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For Breast-Feeding Moms, Tips on Eating for Two

U.S. health officials outline a healthy meal plan

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Eating healthy foods while you're breast-feeding will help you and your baby get the nutrients both of you need, experts say.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reminds new mothers that breast-feeding provides many health benefits for infants, including protection against infection and illness.

It advises breast-feeding mothers to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits; seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and nuts; and low-fat or fat-free milk, or soy products with added calcium. Other recommended foods include brown rice, 100 percent whole-wheat bread and other whole grains, and fortified cereals with added iron and folic acid.

Some other breast-feeding tips from the HHS follow:

  • Limit your intake of foods and drinks that are high in empty calories from added sugars and solid fats. These include desserts, fatty meats, fried foods and sugar-sweetened drinks, the agency said in a news release.
  • Fish and shellfish contain nutrients that can help your infant see and learn better, so you should eat seafood two or three days a week while breast-feeding. Healthy seafood choices include: salmon, catfish, cod, herring, shrimp, canned light tuna, white (albacore) tuna, but no more than 6 ounces a week.
  • Don't eat fish that are high in mercury, which can hurt an infant's development. Fish to avoid include swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel.
  • You need extra fluids, such as water and fat-free or low-fat milk, while breast-feeding. Try to drink a glass of water each time you breast-feed. Don't drink alcohol or sweetened beverages, and avoid or limit caffeine.

Most breast-feeding women can get all the nutrients they need by eating healthy foods. If you think you're not getting enough nutrients, talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin, the agency added.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about diet and breast-feeding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, news release, April 7, 2015
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