It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Will a 1500 calorie diet be enough to support healthy breastfeeding?
This is a fantastic question and you are correct that moms who are breastfeeding do need extra calories. Depending on your size, the estimate runs from about 300 - 500 extra calories per day over what your body would normally use.
For most women this will be in the 1,800 to 2,000 calorie range. There is some evidence that eating less than 1,500 calories could put your breastfeeding at risk.
If you are wanting to work at losing weight after pregnancy, it's a good idea to wait until about 2 months after your baby's birth. Check with your doctor about dieting and losing weight and he or she can help you set some good targets for calories in the months after your pregnancy. It is best to move toward that gradually, decreasing your calories each month until you are at the target set with your physician. The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan will let you select the number of calories best for you in a case like this.
At five months you will be at lower risk for issues in decreasing your calories, but it's still best to do this thoughtfully and gradually.
Congratulations on your new baby and it's wonderful that you are eating healthy for your child and yourself.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP