Can You Eat Junk Food if You're Breastfeeding?

What Are Empty Calorie Foods and How Do They Affect Breastfeeding?

Junk Food, Sweets, Candy, Empty Calories: Can You Eat Junk Food If You're Breastfeeding?
Is it OK to eat junk food if you're breastfeeding?. Eisenhut and Mayer Wein/Getty Images

Question: Can You Eat Junk Food If You're Breastfeeding?

Answer:

Your body uses energy to make breast milk. That energy comes from the calories in the foods that you eat. A nursing mom needs to take in extra calories each day as part of a healthy breastfeeding diet. It may seem like eating a donut or a few cookies would help you to get those extra calories that you need while you're breastfeeding, but those are just empty calories.

 The calories that you get from sweets, cakes, and junk food are not the same as the calories that you get from healthy foods.

Empty calorie foods are high in unhealthy fats and sugars. They include chocolate, candy, cakes, donuts, chips, pastries, soda, sugary drinks, fried chicken, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, butter, high-fat cheese, and alcohol. These foods may taste good, and are typically easier to grab when you are tired or busy, but they fill you up without giving your body any of the healthy nutrients that it needs. Overindulging in empty calorie foods can affect your overall health, cause you to gain weight, and put you at risk for developing diabetes or other weight related health issues. It's okay to have a treat now and then, but it's best if you don't get into the habit of making junk food your go-to snack.

Instead, keep healthy snacks available in your home so that they're easy to grab when you're busy and hungry.

Here are a few examples of the things you can have ready and waiting in your kitchen for when you need a quick snack.

  • Cut up vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Dried fruit
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Trail mix

See Also:

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. What are Empty Calories?. ChooseMyPlate.gov. Accessed March 11, 2013: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/calories/empty-calories.html

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