Breastfeeding Diet Tips for Vegetarians, Semi-Vegetarians & Vegans
A healthy start is what you look for when it comes to your little bundle of joy. Especially, while breastfeeding, you take great care to provide your child with the best possible nourishment. But your well-being is equally important. What your child gets as nourishment comes from you. The quality of your breast milk depends on your intake of protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals. And if that is of the right amount, then you do not have to fret over it. However, for optimum nutrition, based on your diet plan, you might need some supplements so that you or your child do not miss anything. The care you are going to take now in your diet is going to take care of you both.
Whether you are Vegetarian, Non- Vegetarian, or Vegan, it is completely your wish to choose your choice of diet. However any diet you choose your body needs balanced nutrition in order to fulfil a breastfeeding baby’s requirements. A healthy mother makes a healthy baby.
Is Going on a Vegetarian Diet Safe While Breastfeeding?
Yes, it is. If you are thinking that you would not be getting enough nutrients, then think again. Even without having meat, you can have plenty of vegetables to provide you with substantial nutrients.
Types of Vegetarian Diets
There are three types of vegetarian diets:
1. Lacto Vegetarian
A plant-based diet with lots of dairy products, but without eggs. Dairy products are a good source of Vitamin D, protein and calcium. With a considerable supply of Vitamin B12 and calories from dairy products, getting nutrition from such a diet would not be that difficult.
2. Ovo Vegetarian
It contains eggs and plants but dairy products are a strict no-no. Eggs are a good source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, among many others.
3. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
The best one, hands down. With eggs and dairy products to boost your body, you might not need any other supplements.
Tips to Consider When Following a Vegetarian Diet
Here are some tips to guide you through your diet.
- Calories and proteins are a must. Eat accordingly.
- Dairy products in your diet should be fortified with Vitamin D.
- If the egg suits you, then have one each day.
- For extra vitamins or supplements, give your doctor a call.
Is Going on a Vegan Diet Safe While Breastfeeding?
A vegan diet is exclusively plant-based without meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products. That is why you should pay additional attention to your diet if you wish to follow a completely vegan diet while breastfeeding. You have to take special care about the calories and nutrients consumed in your vegan breastfeeding diet plan.
Tips to Consider When Following a Vegan Diet
Plant-based diets are extremely healthy but low on calories and nutrients. Supplements are required to fill in the gaps to make the ‘vegan breastfeeding diet plan’ a compelling one and having B12 in this diet is essential. Consulting a Dietician for a professional diet plan can help satisfy all the nutrient requirements that a lactating mother would need.
Here are some tips that you will find useful while maintaining a strict vegan diet:
- As plants are low in calories, make sure that you have plenty of alternatives or supplements in your vegan breastfeeding diet plan to complement the need.
- Protein can be obtained from eating lentils, rice, nuts, beans, dark green vegetables and whole-grain bread. Have them in plenty to meet your body’s requirements. If you feel gassy due to excess sprouts and lentils, then take it slow and eat in low quantities and increase your intake of green vegetables.
- B12 is a vitamin that can only be found in animal products. Preventing the deficiency of it is of utmost importance. Supplements are the best way to meet your body’s requirements but make sure your doctor approves of it as well.
- Plants laden with zinc are in plenty but your body responds better to animal products containing zinc. Hence, a lot of nuts, beans, grains, seeds, and leafy green vegetables should also be a part of your vegan breastfeeding diet plan. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are also good sources.
- There are many animal milk substitutes available in the market for vegan-based diets, such as soy milk, almond milk, etc. This can also be consumed once a day to fulfil the protein requirements which is usually not available in a vegan diet.
- Dairy products are rich in calcium. But dark leafy vegetables can provide it to you as well. Beans, soy products, or fortified orange juice are also good sources. Dried figs are rich calcium carriers.
- You can meet your iron requirements from mushrooms, tofu, nuts, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified bread, and cereal. Your diet plan should have a mix of foods containing high Vitamin C to make them more effective.
- Fish is a good source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an Omega-3 essential fatty acid, which is an essential nutrient for your baby’s brain and eye development. However, it can’t be part of a vegan breastfeeding diet plan. But flaxseed, hempseed, and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which your body can transform into DHA but the amount may be too less.
- Your iodine intake can be met with salt or seaweed and it can work well with your diet plan. It is needed for thyroid gland development.
- Have you ever thought that a vegan breastfeeding diet plan can include sunlight? Well, it does, in a way! Your body gets a healthy dose of Vitamin D if you spend a few moments outside in the sun. But avoid the sunlight in excess; if the climate is too harsh, it is not advisable at all.
- If you or your doctor feels like you’re deficient in any of the nutrients mentioned above, you can always turn to supplements to meet the requirements.
Is Going on a Semi-Vegetarian or a Pescetarian Diet Safe When Breastfeeding?
A semi-vegetarian diet includes meat and animal products in it occasionally. If consumed in a balanced way and on a daily basis, a semi-vegetarian breastfeeding diet plan can assist you in leading a healthy life and in providing your baby with enough nutrition.
A pescetarian diet, on the other hand, does not contain any meat products. It’s very similar to a vegetarian diet, but it includes fish. Fish is a very good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can sufficiently take care of a new mother.
Tips to Consider While Following a Semi-Vegetarian or Pescetarian Diet
If you opt for a semi-vegetarian or pescetarian diet then you should follow these tips:
- Variety is the spice of life. So, enjoy the vast array of dietary options to the fullest but maintain a healthy diet.
- Proteins and calories are a must. Each morsel should contain healthy nutrients.
- For pescetarians, well-cooked, low-mercury fish is a good choice. A healthy dose of shellfish on a weekly basis is a plus.
- Vitamins and supplements always come in handy. But try to have nutrients from healthy foods than depending on supplements for your nutritional needs.
If you’re following any of the mentioned diets, ensure that you take adequate measures to meet your nutritional requirements.