You've decided to cut out some or all the top 12 infant food allergies to continue breastfeeding. Your baby will have the nutrients they need to thrive while not being exposed to foods that cause an immune response and the horrible symptoms all parents dread.
But what about you? What about your nutrition?
It goes back to the old motto about putting your oxygen mask on before helping others on a plane. It’s impossible to properly care for your children if you’re not taking care of yourself. It’s realistic and even likely, that removing entire subsets of food from your diet may leave you depleted of proper nutrients.
Here at Free to Feed, we want to explore the possible downsides of removing each of the top twelve infant food allergies and what you can do nutritionally to make up for it.
The Number One Baby Food Allergy: Dairy aka Cow’s Milk Protein
Dairy is also known as cow’s milk protein in the infant food allergy world. And all the products created from it are a staple in most women’s diets for calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and B12. Unfortunately, cow’s milk protein can also be incredibly hard for infants to digest, typically making it the first suspect of baby food allergies when symptoms arise.
Many milk alternatives are now available which offer several of the same benefits, including those from pea protein, oats, almonds, and coconut.
The best dietary sources of calcium are:
Seeds (chia, sesame, poppy)
Dark leafy greens
Plus, foods such as sweet potatoes, white beans, beets, spinach, and bananas can be great substitutes for obtaining many of the nutrients found in milk.
Soybeans are high in protein, vitamin C, folate, iron, and magnesium. Unfortunately, these nutrients can be significantly reduced depending on how the plant is processed. The best alternative to find these vitamins and minerals (plus more!) is avocado. This funny fruit contains vitamins C, E, K, and B6 in addition to folate, magnesium, and potassium. While it does not contain high levels of protein, it’s a great source of healthy fats.
Interestingly, eggs are one of the few foods which naturally contain vitamin D. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in eggs and these carotenoids are essential for eye health.
Top foods with these three nutrients consist of:
If you look specifically at whole wheat, you will find that it provides selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and more important nutrients for breastfeeding parents.
Let’s dig into selenium since we haven’t covered it yet. This mineral is vital to a healthy metabolism and thyroid function as well as containing protective properties from oxidative stress.
Other ways to get selenium in your diet while breastfeeding your baby with food allergies or intolerances are from meat sources.
Meats high in selenium include:
Corn is considered a cereal grain and vegetable. Corn is often refined and put in other products like tortillas, chips, cornflour, and oil. Refined corn changes the nutrients and vitamin components when processed.
Whole grain corn is rich in fiber, carbohydrates, and contains many vitamins and nutrients including:
Removing corn to continue breastfeeding your baby with food allergies leaves you without these key vitamins and nutrients. Luckily these can be found in many other foods such as, beans, broccoli, apples, and avocados.
What is a legume? This question comes up a lot when doing one-on-one consults and I get it. I didn’t know what it was either until I had to cut it out of my diet. Legumes are a vegetable and there are many types of them.
Here are just a few types of legumes:
And there’s more but you get the idea. Legumes are loaded with health benefits because they are low in fat, have minimal cholesterol, and are packed with fiber and protein.
If your baby reacts to legumes you can find other great sources of nutrients and vitamins from, pumpkin, chia seeds, quinoa, celery, nuts, and avocados.
Biotin, copper, niacin, thiamin, and phosphorus are some of the noteworthy nutrients that can be derived from peanuts. One allergen-friendly alternative to peanuts is squash, which contains all the mentioned vitamins and minerals. Squash is especially known for its high levels of vitamin A (another alternative for dairy consumption).
Beef is a red meat that’s packed with protein and varying amounts of fat. Lean, fresh beef is filled with various vitamins and minerals.
Some of the key nutrients in beef are:
Vitamin B12 & B6
Iron is a notable nutrient here, as beef is one of the most iron-rich foods in the world. Iron is really important for your body, particularly your red blood cells for continued growth and development. This is important for a breastfeeding parent with an infant with food allergies.
If your baby reacts to beef, you can find these key nutrients in beans, lentils, cashews, spinach, and whole-grain bread.
Oats are classified as whole grains and pack a nice punch of fiber. They’re also a great source of carbohydrates and proteins.
Oats are high in minerals and vitamins including:
You can find other sources to give you the same benefits as oats from leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, and root vegetables.
Rice is another cereal grain and is a staple in many households. Typically, rice falls into two groups: brown or white.
Both forms of rice contain a good amount of carbohydrates and are low in fat. Brown rice often provides more nutrients than white.
Rice gives you nutrients such as manganese, niacin, thiamin, and selenium. Manganese is a mineral critical for your metabolism, growth, and development.
Other alternatives to rice include quinoa, cauliflower rice, barley, and whole-wheat couscous.
So many foods can be found under this list: almond, cashew, walnut, chestnut, hazelnut, macadamia nut…you get the point. Many of the health-benefiting nutrients found in these nuts have already been discussed above, except for zinc, copper, and Vitamin E.
Interestingly, chickpeas provide both zinc and copper along with vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, fiber, and others. Personally, I love any excuse to add some more Hummus into my life! [Unless you are legume free]
Vitamin E is vital for breastfeeding parents and research indicates you should consume at least 19mg daily. This is due to its protective and developmental effects on the child’s muscles, cardiovascular system, and nerves.
Excellent alternative sources include spinach, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes.
Chicken is loaded with high-quality proteins. Proteins are critical in a healthy diet to help build muscle and promote healthier bones. Research has found that proteins make us feel full for longer periods promoting healthy weight management.
Chicken doesn’t contain much fat and also has key nutrients like:
Other foods that can provide you with protein while still avoiding chicken include, black beans, hemp seeds, ham or turkey, and shrimp.
Read more on the importance of eating healthy while breastfeeding your baby with food allergies on our blog 3 Big Reasons to Reintroduce Foods After Your Elimination Diet here.
Even though shellfish or fish are not in the top 12 infant food allergies or intolerance, sometimes individuals cut it out of their diet. Some babies do react to different types of fish, so here is a little more information if your little one does.
While there are several different types of shellfish containing many different vitamins and minerals, they have one very interesting and unique nutrient: glucosamine. Due to the demand for a vegan glucosamine option, manufacturers now offer glucosamine products made from the fungus Aspergillus niger or from fermenting corn.
Unfortunately, there is very little research on this supplement as it relates to breastfeeding.
If you believe you would benefit from glucosamine, please consult with your physician.
Two main components to focus on when removing fish are omega-3 fatty acids and iodine. The need for omega-3 fatty acids is critical for infants through age two to ensure proper brain development.
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are both incredibly high in these heart-healthy, neurologically beneficial fatty acids. Personally, I like to ground them up and add them to a morning smoothie or oatmeal.
Conversely, the likely best source of iodine is seaweed (hello, sushi rolls!) with a whopping 2,984 mcg per kombu kelp sheet. Even fish with higher levels, such as cod, only boasts a measly 65-100 mcg per serving.
Nutrients and Vitamins Are Important When Breastfeeding Your Baby With Food Allergies
Every family is unique. You might need to cut all 12 of the infant food allergies or intolerances depending on symptoms or you might be able to cut a few and get results. Free to Feed is here to help you on your journey and provide you with information to be successful in breastfeeding your food intolerant baby.
To properly provide nutrients for your baby, you must first do so for yourself. Use this guide to supplement your diet with healthy foods that will keep you going through long days and longer nights. These alternatives will allow you to continue breastfeeding your baby with food allergies or intolerances while still feeding you.