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Healthy Breast-Feeding Meal Plan

By Carolyn Robbins

A healthy breast-feeding diet is very similar to the diet you followed through pregnancy. Your meals should include all the food groups, including low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Restrictive dieting can compromise milk supply, so don't worry about counting calories; rather, focus on eating a variety of healthy foods and eat to appetite. Talk to your doctor about goals for healthy postpartum weight loss.

A Simple Breakfast

If you're groggy from middle-of-the-night feedings, food might be unappealing first thing in the morning. Keep your breakfast simple and nutritious. Throw bananas, berries, milk and low-fat yogurt into the blender for a liquid meal you can sip while you nurse the baby. Breast-feeding women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, so include low-fat dairy in every meal. You can also enjoy a mug of coffee in the morning, but don't exceed three cups of caffeinated beverages in a day.

Layers for Lunch

When you are a breast-feeding mother, convenience is the name of the game. Sandwiches are a classic lunch food and an easy meal. Layer avocado, tomato, thinly sliced cucumber, spinach leaves and grilled chicken breast between two slices of whole-grain bread. Have a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit on the side. If you have a little more time, make a tossed salad with leafy greens, diced vegetables and hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken and beans for protein. Lean meat, eggs and beans will help you meet your protein requirement of 71 grams per day. Fresh produce is high in dietary fiber, which will keep you satiated and make it easier to lose your baby weight.

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A Nutritious Dinner

After a long day of mothering, it can be tempting to forget about nutrition and curl up with a bowl of macaroni and cheese to watch television. You can still enjoy your favorite comfort foods, but make an effort to improve their nutritional profile. Make mac and cheese with whole-grain elbow noodles and low-fat milk and cheese. Or, top whole-grain spaghetti with marinara sauce and lean ground beef meatballs. Although you needed much more iron during pregnancy, you still require around 10 milligrams of the mineral -- found in red meat -- per day. Buy bags of frozen, microwavable vegetables so you won't have to dirty another pot during dinner preparation.

Snack Attacks

You might be just as ravenous as a nursing mom as you were when you were pregnant. Because breast-feeding takes a lot of energy, you'll need to eat every three to four hours to keep your blood sugar stable. In addition to three substantial meals, plan for two to three snacks. Trail mix, a granola bar, graham crackers with peanut butter, fruit, carrot or celery sticks with hummus, yogurt and whole-grain crackers with cheese are all good options. Mix and match so you include at least two food groups in every snack.

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