How to Get the Best Nutrition while Nursing

Recently, Kim Kardashian made the news for not losing weight. Yep, you heard right. After the birth of baby North, she made a decision to focus her diet on what was best for baby, not what would make the cover of People. So here’s what a diet optimized for breastfeeding looks like.

Keeping your diet clean and nutrient dense while nursing is essential not only for baby’s health, but also for mom’s health. You’ve likely heard that breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories per day, but sadly that doesn’t mean those 500 calories can come from chips or candy. Focus instead on eating healthy food, avoiding as many processed foods as possible, and consuming the fats critical for healthy development.

Protein is a nursing mother’s best friend. It provides plenty of energy, keeps you full longer and helps regulate blood sugar. Always make your last meal of the night–and any midnight nursing snacks–high in protein. This helps baby sleep well by avoiding a sugar crash, which can result in baby waking up hungry after just a few hours. Great choices are lean meats, nuts and seeds, full-fat plain Greek yogurt, raw cheese and even whey protein powder.

Healthy fats boost the immune system, help prevent post-partum depression, and are an important part of healthy brain development. Avoid trans fats, vegetable, and canola oils whenever possible, since they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids which can cause inflammation. Replace them with coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil. Fill your diet with fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and herring, grass-fed beef and full-fat dairy.

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, should make up a large part of the diet. Fresh vegetables can be eaten cooked or tossed into smoothies for an extra burst of vitamins. Adding a little bit of a healthy fat to your veggies can make them tastier but can also help you absorb their fat-soluble vitamins. Try keeping fruits to once per day, and eat them with some protein, since they can cause blood-sugar spikes and crashes for both mother and baby.

If you’re concerned about shedding your pregnancy weight, remember that not everyone loses weight while breastfeeding. Cutting your calories below 1,200 a day is unhealthy for both mother and baby since it can affect the quality of breast milk. Sometimes not losing weight can be tied to postpartum hormonal imbalances. Be kind to yourself and remember that you are growing a human being; the weight loss is not as important, and it will happen eventually.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. Visit her blog and website at

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