Last Updated on September 12, 2021
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “You are what you eat,” but it really rings true when you’re breastfeeding. If your diet is filled with foods that can be harmful to your baby, then they will also get into your breast milk and pass to the child through nursing. It’s important to limit some specific foods while breastfeeding because they could affect the quality of milk production and even cause a decrease in milk supply. This article talks about 10 foods to avoid when breastfeeding. So, check it out!
1. Cow’s milk/ Cow’s milk protein
Dairy foods is the first one which should be eliminated from your diet while breastfeeding. Cow’s milk protein and lactose (a type of sugar found in dairy products) can cause food allergy in breastfed baby, which could be life-threatening if not treated immediately because they affect baby’s immune system negatively .
If you need a suggestion to have a healthy diet without consuming cow’s milk, nut’s milk is the best substitute. There are different types of nut milk available on the market these days and easier to find in any supermarket. As you may know, they almonds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts or macadamia. Unlike cow’s milk which has high protein and fat content, nut’s milk is made of water, nut pulp (almonds), natural sweeteners and flavorings like vanilla extract and coconut nectars.
It should be noted that it does not contain lactose so you can drink as much as you want without causing constipation. Nut milk is also an excellent option for vegan mothers since it contains no cholesterol or lactose and can be used in cereal or just by itself.
2. Peanut-based foods
Peanut is one of the top food allergens around the world. If you are breastfeeding, there is no harm to avoid peanut-based foods in order to reduce/prevent food allergies for your baby. This is even more critical if breastfeeding moms know somebody in her family suffers from this problem.
The substance in peanuts that causes food allergies is called “Ara h”. This substance is not absorbed in the digestive system, it stays directly into the mother’s milk. When a baby consumes this Ara hthrough breastfeeding, he/she might develop peanut allergy later in baby’s life. Only consider to eat peanuts if you know the two latest generations of your family don’t have any allergic reaction.
3. Energy drinks
Energy drinks are not recommended for the moms because of artificial sweeteners and other harmful ingredients like erythritol and aspartame. These things are known to have adverse effects on the mother’s health and also cause damage to the baby through mother’s breast milk. For example, artificial sugar is not food for babies so it can’t be digested properly by them which can lead to excessive crying in infants.
If you are craving for some sweet drinks, think of citrus fruits and their juices. They are one of the top recommended breastfeeding foods which is beneficial to baby’s body. These citrus juices like orange, pomelo or grapefruits carry a high amount of fiber and vitamins which help mom staying away from dehydration and constipation.
The amount of caffeine intake varies depending on the types of drink you have. Coffee, soda water or strong green tea are the ones you should limit to have a balanced diet. You might have two or three cups of coffee or tea before but you should definitely reduce that amount now. For better breast milk production and quality, try to replace them with herbal teas full of calming ingredients like chamomile, pepermint, ginger, lemongrass or lavender.
In case you find it too hard to give up on delicious and addictive cups of latte or cappuccino, you can always have decaffeinated filter coffee or instant coffee if possible! In this way, you’ll still be able to drink your favorite beverage but it won’t affect your milk production and quality as much as before.
5. Spicy foods
Traditionally, there are certain foods to avoid while breastfeeding and spicy foods is one of them. To breastfeeding moms, spicy food can irritate the stomach and intestine lining, which could lead to bowel problems like diarrhea. Having this kind of food too much may cause gas and bloating that could affect your milk supply as well.
If you find yourself constantly dealing with a runny nose while eating some particular food, the high chance is that they are the spicy dishes. For example, spicy chili peppers can actually trigger the release of histamines in your body which results in an oncoming stuffy or runny nose. The chili peppers are actually not the only spicy foods to avoid while breastfeeding. You should be cautious of certain kinds of food like wasabi and horseradish that also contain a lot of capsicum in them which can cause similar symptoms when consumed too much.
Although they are not too dangerous for either mom or baby, it certainly isn’t great to baby growth. Babies could suffer from food intolerance, tummy pain or even allergic disease like asthma. Other than these common spices, there is nothing wrong serving healthy veggies and legumes in your breastfeeding diet. You baby may find the breast milk is tastier.
6. Highly-processed foods
Your healthcare professional will advise you to limit all of highly-processed foods to support your baby’s development. You should not take any canned or processed meat products like canned tuna or meat because they usually contain high level in sodium which will be dangerous for both mom and baby’s health. In addition, canned food is high in preservatives and has very low nutritional value.
The ultimate way for breastfeeding moms to get enough vitamin D, A, B, C and other essential minerals is having a varied diet with full of fresh veggies, wholegrain cereals and meat which are more friendly to baby’s development.
7. High mercury fish
If breastfeeding mums are eating fish like mackerel king, tuna, cod or sword fish, they should consider to cut them off. You should avoid high mercury fish like that because they can cause damage to the baby’s brain and nervous system. In general, the bigger the fish is, the higher amount of mercury it contains. Some low-mercury fish is recommended are sardine, salmon or herring which can provide a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins and other nutrients that breastfeeding mothers need for their babies brain development.
8. Strongly-flavored foods
The mother’s diet has an impact on baby’s health, which can lead to weight issues, allergies and other diseases. It is important that the baby gets only breast milk for at least six months after birth; therefore it is necessary to watch out what mother eats in order not to deprive baby of nutrients needed for proper growth.
Due to cooking habits, there are frequent exposure to strongly-flavored food in your daily meals that you may not even notice. Too much garlic, onion or spices in curry is the most obvious example of making breast milk taste bad. The sign of food intolerance in this case is you may have a “toilet date” after few hours of eating. So better avoid these ingredients when you are breastfeeding
There are plenty of delicious recipes with neutral favors like soups, salads or roasted meat and veggies which you can prepare without using spices and other ingredients.
9. Alcoholic drink
While tracking pregnancy, doctors not only tell you how much alcohol you could have as occasional drink but also suggest giving up on it. There is no exception when you are breastfeeding.
Alcoholic drink contains a lot of calories but mostly carbohydrates and sugar which moms should avoid while breastfeeding because they will be putting on weight instead off losing the extra baby fat that is very important for your health and self-confidence during this period. In addition, baby’s system will find it hard to deal with it and cause some problems like upset tummy and diarrhea. For your baby’s long-term health benefits, do not drink alcohol.
10. Unhealthy fats
In fact, they are quite rampant in the modern diet, and they’re found in some pretty surprising places. They be found in fried foods such as French fries or onion rings because of their high frying temperature requiring a longer deep fry time at lower temperatures. They are also often added to baked goods like muffins, cakes, doughnuts.
Foods high in unhealthy fats can make your milk taste bad, and may cause irritation to the baby. Saturated fatty acids found in butter or coconut oil are good for baby brain development but should be consumed in limited quantities because they could cause digestive problems due to their strong flavor.
A safer oil to eat while breastfeeding are olive oil. It contains good fats with a mild taste better accepted by baby than saturated ones. Other foods contains good fats are the nuts like walnuts, almonds and macadamia. They are a good addition to your salads or smoothie bowls. If your baby is getting solid foods and it is hard for you to find baby products with good fat, just get some avocados and oily fish.
For mothers who are breastfeeding, there is no doubt that the food they eat is very important. However, women in different cultures have different habits about what foods to have or not to have. Some women prefer not to drink milk at all while others love it so much that they might even go back for seconds or thirds. Some people can’t handle chillies but other love to sprinkle some on their stewing beef. There’s no one-size fits all answer on whether you should be having rice with your meal or pasta instead because every body reacts differently to certain things like fats, carbs, sugars. etc. Just ask your health visitor if you have any questions. They will provide medical advice and nutrition knowledge that you need.