Not all pregnancy diets are created equal; vegan woman often wonder if they can continue a vegan lifestyle while pregnant. In short, the answer is yes. Regardless of the lifestyle that you live, it is crucial to consume a wholesome and nutritious diet to maintain energy while pregnant(and to give the baby all of those critical vitamins).
Pregnant women need to consume an average of 300 additional calories during the first and second trimester, and an additional 300 calories in the last trimester. That amounts to 2800-3200 calories each day. For the vegan woman this may seem like an impossible number to achieve, but with a few effective guidelines it is a goal that can be obtained(3).
First, pregnant women should eat when they are hungry and not force themselves to eat expected amount of calories( eventually, your body will tell you how many calories it needs, even if that means it is less than what the doctor tells you). Moreover, aim to eat five or six meals throughout the day that include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. By having wholesome foods at each meal, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are giving your body and your baby the vitamins it needs throughout the pregnancy.
Secondly, follow this list to guarantee that you are meeting your body’s and your baby’s nutritional needs for growing:
Protein: 4 servings a day
Pregnant women need 65-75 grams of lean protein each day, which is easier than it seems (so many foods have grams of protein here and there). A vegan woman can get her protein each day by consuming nuts, nut spreads, legumes, soy,whole grains, and flaxseed. Plus, many fruits, vegetables, and other foods have ample grams of protein(1,3).
Whole Grains and Legumes: 5 servings a day
Whole grains and legumes are packed with B vitamins, which are needed for the development of your babies spinal cord, brain, and blood supply(in addition to so many more steps in the growth of your baby). It is said that women who consume at least five servings of whole grains and legumes will surpass the needs of the the B vitamins and get iron and protein in the process(1).
Good sources are whole wheat pasta, rice and bread, plus pinto ,black, garbanzo, and lentils.
High Fat Foods: 4 servings a day
Fat plays a significant role during the development of the baby. Consuming four servings a day of high fats such as DHA, ALA, and other mono- or poly-unsaturated fats will contribute to the development of the fetus’s brain and eye formation(2,3). While, it is very easy to obtain these fats from fish such as salmon, vegans can get it from flax seed, soybeans, walnuts, avocado, peanut butter, and a supplement.
Vitamin C: 2 servings a day
Vitamin C is important for the metabolic processes within mom and baby, so it is a critical nutritent during the span of pregnancy. Vitamin C rich foods are best eaten raw because cooking them will cause a significant lose of the vitamin(because it is a water soluble vitamin)(2,3).
Good sources of vitamin C include citrus, bell peppers,kale,berries, broccoli, and fortfied juices.
Calcium: 4 servings a day
Calcium is important for strong bones and heart, nerve, and muscle development, putting it at the top of the list for vegan moms-to-be. Mant women do ot consume enough before pregnancy, but it is vital that the calcium requirement be met every single day through food adn with a calsium supplement. Non-vegan pregnant women should have no issue getting calcium from dairy products, but vegan women will have to work at consuming enough calcium throuhout the day. Fortunately, calcium is hidden in many of our favorite fruits and vegetables(1,2,3).
Good sources of calcium are fortified juices, soymilk, dark greens, broccoli and figs.
Green Leafy and Yellow Vegetables and Fruit: 3 servings a day
Loaded with antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin E, these foods help with cell growth, healthy skin, and eyes develpoment, too.
Good sources include kale, spinach, kiwi, melon, mango, and squash.
Other Fruits and Vegetables: 2 servings a day
While the green leafy vegetables are loaded with antioixant and iron, vegan pregnant women need to consume other colors of the rainbow, as well. Aim to eat fruits and vegeables that eare rich in color such as eggplant, berries, apples, sweetpottoes, and pears. These servings will help with the vitamin C, vitmain A, protein, fiber, and folic acid(1).
Iron: 3 servings a day
Iron is important in helping increase the mom’s and baby’s blood supply. Regardless of diet, most pregnant women are deficient in iron, so make it a goal to be one of the outsiders to this norm(3). Great sources of iron include kale, potatoes, beans, whole grains, and dried fruit.
Pregnancy should be a time filled with anticipation and excitement, not counting the calories and hoping you are eating enough. Small dietary changes during this time will give you and the baby the added nutrients that you need to have a healthy pregnancy. As long as you are eating healthy amounts of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and you fill full, then you should having nothing to worry about.
2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting – text