I see this question a lot. Moms want to do the best thing they can for their new babies, provide them with the best milk possible, and get the benefit of dropping the baby weight as quickly as they can. Yes, you can begin incorporating some of the Beauty Detox principles any time, but you shouldn’t try to do any kind of serious detox while you’re breastfeeding for a couple of reasons.

Why You Shouldn’t Do a Drastic Detox While Breastfeeding

Though you can pick up some better habits while breastfeeding (like drinking the Glowing Green Smoothie, slashing junk food and having fewer animal products if they have a prominent presence in your diet), there are reasons to avoid a serious detox which can ensue from drastic changes until after your child is done breastfeeding:

  • hydration is important while breastfeedingYou need to remain as hydrated as possible for your body to make milk, and detoxing requires you to use fluid in ways you normally wouldn’t—extra visits to the bathroom to flush out the toxins, for example. Combined with milk production and any exercise you may be trying to re-introduce to your lifestyle, that could be a lot for your body to handle at once.
  • Speaking of toxins, if you get too many of them stirred up in your body at once from trying to detox too quickly, they could end up in your breast milk—exactly where you don’t want them to go. You want to detox slowly. Don’t start immediately downing the GGS and overhauling your entire diet all at once. Just focus on making more nutritious choices at meals, cutting out processed foods and supplements like fish oil capsules, pairing foods correctly, and eating Light to Heavy. Subtle changes can give you results that last, like more energy and beauty. You can always do the full Beauty Detox once you’re done breastfeeding.
  • You won’t be trying to manage a brand new diet plan and a brand new baby all at once since you’re not going to jump into a diet that seems too strict right away (I don’t recommend that for anyone!). Talk about a recipe for getting overwhelmed! As your body adjusts and your baby goes on to more and more solid foods, then you can incorporate more changes into your diet and begin the detox program. The major changes I recommend overall in The Beauty Detox Solution, though, are completely doable and you can even prep for several days in a row so the next few days are very easy. Gradual changes also mean you won’t feel deprived and blow it all off on day five.

Why the Beauty Detox Principles Are Safe for Breastfeeding Moms

whole foods support breastfeeding healthBeauty Detox focuses on whole foods. You’re not depriving yourself, starving yourself, cutting carbs, drinking nasty processed shakes, or even counting calories. You’re just eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and fewer animal products (which are a major source of environmental toxins that enter your body and can wind up in your breast milk), and properly combining them for the best digestion, nutrition absorption, and energy you can get (no more empty, energy-sapping calories!). You can’t lose (except maybe some baby weight) with a diet like that, right? It’s healthy for you and your baby.

One of the major points in the Beauty Detox diet is to cut out all dairy. Many moms are led to do this anyway because their babies are fussy and uncomfortable after eating and the dairy in their diet is the issue. By taking this step alone on the Beauty Detox journey, you may find yourself dropping pounds and notice that your baby is calmer and happier overall. Dairy is not only difficult to digest, it is a major source of toxicity and contaminants, that again, can end up in your breast milk.

Though I follow a vegan diet, you may choose to keep some animal protein in your diet. As much as possible, it should absolutely be hormone/steroid-free. However, it’s worth noting that if you do decide to become a vegan and follow the Beauty Detox plan, you should not start eating pre-packaged, processed vegan foods (fake meats, vegan butter and mayonnaise, etc.) that present themselves as healthy when, in reality, they are not that great for you or your baby.

smoothie for breastfeedingYou’ll have a variety of foods with The Beauty Detox lifestyle. Even with recipes I recommend making several times a week, if not every day, you mix up your ingredients. The Glowing Green Smoothie, for example, should be made with different fruits and greens for optimal nutrition (and to keep you from getting bored!). Rotate them based on what’s in season at the time. Throw in different veggies with your quinoa, and use different greens to make salads (prevents you from getting bored also!).

Breastfeeding Moms’ Nutritional Needs

The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals recommends about 2,300 to 2,500 calories per day for breastfeeding mothers. We don’t count calories on the Beauty Detox plan, but that just gives you an idea of how much you should be eating.

Listen to your body, and feed yourself when you are genuinely hungry. I don’t promote a reductionist approach to foods, by simply evaluating identified micronutrients, because I truly believe it is the sum total of the way the thousands of compounds that work together in one given whole food that makes it so healthful. But some people like to have some specific numbers…so here they are. From the ingested calories, a breastfeeding mom between the ages of 19 and 50 should be getting:

  • 1000 mg calcium
  • 15 mg iron
  • 310-320 mg magnesium
  • 120 mg vitamin C
  • 1,300 mcg vitamin A
  • 2 mg B6
  • 2.8 mcg B12
  • 500 mcg folic acid
  • 10 mg iron
  • 5,100 mg potassium
  • 12 mg zinc

(For the full list of recommended nutrients, visit Oregon State University’s Micronutrient Information Center.)

In addition to the micronutrient requirements, lactating women need about 71 grams of protein per day and plenty of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The amount of fiber you get while following the Beauty Detox principles will also be helpful with any postpartum constipation you may have.

Some of the Best Beauty Foods for Breastfeeding Moms

Some of the best foods for breastfeeding moms are a huge part of the Beauty Detox plan.

leafy greens for breastfeeding healthLeafy greens (paired with vitamin C): Leafy greens contain calcium, iron, and lots of vitamin A, all important while breastfeeding. They need to be paired with a food high in vitamin C in order for all the nutrients to be absorbed and utilized by the body, which makes the Glowing Green Smoothie a good choice for starting the day or giving yourself a boost of energy in the afternoon. Because you need the extra calories and energy to produce milk, be sure to follow it up with another meal about 20 to 30 minutes later, something like a bowl of oatmeal or avocado (or both).

  • Raw spinach contains 30 mg of calcium per cup, 8.4 mg vitamin C, 24 mg magnesium, and .81 mg iron
  • Kale contains 100 mg of calcium per cup (chopped), .98 mg iron, 31 mg magnesium, 62 mg phosphorous, and 80.4 mg vitamin C
  • Romaine lettuce has 116 g of potassium per cup (shredded) and 16 mg calcium

Lentils: Once soaked overnight to assist with digestion, lentils are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals to rotate into your diet. Per cup, you get 17.86 grams of protein, 38 mg calcium, 6.59 mg iron, 71 mg magnesium, 356 mg phosphorous, and 369 mg potassium.

Chia seeds: Again, soak these before you use them, but chia seeds are excellent sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and nutrients like calcium and magnesium. They give you endurance, which you’ll need as a mom! You get 4.69 g protein per ounce, 9.8 g fiber, 179 mg calcium, and 95 mg magnesium. These are a part of the Power Protein Smoothie that can help you easily make your protein goals each day.

Flaxseeds: These are excellent sources of B6, calcium, folate, zinc, manganese, magnesium, omega-3s, and fiber. In one ground tablespoon of flaxseed, there’s .45 mg zinc, 26 mg calcium, 40 mg magnesium, and 9 mcg folate.

MG_34092.jpgQuinoa: A grain that’s a complete protein, quinoa offers calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and potassium. In one cup of cooked quinoa, you get 8.14 g protein, 31 mg calcium, 2.76 mg iron, 118 mg magnesium, 281 mg phosphorus, 318 mg potassium, and 2.02 mg zinc.Try the Quinoa, Avocado, and Corn Salad for quinoa and a healthy dose of fat.

Broccoli: This is another good source of calcium. In one cup of raw, chopped broccoli, there’s 2.57 g protein, 43 mg calcium, 81.2 mg vitamin C, 57 mcg folate, and .66 mg iron.

Avocados: You can’t talk about healthy fats without mentioning avocados! They’re so versatile. Eat them plain, put them on salads, or use them to make smoothies and desserts creamier. They’re full of vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus you get iron, copper, and potassium from them, too. A cup of sliced avocado offers 708 mg potassium, 14.6 mg vitamin C, 18 mg calcium, 3.02 mg vitamin E, and .375 mg vitamin B6.

celery calms nervesCelery: Celery can calm you down when you’re feeling frazzled and the stalks are full of vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, folate, iron, and essential amino acids. In a cup of chopped raw celery, there’s .075 mg B6, 36 mcg folate, 11 mg magnesium,  and .323 mg niacin.

Bananas: The tryptophan in bananas can elevate your mood even if you’re tired because they’re rich in B6. Bananas also contain magnesium, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. One medium-sized banana has 32 mg magnesium, 3.1 g fiber, 10.3 mg vitamin C, and 76 IU vitamin A.

Nuts (not cashews or peanuts): Nuts are a good source of protein. Have two or three ounces daily (the recommended maximum for adults in general) and see how you feel. You may find that while breastfeeding, your body wants more. Stay away from cashews and peanuts because they’re especially susceptible to growing toxic molds. If you have a hankering for a nut butter, try some almond butter. But throw out all the peanut butter in your house right now (and along with it, the aflatoxin mold!).

  • 1/2 cup of English walnuts provides 8.91 g protein, 57 mg calcium, 1.70 mg iron, 57 mcg folate, .314 mcg B6, and .658 mcg niacin.
  • nuts for breastfeeding1/2 cup of whole almonds contains 15.17 g protein, 189 mg calcium, 2.66 mg iron, 192 mg magnesium, 2.20 mg zinc, 18.75 mg vitamin E, and 36 mcg folate.

So while I wouldn’t say you should start the serious detox plan, you can definitely incorporate several of the Beauty Detox principles and Beauty Foods into your daily menu and easily meet most of your nutrition goals while you’re breastfeeding.

If you are on a vegan diet, you’re probably already taking a B12 supplement. You should continue this while you’re breastfeeding, unless your prenatal or multi-vitamin has a substantial amount. Taking a prenatal or multi-vitamin while breastfeeding is good insurance against micronutrient deficiencies, like calcium or vitamin D. You can also take an algae-based DHA supplement as well. Talk with your health care provider to determine which vitamins and supplements are best for your needs, and what will likely work best for your baby.

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New York Times Bestseller and Nutritionist