5 Healthy & Convenient Foods To Include In Your Postpartum Diet
Postpartum nutrition is unfortunately often glossed-over for new moms. The focus generally turns toward feeding your new baby—and understandably so! Still, it's super important for new mothers to prioritize nourishing their bodies well, too. Having a few healthy and convenient foods on hand can take some of the effort and guesswork out of doing so.
Why postpartum nutrition matters.
Much of the conversation around nutrition for expectant mamas is focused on the months of pregnancy leading up to having a newborn—but nutrition doesn't become less important for mothers once the baby is born. This is why we dedicate an entire section in our book The Plant-Based Baby & Toddler just to postpartum nutrition.
Continuing to feed yourself well after having a baby is critical for physical, mental, and emotional healing. Adequate nourishment also provides energy for the demands of newborn life (hello, lack of sleep all around). Plus, some nutrition needs actually increase for mamas during lactation, as they transfer nutrients to baby via breast milk.
Having a variety of nutrient-dense foods that require little prep work can be a lifesaver for new parents. In addition, we recommend certain supplements as part of your postpartum nutrition routine. A daily multivitamin (or continuing your prenatal) may meet nutrient needs for an omnivorous diet. Plant-based mamas benefit from taking extra vitamin B12 and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in supplemental form.
5 nutrient-rich postpartum foods.
Taste preferences and desire to eat can continue to wax and wane after giving birth, and many breastfeeding mamas experience a ravenous appetite. Whatever your postpartum experience looks like, here are some healthy foods to keep accessible, plus ideas for using them:
Pistachios are one of the highest protein snack nuts. They offer 6 grams of complete protein per serving to help fuel your body with essential amino acids. Plus, they're a great source of fiber and unsaturated fat to help keep you fuller longer.
For middle-of-the-night breastfeeding hunger, try no-shell pistachios as a convenient, healthy snack. You might also enjoy crushed pistachios for extra crunch in a salad, on top of ice cream or yogurt, or blended into homemade pesto.
Tofu is a great source of protein, as well as the essential nutrients choline and lysine, which can be harder to find on a plant-based diet.
Choline is important for healthy cells and infant brain development, but the body only makes a small amount. Regardless of diet, most pregnant women don't consume enough choline, and this likely continues after giving birth. Choline is transferred via breast milk, and tofu is a good way to make sure you're replenishing stores.
Lysine is an essential amino acid we have to get through diet. While plant foods contain all nine essential amino acids, lysine is limited in some of them—but not tofu.
Tofu takes on the flavor of just about anything. It's also inexpensive and super versatile. Extra-firm tofu is great to cube and roast, scramble, grill for sandwiches, or use in soup. Silken tofu works well for blending into smoothies or creamy sauces.
The jury is still out on whether oats help promote milk supply, but they work anecdotally for some moms. Regardless, there's no harm in eating oats, plus they're full of soluble fiber, iron, zinc, and B vitamins and can be a great grain alternative for gluten-free mamas.
Avocados are energy-dense and can help keep you fuller for longer. They're also packed with fiber, healthy omega-3 fats, and fat-soluble antioxidants that research says can improve breast milk quality.
Plus, they're delicious on just about everything. Smash them on toast with pumpkin seeds and tomatoes, mash them into guacamole, or add them to burritos, bowls, salads, and pasta. You can even add them to green smoothies.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet complex carbohydrate that will help keep you satisfied and provide energy for breastfeeding. They're also a great source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Bake and stuff sweet potatoes with yummy fillings, cube and roast them with olive oil, or make gluten-free sweet potato oat waffles.
Every mama has a unique postpartum experience, but nutrition is important for everyone. As you learn to feed your new baby, we encourage you to prioritize feeding yourself well, too. This isn't always easy with the demands of new motherhood, but incorporating the nutrient-dense plant foods above can help provide the energy and nourishment you need.
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