With your well-meaning but sometimes meddlesome mother or mother-in-law expressing concern about your eating habits if you are a vegan, it’s no wonder that you may doubt if you can remain a vegan throughout your pregnancy and have a healthy baby. Rest assured that it is safe and relatively simple to follow a healthy and nutritious vegan diet during your pregnancy, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group.
Maintaining the Right Weight
Weighing enough going into the pregnancy and gaining enough weight during the pregnancy is of particular concern to vegans who tend to go into the pregnancy on the slim side, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. If you fall into that category, you need to eat more food or foods that contain more fat and less bulk. Try drinking soy milk shakes when you need to put on some pounds. Other high-calories foods are nuts, nut butters, bean dips and dried fruits. If your weight is too high, you should stop eating fatty foods and sweets. Replace them with vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. Find out from your health care provider what your optimal weight should be throughout your pregnancy. Daily exercise, such as walking 30 minutes a day, is also a good way to maintain a healthy weight.
A main concern for healthy eating during your pregnancy is getting enough protein. During your second and third trimesters, you need to eat 25 grams (g) more protein than what you were eating before, a total of 71g, according to the Baby Center website. You can get the right amount of protein by varying your diet and eating good sources of protein, such as beans, grains and soy products. You can simply increase the amount of the same types of foods you normally eat to get the protein you need. To get 25 more grams is equivalent to eating 1 1/2 more cups of lentils or tofu, two bagels or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk.
Dr. Reed Mangels, who is also a registered dietitian, suggests a sample diet. For breakfast, eat oatmeal with maple syrup, whole-wheat toast with fruit spread, soy milk and orange juice. Have half a bagel and a banana for a snack. For lunch, have a veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun, collard greens, an apple and soy milk. Have cereal with blueberries and soy milk for a snack. At dinner, eat tofu with stir-fried vegetables, brown rice and an orange. For an after-dinner snack, have whole grain crackers with peanut butter and apple juice.
Because you are not eating meat, fish, eggs or dairy, you are probably not getting all the vitamins you need, particularly vitamin B12, according to the Baby Center website. You most likely are not getting enough zinc or iron, either. It is especially important that you take a prenatal vitamin and a mineral supplement that contains 100 percent of the daily requirements for vitamin B12, iron and zinc. To get enough calcium, drink fortified fruit juices and foods rich in calcium, such as molasses, turnip greens, bok choy and tahini.
Health Care Providers
Many health care practitioners are not familiar with vegan diets. You may want to work with a registered dietitian to make sure you are off to the right start. The dietitian can address any health issues or concerns you may have, according to Mangels.
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