremely nutrient dense. One great way to get your greens is by making green smoothies! Just blend your greens in a high speed blender with your favorite fruits and voilà; you have a nice healthy snack!
2. Eat Fruit in abundance!
are the highest quality source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients!
Plus they are super sweet and yummy. Have you tried to make a whole meal
of 1000 kalories from fruit only? Its fun and yummy! You can find loads
of inspo on the net.
I know that those of us living in the northern hemisphere have a hard
time to find an abundance of fresh and ripe fruit in Winter. This is why I recommend for anyone who feels its difficult to get hand on an abundance of fresh fruits (which is the case in Germany):
3. Add nutrient dense juices and super foods!
In Summer its easy to eat loads of fresh and ripe fruits but in Winter it is difficult here in Germany. Its important to eat your fruits fresh and ripe to avoid bloating and problems with the digestion, but except for apples, bananas, oranges, and a few others, you will have a hard time to find ripe fruit during the German Winter. This is way I like to add Barley Grass to my daily routine. I wrote more about why I LOVE barley grass back here. I also like to add a little bit of nutrient dense juice to my water. Juice from e.g. aronia, acerola, cranberry or sea buckthorn have loads of vitamins and minerals plus they add some flavor to my water ;) As with the barley grass and with everything else, quality is very important to me. I get my barley grass from Jomu and I love the high quality demeter (organic) NFC juices from Voelkel. Please do not misunderstand me here - I do not recommend drinking loads of fruit juice! I recommend adding small amounts of high quality, carefully pressed, nutrient-dense deliciousness :)
4. Eat enough calories!
This really is so important! When you are breastfeeding you. need. to. eat. enough. Really! When you loose too much weight at once during nursing period, the toxicants stored in your fat will go directly to your milk and, hence, to your baby. Toxicants are always stored in fat, so be careful about it :)
Further, as I wrote already above; you can only get enough nutrients and energy when you eat enough. Dont worry about your shape, it will come back automatically when you eat healthy!
Plus - make sure to always supply vitamin B12! The baby will not get any of your stored B12 reserves through the milk but only the one you actually EAT!
Wow, what a long post! It was so much fun to write! A huge thanks to Voelkel for the juices and to Jomu for my much loved barley grass! I am such a lucky women, I am! :)
By the way, most of you know, but I still would like to repeat, that I only recommend sustainable, organic brands here on my blog. And I only recommend products that I really USE in my everyday life and that I really like!
Now, this said, I guess this post is a wrap :)
Sending muuuuuch love!