By: Sarah Remmer, RD - Canada's Child & Family Nutrition Expert
Who doesn’t love a snack? Seriously! Kids tend to be who we think of first when chatting about snacks. They are usually the loudest snack-monsters who request snack after snack after snack. They NEED snacks to fill their little tummies - this is true - but did you know that for breastfeeding mom’s snacks are also essential? The days of breastfeeding can be bliss and figuratively and literally draining. Your give (and your baby takes) energy, nutrients, patience, love…the list goes on and on. From sleepless nights to balancing work, life and other little humans, it’s easy for busy nursing moms to forget to snack. But for those who are breastfeeding, snacks are important in order to gain essential nutrients and to help meet an increased energy requirement.
Breastfeeding is a lot of work – in more ways than one – but from an energy standpoint, if you are breastfeeding exclusively, you need an additional 350-400 calories per day from what you would normally consume. This sounds like a lot, but it’s actually fairly easy to manage. Fit in an extra snack of Greek yogurt, berries and seeds (or a Real Food Bar!) and add some avocado to your salad, and you’re probably good to go.
You also have increased protein and carbohydrate needs, as well as some increased nutrient needs – mainly vitamins A, C, E, all of the B vitamins and zinc! Basically, the nutritional composition of your breastmilk is a reflection of your nutrient stores, and it’s nutrient-packed!!
Almonds are a fantastic source of protein, healthy poly- unsaturated fats and fibre! Whole almonds are a great on-to-go snack by themselves or mixed into homemade trail mix. They can be eaten with one hand and are easily packed into a diaper bag or purse.
Bars are the best. It’s not often you find a good bar – they’re often packed full of added sugar and lack nutrition. These means that they will offer lots of calories but not much nutrition or “staying power”. Luckily, Made with Local offers a nutrient-rich, protein-packed clean-ingredient bar that I feel SO good about eating and even serving to my littles. These bars contain a simple ingredients list of natural nut butters, dried fruit, nuts and seeds and are convenient as heck—which is key for a breastfeeding momma!
Varieties of yogurt such as Greek of Skyr are packed full of protein and fat, which is great when energy requirements are increased due to breastfeeding, and your next meal or snack may depend on whether or not you are trapped under a sleeping baby! Protein and fat both provide a feeling of fullness – meaning they’re slow to digest which helps you feel full for longer versus in twenty minutes! Time is precious as a busy mom, optimize your nutrition when possible! Throw in fresh or frozen fruit for extra flavour and variety.
I’m not talking about toddlers, I’m talking about those little golf-ball-sized snacks that are oh so quick and convenient. They are packed with energy dense nutrition which means they’re a fast source of much needed nourishment. They’re also quick to make and easy to freeze! Check out this delicious energy ball recipe, using the Real Food Bar Mix!
Hydration is so important while breastfeeding. The average person needs to consume 9 cups of fluid per day, while a breastfeeding mom needs to consume 12 cups! Milk – chocolate milk too – can add hydration, protein and calcium.
Hardboiled, scrambled, poached, you name it. I love eggs. They’re easy,
convenient, and come in their own package. All eggs are nutritious, but while
breastfeeding reach for omega-3 enriched eggs. During pregnancy and breastfeeding your DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) requirement is 200 mg/ day. DHA is critical for brain and retinal development and maternal consumption of DHA is positively correlated with the amount of DHA in breastmilk. Omega-3 fortified eggs are a great way to contribute to your overall requirement of DHA as they can provide 125mg of DHA per egg!
For me, smoothies are a great way to cover your bases. Frozen fruit, wilted spinach, about to expire yogurt – just about anything tastes great in a smoothie. They’re easy, nutritious, portable and can provide much needed energy and nutrients to your day.
Perfectly portioned and a satisfying snack. Muffins can be loaded with oats, shredded veggies, and delicious flavours like cinnamon and nutmeg. Bonus is that they can be individually frozen for quick on-the-go snacks. Also consider more than just the traditional muffin! Egg muffins make a delicious freezer meal breakfast option. Especially for those early morning breastfeeding sessions.
The whole wheat tortilla wrap is the perfect mode of transport for food from your plate to your mouth while breastfeeding. Wrap up any salad, veggie, meat combo into a wrap and you have the perfect one-handed meal. I speak from experience as someone who once used a nursing pad to cover my baby’s ear out of fear that my bite of quinoa salad would fall and hit his tiny eardrum. If I had wrapped up my salad, I would have been worry free!
Chocolate covered strawberries are one of my favourite snacks to bring new moms. They’re a satisfying treat that are both loaded with vitamin C and taste refreshing and sweet at the same time. Indulgent as it sounds, you deserve it!