You don’t need to go on a special diet when you’re breastfeeding your little one. But well-meaning friends may still give you lists of foods to cut from your diet – either because it will give the baby gas, or they won’t like the taste, or even for allergies. Is there any basis to the custom? Let’s sort out the facts on foods to avoid while breastfeeding.
Should I avoid gas-causing foods while breastfeeding?
In general, you don’t need to eat or avoid particular food when you’re nursing. However, many people have the belief that certain foods will find their way into the breastmilk and give the baby gas or colic. Some of the foods that are thought to cause colic to breastfeeding babies include:
Thing is? There’s no evidence of this, at all. Gas is produced when bacteria in your gut help to break down dietary fiber. The gas and fiber do not enter your breastmilk.
You might feel bloated or gassy after eating them, so there’s no need to chow down on them if they disagree with you. But there’s no evidence to suggest that you should avoid them while breastfeeding. Nearly all babies will get gassy from time to time, regardless of what you’re eating.
Should I avoid strongly flavored foods while breastfeeding?
Strongly flavored foods a breastfeeding mother eats can flavor the breast milk. If your little one isn’t fond of the taste, he or she might occasionally get stroppy or fussy. If you think something in your diet is aggravating your baby, speak to your baby’s pediatrician about cutting it out for a while to see whether it makes a difference.
The real foods to avoid while breastfeeding
The jury is still out on whether eating common allergenic foods such as peanuts and cow’s milk – can sensitize the nursing baby to them. But if you do notice your baby seems fussy or uncomfortable after you eat a particular food, talk to your pediatrician. It may help to avoid the offending ingredient once you can identify it.
If you don’t have a history of food allergies, cutting out a whole food group like dairy on a hunch could backfire by leaving you low on calcium. However, if you have a tendency towards food allergies or atopic conditions like hayfever and asthma, it may be wise to avoid common allergenic foods.
Caffeine and alcohol
Moderate consumption of caffeine isn’t considered a problem for nursing moms. Occasional moderate drinking is also generally allowed, as long as you don’t feed your baby while you’ve currently got alcohol in your system.
However, it’s still wise to keep your intake under control. Consuming too much coffee or caffeine-rich foods like chocolate can leave your baby restless and sleepless. Regular or heavy drinking is a greater risk still, associated with delayed growth and increased risk of harm to the baby.
Fish and seafood are great sources of protein, but eating too much exposes you to high levels of mercury. Mercury can end up in your breast milk and affect a nervous system in your baby. You don’t need to cut out fish from your diet, but try to avoid the higher-mercury offerings like swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel.
There are few foods to avoid while breastfeeding
You don’t need any special diet to take care of your little one’s needs. Cutting out gassy foods is unnecessary. What you can do is avoiding the allergen and toxins you may encounter in the foods. Breast milk is a great gift you can give to your baby, and even if your diet isn’t perfect, it’s still better than any formula. As long as you’re getting a decent balance of nutrients, then eating to hunger is all you need to do.