This is my diet on a regular day; when I can totally manage eating under 2300 calories while breastfeeding.
My diet on a day when my kids are having tantrums, not sleeping, and just generally being difficult; well those days have more chocolate in them.
Ideally, I try to aim for just under 2300 calories a day. I’m currently trying to lose some of the baby weight, but I don’t want to restrict calories too much and jeopardize the amount of breast milk I produce. Breastfeeding uses about 500 calories a day, so I’m creating a small calorie deficit that should let me lose weight gradually.
I’m also currently dealing with a baby who will not nap anywhere but on me. This means I get little movement during the day and any weight-loss goals I want to meet need to be driven entirely by my diet. On more stressful days, or days when I get minimal sleep, I tend to overdo it with sweets. On good days, this is how I manage eating under 2300 calories while breastfeeding.
I’ll start my day with a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice with warm water. I’ll often add a bit of stevia for sweetness. I’ve found this is a really nice way to start my day and keeps away those initial hunger pangs for a little while. It’s a pretty tasty drink that is super low in calories. Win win. (Totals 10 calories)
After a little while I’ll have some fruit. It’s usually a banana, apple, bowl of grapes, or a mix of all the fruit currently in my house. In the fall and winter months it’s one or two mandarin oranges. (40-200 calories)
I’ll wait until I get really hungry to have my actual breakfast. I’ve noticed that if I start my day with a lot of food I’ll often overeat that day. It seems that the longer I can go in the mornings before having my full breakfast, the better. Breakfast will be either oatmeal and cinnamon or spelt toast with almond butter. Maybe flaxseed waffles and maple syrup on a fancy day, but that’s rare. The spelt toast and almond butter seems to fill me up a bit more, so I’ll have that more often. (250-350 calories)
I’m often hungry soon after breakfast so I’ll have a small snack before lunch. This might be something small like a bowl of cherry tomatoes and dried seaweed snacks. Occasionally I’ll have a GoMacro bar because I just love them, despite them being somewhat high in calories. (30 – 270 calories)
Around lunch time I’ll usually make a smoothie. Because I’m nursing I need to make sure I get all the nutrients I require and more. My daily smoothie is how I make sure that happens. I throw in spinach, celery, banana, frozen blueberries, frozen mango, ground flaxseed, an avocado, and beet. Then I add a scoop of vanilla vegan protein powder, some water, then mix it up. It’s really tasty, although it’s much higher in calories than I’d like; mostly due to the avocado. To make it fit in with my daily calorie goal, I’ll only drink half of what I make and save the rest for the next day. (375 calories)
For an afternoon snack I might have some naan bread with garlic hummus, a banana. or homemade banana muffins. (105-350 calories)
Dinner will usually be something simple like two baked potatoes and some steamed broccoli (340 calories) or homemade rice, potato, and veggie soup. (450 calories). A rice bowl with broccoli, kale, and tahini is also a favorite (500 calories), but I try to go easy on the tahini as it’s high in calories. Dinner is the meal that is most influenced by what else I’ve eaten during the day. If I’ve already met my calories for the day, I’ll have a small dinner. Maybe a Cesar salad with some croutons and a bit of dressing. (300 calories) Or, if I’m hungry and my calorie count for the day allows, I’ll have something bigger, which would just be larger portions of the same foods.
After dinner, if I haven’t completely maxed out my calories for the day I’ll have some fruit or chocolate. I find the end of the day to be the hardest to watch my calories. If there’s chocolate in the house, this is when I want to eat it. Fortunately, I really like Theobroma’s dark chocolate raspberries bars, which are only 170 calories.
Combining all my meal and snack options above, here’s what a day eating under 2300 calories might look like:
Lemon juice & warm water – 10 calories
2 Mandarin oranges – 80 calories
Spelt toast with almond butter – 350 calories
GoMacro Bar – 270 calories
10 Cherry Tomatoes – 30 calories
Smoothie – 375 calories
Naan bread & garlic hummus – 350 calories
Rice bowl with kale, broccoli, and tahini – 500 calories
Theobroma chocolate bar – 170 calories
Banana – 105 calories
TOTAL = 2,240 calories
That’s a pretty basic look at how I attempt eating under 2300 calories while breastfeeding. I didn’t add in my water consumption, but I try to drink a lot of water during the day since it’s so important for breastfeeding. I also try to listen to my body. If I’ve met my calories for the day and I’m still extremely hungry, I’ll eat something. If I wasn’t nursing, I’d just deal with the hunger, but since I am and my milk production is crucial, I try to avoid being super hungry.
My diet seems to change every few years. What I eat is also very influenced by my weight-loss goals. When I’m actively trying to lose weight and not nursing, I can restrict calories a bit more. I’ll eat a lot more raw salads, juices, and smoothies, and try to make more raw homemade desserts.
Calorie counting isn’t easy, but it is simple. The math is simple to do, but in practice, it sucks. When I’m tired, stressed out, or stuck sitting down nursing a baby, I really just want to eat something quick and tasty. Like chocolate. All the chocolate. But right now I’m trying to lose some of the baby weight, and still produce enough milk, so it’s a challenge.
What are your go-to foods when breastfeeding? Are you trying to lose weight and finding it hard to limit your calories? Is there a specific food or meal that you find really makes it easier to limit your calorie intake? Let me know in the comments below 🙂