Being vegetarian and pregnant, I’ve always battled with protein and iron. Surprisingly with this pregnancy I’ve managed to maintain a good iron count. Here’s a guest post by Kristi from intelligentmother.com on maintaining a vegetarian diet while pregnant.
Is it possible to maintain a vegetarian diet while pregnant? Absolutely Yes!
Millions of women in South East Asia who practice vegetarianism have been carrying healthy pregnancies to term on vegetarian diets. The key to success is having a variety of healthy foods that supply minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients that you and your baby require.
Nutritionists categorize vegetarian diets into four groups and it is important that you know your cluster. The most basic group is the Vegan category that includes fruits, seeds, vegetables, grains and beans. Vegans exclude animal proteins such as fish, red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products including milk and cheese from their diet.
Lacto – vegetarians include dairy products to the vegan diet while lacto – ovo vegetarians include eggs as a source of protein to the lacto vegetarian diet.
Pescatarian vegetarians have the largest variety of nutrient sources because they include fish to the lacto – ovo vegetarian diet, but like the rest, they exclude red meat and poultry from their food.
Whatever the group you belong to, thousands of approaches exist that you can adapt to safeguard your pregnancy.
Benefits of a vegetarian diet during pregnancy
Maintaining a vegetarian diet during pregnancy has unique health benefits for you and your baby.
Firstly, vegetarians are normally acutely aware of what they eat and how it helps their metabolism. Vegetarianism naturally compels you to adapt a healthy outlook that is a necessity during pregnancy.
Secondly, vegetarian diets have the benefit of providing natural solutions and supplying nutrients without the need for supplements. For example, many mothers find it useful to drink ginger tea to help relieve morning sickness and nausea. To end constipation, some mothers eat whole grains that provide fiber, an essential element in the digestion process.
Thirdly, the body finds it easier to process vegetarian food as opposed to red meat and other non-vegetarian foods. This reduces metabolic stress as your body adapts to feeding two instead of one.
What you need to include
Most mothers’ reservations with the vegetarian diets of pregnant women revolve around their protein sufficiency for the development of the baby’s body. However, vegetarian diets are also protein rich, with foods like whole grains, wheat germ and legumes (beans and soy) offering an abundant supply. Non-dairy milk (almond, soy and coconut milk) and seeds such as sesame and nuts also have solid doses of proteins.
Vegetables and fruits supply a generous dose of minerals including Iron, Vitamin B, Calcium and Folic acid. Green leafy vegetables, cereals and citrus fruits provide most essential vitamins (Vitamin C, Iron and Zinc). Wheat bran and dairy products such as milk and cheese supply Calcium and Vitamin B while seeds and nuts provide Folic acid.
Some exceptional vegetables like carrots provide rich supplies of more than one nutrient including Vitamin A, K and B. You can find more about the recipe for preparing baby carrots here.
For Vitamin D, vegetarians need daily exposure to the sun for about 10 minutes because the body naturally synthesizes the nutrient. For Omega 3 and other fatty acids, you can either use fish oil if you are not a strict vegetarian or walnuts, flax seeds and microalgae supplements if you are strict.
What you need to avoid?
A pregnant vegetarian mother needs to avoid most of the same things any other mother should avoid during pregnancy and practice extra care in food preparation.
First, you need to maintain a high level of hygiene with fruits and vegetables. Wash all your food thoroughly before cooking or consumption. Fungus infections from partially decayed fruits and vegetables can kill your unborn baby.
Second, it is advisable to eat only cooked vegetables, proteins and grains. This ensures all germs are dead. Thirdly, use only pasteurized milk dairy products and juices. This means you should pasteurize them at 140 degrees.
Last, coffee and tea contain tannins that slow down the body’s absorption of Iron. On the other hand, foods rich in Vitamin C enhance Iron absorption
In summary, the vegetarian diets of pregnant women require you to take two essential steps that any pregnant woman should adopt. First, consult your doctor on how to ensure your diet meets all your nutritional requirements during the pregnancy. Second, make a daily diet plan that will guarantee a sufficient supply of all the necessary nutrients.
Author Bio: My name is Kristi and I’m the mother of 3 beautiful angels, founder of Intelligentmother.com. This blog was created in order to share experiences baby care, health care for pregnant women. You can find many interesting insights. Problems – Solved!