When I was breastfeeding my kids, I was hungry All. The. Time.
Hungry as in: I’d eat my lunch while my daughter nursed—yes, on a plate with a fork.
Breastfeeding torches some serious calories (more on that later) so having easy and healthy snacks at the ready was also important for helping to satisfy my near-constant hunger.
In addition to a healthy diet, keeping a stash of quick, easy and healthy snacks you can grab whether you’re at home, work or on the go will stave off hunger, fuel your milk supply and give you plenty of energy despite all those sleepless nights.
How many calories does breastfeeding burn?
According to KellyMom.com, the amount of calories exclusively breastfeeding moms need depend on their weight, nutritional status and activity level.
On average, women should aim for an extra 300 to 500 calories above what they were consuming to maintain their pre-pregnancy weight. That would work out to 1 to 2 healthy snacks a day, but my advice is to eat for hunger and don’t worry too much about counting calories.
Learn more in this quick video.
Wondering what to eat? Here are 15 healthy snacks for breastfeeding to try.
1. Hard boiled eggs
Eggs are some of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding because they’re loaded with protein—one large egg has nearly 30 grams. Protein satisfies hunger and gives you plenty of energy.
Hard boiled eggs are also quick and easy to make so you can boil a dozen and have enough for the week.
Pair an egg with some cut up raw veggies or whole grain crackers for a healthy and delicious snack.
2. Greek yogurt and fruit
High in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics, yogurt can be a healthy snack for breastfeeding.
When choosing a yogurt however, read labels and stick with brands that are low in sugar and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives.
With 17 grams of protein per serving, plain Greek yogurt is a great option. Add raspberries which are high in fiber, a dash of cinnamon and pure vanilla extract.
3. Kale chips
Green leafy vegetables are healthy because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Kale, in particular, is a superfood for breastfeeding moms. A good source of fiber protein, folate, iron, it’s also high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium and potassium.
Toss a cup of washed kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the over for 10 to 15 minutes a 350 degrees.
Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates like those in popcorn have fiber to stave off hunger and keep your blood sugar steady.
Popcorn takes only a few minutes to make and you can stash it in your pantry anytime hunger strikes.
5. Apples and nut butter
Pair an apple with your favorite nut butter for the perfect combination of fiber and protein to satisfy your hunger—and your tastebuds—in between meals.
6. Avocado toast
Avocado is a superfood, especially for breastfeeding moms.
With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—the healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease later on in life.
A half cup has more than 2 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Spread some avocado on whole grain toast for a healthy, delicious and satisfying snack.
Edamame (soybeans) are quick and easy and one of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding.
An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame are also high in calcium.
You can purchase edamame fresh or frozen, but look for those that are already shelled to save time.
8. Cheese, crackers and fruit
Pair cheddar or ricotta on whole grain crackers and top with sliced strawberries for a sweet and savory snack.
9. Chia seed pudding
An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are an energy-boosting superfood for breastfeeding.
Chia seed pudding takes only a few minutes to whip up in your blender and you can store a batch in your refrigerator or in individual mason jars for grab and go snacks. Top with fruit for even more fiber and a hint of sweetness.
10. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re a good source of magnesium, the “calming mineral,” and zinc known for immune boosting and wound healing properties.
They also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and mood—a good thing if you’re at risk for postpartum depression.
Three tablespoons of pumpkin seeds also offer a good combination of protein (9 grams) and fiber (2 grams).
Add pumpkin seeds to yogurt, on top of salad or eat them solo.
11. Green smoothie
One of the best ways to get several vegetables in at one time, especially when you’re short on time is to blend up a green smoothie.
To keep the sugar content low, stick with 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. You can then add in chia seeds, protein powder or a nut butter, for example.
12. Homemade trail mix
Store-bought trail mix can be a quick and easy option, but read labels carefully since most are packed with salty nuts, a lot of high-sugar dried fruit, “yogurt” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.
Making your own trail mix only takes a few minutes and you get to control the ingredients. Combine almonds, sunflower seeds and raisins for a healthy and delicious breastfeeding snack.
13. Hummus and carrots
Another favorite snack combination of mine is raw baby carrots with hummus.
Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, iron, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams.
Pair carrots with hummus, which has nearly 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, and you have a great snack.
14. No-bake energy bites
No-bake energy bites may take a few minutes to make, but they’re well worth it and you can make a large batch and freeze them.
Combine ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, dates, nut butter, raisins and seeds. Need a recipe? Here are 7.
15. Celery and tuna
Celery is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. It’s also high in fiber: a 1/2 cup has nearly 2 grams.
Add some tuna (or canned salmon) and you have a fiber and protein-packed snack.
Tomatoes and mozzarella
Tomatoes are a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, choline and fiber: one cup has more than 2 grams. Add some protein with sliced mozzarella cheese and you’ve got an easy and healthy snack.