As a breastfeeding mom, people have a lot to say about how you should do things. But as a vegan breastfeeding mom, people are perplexed as to how my baby and I stay healthy.
Here are some of the most popular questions people have asked me since I’ve gone vegan. I hope this will help any mom who is vegan, wants to go vegan, or wants to learn more about it!
1. How do you survive breastfeeding all day being vegan?
That’s a question I get asked all the time. So how do I survive? It’s simple. Eating a plant based diet gives you more energy because you eat more often. Typically when you eat meat you feel heavy, drowsy, and “tired”. That’s because it takes your body more energy to process and digest those foods than it does to process plants. So the effect of that is that your body slows everything else down so it can digest properly. Plants are easy on the stomach, therefore, the body doesn’t need that much energy to convert them.
2. Don’t you just eat lettuce all day?
I do love salads, but no. If I were to eat lettuce all day I would probably pass out! As a breastfeeding mom, our bodies burn from 600-800 calories (depending on the mom, how much milk she makes and how often she feeds) each day JUST from breastfeeding. So our calorie intake has to be higher. It must range from 1800-2200 calories per day depending on how active you are. In my case, I don’t hike every day, so I usually eat 1800. But I try to get most of my caloric intake from legumes, fruit, and leafy greens. Potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, bananas, and mushrooms are perfect for me because they keep me full, satisfied, and energized all day.
3. But aren’t you hungry if you only eat plants?
Not really! I try to eat every 2.5-3 hours. I snack on lots of fresh fruit and try to have at least 3 big meals each day. I start my day off with a big fruit and spinach smoothie, and I’ll add hemp seeds, almonds, chia, coconut, and cacao powder. That usually keeps me going from about 8:30 in the morning to 11. I’ll grab some granola or a protein bar, and I eat a big hearty meal at 2 pm. That usually consists of either a HUGE salad, baked potato with guacamole, vegan enchiladas, soup, pasta, or some Asian stir fry.
The big rule I’ve learned about veganism is to eat until satisfied. If someone who eats meat has 300g of meat, a small portion of rice and a small salad, they will be satisfied. Vegans need to eat big portions because vegetables are absorbed quickly, therefore, we get hungry often. At about 5 pm I love grabbing a big bowl of fruit, or cucumber, tomato and jicama with lemon juice. Or a big smoothie. That keeps me full until about 9 pm, where I’ll either have some cereal, granola, pizza, or leftovers from other days. I feel that if I don’t eat enough, my milk production goes down. Then my baby struggles a little bit to get his caloric intake of the day. And as a breastfeeding mom, that’s a HUGE struggle. One of our main tasks is to make milk for our babies, so if we don’t eat properly we can’t do our jobs properly.
4. You eat all day?! Doesn’t that make you gain weight?
I eat all day, but I only eat 1800 calories, and carrying a baby around all day is exercise. So no, no crazy weight gain for me!
5. What about protein? Don’t babies need protein?
Yes! They do, but they need human protein, not animal protein. And I get that from chia seeds, hemp seeds, tofu, spinach, kale, guavas, berries, etc! Most of the food we eat has protein in it, so no need to worry about that! If you want to worry about something, worry about B12.
I hope this article can help lots of you out and will hopefully inspire everyone to follow a plant based diet! Lots of love!