This is perhaps the greatest paradox of breastfeeding: A breastfeeding mum needs to eat 500 calories more in her daily diet in order to get the energy and nutrients to produce breastmilk, yet she needs to abstain from a whole lot of foods and beverages to ensure that baby does not get side effects from her milk lest it complicates the whole process of breastfeeding. In other words, she needs to eat more but she has nothing much to eat at the same time. It is a well-known fact that everything mother eats comes through her breastmilk. Some foods can alter the taste of her milk making baby reject it while others can bring on more serious side effects. For instance, a breastfeeding mother indulging in too much sugary food and beverages can predispose her baby to a lifelong risk for obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease and stroke, not to mention, impede the infant\u2019s cognitive development and learning during his important growing up years. Fructose has been found in breastmilk. Numerous studies have proven that fructose \u2500 derived from fruit, processed food and sweet, sugary drinks \u2500 and not at all a natural component of breast milk, is being fed to infants through breastmilk. Even small amounts of fructose the weight of a grain of rice in a full day\u2019s serving of breastmilk can reprogram fat cells in babies, causing them to grow faster and making the child fat on empty calories while damaging his liver, says this release. Fructose, delivered through a drink such as breastmilk, quickly surges into the blood stream where it is processed by the liver and converted into fat, adds this study. To children in critical periods of growth and development, this is damaging. Already, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Malaysia is the fattest nation in Asia and has the second highest child obesity rate among children in ASEAN aged five to 19 years, with 7.1% of children under the age of five being overweight. Undertake Breastfeeding with Responsibility The thing to remember is that breastfeeding has to be undertaken with responsibility. With responsibility comes accountability for the choices you make for your child, including what you choose to put into your mouth to feed him. The breast is not a filtering agent. It passes along the good (nutrition) as well as the bad (toxins, parasites, virus) to your baby. So you do need to watch what you eat and drink when nursing and you will have to get yourself healthy in mind and body when transmitting anything (including emotions) to your baby. While you do\u00a0 not need to abstain from this list completely, here are more than 16 food, fruits and beverages that you should be wary of \u00a0as they may cause distressing issues that could come between you and baby, negating the positive effects of \u00a0breastfeeding. 1. Coffee This comes top of the list because caffeine content is highest in coffee. \u00a0Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. That\u2019s why people drink coffee first thing in the morning to kickstart the day. However, when you are breastfeeding, caffeine will come right through your breast milk. Many mothers say that when they drink coffee, even a single drop of it would keep baby agitated and awake all day and all night long. Caffeine stimulates babies the same way as it does adults, only babies cannot excrete the caffeine as efficiently. The build up of caffeine in his body will cause agitation, irritation, sleeplessness and crankiness. Already, breastfed babies are well known not to sleep well. They have regular sleep disruptions and wake up three to four times a night just to look for you to nurse and to comfort nurse, interrupting your sleep and keeping you up as well. So if you\u2019re not willing to sacrifice your sleep even more than you already are without the coffee, skip that cuppa. Furthermore, a study published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reveals that high amounts of caffeine can lower iron levels in breastmilk and decrease haemoglobin levels in the baby.\u00a0 So, really, it is best not to drink coffee when lactating. Yes, they look good don't they? Just the thing to start your day! But, better not when you are breastfeeding if you don't want to keep baby up as well. 2. Sugary Beverages and Desserts As explained above, high sugar drinks such as juices, fizzy soda and all our traditional sweet dessert drinks and beverages contribute to obesity in the child. In an effort to curb childhood obesity, The Star2 published a story urging mothers to delay introducing sugar and sweet foods to their toddlers for as long as possible but the fact is, sugar is already being fed to infants from the day he is born through mother\u2019s breastmilk. This Secondhand Sugar contributes to baby\u2019s high Body Mass Index (BMI) leading to obesity and its related diseases and even cancer later in life. On July 1, 2019, Malaysia introduced the sugar tax in a bid to tackle runaway obesity in the country. However, all of the above such as our Teh Tarik, Ais Kacang, Cendol and Cendol Durian, Bubur Cha Cha, traditional Air Bandung and the morphed-out Air Bandung Cincau Icecream Soda remain as Malaysia\u2019s most favourite beverages.(Image Credit clockwise from left: Fanny\u2019s, Wikimedia, Adam Homestay JB, theMeatMenChannel, and Aynorablogs) 3. Chocolate You might be wondering: Why chocolate? \u00a0Chocolate is rich in a stimulant called theobromine which has similar effects as caffeine. Most chocolate is high in sugar as well. If after consuming chocolate, you notice that your baby is cranky and fussy, better stay away from that chocolate. It has been found by this Canadian Mother-to Mother Breastfeeding Information site that if a mother consumes more than 750mg of caffeine or theobromine a day, the baby might exhibit irritable and fussy behavior, besides suffering from sleep issues. \u201cTheobromine is found in the cocoa solids,\u201d the site says. \u201cDark chocolate is dark in colour because it contains a greater percentage of cocoa solids and therefore it will contain higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate. White chocolate has no cocoa solids and therefore no theobromine.\u201d Besides, large amounts of theobromine\/caffeine\u00a0can\u00a0dehydrate your body and lower your production of breast\u00a0milk. Chocolate and coffee \u2500 a double of whammy of stimulants that might hit your sweet spot at the start of the day but will surely make your baby edgy and highstrung. 4. Gluten Intolerance Gluten intolerance\u00a0is a fairly common problem across all ages including babies and children. It is characterised by adverse reactions to\u00a0gluten, a protein found in\u00a0wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease is the most severe form of\u00a0gluten intolerance. This is an autoimmune disease that may lead to damage in the digestive system. However, about 13% of people may also have non-celiac gluten sensivity, a milder form of gluten intolerance that can still cause problems. Both forms of gluten intolerance can cause widespread symptoms, many of which have nothing to do with digestion. Some of the symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, constipation and smelly feces. While it has been said that breastfeeding mothers do not have to restrict gluten from their diet should their babies be found to be gluten intolerant and that breastfeeding actually helps prevent gluten intolerance developing in babies later in life, here is an excerpt from VeryWellHealth.com about the subject of gluten in breastmilk. \u201cCeliac Babies and Toddlers Need Gluten-Free Breast Milk: If your baby or toddler has been diagnosed with celiac disease and you're still nursing, your breast milk must be gluten-free ... which means you need to give up gluten-containing foods, too.\u201d As with all other food you ingest, gluten comes through breastmilk too. Gluten containing foods to avoid are: Anything made with wheat, barley and rye such bread, crackers, wheat flour, pastas and especially in our Malaysian environment \u2500 noodles (unless these noodles are made with rice such as vermicelli), all dark sauces such as soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, anything deepfried and breaded, imitation vegetarian \u201cmeats\u201d, brown-skinned tofu etc etc You may be wondering why soy sauce should be avoided. Soy sauce and soy products are not gluten free because most soy sauce and other \u201cbrown coloured Asian sauces\u201d is fermented with wheat. Some brands contain nearly equal amounts soybeans and wheat. White tofu is alright but not those marinated with soy sauce like tofu pok. 5. Citrus Fruits: Oranges, Pineapple, Tomatoes Citrus fruits are a great source of Vitamin C, but their acidic components can irritate baby\u2019s little tummy. His immature gastrointestinal tract will not be able to deal with the increase in citric acid, thus resulting in oesophagus and stomach burn, diaper rash, fussiness, spitting up and more. Also, citrus fruits and their juices like lime, lemon, oranges, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, and pineapples tend to alter the smell and taste in breastmilk. Baby might vomit or go on a breastfeeding strike because of that. You don\u2019t have to eliminate all citrus fruits and their juices from your diet. You can indulge in a little once in a while but if you see baby reacting, then please do stop. Left: Citrus fruits that should be avoided. On the right is a favourite and rather revered Malaysian fruit especially among the Buddhists, the pomelo is a citrus fruit. In fact, its scientific name is Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis as it is the largest citrus fruit from the citrus family. 6. Cherries, Berries and Prunes Cherries are healthy when consumed in moderation. But this stands true for a child with a fully developed digestive system. If you eat cherries while breastfeeding, your baby will develop gastric and digestive issues, which can lead to belching, flatulence, and stomachaches. Like cherries, prunes are hard to break down and digest for a child who is less than a year old. Prunes are therefore not recommended as your baby\u2019s digestive tract may not be ready to digest them. Eating prunes will help you move your bowels better but can cause baby to become gaseous and restless, and disrupt their sleep. 7. Cruciferous Vegetables Pak Choy makes a favourite stirfry vegetable dish in Malaysia.\u00a0 Pak Choy or Chinese White Cabbage in all its varieties, belongs to the cruciferous family of\u00a0vegetables although it doesn\u2019t resemble the usual round cruciferous \u201clook\u201d of the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Unfortunately, cruciferous vegetables ave long been known to be gassy vegetables and eating them will similarly bring on gas and wind to breastfed babies. The last thing a baby wants or what you want happen to your baby is uncontrollable bouts of crying due to pain and gas in his stomach. A little bit of flatulence is normal but if it leads to Colic, it can be a nightmare. The baby doesn\u2019t stop crying and cringing and arching his back in pain no matter what you do. The incessant screaming for hours and days on end can lead to frustration and anger in the parents. It may even cause them to shake their baby to make him stop crying. Pak Choy, Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower are well-known gassy vegetables. The gas component comes through in breastmilk.\u00a0 (Image Credit: Healthy WA, The Kitchen, Walmart, Amazon.com) 8. High-Mercury Fish King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna all contain\u00a0high\u00a0levels of\u00a0mercury. Women who are pregnant or nursing or who plan to become pregnant within a year should avoid eating these\u00a0fish. So should children younger than six. Ease up on tuna. As a rule, the larger the fish, the longer it has lived and the higher the mercury content. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, \u201cIf a breastfeeding woman consumes a high amount of mercury-rich foods, it could harm the development of baby by transferring into the breast milk and then onto the baby.\u201d High levels of mercury will affect your baby\u2019s brain and nervous system. Seafood choices that are low in mercury include shrimp, salmon, canned light tuna and catfish. 9. Alcohol \u201cNot drinking alcohol\u00a0is the safest option for\u00a0breastfeeding mothers,\u201d says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. \u201cGenerally, moderate\u00a0alcohol\u00a0consumption by a\u00a0breastfeeding\u00a0mother (up to one standard\u00a0drink per day) is\u00a0not\u00a0known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least two hours after a single\u00a0drink\u00a0before\u00a0nursing.\u201d 10. Peanuts If your family has a history of peanut allergies, avoid peanuts until you wean your baby. The allergic proteins in peanuts could pass into your breast milk and then to the baby. She might suffer from rashes, wheezing or hives. Eating even a few peanuts can result in the allergens passing into mother\u2019s milk between one and six hours. Research suggests that there is an increased chance of developing a lifetime peanut allergy for children exposed to peanuts at an early age. However, there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that avoiding peanuts during breastfeeding prevents peanut allergies in babies. 11. Parsley and Peppermint Parsley and peppermint are two herbs, if taken in huge amounts, can reduce your breastmilk. Whenever you eat these herbs, monitor your milk supply, especially when your baby is in the growth spurt \u2013 the phase when he needs more milk than usual. In fact, mothers often drink peppermint tea when they want to stop the milk production after weaning. Another herb, sage, also decreases milk supply. Parsley and Peppermint leaves reduce breastmilk production. (Image Credit: Abel & Cole, Click & Grow) 12. Dairy Not all breastfed babies will show cow\u2019s milk sensivity. However, dairy can be an allergen. Breastfed\u00a0babies who are sensitive to\u00a0dairy\u00a0in\u00a0mum's\u00a0diet are sensitive to specific cow's\u00a0milk\u00a0antibodies, in the form of proteins which pass into the mother's milk. Cooking\u00a0dairy\u00a0products may reduce but\u00a0will\u00a0not\u00a0eliminate\u00a0the allergens. A significant percentage of babies with cow\u2019s milk protein allergy will also react to soy. Most dairy-allergic babies will additionally react to goat\u2019s milk or sheep\u2019s milk. Some will also react to beef. Your sources of dairy include all kinds of fresh or UHT milk, cream, yogurt, butter, cheeses, as well as condensed and evaporated milk. Allergic reactions include vomiting, gas, crying and colic, diarrhea, bloody and mucusy stool, eczema, rashes, congestion and runny nose, wheezing or coughing\u00a0 and sleep issues. If you think that your baby may be sensitive to dairy products in your diet, remember that it can take 10 days to three weeks to eliminate cow\u2019s milk protein from your system. 13. Strong Smelling Foods: Garlic, Petai and Durian Garlic, Petai and Durian are some of the strongest smelling foods in our country. And we love them all. But obviously, the smell and taste does get into breastmilk. Some babies like it. Some do not. Petai, also called Stink Beans in English, and as its name suggests, stink. \u00a0It has a gassy compound too, owing to its sulphur content and its pervasive odour gets into your breath, bladder, bowels, producing a slight laxative effect that prevents constipation. Naturally the smell and the gas will permeate into the breastmilk and \u201cflavour\u201d it. The durian too emits a very strong smell. Some fullgrown adults can\u2019t take the smell of durians making then nauseous or develop migraine for some reason. But here is something interesting. Some\u00a0breastfeeding mothers swear that by\u00a0eating durian, they are\u00a0able to\u00a0boost milk flow as well as produce thicker and creamier milk. However, this is purely anecdotal. An infant taking to durian will depend on the individual baby. Some babies may grimace or fuss at the breast if they encounter these strong aromas in the milk. If you find your baby exhibiting discomfort while nursing after you have eaten these foods, you may need to cut back on eating them when breastfeeding. Remember, baby hasn\u2019t eaten since the last feed. He is hungry. To have him refuse the milk because it smells funny means baby is going to have to go hungry and cry until the breastmilk returns to \u201cnormal\u201d. Eating garlic, petai and durian will flavour the breastmilk accordingly (Image Credit: Bear Naked Food, KoolFM,Trip Savvy) 14. Spicy Foods: Curries, Garam Masala and Sambal If hot spicy food has always been your family\u2019s staple, baby might probably be used to \u201ctasting\u201d these spices while gestating for 40 weeks in your uterus. \u00a0Spicy foods ingested while lactating shouldn\u2019t pose a problem to baby when he suckles in this sense. However, if curries, chillies, Masala, strong spice and strong Sambals are not your everyday menu but a sudden one-off binge, be aware that these foods add a certain pungency to the breastmilk and can turn baby off. \u00a0Furthermore, it can irritate some babies' stomachs. \u00a0It might irritate your stomach too and get you running to the toilet every now and then. When you are following a tight schedule of hourly breastfeeding as required in demand feeding or exclusive breastfeeding, having a stomachache yourself is not a nice experience. And to have baby get an upset stomach too is doubly not nice and troublesome. Some of the hot and spicy Malaysian fare that we enjoy so much. Some babies are used to the flavour of this food having \u201ctasted\u201d it for nine months while in the womb but some babies do object to the pungency and may react negatively. (Image Credit: Sambal Tumis by Dah Tau Ker) 15. Corn Now this might surprise you. Corn allergy? Actually, corn allergies are very common among babies and toddlers. Symptoms can range from itching, hives, redness around eyes, and nasal congestion, to wheezing, throat swelling, and shock (anaphylaxis). While many corn-containing foods are obvious (cornstarch, popcorn, fresh corn, canned corn, corn chips, corn cooking oil), others may not be. These foods include chicken nuggets, baked goods, ketchup and many more). If you observe that your baby is allergic to corn, eliminate it from your diet but it may be hard as so many of our processed foods are made with corn. 16. Eggs and Shellfish Baby\u2019s egg allergies, mostly due to sensitivity to egg whites, are actually quite common. Some babies are allergic to shellfish. Shellfish allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. However, allergy to shellfish is usually due to a family member having the allergy. If you yourself are allergic to shellfish, then obviously you should avoid eating it but even if you are not allergic but a family member is, then it is better to avoid it as your baby might be allergic.\u00a0 It is better to err on the side of caution and abstain as an allergic reaction could take two to four weeks of distress, agony and medication before it goes away. A family history of a food allergy poses a risk in infants and babies. If there is somebody allergic to shellfish or eggs in your immediate family, then avoid them while breastfeeding. For more breastfeeding stories, go to Motherhood.com.my.