One of the LLLI philosophy concepts states, "Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible." Thus, in general, no food is excluded from the list of foods a breastfeeding mother should eat. Obviously, it is best to make sure the foods you eat are fresh and healthy. The concept of variety is important, because by eating a number of foods, you can be sure to obtain different nutrients and do not eat too much of any one food.
Every culture has lists of foods that are "good" and "bad" for breastfeeding mothers. It happens very often that foods believed to be good in one culture are considered bad in others! In Italy, mothers are often told not to eat garlic, cauliflower, lentils and red peppers. In India most mothers eat all these things and breastfeed very happily. Actually, in parts of India they believe that garlic helps a mother to breastfeed successfully!
Generally, anything you are happy eating is okay for you to eat while you are breastfeeding. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If you have a family medical history of allergy, it is worth being careful about your diet and avoiding known allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you notice that your baby reacts badly after you have eaten something, it may be best to leave that food out of your diet for a while. There is an excellent article on our Web site called " Allergies and the Breastfeeding Family," which may help you if you are worried about allergies.
See also myths 12 and 21 in the article "Common Breastfeeding Myths" for more information about what a breastfeeding mother needs to eat, and our resource page on Breastfeeding and Allergies.
To read this article and many more frequently asked questions breastfeeding visit http://www.llli.org/faq/.