Let's talk fat.
We already established that our breastfeeding days are no time to be strictly dieting (day 4 and day 10) because our bodies need calories to maintain milk production. Fat is a crucial component in this biological dance, and I might even argue that it is THE most important food you can consume, especially in the first year of your baby's life.
According to Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mother and Baby, "The single most important ingredient in your breast milk is fat. About 50% of the calories in breast milk come from fat, and your baby needs it for weight gain and energy, and to assimilate protein, calcium, and fat-soluble vitamins."
Fat is THE principle source of energy for infants. Human milk contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) in different proportions to those found in cow's milk and in formula. These fatty acids are crucial for a baby's growing brain, eyes, blood vessels, cell membranes, and more. What's so interesting is that the levels of EFAs decrease the longer mom breastfeeds! So eating enough foods rich in EFA is essential.
The Omega-3 fatty acid DHA in particular also carries a bonus for mom by promoting her emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, omega-3s are most likely to be missing in the modern diet, and a nursing mom will benefit from cold-pressed flax seed oil in salad dressings, chia seeds, a clean fish oil, or a twice-weekly serving of wild salmon.
What's also interesting is that the types of fats YOU consume will be the types of fats found in your breast milk.
That's why it's so important to avoid trans-fats (found in hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils like margarine and vegetable shortening) or bleached (and rancid!) commercial vegetable oils like soybean, safflower, and canola. These damaging fats are found in empty calorie foods that come in packages and boxes, or foods that can sit on a shelf for a long time without spoiling. According to Hilary Jacobson, author of Mother Food, trans-fats also compete with EFAs in the body and may cause lactation problems by interfering with the production of fat in mother's milk.
What are the good fats? The best are found in traditional foods: wild fish and seafood, grass-fed meats, butter, extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed flax seed and sesame oil, coconut products, chia seeds, and the tropical oils like coconut and palm.
Hands down, a nursing mother’s best fat-friend will be coconut oil. This amazing oil has lauric and capric acids, which are antibacterial, antiviral, and brain-building. Coconut oil also promotes postpartum weight loss!
Ways to incorporate good fats into your diet:
1. Use coconut oil for sauteing, frying, and baking. It has a very high smoke point and high heat doesn't damage the molecular structure!
2. Drizzle flax seed oil or extra virgin olive oil over your salad, veggies, or protein
3. Use full-fat coconut milk as a milk alternative in baking, smoothies, and desserts
4. Use coconut oil and butter when baking
5. Mix together a few tablespoons of chia seeds with organic butter, store in a container in the fridge and use in place of regular butter (on toast, muffins, etc.)
6. Mix 1 Tbsp. flax seed oil, chia seeds, or unsweetened flakes of coconut into your yogurt or oatmeal
7. Add a spoonful of coconut oil into your smoothie, oatmeal, or coffee (gradually work up from 1 tsp. to a 1+ Tbsp.)
8. Eat salmon a few times per week
9. Make your own salad dressings
10. Take a daily fish oil supplement from a clean source (like Vital Choice)
The best place to buy coconut oil is Vitacost! You can get a $10 off coupon by using this referral link!
How do you incorporate good fats into your diet?
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This is twelfth post in my 31 Days of Making More Milk series. Read yesterday's post about protein or start from the beginning here.