Pregnant or looking to become preggers? Let’s talk about how to rock a plant-based pregnancy, shall we?
So, you’re eating for two! And by now, you’ve probably had at least one person tell you that your diet needs to change now that you’re pregnant. People tend to view plant-based/vegan eating as a phase, and not as a lifestyle. But a plant-based diet is great for both you and your babe, as well as the environment and the animals.
Diet is an important factor in how well you feel, and how well your baby grows, throughout your pregnancy. Diet is also crucial when you’re trying to get pregnant as well. The foods we eat have huge effects on both our emotional and physical health, so it’s a great idea to be prepared beforehand.
Eat Positively (Even before the positive pee stick)
Don’t wait for the positive mark on the pregnancy test before you become mindful of your food and diet. When you’re pregnant, the food you eat will be feeding your baby, too. And post-pregnancy, the foods you eat will be setting an example for your child as they grow up. View food as fuel and base your meals around the types of foods your body needs for a healthy pregnancy.
Ditch Bad Habits
I think it goes without saying that you should be kicking bad habits before getting pregnant. But if your pregnancy wasn’t planned or has happened sooner than expected, start straight away. If you’re already plant-based, vegetarian or vegan, then you’re probably pretty conscious of the foods you’re putting into your body. Alcohol, refined sugar, nicotine and fast food are the main things to avoid. It’s also a great idea to take a break from your Netflix membership if you find that binge-watching shows is keeping you up at night. Studies have found that women who don’t get enough sleep during their pregnancy suffer from negative health-related issues, so make sure you get enough sleep.
Baby brain can cause you to pour orange juice into your cereal and leave your phone in the fridge; the last thing you need to be thinking about is food when you’re already tired, hungry and feeling out of sorts. Cravings may change during different trimesters of your pregnancy, but try to gauge what foods you’re currently digging and have snacks on hand. The quick and easy is often filled with preservatives and sugars, both of which can leave you feeling pretty crummy afterward.
Keep a Food Journal
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re fulfilling all of your food groups during your pregnancy, make a food diary. In addition, jotting down what you eat in a day will help you demonstrate to your physician how you’re fueling your body on a plant-based diet. Your doctor might be able to recommend a supplement if you seem low in something, but with proper planning a mama can easily fuel her body on plant foods.
Hurrah! You’re Eating For Two
You will need to increase your calorie intake, but that doesn’t mean eating double the calories; you’re not feeding another full-sized human, just a baby.
The biggest mistake women make during their pregnancy is to buy into the myth ‘you’re eating for two’. You will need to increase your calorie intake, but that doesn’t mean eating double the calories; you’re not feeding another full-sized human, just a baby. Slightly increase portion sizes and eat when hungry, being conscious to fuel your body as opposed to satiating your cravings. Pay attention to nutrients that are crucial in the health and development of your baby. Don’t use your pregnancy as a free-pass to binge on junk food. Pregnancy should be enjoyable, so you want to feel the best you can during it.
Learn the Facts About Your Food
If you’re currently eating a plant-based diet and are looking to either become, or are already pregnant, than you’ve probably encountered more than your fair share of pregnancy experts. You know, those random strangers that feel compelled to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating now that you’re eating for two. God forbid you tell them that you’re vegetarian or vegan. Just wait for the endless spiel to come your way on why you should be eating meat and dairy to have a healthy baby!
Sometimes answering questions, even if they’re born of honest curiosity, can get tiresome. Defending your lifestyle choices based on the misinformation and misunderstanding of others can be stressful, and that’s something you don’t need while pregnant. Learn the facts on why you eat the way you do so that when people ask these questions, you can answer them in a calm and confident manner.
The most obvious questions people will likely demand to know are how you get your calcium, vitamins, proteins and iron. Pregnant women do need folic acid, calcium, vitamin D and proteins, but these are found in places other than animal products and meat. Folate can be found in such foods as tempeh, beans and lentils. Calcium can be found in almond milk, broccoli and leafy greens such as kale. Shiitake mushrooms and tofu supply vitamin D. Protein is found in a heap of plant-based foods, including quinoa, tofu, lentils, nut butters and hemp seeds. As for iron, you don’t need to chow down on a bloody steak to get that. Tempeh, sesame seeds, molasses and dark leafy greens like spinach provide great doses of iron for the body. Also, cooking in a cast-iron pan can increase the amount of absorbable iron you consume from any meal; try eggs, or a stir-fry to get started.
5 Foods To Chow Down On
These are the foods that you’ll be wanting to eat in abundance during your pregnancy. Build your meals around foods like these, and read more about the rainbow of superfoods you should be eating here!
- Leafy Greens: If you haven’t already taken the plunge, then now is the time! Pack your dishes with lots of dark, leafy vegetables as they’re bursting with such beneficial vitamins as A and C, as well as such minerals as calcium and iron. Use kale to make kale chips or pile spinach into smoothies.
- Berries: Not only will they help to curb sweet cravings, berries are high in folate, fiber and zinc. They’re great as a snack or you can mix them with oatmeal or use them to sweeten a smoothie. You could even blend strawberries with almond milk to make a creamy, healthy milkshake.
- Nuts: Nuts are a powerhouse of healthy fats, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help build your baby’s brain as well as aiding in the development of the nervous system. Nuts can also help reduce the risk of preeclampsia and postpartum depression. Walnuts, pumpkin, chia and flax seeds are all great sources. Buy organic, whole nut butters and enjoy them on toast for a quick and easy breakfast. Or use almond butter to dip apple slices into for a healthy, tasty snack. Be mindful of ingredients; I only buy nut butters with four or less ingredients. You don’t need preservatives or anything artificial going into your food or your body.
- Grains: There’s a whole lot to be gained from eating grains. Pregnant women need around 50 percent more iron during their pregnancy as they’re providing the baby’s blood supply, too. A low iron level can leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy. Maintaining iron levels will also keep your energy levels up, so choose foods that are naturally iron-rich such as quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal. When making salads use a healthy grain like quinoa or brown rice as a base, or have a nice big bowl of oatmeal to kick-start your day.
- Beans: If you’re already a plant-based eater, then you’ve probably already become acquainted with beans. They’re pretty much a staple for a vegan diet. And rightly so; they’re a brilliant source of protein, iron and calcium. Not bad for a humble, inexpensive bean, huh? Chickpeas, lentils, black beans and soybeans are a great place to start. And they’re easy to incorporate. Add them to a soup to thicken it up, or add some beans to a salad to make it heartier. You can even mash up chickpeas and turn them into a delicious salad filling.
Recipes for You and Your Growing Babe
Smoothie Bowls (Three Ways)
Smoothie bowls are a great way to start the day. They’re easy to make, you can enjoy them on the go, and they’re a super quick way to pack in fruits and veggies! If you have time to sit down and enjoy your smoothie, throw it in a bowl and sprinkle it with lots of toppings. Here are three to choose from, so whether you’re feeling a fruity, tropical or green smoothie this morning, we’ve got you covered.
Get the recipe here.
The Vegan Buddha Bowl
I love making a buddha bowl as anything goes. You can throw pretty much anything you fancy or have on hand into the bowl and voila, you’re good to go! I love using a grain in mine, and I typically choose quinoa, but if I’m all out I’ll use brown rice, too. I generally throw in chickpeas, some leafy greens, avocado for some healthy fats, and something tangy like sauerkraut or pickled red onions. Yummy!
Get the recipe here.
Almond Butter No Bake Cookies
We know the importance of snacking right, and there’ll be so many moments during your pregnancy where you’re tired and the last thing you want to do is cook. That’s where recipes like these almond cookies are great as they require no cooking! You can make a batch and take them with you if you’re out and about running errands, or take one along as a snack post-yoga.
Get the recipe here.
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