Not All Calories Created Equal: Nutritional Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Three hundred calories equals half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of 1 percent milk.

It also equals the number of calories needed by an average woman to support an exclusively nursing infant, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With not all calories created nutritionally equally, it falls to breastfeeding mothers to pick foods that will better support infant growth.

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“It’s a lot about common sense,” said Oklahoma State University nutritional sciences professor Tay Kennedy. “Just look at the stuff you eat in your diet and think how you can come up with a better choice.”

Among the habits nursing mothers can develop to support breastfeeding nutrition for both themselves and their infants are:

—Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid a day, as suggested by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.

—Place nutritionally valuable foods, such as fortified bread and eggs, at the diet’s core.

—Ease up on the saltshaker. “When using foods with sodium already in it, you want to watch how much salt you add,” Kennedy said. “I’d suggest skipping it until you’re all done cooking, then taste it and decide whether you like it or not. Don’t add any more in the cooking process. If you’re making something with cheese, don’t add salt.”

—Frozen produce is just as good as, if not sometimes better, than fresh. “The vitamins and minerals are preserved when they’re frozen,” Kennedy said. “Who knows how long something’s been sitting on the shelf in some of the rural areas?”

—Although protein is a key nutrient for breastfeeding women, a small amount in at least two meals is sufficient to reach the USDA recommended daily allowance of 50 grams. Mixing hamburger meat with breadcrumbs or oatmeal can help make a limited supply last longer while adding fiber and B vitamins to the meal.

For more nutrition tips, visit the Mountain Plains Region Nutrition Advisory Committee online. MPRNAC also offers healthy recipes that use at least 50 percent commodity food items in the ingredient list.

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