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    Indian food options along with diet chart for lactating mothers, that will help increase breast milk

    Dr Savitha Shetty Pavithra N Raj Dr Savitha Shetty and Pavithra N Raj 8 Mins Read

    Dr Savitha Shetty Dr Savitha Shetty


    Written For ParentCircle Website new design update

    Pavithra N Raj Pavithra N Raj


    Written For ParentCircle Website new design update

    Breastfeeding mothers must follow a good diet chart plan to increase breast milk and its quality. Here is a list of Indian foods for lactating moms and the foods to avoid while breastfeeding

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    Indian food options along with diet chart for lactating mothers, that will help increase breast milk

    The calorie intake for an average Indian woman is 1,800-2,000 kcal. Did you know that a lactating mother requires an additional intake of 550 kcal per day? Since they produce 2-3L of milk every day, it is very important for new mothers to have a wholesome, nutritious diet. Also, there are many Indian foods that help increase the quality of breast milk in mothers.

    Good maternal nutrition is vital for health and reproductive performance of women, as well as the well-being of their children. However, these reproductive years are periods of nutritional stress for many Indian women. Pregnancy-related health and nutritional problems affect the quality of their lives and that of their infants well beyond delivery. Therefore, emphasis must be given on the foods for breastfeeding mothers to increase breast milk.

    Here is a list of some of the best Indian foods to increase breast milk for breastfeeding mothers along with their nutritional content. Also included are a diet plan chart for lactating moms and a list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

    Best foods for breastfeeding mothers

    Indian Foods For Breastfeeding Mothers To Increase Breast Milk

    1. Foods rich in iron

    Vegetarian sources
    (non-heme iron)
    Possible options
    CerealsRice bran, rice flakes, puffed rice, buckwheat, whole wheat, oats and maize
    PulsesChickpeas, soya beans, red kidney beans, Bengal gram (dal and roasted), cowpeas, whole green gram, sprouts, black gram and horse gram
    Nuts and seedsAlmonds, cashew nuts, dried coconut, figs, raisins and sesame seeds

    Note: Consume tea and coffee at least one hour after your meal as they decrease iron absorption.

    Include foods rich in vitamin C like gooseberry, guava, lime, sweet lime, oranges, broccoli and tomatoes for enhanced iron absorption.

    2. Foods rich in calcium

    Calcium sources Possible options
    Cereal grainsFinger millet (ragi)
    Pulses and legumesBengal gram whole, black gram dal, green gram whole, horse gram, moth beans, kidney beans and soya bean
    Green leafy vegetablesAmaranth, cauliflower, colocasia, fennel, turnip greens, curry leaves, fenugreek leaves, drumstick, mustard greens, betel leaves and tamarind leaves
    Other vegetablesField beans, chayote, marrow, dry lotus stem and celery
    Nuts and oilseedsAlmonds, walnuts, dry coconut, gingelly seeds, mustard seeds, poppy seeds and pistachio
    FruitsApricot (dry), dates, lime, wood apple and raisins
    Dairy productsMilk and curd

    3. Foods rich in protein

    Protein sources Possible options 
    Lean meatChicken breast (without skin), fish (non-fried) and eggs
    Dairy productsLow-fat milk and other milk products such as curd, paneer and cheese
    SoyaSoya milk, tofu, soya beans, chunks and granules
    NutsRoasted almonds and walnuts, and unsalted groundnuts, etc.
    Beans and plusesRed kidney beans, chickpea (chana and Bengal gram), horse gram, black gram, cowpea and green gram (all whole)
    Mixed grainsSprouts, green and dried peas, and split gram (dal)

    Note: In case of bloating and excessive flatulence, use sprouted pulses and soaked dal.

    4. Vegetables and fruits to increase breast milk

    Vegetables Fruits 
    Green leafy vegetables like:
    • Amaranth
    • Radish leaves
    • Mustard leaves
    • Colocasia
    • Green mint
    • Knol-khol green

    Other vegetables like:

    • Pointed gourd (parwal)
    • Spring onion
    • Broccoli
    • Dry lotus steam
    • Green plantain
    • Watermelon
    • Pineapple
    • Custard apple
    • Apricot
    • Pomegranate
    • Banana
    • Chikoo
    • Avocado
    • Green papaya
    • Cantaloupe
    • Red or pink grapes
    • Mangoes
    • Oranges
    • Prunes

    Diet for breastfeeding mothers

    Indian Foods For Breastfeeding Mothers To Increase Breast Milk

    Include these foods in your daily diet while nursing your baby:

    • Eat a variety of foods from all food groups (cereals, pulses, dairy, fruits and vegetables, oils and nuts, and sugar).
    • Fluid intake of at least 3L per day (including water, juice, soups, buttermilk, lime water and milk) is a must.
    • Have small, frequent meals, three major meals and 2-3 minor snacks per day.
    • Maintain a 1-2-hour gap between dinner and bedtime.
    • Have at least one portion of dry fruits (raw, peeled almonds, walnuts, two figs, raisins, etc.) each day.
    • Incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables to meet the requirements of vitamins A, E and C as well as B complex. Consume fruits in the mid-morning or evening only.
    • Have a combination of cereals (rice, whole wheat, broken wheat, ragi, jowar and oats) for both meals.
    • Restrict foods containing too much saturated fat (butter, ghee, cheese or cream), ready-to-eat foods that contain preservatives, deep-fried foods, dried coconut, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, savories, sweets, packaged juices and white sugar.
    • Limit intake of coffee and tea to keep a check on weight gain.
    • Avoid taking any medicine or herbal supplements without consulting your doctor/dietician.

    Note: Include galactagogues (the substance that improves lactation) such as garlic, fenugreek, fennel, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal and dill (shepu leaves).

    Diet chart - sample

    Dietary Recommendation For Lactating Women
    Nutrition requirementLactation month
    Energy (kcals/day)0-6 month  - 2000
    6-12 month -1800
    Protein (gm/day)0-6 month - 80
    6-12 month - 70
    Visible fat (gm/day)0-6 month - 30
    6-12 month - 30
    calcium (mg/day)0-6 month - 1200
    6-12 month - 1200
    Iron (mg/day)0-6 month - 25
    6-12 month - 25
    Folic acid0-6 month - 300
    6-12 month - 300

    This diet will provide 2000Kcals of energy, 80g of protein and 30g of fat.


    Mealtime: 6:00 am

    Menu: I glass of warm water and 6 almonds
    ( blanched and peeled)

    Mealtime: 7:00 am

    Menu: 1 cup light tea/coffee/milk (skimmed milk)


    Mealtime: 8:00-8:30 am


    4 idlis (brown or red rice or rava) with 2 tbsp gram chutney and 1 ladle of sambar
    3 wheat/ragi/plain/pesaratu dosas with 2 tbsp gram chutney and 1 ladle sambar 
    2 chapati/paratha with 1 cup vegetable and 1 cup curd/raita
    2 chapati/paratha with 1 cup vegetable and 1 cup curd/raita
    2 slices brown bread/multigrain with paneer or tofu/omelet made of egg white or 1 boiled egg
    1 cup vegetable upma (broken wheat/oats/semolina) or 1 cup poha with 2 tbsp gram chutney 
    1 cup porridge (oats/broken wheat) or wheat flakes with milk (skimmed)
    2 ragi rotis (with onion and vegetables) with 2 tbsp gram chutney


    Mealtime: 11:00-11:30 am

    Menu: Buttermilk/vegetable juice, 1 cup of salad/cut fruit and mixed dry fruits (50g of raisins/dates/figs/walnut


    Mealtime: 1:00-1:30pm

    3 medium-sized chapatis
    cup of rice and 2 chapatis
    1 cup broken wheat or millet rice (kichdi/pongal or pulao) with 1 cup sambar or dal (whole dal/soya)bean/chole/paneer/tofu)/2 cups vegetables (one green leafy vegetable), 1 cup salad and 1 cup curd

    Note: Non-vegetarian dishes like 2 pieces of fish/steamed/boiled or grilled chicken can be eaten on alternate days.

    Evening tea 

    Mealtime: 4:00 pm

    Menu: 1 cup of tea/coffee/milk with 2 biscuits (oats, ragi, multigrain)/puffed rice


    Mealtime: 5:30-6:30 pm

    Menu: 1 cup of vegetable soup and boiled sprouts/2 boiled egg whites


    Mealtime: 8:00-8:30 pm

    Menu: 2 medium-sized chapatis/multigrain dosas (ragi, wheat, jowar and millet) with 1 cup of dal, 1 cup of vegetable and 1 cup of salad


    Mealtime: 10:00 pm

    Menu: 1 cup milk (skimmed)


    • 1 cup = 100mL, 1 glass = 200mL
    • Oil allowance = 2-3 tsp/day

    Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

    Certain foods cause indigestion, gas trouble or allergy and must be avoided by nursing mothers because they may make the baby sick.

    • Foods containing monosodium glutamate
    • Deep-fried or fatty foods
    • Alcohol
    • Excess tea and coffee, since tannin and caffeine inhibit the absorption of micronutrients
    • Peanut/egg/soya/mushroom because they are common allergens

    Herbal home remedies

    The practice of giving lactating mothers age-old remedies still exists in many Indian households. Herbs and spices such as cumin, oregano, fennel seeds, mint, ginger, garlic, fenugreek, pepper and turmeric are used in general which increases milk production.

    Alcohol consumption

    Regular intake of alcohol decreases milk production by 20%. In case a nursing mother consumes alcohol occasionally, a time lag of 2 to 3 hours per unit after drinking must be maintained before nursing. This time is essential for the alcohol to be eliminated from the breast milk.


    A diet rich in iron and calcium is generally sufficient for lactating mothers who are breastfeeding. But mothers who get an inadequate supply of these nutrients must take iron and calcium supplements.

    Tip to stay healthy

    Eat fresh, home-cooked food while nursing, with 5 kinds of vegetables and 3 kinds of fruit daily. Also, drink 3-4 glasses of milk every day.

    Eat a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding because what you eat determines the health of your baby.

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