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Being Vegetarian While Pregnant? It's Totally Possible

vegetarian pregnancyWhen I became pregnant, many of my family members were concerned that I would struggle to get enough nutrients in my body from my vegetarian diet.  I think my dad mentioned protein in every single email he sent me during my first trimester.  Now at 34 weeks pregnant with a growing baby boy in my belly, they’re still concerned but have backed off significantly.  I can’t say it has been easy, constantly worrying whether I’m getting enough protein, omega 3s or calcium, but I’ve done it and you can too.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 4 years.  I started off as a pescatarian, meaning I followed a vegetarian diet but ate seafood every now and then but when our little man was conceived, I was strictly a vegetarian.  I always said that when I got pregnant I would do whatever is healthiest for my baby, even if that meant eating meat or more dairy.  I ate plenty of vegetables, grains, fruit and beans, but knew I wasn’t getting enough protein or calcium in my diet so I added things to my diet like skim milk and a brown rice protein supplement*.  Here’s what was recommended and has been working for me.

I aim to get approx 60-80 grams of protein daily. I try my best to fill up my protein requirements with beans {lentils pack a whopping 18 g per cup!}, whole grains, nut butters, dairy and occasionally salmon.  I eat very little soy, but I enjoy the occasional tempeh on my sandwiches and faux sausage in my spaghetti sauces.  The brown rice protein supplement, which has 12 grams of protein per serving, is assurance that I’m getting those extra grams on days I might be low from food sources.

Somewhere between 1000 and 2000 mg of omega 3s. I take 1 tsp of Arctic Cod Liver Oil containing 1260 mg of omega 3s, which is considered part of my recent transition back to a pescatarian lifestyle.  That pretty much covers my daily recommendation although adding things like ground flax seed into pancake mix, scrambled eggs for breakfast or snacking on trail mix with omega 3 rich walnuts are great options as well.

1500 mg of calcium daily. I always drank almond milk prior to becoming pregnant so I decided to add skim milk into my diet, not only for extra protein, but for the added calcium.  I also drink calcium fortified orange juice, as well as eat a cup of nonfat plain yogurt or cottage cheese.

Additionally to protein, omega 3s and calcium, a daily pregnant diet should also plenty servings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

*Always make sure to consult with your doctor or midwife before adding any supplements into your diet.

{photo by Alyson Brown}

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