While I was pregnant the word protein came up in almost every single visit to my doctor. "Are you getting enough protein? Protein helps with the development of the fetus. Did you know that protein will help alleviate your morning sickness? Protein is important for you as the mother so you don't become iron deficient." OK got it! And the same questions and statements were a monthly and then weekly occurrence. Well guess what? Your protein needs don't go away after you have a baby and if you're breastfeeding you need twice as much protein as non-pregnant, non-nursing moms. If you're curious that amount to roughly 71 grams of protein for pregnant and nursing moms and 46 grams of protein for non-pregnant and non-nursing moms.
I want to focus in on all you mommas out there who are nursing, new mommas today.
I know how hard it is to get the whole nursing thing down with your first child. Not only are you responsible now for someone else's food needs, you're also responsible for your own needs. This means eating when you're hungry and not necessarily grabbing the first thing you see in your kitchen (hello baked goods that others have made for you and glorious sugar packed goodies!!). But, that being said, you do need stuff that's easy to make and easy to grab with one hand. With enough protein in your go to snacks, these snacks should keep your hunger levels at bay until your next full meal.
1- Banana Chocolate Shake. Please put down your computer/phone/tablet and go make this shake right this minute if you're craving something sweet. I make this shake almost daily!! This recipes calls for coconut milk but I substitute almond milk for its calcium benefits. You'll receive protein from the almond butter and the sweetness comes from the bananas. If you wait and make this shake with overly ripe bananas, there will be even more sweetness to enjoy in your shake. Added bonus is that this shake tastes like a Wendy's frosty :)
2- Mixed nuts or trail mix. Could there be an easier snack than nuts? You can do a number of things with mixed nuts. This is for sure my go to snack. I keep a container of mixed nuts and raisins in my glove compartment in the car and in my diaper bag/purse just in case I can't make it home in time to prepare a meal for myself and I need something on the go. Just be careful to portion control yourself when it comes to this snack. There are a lot of calories in this snack but in one ounce of mixed nuts there's also 6g of protein. (recipe from picture found here)
3- Hardboiled eggs. Not everyone is in love with this one but I truly love eggs and find that when I'm short on time it's nice to grab 2-3 of these babies and eat them on the go in the car on the way to preschool drop off. If you're a new nursing momma, these are so simple and easy to eat with one hand. Just prepare them when your newborn is asleep and refrigerate. I like them best with just a bit of salt and pepper but plain hardboiled eggs are great too. I like to pre-peel them for easy access. Peeling these can be some what of a mess if you're in a hurry so again, you may want to do that before hand. One egg has 6g of protein.
4- Beef Jerky or Turkey Jerky. A serving of one of these contains 9g of protein! And it doesn't get any easier than opening a bag and pulling a stick out.
5- Deli meat and cheese. This snack is also easy to eat if it's prepared ahead of time although it really doesn't take much time to prep and can be easily eaten with one hand. One slice of reduced sodium deli turkey (my go to) has almost 5g of protein. I never stop at just one so just think of how much protein you can receive by grabbing 5 slices of deli turkey!! That's almost 25g of protein. Now roll it up with a slice of deli cheese, which has 5g of protein as well, and you've got yourself an easy and protein packed snack.
6- Larabar. I love these so so so much. They are made with 100% natural ingrediants and have roughly 5g of protein per bar. There are bars out there that have many many more grams of protein than these bars do but they are usually fortified with unnatural ingredients. When looking for bars, be sure to check the ingredient labels and make sure they are made with natural ingredients. KIND bars are also a wonderful natural source of protein with about 5g of protein in these bars as well. Both of these bars are reasonably priced and made with wholesome ingredients. Larabars are mostly just nuts and dried fruit.
7- Organic cheese sticks. There are several brands out there to choose from and each cheese stick has roughly 7 g of protein. The hardest part about these snacks is the packaging. You need two hands to open these but once they're open, just use your teeth and comp down. I usually can't stop at just one so I go with two. That's 14g of protein and will hold you over for a few hours! Some of my favorite brands are Horizon Organic, Organic Valley and Whole Foods brand Organic string cheese.
8- Greek yogurt. I absolutely love greek yogurt. It's smooth, creamy and has twice as much protein as regular yogurt does. Unfortunately you do need two hands to eat this snack but it takes no time to consume and is portable. Most brands of Greek yogurt have roughly 17g in one container. That's a lot of protein!! If you're worried about sugar, and there's a lot of sugar in some Greek yogurts, you can always buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own sweeteners and toppings. I like to add honey, maple syrup, fruit, nuts, and coconut flakes to my Greek yogurt. I can control the sweetness and add more protein for a double punch.
These are just a few ideas on how to get your protein in and have an easy to grab snack. When I talk to new moms (including myself!) I hear a lot about how they'd like to get their pre-baby bodies back and my number one recommendation is to eat more protein and fewer carbohydrate loaded foods including foods packed with sugar. Obviously you can get creative and do so much more with protein, but this is a start and will hopefully guide you in the right direction when you hear your stomach growling but don't want to grab another brownie.