A meal plan is key to losing weight while breastfeeding. Meal planning is very challenging as a new, breastfeeding mama, but with just a bit of planning, all the sugar cravings and extreme hunger can be completely avoided. It is really important to properly set up your meal plan to encourage yur milk supply, while also helping your body burn fat. We have a free, 10-day milk supply diet transformation below, that you can join, as well as a free printable you can grab in this post! Scroll down for the 14 fast and healthy breastfeeding foods for weight loss too!
A breastfeeding meal plan for weight loss MUST consist of the proper foods, or your milk supply can tank, and you will be starving.
Click here to grab your sample meal plan, to get you started, and make sure to grab our full, 10-day plan with recipes!
How to make a meal plan for weight loss while breastfeeding
There are some key factors that will ensure you create a successful meal plan for breastfeeding and weight loss, so your milk supply won’t go south. Here are the factors to follow:
Never reduce calories dramatically. Instead, reduce empty calories
This means that you want to replace foods, rather than eliminate snacks and meals. For example, if you normally crave sugar and sweets in the late afternoon, rather than having your usual cookie, grab a delicious Milk Dust Bar that tastes like dessert, yet fills your body with hand-picked nutrients for breastfeeding mamas. If you love dessert at night, try making an oreo lactation shake, so you can replace the normally empty calorie meal with a protein shake full of milk-boosting herbs, vitamins and minerals to nourish your body instead.
Focus on protein and fiber at every meal and snack
Protein and fiber together ensure that you will feel full and satisfied. By ensuring you have a protein, veggie and/or fruit at every snack and meal, you will be filling your body with nutrient-dense calories that also fill up your stomach. Protein and fiber are really important to combatting the intense hunger that can be really difficult while breastfeeding.
You might also like: 6 Reasons You’re Constantly Hungry and Gaining Weight While Breastfeeding
Take advantage of one-handed meals:
Don’t do a lot of cooking while breastfeeding and caring for a new baby. Get frozen vegetables, make lots of smoothies, use our healthy lactation bars, and batch cook your proteins. If your meals are too complicated, and require a lot of prep, cooking and cleaning, the meal plan will feel too overwhelming to stick too.
Check out: Skinny and Milk-Boosting Lactation Smoothie Recipes That Work!
17 Easy foods to include in your breastfeeding meal plan
There are many, healthy foods you want to include in your breastfeeding meal plan, but not all of them are easy to prepare and eat while trying to lose weight and nursing. This is a great checklist of foods that are super quick and easy to prepare, as well as extremely nourishing for milk supply.
- Apples, oranges and grapes (these are easy fruits to pack and take on the go too!)
- Milk Dust Bars (amazing for the diaper bag, hospital bag and the car!)
- Deli Turkey (easy to wrap in high-fiber wraps, lettuce or on cucumber slices!)
- Sweet potatoes (easy to cook in microwave)
- Milk Dust Protein (quick and easy to shake up in a shaker bottle or blend in smoothie)
- Instant oatmeal (for overnight oats, or quick oats in the morning)
- Pre-washed and cut lettuce (easy to toss for a salad)
- Rotisserie chicken (already cooked in grocery store)
- Hard-boied eggs (easy to grab!)
- Chickpeas, black beans and other beans (super easy to throw on a salad)
- Frozen fruit (always fast and easy for smoothies!)
- Frozen, steamable veggie bags (microwave bags of veggies for fast prep!)
- Frozen turkey burger patties (these can be really handy and delicious!)
- 100 % dark chocolate unsweetened (amazing for chocolate cravings)
- Milk Dust Fudge Brownie protein (late-night milk shakes!)
Planning your meals with fast, and healthy options can really impact the success of your breastfeeding meal plan.
Aslo read: The Healthy Breastfeeding Snack List For Milk Supply + Weight Loss
What foods are important to eliminate in your breastfeeding meal plan for weight loss?
There are some foods that are important to eliminate in your meal plan. These foods lack nutrients, and ultimately offer empty calories. These are also foods that will negatively affect your blood sugar. Balancing blood sugar is really important to ensuring that you don’t have intense cravings, while also keeping hormones level. Blood sugar can impact hormone levels, which can also impact milk supply levels.
The big list of foods to never have in your breastfeeding diet plan for weight loss:
- Ice cream (all fat and sugar – don’t do it! Try this snickers milkshake instead!)
- Chips and crackers (full of carbs and calories – no nutrients)
- Cheese (just adds extra fat and calories. Not ideal for weight loss)
- High-fat meats (lean meats are great, extra fat is not for weight loss)
- Candy and chocolates (these add sugar and fat, with no nutrients!)
- Deep fried foods (very high in fat and low in nutrients)
- Processed foods (look at ingredient lists for chemicals)
By eliminating these foods, you can really help your body function properly, let go of fat, and still produce all the breast milk that your baby needs.
How soon can you start losing weight with this breastfeeding diet meal plan?
There are so many factors that contribute to losing weight, but if you start by following these key factors, your nutrient intake will increase, and empty calorie intake decrease. That alone will help your calorie consumption balance out, without affecting your milk supply. If you can eat a clean, lean diet 80% of each day, that is a great way to start! Our free, 10-day sugar detox is a great plan to follow, with more details to help you do this. Ideally, if you reduce your calories naturally, by choosing healthier foods, you will start losing 1-2 lbs in a week. Some mamas lose more in just 10 days following our plan, without losing milk at all!
Will your breastfeeding diet and meal plan affect your milk supply?
Your diet in general can absolutely affect your milk supply. First and foremost, if you reduce calories too much with your meal plan, your milk supply may suffer. What most moms do by accident, is they reduce calories and nutrients by eating less. By focusing on nutrients, rather than calories, you can keep your milk supply and still lose weight.
Read next: How A Nursing Mother Can Lose Weight Safely
Let us know if you try any of our recipes in our breastfeeding diet meal plan for losing weight. We want to hear your success and see what you make!
Are you feeling like you need to take care of yourself better, but you don’t know how? Jump on our 10-Day Smoothie Transformation Challenge!
Drink one smoothie a day for 10 days in place of your normal meal or snack. We always suggest breakfast to help you start the day.
The transformation is more than just a smoothie every day! We will also send you recipes, goals, tips and SECRET DISCOUNTS! Heck yes!
Start whenever you are ready, and all the smoothies can be made one-handed if necessary!
Here’s a sample recipe you get straight to your phone!
What does the 10-Day Challenge Entail?
Start with just 1 Milk Dust smoothie a day for 10 days.
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TOO!
Breastfeeding hunger is a real issue, and many mothers find themselves extremely frustrated because they are gaining weight and starving at the same time while breastfeeding. There are many factors that can cause constant hunger and weight gain while breastfeeding.
Losing the baby weight will undoubtedly feel impossible if you are starving and gaining weight at the same time. Breastfeeding mamas who find themselves constantly hungry, while also gaining weight are most likely experiencing some issues with blood sugar, a response to hormone levels – specifically prolactin, and a response to lack of sleep. All of these issues, combined with an increased need for nutrients make weight gain and hunger possible, even while breastfeeding.
Let’s dive into specifics on why this is happening, and some ways you can get a handle on the breastfeeding hunger, so you can lose weight, rather than gain weight.
The reasons you’re constantly hungry and gaining weight while breastfeeding:
Reason 1: Your blood sugar levels are on a rollercoaster while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding hunger comes with a lot of extra cravings for mainly sugar, but other foods as well. Postpartum cravings and hunger push moms to eat more carbohydrates and sweets, which has a dramatic affect on blood sugar. Breastfeeding hunger starts because breastfeeding moms do need more nutrients. Unfortunately, many nursing moms fill their hunger with high carb and high fat foods like fries, potato chips, cheeseburgers, nachos, bread and more. Even lactation snacks like brownies and cookies are high carb and high fat foods. These foods cause blood sugar to spike, then drop soon after. Without much fiber and protein for satiation (read below on the importance of fiber!), when blood sugar drops the hunger feeling comes back.
The problem with a dropping blood sugar is that your body doesn’t need more food, but it feels like it does. This leads to overeating, yet never feeling satisfied.
Milk Dust has a specific blend to balance blood sugar, which can really help combat the hunger breastfeeding mamas struggle with. In addition to the protein and nutrients, Milk Dust can be a huge help for hungry nursing mamas!
Reason 2: Your body is adjusting to new hormone levels with prolactin for lactation
Hormone levels change dramatically during lactation. Estrogen decreases and prolactin comes into play. While the lower estrogen usually helps with weight loss, sometimes your body may not react well to the prolactin. Hormones play a huge role in hunger and metabolism, so some nursing mamas experience an increased appetite with the hormonal changes.
Unfortunately, with the increased appetite, many of the not-so-healthy foods can increase estrogen levels. When estrogen increases, it can cause milk supply to drop, as well as increase fat storage. Estrogen is in charge of increasing fat stores for reproduction. While this is great for healthy ovulation and reproduction, it isn’t helpful when needing to lose weight. It can cause weight gain, even when breastfeeding.
Luckily, Milk Dust offers some amazing lactation herbs that help with hormonal balance. The herbs that help with lactation help keep hormonal levels balanced. Red Raspberry Leaf in particular is wonderful for keeping estrogen levels lower. Following one of our Milk Dust smoothie recipes will also add more fiber to your diet, which estrogen latches onto to leave the body.
Reason 3: Lack of sleep is increasing cortisol levels
Breastfeeding a newborn is stressful. Not sleeping more than a few hours is also stressful. This stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels for many mamas. Cortisol increases appetite, so the stress and lack of sleep for new mothers really creates a hunger problem for breastfeeding.
Many mamas turn to food when feeling tired, or just plain feel hungrier when not sleeping. Eating higher fiber foods with protein can really help decrease hunger. Try eating a whole head of broccoli. All the fiber will make you feel super full. Or eat 3 apples. There is only so much fiber your body will want to consume, and it will leave you feeling full for hours. The key is to manage your increased hunger with healthy food. Adding in the veggies and fruit will also add in nutrients, which is so important during lactation.
Reason 4: Increased nutrient needs aren’t being met
Breastfeeding mamas need more nutrients to support lactation. Because there is a higher demand, many mamas experience cravings, which can come as pure hunger. The body is technically hungry for nutrients, so often times it will signal for more food in order to get in more nutrients. Lactating mothers need more nutrients like protein, folate, vitamin B12 and even plain carbohydrates.
By adding in more fruits, veggies, beans, complex carbs like brown rice and lean proteins, you are providing more nutrients, which will help you feel more full. Milk Dust smoothies in particular are full of nutrients, which really help decrease hunger and fill in the nutrient gaps that can drive a constant feeling of hunger.
Reason 5: You’re body needs more fiber
Fiber is really filling. It bulks up in your stomach and intestines to literally make you feel full. One of the amazing things that happens when mamas follow our 10-day diet plan is that they feel super full. The hunger goes away, yet they actually lose weight feeling full. The key is your body is getting more fiber-rich foods, which are actually lower in calories.
Sometimes the simple reason for hunger is that there isn’t enough fiber in the diet. To make it even more simple, you need to eat some more fruits and veggies. That isn’t too hard to do if you add in a smoothie every day, or make sure you are eating fruits and/or veggies at every snack and meal. This will add in nutrients and fiber to your diet to really combat those hunger cravings.
Reason 6: You are more sedentary with a newborn baby
One of the reasons you may be gaining more weight while breastfeeding is purely the fact that a baby can limit your activity. There is a lot of time spent holding the baby, nursing the baby, rocking the baby and sitting with the baby. Normally, a new mother may have been working out, doing more cleaning, walking around more and just more active. By slowing down and caring for a newborn, you may be burning a lot less calories than expected. Especially during the first 6 weeks, when working out isn’t really an option. Muscle mass is also lost during this time, which slows your metabolism down.
Adding in walks with the baby in a wrap or carrier can really help increase activity closer to wear it was. Newborns and small babies tend to do really well being worn close to mama, which gives mama a chance to walk around and do things.
Overall, nourishing the breastfeeding mama with nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods can really help reduce hunger and stop weight gain. Our Milk Dust protein powder is a great tool to help new mamas do this. The smoothies are an easy, one-handed way to get in fruits and veggies, with protein and nutrients that tastes amazing!
Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
If you give birth by cesarean section, it will be the first of many times you will have to use your best multitasking mom super-powers. You will be recovering from both childbirth and major abdominal surgery.
According to recent statistics, about 32% of babies are born via cesarean in the USA. Let’s talk about how things will be different for a cesarean mom and how you can help your body heal while you discover who your new baby is.
Your Surgical Incision
- The incision for a cesarean is about 4-6 inches long.
- It will be closed with either staples, stitches, or surgical glue.
- The incision will be covered with a bandage.
- The bandage is removed after 24-48 hours.
- You can usually shower after the bandage is removed.
- If your doctor used staples or stitches, they will be removed by your doctor or a nurse. This will happen either before you leave the hospital or when you go in for your first postpartum check-up.
- If surgical glue was used, it will peel off on its own.
- The nurse will give you instructions on how to care for your incision after you are discharged from the hospital.
- You will want to keep the incision clean and dry.
- Many moms worry that their incision can easily come apart. Don’t worry. Normal activities will not cause your incision to separate.
Recovering From Anesthesia
Most cesarean births are performed under epidural or spinal anesthesia. Your lower body will remain numb for an hour or two after the surgery is completed. This will provide relief from the post-surgical pain in the first couple of hours.
General anesthesia may be required if a cesarean is an extreme emergency or if the epidural or spinal does not provide adequate anesthesia.
There will be a period of time after general anesthesia during which you will feel sleepy and out of it. You may not have strong memories of this time period.
A cesarean is major surgery and will be accompanied by significant pain. Fortunately, you will be given pain-relieving drugs.
For the first 12-24 hours, most doctors will order an IV pump that delivers narcotic pain medication in small doses every few minutes. There is usually also an option to give yourself more of the medicine with a little button you can push. This is called Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA).
The alternative to a PCA pump is to get injections of narcotics every few hours. After the first 12-24 hours, most moms are able to control their pain with oral pain medication.
It is safe for your baby to breastfeed when you are taking these medications.
The vaginal bleeding after a cesarean is similar to what is experienced a vaginal birth. [I would put a link here to the article about postpartum after vaginal birth – or you could just cut and paste the section on bleeding and put it here].
The nurses will need to check to make sure your uterus is staying firm. If your uterus starts to get soft, you could hemorrhage, so they may need to massage it. This is more painful after you have had a cesarean because of the incisions on your abdomen and uterus. Doing slow, deep breathing can help you through the period of discomfort.
Your uterus will contract the same way a mom who has a vaginal birth does. These after-pains can be very intense. The pain medications that you are taking for your incisional pain will also help with after-pain discomfort.
You may be given antibiotics during the surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Antibiotics can increase the risk of developing a yeast infection. Discuss with your doctor whether you should take a probiotic to help decrease this risk.
Bladder and Bowels
Before your c-section, they will put a urinary catheter in your bladder. This is to keep it drained during the surgery, which decreases the risk of it getting nicked.
Having a catheter increases the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Drinking lots of water and emptying your bladder regularly will help minimize this risk.
Call your doctor if you develop pain or burning with urination.
Any birth is a tremendously emotional experience. Cesarean moms may feel even more emotional.
- Moms may be grieving the loss of their expected birth experience.
- Having surgery may have been a scary experience.
- A more extended healing period can be frustrating.
Moms who give birth by cesarean section do experience postpartum depression more often than moms who give birth vaginally. The rate is even higher if they stop breastfeeding before twelve weeks.
- Give your body the time it needs to heal from the surgery.
- Accept offers of help.
- Seek out help with breastfeeding problems. Do this as soon as possible.
- Focus on taking care of yourself and your baby.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Find and join groups for postpartum moms. The hospital where you gave birth should be able to let you know what is available in your community.
- Keeping a journal can help you process your birth and postpartum experiences.
- If you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, or disconnected from your baby, reach out to your healthcare provider. She can help you find a counselor who specializes in postpartum depression.
- A cesarean usually means a delay in doing skin-to-skin with your baby and getting started breastfeeding.
- It will be more challenging to find comfortable positions when breastfeeding.
- Football hold keeps the baby away from your tender incision.
- Avail yourself of all the help you can get in the hospital from the nurses and lactation consultants.
- Give yourself extra time to get comfortable before breastfeeding. Use pillows to help support the baby.
Warning Signs of When You Should Call Your Doctor
- Fever higher than 100.4°F
- Worsening pain at the site of your incision
- Swelling or redness from the incision site
- Incision oozing pus
- Vaginal discharge has a bad smell
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Pain, swelling or redness in your leg
- Chest pain, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Nutrition For Recovery:
Feed your body nutritious food so it can heal from the surgery. Specifically phytonutrients, vitamin C and protien are super important to healing postpartum both from vaginal and cesarean birth. Milk Dust created both Bump Dust and Milk Dust with additional nutrients to help with recovery after birth. They provide superfoods like Spirulina and Chlorella provide extra antioxidants and phytonutrients to help your body heal.
- Vitamin C
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- High-fiber foods can help minimize the common post-surgery problem of constipation
Smoothies full of fresh and frozen fruit are amazing for getting in a lot of nutrients quickly. Milk Dust has a great recipe book that will give you some healthy smoothie ideas for your postpartum recovery. They also have some more nutrient-dense recipes here on their blog as well. The new Milk Dust Bars are also full of nutrient-dense ingredients that are perfect for on-the-go recovery.
It takes at least six weeks to three months to recover from a surgical birth.
At first, just getting out of bed may feel like a workout. Take your time. Make sure you stand up nice and straight.
Taking walks up and down the hospital halls is important to keep your lungs clear, your GI system moving and your blood flowing.
Continuing leisurely walks around your neighborhood is an excellent way to get some mild exercise. Ask your doctor when you can start other forms of exercise. They will often want you to wait until your six-week check-up before you engage in any vigorous activity
Get As Much Rest As You Can
Let’s be honest, as a new mom, you will not be getting long stretches of sleep. But adequate rest is essential for healing.
- Make naps a priority.
- Even if you don’t consider yourself a napper, you should lay down and close your eyes.
In the beginning, being a new mom and taking care of a baby will be harder after a cesarean section. But if you take care of yourself, you will recover and be able to focus on things like mastering bath time and speed diapering.
Just as there are numerous ways to increase milk supply while breastfeeding, there are also numerous ways to decrease your milk supply. Sometimes new mothers don’t realize that some of their habits of foods they are consuming can have a negative impact on how much milk their body is producing.
We believe nutrition is the foundation of health and milk supply, and we’ve also discussed some of the best ways to increase milk supply, but it is also important to educate new mommies on the things can decrease milk supply.
First, we’ll go over some foods that can have a negative affect on milk supply, then we’ll also discuss some habits that can also reduce the milk a mother is producing. It is also important to note that just because a food or habit has shown a decrease in some women, doesn’t mean it will for you as well. Everyone has a different genetic make up, and it is important to monitor your milk supply with any new diet, foods and habits.
Foods that can decrease milk supply:
There is actually very limited research on foods and herbs that can decrease milk supply. Even the popular peppermint and sage herbs that have been reported to reduce milk supply have very little scientific proof. Because we believe in combining scientific research with anecdotal research, we have a fairly short list of foods and habits.
Sage is used to help breastfeeding mothers wean and reduce milk supply. There are no scientific studies proving that sage reduces milk production, though there are many women who report that sage helps with weaning. If using Sage to help with the weaning process, the best results are in high dosages in pill form or possibly tea. Simply cooking with sage is usually no where near enough to affect milk supply.
Parsley is another herb that has no research to back thoughts that it will reduce milk supply. It is very difficult to eat enough parsley day after day to reduce your milk supply, but if you are taking a supplement of some kind with higher dosages of parsley, you can have a negative affect. Make sure to check any herbal teas, powders or supplements you have to ensure there isn’t a lot of parsley.
This herb has no scientific backing on its affect on milk supply, though because moms have reported it being successful in reducing milk supply, we find it worth mentioning. Oregano used in cooking and recipes doesn’t have the potency that supplements do. If you enjoy eating oregano, it most likely will have no effect on your milk supply, but a more concentrated tea or herbal supplement may have negative affects.
Lifestyle habits that reduce milk supply:
Cigarettes have been shown to have a negative affect on oxytocin levels, which is what stimulates the let down affect. If you let down isn’t working properly, your breasts will not empty. If breasts don’t fully empty, this signals a lower demand and thus a lower supply need.
Sudafed (anti-congestion medicine):
Sudafed, and other similar anti-congestion medications for colds and allergies can negatively affect your milk supply. Basically, because these medications help dry up your runny nose, they can also dry up your milk supply.
Most doctors suggest breastfeeding mamas a very low dosage birth control pill in an attempt to reduce any affect on milk supply. Because birth control pills change hormonal levels, and often times increase estrogen, this can affect your milk production, which is based on your chemical and hormone levels.
This one is fairly obvious, but because becoming pregnant while breastfeeding affects your estrogen levels, it can also affect your milk supply levels. Most times, a new mother’s body adjusts to being pregnant and breastfeeding, but sometimes there is a drop in supply as hormones change and fluctuate.
This is a topic that we feel very strongly about. Many mothers eat plenty of calories, but not enough nutrients. A breastfeeding mother needs extra nutrients to function and give to baby, and when these are not present, milk supply can drop, and a mother may need to turn to formula, even though they are eating plenty of calories. Of course calorie consumption can have an affect on milk supply, but most mothers have stored plenty of fat and water during pregnancy to provide plenty of milk for baby. BUT, some nutrients need to be digested and absorbed into the blood stream to nourish mama and baby. Obtaining enough nutrients can be difficult as a new mother, which is why we created Milk Dust as a solution to nourishment and milk supply. Make sure to use code: LACTATION for 10% off your first order!
This is a fairly rare case for many breastfeeding mamas, but if a new mother is training for a marathon or very intense fitness competition, the stress and extensive training could decrease oxytocin levels and reduce milk supply.
Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration:
Hydration and electrolyte balance directly affect milk supply because breast milk is largely water. In order to produce enough breast milk, your hydration levels need to be normal so there is enough extra liquid to pump into your breasts. If you electrolytes are off, taking some potassium and magnesium can really help (which are also in Milk Dust!).
Most mothers want to avoid anything that may harm their milk supply. Even though the herbs mentioned have no scientific backing, some may feel it is better to just be safe and avoid them all together. Some mothers are more sensitive to herbs than others, so even though you may only consume a tiny bit, your body may have a larger reaction. It is important to remember to take care of yourself by properly nourishing your body to ensure you can support another living life.
Lactation brownies are awesome snacks or treats for breastfeeding mamas to increase milk supply and satisfy sugar cravings. But, many of the lactation brownies out there are full of sugar and fat, which is not good for losing any extra baby weight.
Of course a delicious brownie every so often is more than acceptable, but what if you could have a delicious brownie for breakfast every morning? Basically, this brownie recipe is so healthy, low-sugar, low-carb and nutrient-dense, you can have it anytime you want. You can even eat the entire recipe for around 350 calories if you really wanted to. These are perfect for those times when you just can’t stop eating the brownies.
Because there’s a scoop of our Milk Dust in this recipe, there is added protein, which helps make these brownies super filling as well. The protein will actually help keep you from filling hungry again soon after eating these, as well as limiting how many you can actually eat without feeling stuffed. Feeling full is one of the fastest ways to get rid of a sugar craving.
Go ahead, eat these up and reap the benefits to your milk supply and nutrition.
Healthy Lactation Brownies for Milk Supply:
Healthy Lactation Brownies
These lactation brownies are high in protein, low in sugar and carbs and amazing for milk supply.
- 1/4 cup Almond Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 scoop Milk Dust
- 1/4 cup Baking Stevia or granulated sweetener of choice
- 2 tbsp Stevia honey blend or low-sugar honey
- 4 Egg whites
- 1 Ripe banana or 1/4 cup applesauce
Give these lactation brownies a try for your next chocolate craving. Pair them with a drizzle of peanut butter, a dollop of whipped cream or a little vanilla ice cream between two, and it will be the best dessert you can have every night! Give our Milk Dust a try at 10% off with Code: LACTATION