by Kristen Bocanegra
Mom bosses have a lot on their plates- literally. Between work, family, and all the distractions that life throws at them, it can be hard for them to find time to breastfeed their infants and even harder for them to find time to plan nutritious meals that will keep their breast milk at optimal quality.
Let’s face it, being a new mom is an overwhelming experience and it’s easy for health and nutrition concerns to get lost in the jumble. That said, helping a new mom stay healthy while breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for both your mom boss and your charge. After all, the nutrients she is getting from food are not only giving her the energy she needs but are now helping her grow and feed a developing baby. Talk about work!
So, if you’re looking to provide some additional and beneficial support, here are five simple food based actions you can take.
Make water readily available.
Water is essential for life and helps carry vital nutrients to both mom and baby. During pregnancy drinking enough water can help alleviate common ailments like constipation and bloating; and while nursing, can be one of best things a mom can do to help support her milk supply. So get a collection of your mom boss’s favorite water bottles, fill them to the brim and place them in the fridge for easy access. Make sure one is always readily available when she is around the house and anytime she steps out the door make sure she has one in her hand.
If she’s getting tired of plain water or would rather reach for a juice, make some flavorful fruit and herb infused waters. They are easy to make, taste delicious and are much better than store bought options.
Focus on whole foods.
If you’re charged with making meals or buying items at the market, choose as many whole food ingredients as possible. Think fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, pseudo-grains like quinoa, seeds, nuts, meats, fish and eggs. Pick ingredients that look the same as they did on the farm and select those that will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. Try brown rice or farro over white rice. Choose darker leafy greens like spinach or arugula for salads. Go with whole grain breads over white. If you are buying prepared foods or snacks, always be sure to read the ingredients before making a purchase. This quick guide on reading food labels will help you make great packaged food choices.
Make every plate colorful.
Variety is the spice of life and it’s also the key to proper nutrition. From the lycopene in red beets, Beta-Carotene in orange carrots and folate in leafy greens, the color of a whole food brings something different to each plate. No need to worry about which foods have which specific nutrients, just create a rainbow on each plate to help ensure everyone in the family is getting a good variety of vitamins and minerals.
Always have a snack on hand.
For pregnant and nursing moms, eating frequently throughout the day is almost as important as having a well-balanced meal. Since it’s hard for anyone, busy moms included, to make smart decisions when they are ravenous, make sure healthy, whole food snacks are always on on hand to grab and eat as needed. Fresh or dried fruit, mixed nuts and seeds make awesome grab and go snacks. Create your own trail mix and place it in small to-go containers which you can hand to your moms boss anytime she heads out the door. Make fresh fruit super accessible by cutting it when you get home from the market and putting in the fridge in snack sized containers. Make your own hummus and put it out on the table for an afternoon treat even the kids will enjoy. If you’re look for additional suggestions, take a look at these Top 5 Snacks for Pregnant & Nursing Moms.
Give into cravings but don’t jump ship.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be an all or nothing proposition, especially for growing families. It’s about helping build a healthy lifestyle of smart food choices over time, not every single time. Identify the cravings your mom boss may have or her favorite no-so-go-for-you foods and find a way to make a homemade, healthier version.Remember that you’re the nanny, not the Food Police. If your mom has a hankering for chocolate, offer to make her a milkshake using raw cocoa, molasses, coconut milk and ice. If she’s really in the mood for a pizza, pick up a few slices or have a build your own pizza night using a whole wheat dough and a smattering a healthy vegetables.
Entering into the world of all things baby can be overwhelming and helping a new mom eat well while nursing or pregnant can be an excellent way to make life a bit easier. Take simple steps each day to make healthy food options more readily available.
Kristen Bocanegra is the owner and chef of momme meals, an organic food company that provides delicious and nutritionally balanced meals for moms and their growing families.
For more information on foods that are great for pregnant and nursing moms as well as easy whole food recipes, check out the momme meals blog for seasonal dishes that are both healthy and delicious.
If you’d like to learn more about infants and breastfeeding, check out our upcoming Infant Care class.