Are you a breastfeeding mom, or are planning to breastfeed? Whether you have experienced constantly being in demand to your baby or have seen others go through it, you know that breastfeeding is one of the most important times to be eating well, but it is also one of the hardest times to eat well.There is not a ton of leisurely time you can be completely away from your baby, nor is it easy to plan some uninterrupted time to grocery shop, meal plan, make a healthy meal or even a snack for yourself. Luckily, I have put together 3 rules to follow to ensure you (and your baby) are keeping fueled and healthy with proper snacks throughout the day.
Rule #1. Keep snacks simple
It’s not necessary to have the mentality that you need to be eating super complex foods that take a long time to put together. Take the pressure off yourself to have fancy superfoods and putting something complicated recipes. You want to aim for simple snacks that do not take a lot of effort (or thinking) to put together and eat. This makes it way more likely that you will actually eat something, rather than exhaust yourself at just the idea of making something complicated. Plus, you’ll likely need a snack you can eat with one hand as you breastfeed at the same time (multi-tasking for the win!)
Rule #2. Keep snacks varied
It’s great if you have that ‘go-to’ snack that does the trick. I know myself, when I’ve found a good snack that tastes delicious and satisfies, it’s hard to stray. However, eating the same thing over and over again because it is easy and because you like it does not guarantee that you will be getting all the nutrients you require. Make sure to vary your snacks slightly – switch up the veggies, change the dip, try a new snack bar, incorporate different smoothies, etc. Your baby’s needs change as they grow, and your body is requiring lots of different nutrients during this time, so make sure to support it with a varied diet.
Rule #3. Keep snacks nutrient dense
Being on demand to your baby’s feeding needs equates to infrequent opportunities to eat well. You never know when schedules may change, when your appetite will decrease, or when your baby may need extra attention. For this reason, get the most bang for your buck in what you are eating your snacks! Use snacks to fill in the gaps you may miss at certain meal times, and don’t fill up on calories from foods void of lots of nutrients. Make sure you are fueling your body with foods that have dense amounts of antioxidants, fiber, protein, fat, and minerals. Everything counts!
With these tips in mind, let’s get more specific and show you some concrete examples of simple, varied & nutrient dense snack ideas to save your day!
1. Hard boiled eggs with raw veggies
Eggs are great no matter what method is used for cooking. But, hard boiled eggs are by far the easiest! You can cook a dozen at the beginning of the week if you wish, peel them, and store them in your fridge up to a week.
How easy is that? With the eggs being already peeled all you have to do is take it out of your fridge and eat! Buy veggies pre-cut or wash and cut ahead of time for a one-handed snack with no cutlery needed. You and baby can even feed at the same time.
The beauty of eggs lies not only in their simplicity, but they contain a chock-full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fat! More specifically, eggs contain a high level of choline, a nutrient that is important for learning and memory and brain development in your baby. When you are pregnant and breastfeeding, your choline stores become very depleted. This is because the baby is taking all of your choline (as they should…it is essential for them!) So, Mom, you need to stock up on choline and replenish; not only for yourself but for your little one as well.
2. Avocado Mash on Ezekiel Bread
Avocado is not only packed with a lots of calories to keep you full of energy, it is also high in heart healthy fats. Eating half an avocado for a snack will be sure to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Nothing is simpler than mashing avocado onto a piece of whole grain bread (I recommend Ezekial bread as a great option for it’s highly absorbable vitamins and minerals). Try adding your favourite spices for a flavour punch, a squeeze of lemon juice, and you’re good to go!
- Kind Bars (or some variation)
Kind bars are a favourite of mine. The combination of dark chocolate and nuts seems to hit every craving and hunger spot. Kind bars are also low in sugar, use simple ingredients and contain nuts for added protein and fat. Want to know a secret though? Costco has a GREAT variation of this bar (for less $ too). Look for Kirkland Signature brand Dark Chocolate and Nut Bar.. yum yum!
- Prana Kilimanjaro Trail Mix
If you can find time to make your own trail mix – great! But if you want the added benefit of convenience, then the Prana line of organic trail mixes are my go to option. My favourite is the Kilimanjaro mix with dark chocolate chips and Quebec cranberries – yum! It contains a great source of Vitamin E, selenium, magnesium and antioxidants. The Machu Pichu mix is also amazing, made with Peruvian golden berries, and no added sugar. This trail mix can be found at most local grocery stores or, for a bulk size bag, try Costco.
- Plain Greek Yogurt with Berries and Pumpkin Seeds
Plain Greek yogurt is not only high in protein, but it also contains probiotics which are important for gut health and strengthening the immune system for you (and baby). Spoon it in a bowl, add fruit of choice (handful of berries or a sliced banana), sprinkle some pumpkin seeds, and you have a balanced snack. Not a fan of plain yogurt? There are options! Either add a bit of sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar) or you could buy one tub of sweetened yogurt and one plain yogurt and mix them together.
- Energy balls
Energy balls will be sure to not only take the hunger edge off, but will also get at your sweet-tooth cravings. They can be whipped up in no time, especially if they are no-bake. Keep them simple. An energy ball with just 4-5 ingredients is all you need! And better yet, you probably have most ingredients already in your pantry. But be careful with these! It is so easy to overindulge. Pre-portioning your energy balls may be your best bet – put two in a ziplock snack bag and store it in the freezer until you are ready for your snack.
Don’t have everything on hand that a specific recipe calls for? No problem! You can easily swap ingredients, or add additional ingredients. If you have hemp, flax or chia seeds on hand, consider adding a tablespoon to any recipe! Did you run out of almond butter? Use natural peanut butter! Ran out of shredded coconut? You could use chocolate chips instead. Read on to see a simple, minimal ingredients energy ball recipe you can eat when occupied with your little one:
Clean n’ Simple Energy Balls
1 cup dates (pitted)
3 Tbsp nut butter
¼ cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
⅔ cups rolled oats
1 Tbsp seeds of choice (flax, hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and roll into bite-sized balls. Keep in freezer or fridge for a couple hours and then snack away! With the combination of nut butter, seeds and oats this snack will hold you over until the next meal. If you want to boost the protein content, try adding a handful or two of your favourite chopped nuts, or protein powder.
On a final note, if a loved one or friend offers to look after your baby so you can have some time to prepare meals or snacks, take them up on it! If not, ask for help. Every mom needs help to carry them through this demanding time in you and your baby’s life. While the above mentioned snacks were purposefully listed as they take little preparation ahead of time, you can always use a little extra help. Ask to have someone help you wash and cut up fruit and veggies for you, or prepare the energy balls ahead of time, so you have even less to worry about when hunger strikes. It may be easier for you to pick a day of the week when you know you have help and do all of your meal and snack prepping then.
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