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Eating Fast Food While Breastfeeding

author image Michelle Powell-Smith
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.
Eating Fast Food While Breastfeeding
busy mom takes a break on a park bench to breast feed Photo Credit: javi_indy/iStock/Getty Images

Good nutrition is important while you're breastfeeding, but it may not be for the reasons you expect. Your diet has a minimal impact on the quality of your milk, whether you eat a perfectly balanced diet or one heavy on fast food. While your milk won't suffer if you make too many trips through the drive through, your body may.

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Your Milk

Maternal nutrition has little impact on the quality of your breast milk. Adequate calories and fluids do play a role in maintaining milk supply, but most women can produce milk even during times of hardship and malnutrition. Fast food will provide adequate calories to meet your needs. Your diet impacts the types of fats in your milk, so choosing foods high in saturated fats, like many fast food meals, can increase the amount of unhealthy fats in your milk.

Mom's Health

Fast food is typically high in calories, sodium and fat. Many fast food meals are lacking in nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. While your body will make high-quality milk on a poor diet, it will take the nutrients it needs from your own stores. A poor diet during breastfeeding is likely to leave you feeling tired and not up to the task of motherhood.

Healthy Choices

If time is tight and you do need to grab dinner on the go, look for healthier options at your local fast food restaurant. Salads with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing are on many fast food menus and provide you with lean protein and vegetables. You'll also find fruit, yogurt and side salads at the drive through. Skip the super-sized meals in favor of basic burgers or sandwiches with fruit instead of fries.

Other Considerations

If your baby is old enough to eat at the table or you have older children, too much fast food can negate some of the benefits of breastfeeding. While fast food has no impact on your milk, it is linked to a higher risk of obesity and asthma. If you exclusively breastfeed your baby for at least 12 weeks, you'll lower his risk of asthma. Feeding him fast food at least twice a week increases the chances of asthma. Fast food may not impact your nursing baby, but it can have negative effects for the rest of the family.

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