Eating habits of lactating women can influence the nutrient composition of human milk, which in turn influences nutrient intake of breastfed infants. The aim of the present study was to identify food patterns and nutritional adequacy among lactating women in Europe. Data from a multicentre European longitudinal cohort (ATLAS study) were analysed to identify dietary patterns using cluster analysis. Dietary information from 180 lactating women was obtained using 3-d food diaries over the first 4 months of lactation. Four dietary patterns were identified: ‘vege-oils’, ‘fish-poultry’, ‘confectionery-salads’ and ‘mixed dishes’. Nutrition adequacy was not significantly different between clusters, but the ‘vege-oils’ cluster tended to yield the highest nutrition adequacy measured by Mean Adequacy Ratio. Compared with European dietary reference values (DRVs) for lactating women, women in all clusters had inadequate intakes of energy, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, iodine, potassium and linoleic acid. Adequate intake for fibre and α-linolenic acid was only achieved in the ‘vege-oils’ cluster. Overall, fat intake was above DRVs. The present study showed that various dietary patterns do not adequately supply all nutrients, indicating a need to promote overall healthy dietary habits for European lactating women.